Hefty fines for driving near cyclists
Queensland motorists will be fined $330 and lose three demerit points if they don't allow a one metre buffer for cyclists.PT1M37S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-353z1 620 349 March 20, 2014
Queensland motorists caught driving within one metre of cyclists will be fined $330 and lose three demerit points under a two-year trial due to start next month.
Drivers will be forced to give cyclists one metre clearance when passing in 40km/h, 50km/h and 60km/h zones.
Where the speed limit is higher than 60km/h, motorists will be required to give cyclists 1.5 metre clearance when passing.
But motorists will be able to cross double white lines, when it is safe to do so, in order to pass a cyclist.
Transport Minister Scott Emerson committed to the one metre clearance trial in January, but did not announce the penalty that would be imposed on motorists caught breaking the new rules until Thursday.
The penalty is the same for drivers caught running a red light, or failing to stop at a stop sign.
However, it is much less than the $4400 fine proposed by a parliamentary committee which examined cycling laws last year.
Mr Emerson said he had chosen "a very sensible approach" by setting a two-year trial for the safe passing law, so the government could review it and see if it created the change it wanted.
"What I am trying to achieve with these rule changes is an attitudinal change," he said.
"I think most motorists and cyclists do the right things but unfortunately some cyclists and motorists do the wrong thing and they don't want to do share the road.
"Unfortunately, over last year, we saw 13 cyclists killed and that number has been increasing year after year.
"So we are looking for sensible approaches, but hopefully also [receive] an attitudinal change."
He told Fairfax Radio 4BC the government was "bringing in the rules that have been in place in other parts of the world, including Europe and America’’.
Thirteen cyclists were killed on Queensland roads last year, he said.
‘‘This is about improving safety for cyclists.
‘‘There’s always people who will be arguing that we’re being too fair to cyclists, or unfair to motorists, and cyclists would argue the opposite.
‘‘What we’re trying to achieve with this trial is ... an attitudinal change. I suspect that most motorists already do the right thing and they keep a safe distance from cyclists.
‘‘But there are some cyclists out there doing the wrong thing, there are some motorists out there doing the wrong thing.’’
Tracey Gaudry, the chief executive of advocacy group the Amy Gillett Foundation, which has been a major proponent of the ‘‘a metre matters’’ campaign applauded the move but said the trial should be supported by a public education campaign.
“It’s critical for the trial to be supported by a funded education campaign, advising the community of the change, why it is needed and how easy it is to support. After all, it is about people’s lives,’’ she said.
Mr Emerson said penalties for cyclists caught breaking road rules would also be increased to match the fines faced by motorists for the same offence.
Currently cyclists are fined $110 for running a red light, while motorists face a $330 fine.
‘‘It doesn’t seem sensible to me that for the same crime you get a different penalty ... so we are increasing the penalties for cyclists for breaking the same rules as motorists,’’ Mr Emerson said.
The announcement comes after a 25-year-old woman was suspended from driving for three months and fined $600 after mowing down a cyclist in Brisbane’s south last Friday.
Footage of the crash, captured by a passing vehicle’s dashboard camera, shows the driver of a white Audi hatchback hitting the male cyclist as he sets off from a set of traffic lights at Mt Gravatt.
The 56-year-old male cyclist was taken to hospital where he was treated for minor injuries.
The parliamentary inquiry began in June last year after MP Bruce Flegg called for an examination of road rules following the death of 25-year-old Richard Pollett, who was killed by a cement truck while cycling on Moggill Road on September 27, 2011.
The committee made 68 recommendations, including raising the fine for motorists who did not leave a sensible passing distance to $4400 and eight demerit points.
"I just thought that wasn't sensible or reasonable," Mr Emerson said.
"The fine will now be $330 and 3 demerit points - about the equivalent of going 20 kilometres over the speed limit."
Motorists could be privy to on the spot fines, but cyclists will also be able to make a complaint after the event, as long as they evidence, be it from a camera or witnesses, to back it up.
- with Amy Remeikis