Cycling in Melbourne Australia
What are folks views on the current discussions related to defining in legislation what is a safe distance betwixt bicycles and vehicles? I for one think it has merit.
I was disappointed to see on TV, Victoria's peak cycling organisation, Bicycle Victoria, and its Great Vic sponsor, Victoria's motoring peak body RACV, join together to pour cold water on the Amy Gillet Foundations 'A Metre Matters' a href="http://www.amygillett.org.au/a-metre-matters/>">http://www.amygillett.org.au/a-metre-matters/> campaign for getting a meter matters legislated.
Aside from the fact that Amy's fatal crash wouldn't have been prevented by a 1 metre margin law because the driver who killed her was rat-arsed drunk, out of control and way beyond any driving laws by the time of the acco...
a 1 metre margin is nice to have, but so would slower speed limits, psychological and social factors added to driver licence testing and tougher policing of the existing rules and almost intrusive education of drivers that speeding fines are punishment, not revenue, and can easily be avoided by not speeding.
AGF do some good lobbying work, and are an important part of bicycle culture, but they also reinforce the myth that cycling is dangerous. It isn't, it's the speed culture surrounding motoring and lax standards of driver enforcement that is dangerous. I mean, if AGF went after the insurance industry definition of a clean driving record, for example - 4 traffic offences in 5 years is not, by common sense, a clean driving record.
Amy's demise was a tragic and senseless loss of life that would have been way less likely with a higher minimum driving age, driver psychological testing that picked up psychological tendency to drugs and alcohol or disregard for the law and more strictly, policed - regardless of nation where she was riding.
It is driving which is "dangerous" because the term "danger" is meant to refer risk factors which are directed outward, such as a lion at a safari park is dangerous. Cycling certainly involves risk, but safe when risk is managed and when drivers behave as their licence requires.
As cyclists, we must stop being apologists for the dangerous behaviour of other groups while still taking responsibility for managing our own risk factors, and the law needs to be interpreted fairly in this way, not in favour the convenience of one group over the safety of another. And don't worry, the somewhat suspect alliance of BV and the RACV in such matters bothers me almost to the point of losing sleep.
I think the Amy Gillet Foundation does wonderful work, I support them and their '1 metre matters' campaign 100%.
I think legislating that motorists must leave one metre for cyclists is a good thing - if nothing else, the legislation may raise motorists awareness of cyclists.
In relation to the tragic death of a cyclist on Beach road last Friday - my condolences to his friends and family. I actually passed the scene of the accident shortly after it happened as the beach road bike path is part of my work commute. As a regular cyclist it made me very sad to see an accident like this.
I could be wrong, but I believe that a parked car was a factor in this accident. The cyclist was moving out and around the car and was hit by a truck changing lanes.
I do not understand this country's obsession with allowing parked cars on major arterials. As well as the one metre legislation, we need to make roads like Beach Road and any other major inner city arterials permanent clearways. Especially roads that have tram tracks. Not only would this decrease bike related accidents, but it would decrease car and pedestrian related accidents. We've all seen it before, people act erratically when faced with the prospect of changing lanes because of a parked car.
This would also alleviate some of the road congestion issues Melbourne is facing at the moment because of an increasing population.
I hope this is another issue that is tackled by Bicycle Victoria and The Amy Gillet Foundation in future.
Roads are for driving or riding on - not for housing your car!
Beach Rd shouldn't be a major arterial, it's a residential street with adjoining public space, and isn't wide enough for the traffic it's carrying.
I also offer my condolences to the rider's family. My sympathies to the trucky, too. Nobody wants to kill somebody by accident, regardless of who made the wrong move.
This raises a word to the wise, "Ride straight, Kate!" (An old film from the 60s which educates riders to not weave in and out, but to take the straightest line for predictability.) By weaving in and out, as many Melbourne riders seem to do, cyclists make themselves less visible and less predictable. Own the lane and don't ride in the door zone. I do this on Beach Rd, and while I get the odd honk, the cars can only wait until safe to pass.
To clarify my position on the 1m law concept, I'm not opposed to it, I just doubt it would make a blind bit of difference because it ignores the root of the problem - that drivers think they own the road because they've "paid for it."
I'm against having yet another law. As far as I can tell there are already laws about safely passing people and about using the roads, if the problem is that nobody is obeying them then why would having more laws solve it? Having yet another law that nobody obeys and nobody enforces just dilutes the likelihood that other laws are followed.
Are the people in favour of the law in favour of it applying to themselves on bicycles when they want to pass cars or other bikes too, or is it just a "law for other people?" Should a cyclist be allowed to pass a stationary or slow moving car with less than a metre clearance, then have the car not be allowed to pass them again? How do people see that as creating an attitude of friendliness and sharing on the roads?
"Should a cyclist be allowed to pass a stationary or slow moving car"
Adrian, Do you spend your whole day waiting behind parked cars?
Why should cyclists have to wait for traffic that can't go anywhere?
We don't put anyones life at risk by overtaking stationary vehicles because we aren't piloting pieces of machnery.
