Cycling should be encouraged. For starters, there are health benefits for those who hop on bikes, and the reduction in pollution and traffic is good for everyone.
So when our politicians look to better protect cyclists on ACT roads, we should applaud them. Sadly, though, recent efforts have missed the mark. Laws designed to better protect cyclists are barely being used in Canberra and it's not hard to see why.
There are no road markings that make it obvious to drivers how close their vehicle is to a bike, even when the bike is in a cycle lane. This is despite the requirement that drivers leave one metre of space on roads with a limit of 60km/h, or 1.5 metres when travelling faster.
Consequently, the law is difficult to enforce and only six drivers were fined for this offence between July 1, 2016 and July 28 this year. A further 11 were issued cautions.
An even smaller number of people have been penalised for flouting the laws around bikes on pedestrian crossings.
Cyclists previously had to dismount at pedestrian crossings, but they have been allowed to ride across them at up to 10km/h since November 2015.
But in the nearly four years since, just one cyclist has been fined for exceeding this limit. Another cyclist copped a fine for failing to slow down sufficiently as they approached a crossing.
If we don't make the road a safer environment for cyclists, described by police as 'vulnerable road users', it will become increasingly difficult to get people out of cars.
Not only are these laws not being enforced, but it appears the danger may have increased for cyclists. As Jasper Lindell reports, there were 22 crashes involving cyclists and motorists on pedestrian crossings in the two years before cyclists were allowed to ride on crossings. In the first two years this was permitted, there were 35 crashes.
Many have written to The Canberra Times about this issue, and even drivers are worried. Last month, N. Hardy from Downer wrote in the letters section about nearly hitting a cyclist who travelled across a pedestrian crossing at speed and without warning.
If we don't make the road a safer environment for cyclists, a key group of people described by police as "vulnerable road users", it will become increasingly difficult to get people out of cars and create a city of active travellers who reduce our impact on the environment.
The ACT government wants 7 per cent of Canberrans to be riding to work by 2026, which is an ambitious goal when only 3 per cent currently do this.
The funding of improved cycling infrastructure is a good start, but unless the authorities make a conscious effort to crack down on behaviours that put vulnerable road users at risk, more people will shun the idea of exposing themselves to a greater risk of injury by hopping on a bike.