Road Safety Council Responds to Submission on Cyclist Safety


In December 2011 I made a submission to the Western Australian Road Safety Council outlining a number of concerns that I had in respect to cyclist safety on Western Australian roads. I included with my submission a CD with a number of videos illustrating what I experience on the road and also the type of incidents that the Western Australian Police consider as not being an offence. I also sent a copy of my submission to the Minister of Road Safety, the Honourable Rob Johnston and to the vulnerable road users representative on the Road Safety Council, Mr Matt Brown, Head of Member Advocacy at the Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia (RAC).

Road Safety Council

Slow Down and Enjoy the Ride Road Safety Campaign

I have received a response from Minister of Road Safety, Mr Rob Johnson and from Professor Holman, Independent Chair of the Road Safety Council. I have not had a response, not even an acknowledgement, from Mr Brown or the RAC. I do wonder if I am expecting to much from a motoring organisation whom is meant to represent vulnerable road users? No; manners are manners.

[Update]: Well in early February 2012 Mr Matt Brown, Head of Advocacy at the RAC responded. You can read his reply here. It is not worthier of further response.

So what sort of response did my submission to the Road Safety Council and the Minister elicit?

First the Response from the Minister of Road Safety, Mr Rob Johnson

Mr Johnson’s full response can be viewed here (PDF)

The Government takes cycling safety very seriously and initiatives by the government to improve cycling safety include school and community education, improved speed enforcement, the introduction of 50km/h urban speed limits and expansion of the network of cycle paths in Perth and regional WA.

Community education includes the ‘Road Sense’ campaign in The West Australian to remind people about general road rules and regulations relevant to every day driving which are not always fully understood or complied with.

Road Sense has been running since August 2001 and messages relating to cyclist safety have included. ln view of your concerns, l have asked that articles related to cycling safety continue in future editions of Road Sense.

To further improve safety outcomes for cyclists the Road Safety Council, through its road user representative (the RAC), has been conducting forums to identify further measures that can be introduced by the government and other stakeholders.

The third and final forum will be held in early 2012. The Road Safety Council will then prepare recommendations for the government. I can assure you that the government will give every consideration to any identified actions.(my bold)

A positive to take away from the Minister’s response is that articles related to cycling safety will continue in future editions of Road Sense. Mind you I don’t recall ever seeing these Road Sense articles. Has anyone?

What was disappointing was the lack of acknowledgement of the lack of Police action and the need to at least consider possible culture issues within the Western Australian Police. I guess that was expecting too much. Still the Minister is at least aware of cyclist road safety issues now and they are on his radar. We just need to keep them there.

The Response from Professor Holman, Road Safety Council

Professor Holman’s full response can be viewed here (PDF)

In all honesty I am struggling to find something worthy of a grab from Professor Holman’s response. Each time I read it I feel rather disappointed. That said here are a couple of key paragraphs:

The Road Safety Council’s primary focus for cyclist safety in recent years has been on reducing the speed at which vehicles are travelling.

Not one of the incidents I highlighted on the CD or have posted to my YouTube channel have had speed as an issue in threatening myself. With few exceptions I have not seen anything from other cyclists videos on YouTube or in discussions at the Australian Cycling Forums which suggest speed is a significant area of concern for cyclists. I do wonder if the Road Safety Council really takes cyclist safety seriously or has an understanding of what cyclists are experiencing.

Reference is then made to cyclist road safe forums which I have participated in. This is followed by the comment:

Notwithstanding these initiatives, it is acknowledged that knowledge and acceptance of the road rules by motorists is one area that requires ongoing attention.

Great, how about a continuing education campaign well beyond Road Sense that includes education road users about cyclist safety, their place on the road and respect for all?

I am aware of the Road Safety Strategy, Towards Zero 2008 – 2020 and applaud the Council’s initiative but I do question if this is really working from a cyclists’s perspective.

