Tone down the aggro...

Tone down the aggro...

There were at least 174 on-road collisions between cyclists and motor vehicles in Canberra last year, equivalent to about three a week.

Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS) Minister  Shane Rattenbury said he was distressed by the level of antagonism between the two groups in the capital, and pledged to lobby his Labor colleagues for learner-driver training to improve motorists’ awareness of people on bicycles.

According to  reports submitted to TAMS, the greatest number of collisions between motor vehicles and cars in 2012 were recorded in Civic, where there were 20 incidents recorded.

There were 13 recorded collisions in Braddon, 12 each in Turner and Phillip, and eight in Dickson, with the rest of the crashes between cyclists and motor vehicles spread across the ACT.

The ACT Greens went to last year’s election promising to introduce specific training on the issue for all learner drivers, and Mr Rattenbury said he would  raise the idea personally with    Environment and Sustainable Development Minister  Simon Corbell.

‘‘One area I’d like to explore is driver training,  the very point that young drivers get their licence, ensuring that training on what I call vulnerable road users – which includes pedestrians as well – is part of the core competencies of  the learner-driver process,’’ he said.

He said there was also a small number of cyclists who were breaking road rules, endangering themselves and giving cyclists a bad reputation, and he planned to research the best way to reach out to and educate them.

‘‘The level of antagonism between cyclists and motorists in Canberra is very distressing.’’

Cycling advocacy group Pedal Power ACT’s executive officer John Armstrong said he was not surprised the greatest numbers of collisions were in  in Civic and the more densely populated inner-Canberra suburbs. ‘‘The statistics reflect that you are more likely to have a collision close to your home than anywhere else – that is where you are more often,’’ he said.

Mr Armstrong said the $6million Civic Cycle Loop, a bicycle path under construction that will circle the city centre, would increase safety for cyclists, but urged caution from all motorists and cyclists.

‘‘It really does send a clear note that all road users really must be careful of each other, [with] a high level of tolerance, because one accident is one too many.’’

Mr Rattenbury said improved cycling infrastructure, including dedicated cycle lanes and the Civic Cycle Loop would also go some way to addressing the problem of collisions between cyclists and motorists.

‘‘What I would urge is for everyone to take a deep breath, for people just to remember we all want to get home at the end of the day,’’ he said.

‘‘Car drivers don’t want to be caught up with the inconvenience and obvious danger to cyclists of being in an accident, and for cyclists to be aware that not all car drivers are comfortable and familiar around cyclists.’’