Cycling safety: ACT Greens call to step up ‘safe passing’ awareness

Caroline Le Couteur, MLA

ACT Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur is calling on ACT Policing and Transport Canberra to step up community education and enforcement of the laws that require vehicles to pass cyclists at a safe distance in the ACT.

“A metre matters. That’s why the ACT passed a law that says vehicles must give cyclists at least one metre of space when passing on our roadways. But for the law to be effective it needs to be enforced,” Ms Le Couteur said.

Two recent Questions on Notice have revealed a total of only 12 cautions or infringements have been issued by police for unsafe passing since the beginning of 2016, while there have been 179 complaints about the attitude of ACTION bus drivers toward cyclists over the same period.

“I think many drivers just don’t realise what it’s like to be a cyclist, only a few centimetres away from a large piece of metal going very quickly. That’s why we need more education for car drivers, bus drivers and all the other drivers who should be observing the one-metre rule in the ACT,” Ms Le Couteur said.

“The Greens fully support the ACT Government’s goal of increasing the number of people walking and cycling in a safe and encouraging environment, and it is in that spirit that we are calling for better education and enforcement of the rules.

“There are some really innovative enforcement and education tools that that are being used in other jurisdictions, which would be great to see here in the ACT to further improve safety and driver awareness.

“West Midlands Police in the UK, for example, are receiving praise and gratitude from the community for their efforts, which include having a police officer on a bicycle, noting vehicles that pass too closely, who radio ahead to other officers to pull the drivers over.

“ACTION bus drivers perform a wonderful service for Canberrans and providing more training about the things they can do to help cyclists feel safe would be consistent with our shared goal of making Canberra the nation’s active transport capital.

“Two Canberra women have been killed on their bikes in collisions with cars this year, so it’s imperative the Government does all it can to support ACT road users to keep each other safe.”