Statistics show safe passing laws for cyclists are barely enforced
Advertisement

Statistics show safe passing laws for cyclists are barely enforced

ACT laws requiring drivers to maintain a safe distance when passing cyclists are barely being enforced, with police issuing just 12 infringements or cautions to drivers since the start of 2016.

During the same period, 179 complaints have been made about ACTION bus drivers over incidents involving cyclists.

Cyclist Leonie Doyle, who commutes about 30 kilometres to and from work in Canberra, four days a week, on her bike.

Cyclist Leonie Doyle, who commutes about 30 kilometres to and from work in Canberra, four days a week, on her bike.

Photo: Karleen Minney

The new statistics have prompted calls for stronger enforcement and more awareness of the requirement for vehicles to remain at least one metre away from cyclists when overtaking at speeds below 60km/h, and at least 1.5 metres away when going faster.

ACT Greens transport spokeswoman Caroline Le Couteur, who asked questions in the Legislative Assembly that led to the statistics being released, said the deaths of two Canberra cyclists this year showed how important it was to increase enforcement and awareness of the laws.

A memorial service will be held at Nara Park at 9am on Saturday in memory of Teresa Foce, who died in April following a crash with a vehicle in Conder, and Kathy Ho, a Canberran who was killed in June after a crash with a van just outside the ACT.

Advertisement

A 37-year-old man has been charged with dangerous driving occasioning death and negligent driving causing death after the crash that killed Ms Ho on Tarago Road, in NSW.

"We have legislation which says one metre matters, and you should leave a metre between your vehicle and the cyclist if you’re passing, but we know that’s not enforced," Ms Le Couteur said.

Leonie Doyle of Weston Creek  and Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur.

Leonie Doyle of Weston Creek and Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur.

Photo: Karleen Minney

"... It is worthwhile diverting resources to protect the lives of Canberra cyclists. They are important."

Weston Creek cyclist Leonie Doyle, who rides about 30 kilometres to and from work, said her experiences in the eight years she had commuted by bike had been overwhelmingly positive.

Ms Doyle said while dangerous incidents were rare, there were aggressive and inattentive drivers who created close calls for cyclists.

"I think less experienced cyclists would probably ride more, and they might take up the opportunity to ride to work like I do [if the laws were more strongly enforced]," she said.

"I think that, in particular, younger people, older people and females are more intimidated about riding on the roads."

Loading

The Canberra Times asked ACT Policing if it was concerned about the apparent lack of enforcement.

In response, the officer in charge of traffic operations, Station Sergeant David Wills, provided an emailed statement that did not address that question, but did answer one about whether police intended to focus more on the safety of cyclists.

The statement said ACT Policing planned to campaign around the safety of vulnerable road users - cyclists, children, pedestrians and motorcyclists - next month.

Ms Le Couteur also called on Transport Canberra to better educate ACTION bus drivers after revelations of the 179 complaints relating to incidents involving cyclists since the start of 2016.

In response to questions, Transport Canberra emailed The Canberra Times a statement that said safety on ACT roads was its highest priority.

Transport Canberra said it was committed to educating all road users, including bus drivers and cyclists, about how to stay safe.

Blake Foden is a reporter at The Canberra Times. He has worked as a journalist in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, and joined the Times in March 2018.