I do hope that the Road Safety Council takes a more proactive role in cyclist safety on the road.

What are your thoughts on the responses from the Minister and Professor Holman? What would you like to see the Road Safety Council doing? The Minister doing? The Western Australian Police doing? Share your thoughts and send them a message. Please do share your views in the comments box below.

11 Responses to Road Safety Council Responds to Submission on Cyclist Safety

  1. Cyclesnail January 17, 2012 at 12:03 PM #

    Reading both letters I can’t help thinking that they come out of the same kitchen…

    One meter legalised passing distance would help in these cases. The BTA will be talking about this to the RAC and the Road Safety Council in February. The BTA also feels that lower speed on some or all suburban minor roads would make create a better environment for vulnerable road users.

    The suggestions made at the second OLA are being churned through – it might be worthwhile looking at them here

    Letters like yours, documenting the danger that cyclists face all the time, are invaluable in shaping the perception of senior bureaucrats and politicians, even if their answers are not fully addressing the problems you have filmed.

    A similar case in Kalamunda has come to my attention, and whilst not filmed it is well documented and there are witnesses. The police response to that cyclist was similarily inadequate.

  2. Aushiker January 17, 2012 at 12:49 PM #

    Thanks for your comments Cyclesnail. I like you suspect the same kitchen was at work. So much sounding the same.

    All the best with the submission on the safe passing distance. Matt Brown hasn’t even actually knowledge my letter.

    I am looking forward to the third OLA. Any idea on its timing?

    Thanks again for your comments.

  3. Greg January 18, 2012 at 10:47 PM #

    The response from Road Safety Council misses the point by a mile. Of concern is that the matter of the police not following up these incidents is not addressed. I’m going to look into the first two OLAs to find out what the outcomes were. It would be interesting to find out more about the third OLA that is supposed to happen early this year.

    • Aushiker January 19, 2012 at 8:38 AM #

      I agree and I really do believe that they don’t have a handle on cycling safety. Hopefully the OLA forums will make an impact on their thinking.

  4. Aushiker February 28, 2012 at 8:25 PM #

    Updated the post with the response from Matt Brown, Head of Advocacy at the RAC.

  5. Greg March 1, 2012 at 11:33 PM #

    Do you think they even read your submission? That letter is a very canned response.

    • Aushiker March 2, 2012 at 6:30 AM #

      I presume they did, but I am learning that treating the public with contempt is a mode of operandi. I have little faith in the RAC and Matt Brown or the ORS to actually consider vulnerable road users safety seriously. There focus is on speed only. An important focus for sure but not the only issue.

      Safe passing is one major issue for cyclists for example; yet it is being ignored it seems.

  6. Cyclesnail March 2, 2012 at 12:42 PM #

    mmmm I think it will be easier for the RAC to support a safe passing distance than it is to support lower speeds. Time will tell.

    • Aushiker March 2, 2012 at 6:50 PM #

      I would like to think you are right, but I assume they are right behind the Office of Road Safety strategy which is all about safe speeds.

  7. Cyclesnail March 6, 2012 at 10:58 AM #

    The problem is that safe speeds are a political problem. The Office of Road Safety had a 10 km reduction on all WA roads as a major platform (biggest reduction in road toll at lowest cost) in the “Towards Zero” strategy. The lower speeds were opposed by WALGA and the RAC, and the politicians did not want to have a bar of it……

    • Aushiker March 6, 2012 at 12:52 PM #

      Surprised well maybe not by the RAC’s view. I am no longer convinced that they are that concerned about road safety and in particular cyclists despite their support of BTA/Freeway Bike Hike.

      I don’t understand WALGA position. What has it really got to do with them?

      Politicians, well they see a voter backlash. Voter backlash > loss of voters. Simple cost benefit analysis for them.

      Whilst I don’t have an issue with lowering the speed limit from a cyclists perspective I believe there are bigger safety issues … safe passing for one.


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