Well said, Adrian. Existing laws policed properly, equally and fairly will have the same or better effect. Tightening access to driving with tougher licence access and a congestion tax will remove some "bad attitude" drivers from the roads, too. In fact, effective policing of existing laws could remove "bad attitude" cyclists, too. Roads are a limited, public resource and must be shared fairly and safely.
There may be a place for a 1 metre law, but only with consideration for existing law and whether it's used properly, and only with consideration for road conditions, such as speed limits. Somehow, I think the practical use of such a law would be VERY limited.
What did they say Alan?
(BV primarily, but also RACV I guess?)
A meter is hard to enforce. Whereas if there is an incident after lane changing legislation its much harder for a careless driver to explain what they were doing in a cyclists lane.
Comment by Patrick O'Kane yesterday
"Change lanes to overtake"
I couldn't agree more, pity 99.9% of motorists don't do that.
I'm always amazed when riding down two laned roads like Military Rd on Thursday night that cars will overtake cyclists in the left hand lane (often moving across to give "some" room) when there is a perfectly good, vacant lane that they could use. It beggars belief.
On the same topic this was published today in the Herald Sun
and this on 26 July in The Age
We have read this blog with much interest, and appreciate the candid contributions. They all help to test strategies, and do better work. I will do the best I can to respond given that short written prose can only go so far.
The A Metre Matters campaign was launched as an awareness campaign across the motoring community, and having reached over 3 million Australians has been successful in its aim. Clearly, awareness is one thing, attitudinal and behaviour change is another.
Some response to comments about introducing a minimum passing distance e.g. 1 metre:
The Foundation absolutely considers that there are many pieces in the puzzle of achieving a true bicycle friendly culture in Australia. While some would say our approach highlights the dangers, the fact is that people are still being seriously injured and killed. We are also very respectful that it is a two-way street – no one party is uniquely responsible in a problem space, or can claim success in the solution space.
Our work importantly focusses on infrastructure, people (awareness, attitudes, education, skills/training, behaviour change – legislation can play a valid role here if applied correctly), vehicles and their interaction and all applicable laws/guidelines.
I trust my response provides some clarity and reason. Readers might like to view an interview on the 7pm Project earlier this week. http://7pmproject.com.au/video.htm?movideo_p=39696&movideo_m=12...
Please keep the dialogue going, it is all helping.
Gratefully appreciate any small change to support the www.bikemovement.org.au campaign as well!
Have a great weekend,
CEO, Amy Gillett Foundation
I wunder if RACV would warm to a regular Amy's Column in their Royal Auto Magazine given RACV's extensive involvement in cycling (Energy Breakthrough, Great Vic Bike Ride, National Ride to Work, Bike Share, Street Scene, Bike Assist, etc) as a way of raising awareness/educating the motoring public of how a cyclist sees the world from the saddle. For example - if I ride outside the door zone on a narrow street with cars parked on both sides of the road I effectively block the road and often have the following car on the horn/shouting abuse (never have had this in Europe where a metre matters). Occasionally I have had the opportunity to wave the driver over and to explain why I was riding where I was - not to obstruct but for my safety given tinted windows, closed in headrests, lack of warning devices and the like do not give me the opportunity to know if anybody is in the parked cars and/or about to open a door. Sometimes the explanation is accepted and a driver is educated. Amongst us, we would have a host of material we could supply that could educate other road users why we do what we do for our survival, which isn't always obvious to somebody who hasn't viewed the world from where we sit/pedal.
Justa a thought.
I also wunder what the likes of RACV and cycling organisations that accept car sponsorship are doing in advocating with car manufacturers for design features that would help make their vehicles/users safer towards cyclists as alluded to earlier.
What great weather for a ride.
Tracy, as an awareness campaign, I thank the Foundation for their work. Awareness is everything when it comes to reasonable people, and thankfully most Australians are still exactly that. The unreasonable can only be dealt with by law enforcement, but more laws don't make better law enforcement, only better law enforcement attitudes make for better law enforcement.
Also, focusing on cyclist death and serious injury isn't a great focus on the future of cycling. Again, the Foundation's work seems to me to always be at least trying to make positively worded statements, but the fact remains, people die in cars every day and it's, well, not ignored, but the treatment can be base. Despite the more serious road toll in motoring, everybody points at cycling as dangerous, when clearly it's motoring which is, and general public attitudes, even among the reasonable, are the biggest cause of poor road safety generally. There is risk in cycling, but that risk is as manageable as in it is in motoring.
Cycling safety needs to be improved, yes. And there are a few bad apples who can spoil cycling's image, yes. But cycling is not dangerous. The general, overly easy going attitudes of motorists, even the reasonable majority, needs address more than any cycling specific campaign. It needs to be harder to get a licence, licence testing needs psychological profiling included. There needs to be a change to recognise that driving always was, and still is, a privilege, not a right.
Most importantly, there needs to be some research into how to prevent the disindividuation seemingly reasonable people exhibit once they get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. We need to get to the root cause of the dehumanising of all other road users outside a drivers' car, especially the apparent irrational hatred some have for cyclists. People in this sort of mindset will never allow a metre and are more likely to resent being told to give even an inch.