Drivers who injure cyclists, pedestrians and other road users who aren't in cars could face tougher penalties under a bill to introduced by Greens MLA Jo Clay this week.
Ms Clay will table the bill less than a year after a collision in which a cyclist was knocked off his bike by a car on William Hovell Drive in a horrifying incident caught on a dash cam.
After the confronting crash, in which the cyclist sustained injuries, the driver was only fined $393 and docked three demerit points.
Under the new bill, a new offence would be created called "negligent driving - harm to vulnerable road user," and the maximum penalty would increase from $393 to $1600, or 50 penalty units.
"It's an insult, frankly, that someone can inflict lifelong injuries and drive away with a fine not much higher than if they'd been speeding and didn't hit anyone," said Ms Clay.
It would create a difference between a negligent driving offence, and a negligent driving offence where there has been a victim of the conduct.
The current legislation does include criminal offences and more harsh penalties if a driver is found to be negligent and responsible for the death or grievous bodily harm of another road user.
But Ms Clay said there is a gap where someone can sustain serious injuries and the only penalty is a $393 fine.
"What we're finding is the vast majority of incidents lie somewhere between grievous bodily harm, but the negligent driving offence we have doesn't involve a victim. You can you can get fined up to $393 for just negligently driving and not hurting anyone at all," she said.
"There's no recognition that it actually is more serious when you have harmed someone and there's no recognition that it's more serious when the person you've harmed is a vulnerable road user."
A vulnerable road user is already a defined term in ACT legislation, and refers to a road user other than someone in a car, so includes cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, e-scooter riders and those in wheelchairs or other mobility vehicles.
While the bill will be introduced on Tuesday, Ms Clay expects it won't pass immediately, and is hoping to consult with colleagues across the assembly to ensure change does make it into law.
"If we need more discussion, I'll take the time we need to get it right," she said.
Cycling organisation Pedal Power ACT had been campaigning for the tougher rules since the incident in October, and chief executive Ian Ross said strong laws were essential to improve safety on the roads.
"This proposed legislation would significantly increase the penalties for negligent driving that injures a vulnerable road user," Mr Ross said.
"We know strong penalties act as a good deterrent. People's driving behaviour changed when strong penalties were introduced for drink driving and speeding through school zones".
Mr Ross said passing the legislation would send a message that cyclists were valued on the roads and should be protected.
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