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Road Safety Council – Time to Act to Protect Vulnerable Road Users

Road Safety Council

Following a number of recent incidents experienced whilst riding my bike and the mixed responses from the WA Police, notably involving the South Metropolitan District (see here for details) I have decided to make a submission to the Western Australian Office of Road Safety which was sent on December 1, 2011. I also copied in the Minister for Road Safety, The Honourable Rob Johnston and Mr Matt Brown, Head of Member Advocacy at the Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia (RAC) as Mr Brown is the vulnerable road users representative on the Office of Road Safety.

I will update the blog with any responses of note that I receive. The copy of my submission can be found below.

Professor D’Arcy Holman
Independent Chair of the Road Safety Council
Road Safety Council
Level 10
40 St Georges Terrace
PERTH WA 6000

Dear Professor Holman

I am a cyclist; I am a cyclist who commutes regularly on the roads of Perth, riding between Churchlands – Joondalup and Fremantle; I am a cyclist who today rides my bicycle with two video cameras; a forward facing camera and a rear facing camera. I am also a motorist. When I drive my car I don’t feel the need to use a camera; when I ride my bicycle I consider it a necessary piece of safety equipment.

Yet here I am today writing to the Road Safety Council. Why? Because I am tired of being treated like a second-class citizen on our roads; I am tired of having to make formal complaints to the Western Australian Police and to the Minister of Police to have the Police act in a professional manner on road safety issues; I am tired of reading of other cyclists’ horrific experiences on our roads.

I therefore call upon the Road Safety Council to seriously consider developing a road safety campaign aimed at proper education of the community and the Police about the rights and value of cyclists, about how to share the road with vulnerable road users in a respectful manner; to educate motorists in the simple facts of the law (e.g., safe passing, giving way in roundabouts, recognising cyclists as legitimate vehicles on the road etc.)

To help the Council understand what I experience on the roads all to often, I wish to draw to your attention to four of many incidents that I have experienced in the past 12 months or so (please refer to the enclosed DVD). Some of these have been reported to the Police, some not. Not one of the incidents reported to the Police has resulted in a traffic infringement notice based on the initial report which reinforces my concerns about the way cyclists are treated.

Video 1 – 05-09-2011-AM-1DMI618 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEmh9VeHGyY

This incident occurred at the intersection of Tydeman Road and Port Beach Road. I was turning right from Tydeman Road and had claimed the lane for the turn. I was riding safely in my lane, not doing anyone any harm, yet this motorist felt the need to drive extremely close to me, crossing into my lane from the right hand lane? Why? To save a few seconds? Who knows? What was the Police response? I should take “more care when turning on to Port Beach Road.” Apparently I am fault here …. This sort of response is just so frustrating … frustrating and very scary that the incident happened in the first instance; scary and frustrating with this sort of front line Police response. Now this incident amongst others is now subject to a second formal complaint to the Police Commissioner but it shouldn’t be like that! No one should be put at risk like this and if it does happen, it should be addressed appropriately and promptly before someone else gets seriously hurt or worse. Is that too much to ask?

Video 2 – 03-09-2011-1DQW515 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkYthQjl0NE

As I wasn’t knocked off my bike I understand further action was not justified. I have experienced this attitude by the Western Australian Police in the past. This is very concerning as it shows a reactive rather than a pro-active approach to road safety. Surly this is an opportunity to take a pro-active step and maybe set this young driver on the right path? Isn’t correcting this what road safety should be about?

Video 3 – 20-09-2011-PM-1CCH157 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOUU30fArC4

This incident occurred on West Coast Drive at Trigg Beach. Roundabouts are well known as being high-risk areas for cyclists. This is not an uncommon incident. I understand that following my follow-up with the Police Commissioner that this driver has been charged with careless driving. That is a good outcome, but it would be great if it didn’t happen; it would be great if it didn’t take a formal complaint to get that outcome.

If nothing else comes of this submission, some education on roundabouts and sharing them safely and responsibility would be a good thing.

Video 4 – 18-11-2011-PM-91A245 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4PV1Gj7UxY

This incident has not been reported to the Police for the simple reason that it would involve a report being made to the South Metropolitan District of the WA Police; a pointless exercise in my view. Irrespective of that, it again shows a total lack of consideration of legitimate vulnerable road users. Oh, in this instance I arrived at the Tydeman Road/Queen Victoria Road traffic lights a short time afterwards and the driver of 91A245 was waiting for the lights to change. He achieved nothing, but he put me at risk. We need to change this attitude; we need to have a Police force serious about road safety and willing to act.

More videos of incidents that I have experience frequently on Perth roads can be found on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/Aushiker. Other Australian cyclists are also documenting their experiences on YouTube as well. One channel worth viewing for more insight is that of user OxfordYT at http://www.youtube.com/user/OxfordYT.

I also draw your attention to the recent research coming out of the Monash University Accident Research Centre which suggests that based on analysis of helmet cam footage from cyclists in Melbourne, 87% of incidents observed, motorists where at fault (see http://theconversation.edu.au/helmet-cam-captures-bike-accidents-and-could-make-cycling-safer-3540). This is a very serous concern given the vulnerability of cyclists and is something that the Council should be considering seriously and bringing to the attention of the motoring public … they need, we need to be aware of what we are doing.

I encourage the Road Safety Council to take a proactive approach to cyclists safety, to review carefully the research undertaken by Monash University Accident Research Centre, to review carefully the video of incidents as referred to by myself and reported by other cyclists and to work towards putting in place an appropriate education campaign targeted at the wider community but also the Western Australian Police who need to adopt a pro-active approach and positive attitude towards cyclists.

 

Yours faithfully

 

2 Responses to Road Safety Council – Time to Act to Protect Vulnerable Road Users

  1. Cyclesnail January 3, 2012 at 1:01 PM #

    Excellent letter, and to the right person. I will be following these issues up with Matt Brown, and hope to raise the overall theme of safety for cyclists when I talk to the RAC council and the Road Safety Council in February.

    Would you be able to send me an electronic copy of your letter?

    Regards,
    Heinrich

    • Aushiker January 4, 2012 at 10:36 AM #

      Thanks for your comments. Electronic copy coming via email. I have received a response from the Office of Road Safety and the Minister but nothing from Matt Brown at the RAC. I will upload the responses in the next week or so.

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