The ACT government is to be commended for its decision to lock in the cycling road rules first introduced on a trial basis just over three years ago.
While some have criticised the decision, noting a report on their effectiveness indicated there is still insufficient data to quantify their value, it would make no sense to walk away from the initiative at this point.
One reason is the original decision was influenced by research into what was happening in other jurisdictions where similar measures had been introduced.
Another is that the lack of local data reflects the relatively small size of the ACT and the shortness of the period over which the trial has been run.
Given much of the data that has been collected is highly supportive of the retention of laws setting a minimum distance drivers must maintain between themselves and cyclists and making it legal for motorists to cross, straddle or drive on centre lines in order to give riders sufficient space, the obvious thing to do is to press ahead while conducting more research.
There is certainly nothing in the data set that suggests the laws have made the roads more dangerous for cyclists, drivers or pedestrians or that there is a case for reverting to the former status quo.
That said, there are contentious aspects of the legislation including giving riders permission to cycle across pedestrian crossings. This has apparently resulted in a minor increase in the number of car and bicycle collisions at crossings.
"This may confirm initial concerns from some ACT residents that cyclists may suddenly ride across pedestrian crossings from footpaths without giving enough time for motorists to react," the report released by Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury on Thursday found.
While it may be possible to address this issue through better education, improved crossing design and the use of signage, this measure needs to be watched closely to ensure it is not leading to an incerease in accidents.
Other than that, the outlook is surprisingly positive with the report noting the number of bicycle related crashes was down slightly between the pre-trial and the trial periods.
Mr Rattenbury is also correct in citing an apparent improvement in community attitudes to cyclists and cycling as a valid measure of success: "These reforms are designed to encourage more cycling and keep cyclists safe... the safer cycling reforms have made a positive difference in our community," he said.
The Minister, like anybody who has looked into the reasons why people choose not to ride a bicycle in the ACT and elsewhere, would be well aware concerns over safety on the roads always tops the list of negatives.
Making the safety measures permanant plays an important role in raising awareness among all road users and sends a message that cyclist safety is a high priority.
This benefits the whole community in a wide range of ways, including reducing the demand for parking, reduced air pollution and a general improvement in community health and fitness.
But data has already shown that Canberrans will not ride their bikes unless they feel safe. Changing attitudes to cyclists takes time, and there is still some way to go, but any measures that help that cause should be welcomed.