Speed limits could be lowered to 30km/h around ACT schools, residential areas and bike paths in the latest move to protect vulnerable road users.
A long-awaited Legislative Assembly report delivered on Thursday has called for trials of lower speed limits in areas with high levels of pedestrian and cycling activity.
The report does not outline which Canberra suburbs could get 30km/h zones but calls for trials in areas heavily utilised by vulnerable road users, citing additional health and environmental benefits from slower speed limits for cars.
It also calls for a mandated minimum overtaking distance for drivers, requiring cars to be one metre away from bikes when overtaking in 60km/h zones. In areas with speed limits above 60km/h, that distance could extend to 1.5 metres.
Cyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians and riders of scooters could benefit from the report’s 28 recommendations, which also include changes to driver training to increase awareness of vulnerable people and changes to the speed limit hierarchy.
Motorcyclists receiving their learner or provisional licences could face tougher requirements and existing rules that require cyclists to dismount at pedestrian crossings could be lifted.
Under the proposed changes, cyclists would be required to slow to a walking pace before entering a pedestrian crossing.
The inquiry heard evidence that existing rules on dismounting at pedestrian crossings were rarely observed in the ACT.
Other recommendations include a review of safety arrangements at shared paths for cyclists and pedestrians, new awareness programs and traffic monitoring studies on Athllon Drive and Beasley Drive.
Primary school students could be required to take part in compulsory bicycle training, while road rules at intersections will also be studied to mitigate risk to vulnerable road users.
Inquiry chairman Mick Gentleman said the report, prepared after 13 months of hearings, revealed almost a quarter of casualties on ACT roads involved people on foot or bicycles.
"The majority of evidence submitted to the inquiry emphasised the issues faced by a particular road user, for example, cyclists, motorcyclists or pedestrians," he said.
"However, it was also acknowledged that the implementation of initiatives to increase safety for one category of vulnerable road users would, in effect, result in increased safety for all vulnerable road users and indeed for all road users,"
A spokesman for Attorney-General Simon Corbell said the government would respond to the report in due course.
This week the government moved to create new special protections to cyclists and motorcyclists.
The new laws will mean drivers who endanger vulnerable road users will face increased fines and up to two years in prison.
Territory and Municipal Services Minister Shane Rattenbury said the committee made several useful recommendations.
“The ACT government should be able to say to all people, no matter whether you are a pedestrian or cyclist, a young person or an old person: ‘Canberra is a safe and convenient place for you to travel.’ ” he said.
Pedal Power ACT executive officer John Armstrong said his members supported lowering speed limits around high-traffic-volume areas.
"The stats are in and the lower the speed limit, less severe is the injury and there are fewer accidents," he said. Loweting speed limits was part of the solution to providing greater security for people who rode bikes or walked in high-volume zones.
Mr Armstrong acknowledged some motorists would oppose lowering of speed limits, but said road users needed to respect each other.
"It is about winning the hearts and minds of people, because the streets do belong to the people.
"They can drive cars, they can ride bikes, they can walk, and once we understand and recognise that, we are more likely and more able to support those recommendations."
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