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WA Police Inconvenienced by Cyclist Reporting Road Safety Incident

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It seems that a senior officer (I failed to get his name) at Western Police West Metropolitan is to quote himself “has better things to” than be bothered by my completing the WA Police Contact Form and requesting a reply seeking the name of the Officer in Charge Traffic so I could submit my incident report to the most appropriate person.  It seems that a member of the Western Australian community should not waste Police resources seeking such information; actually it seems that a member of the Western Australian community shouldn’t dare to properly report a road traffic incident. No it is better they can use the online reporting form so that the incident can be brushed under the carpet … learnt that lesson a long time ago.

Sadly this is not the first time West Metropolitan Traffic has been inconvenienced by a cyclist reporting a traffic incident. The first time required a follow-up via the Commission of Police to get a response. That report for the record resulted in the driver being issued an infringement notice for careless driving (Incident report number 220911 1532 85478 refers) . I can only assume now that was an inconvenience too.

Well I have now sent in my traffic incident report to the Commissioner of Police but frankly I do expect to hear anything more about it and have made that clear in my letter to the Commissioner. After all we cannot inconvenience the Police can we nor it seems can the Police be expected to abide by their own Customer Service Charter.

I am now not sure I will bother reporting incidents to the WA Police in the future as per my Fremantle Police policy (1), well at least with the expectation that anything positive will happen. Rather I may just send my reports to the Commissioner and Minister of Police as a record of note. I just hope for the sake of the Western Australia Police that I never get seriously injured or killed on my bike as I wouldn’t like to inconvenience them with having to let my partner and children know.  I also hope that the drivers I would have reported will never kill or seriously injure someone else and thus inconvenience the Western Australia Police.

(1) I have stopped reporting incidents to the Western Australian Police Fremantle Station as it is clear to me they are only interested in cyclists not wearing helmets; not actually policing motorist who put their lives at risk.

For clarity of this discussion my letter to the Commissioner of Police follows along with the traffic report and video. You can make your own judgements on whether I have called this fairly or not.

The incident as recored on my front camera which sparked all this …

 

Letter of February 15, 2013 to Commissioner Karl O’ Callaghan, Commissioner of Police, Western Australia Police

Dear Dr O’Callaghan

REFERENCE: TRAFFIC INCIDENT FEBRUARY 11, 2013 REGISTRATION KBC 8459.

I was reporting this incident directly to you as it seems that name of the Officer-in-Charge Traffic at West Metropolitan Traffic is top secret information and hence I have no idea who to direct this correspondence to. I would to suggest Commissioner if WA Police continues to have a “Contact Us” page with a question “Reply requested” that provides the choice of yes or no that when the “yes” choice is made that replies are actually made. Surly it is simply a matter of manners is it not? After all your own Customer Service Charter suggests it should be. Funny thing is that very Charter advises contacting the WA Police to provide feedback; feedback on your failure to provide …. feedback!

Prior to posting this letter today I received a call from an officer at West Metropolitan Traffic apparently upset at my request for the information and my advising by the Contact Form that I was following up the lack of response via this letter. Apparently he had better things to do!

Commissioner I too would rather not have to waste my time going to all this trouble to report issues and to follow-up the lack of responses, but lets get this straight, it is not my fault that this is the only way I believe that incidents can reported as I no longer have faith in the WA Police and its attitude towards vulnerable road users. I remind you also Commissioner the prior incident at the same roundabout had to be followed up through your office to have the compliant reviewed (reference Incident Report 220911 1532 85478). It is very disappointing to see this happening yet again and sadly not for the second time as the records show.

You can rest assured that I will not bother trying to obtain contact details for incident reports again in light of this experience. In fact I doubt I will bother reporting incidents in future as per my policy for incidents occurring in the area of responsibility of Fremantle Police.

Whilst I no longer believe that this matter will be investigated with integrity, if at all, and hence do not expect to hear further on, I am for the record documenting the incident that occurred.

This is a very sad day Commissioner that we have reached the point where WA Police holds so little value for human life; so little value for the life of vulnerable road users.

Yours sincerely

My Traffic Complaint Statement which is Inconveniencing the WA Police

TRAFFIC COMPLAINT – KBC 8459 WEST COAST DRIVE, KARRINYUP

Date and time of incident: Monday, February 11, 2013 at 5:25 PM as recorded on the video.
Location of incident:

KBC8459

Figure 1: West Coast Drive, (Trigg Beach) Karrinyup, Western Australia. Nearest crossroad – West Coast Highway

Statement

xxxxxxxxx states:

1. I am a 53 year old employed as an academic living at an address known to police.
2. I can recall Monday February 11, 2013.
3. I do not know the offender in this matter.
4. Between 5:20 PM and 5:25 PM Monday February 11, 2013 I was riding my bicycle in a southerly direction along West Coast Drive approaching the roundabout at the northern car park entrance to the Trigg Beach.
5. As I was entering the roundabout heading south towards the Trigg Beach car park I became aware of a white SUV on my left approaching the roundabout.
6. Having entered the roundabout and at approximately two to three seconds into the roundabout I suddenly realised that the vehicle, the white SUV on my left was not going to stop and give way as required.
7. The SUV vehicle, which I believe is a Ford Territory continued to enter the roundabout before turning right and exiting the roundabout in a northerly direction on West Coast Drive.
8. As soon as I realised the Ford Territory was not going to give way I called out a warning whilst reducing my speed further.
9. The driver did not show any signs of hearing my warning call.
10. The driver did not show any signs of being aware of my presence in the roundabout as he drove his Ford Territory into roundabout and in front of me.
11. As the Ford Territory passes in front of me the video records the vehicle registration number as KBC 8459.
12. I continued on my way south heading into the Trigg Beach car park.
13. I could see who was driving KBC 8459 at the time of the incident. The driver was male, I estimate him to be in his mid to late 30s with dark hair and a beard, possibly a goatee. The driver appeared to be of a larger size and was wearing a light coloured shirt.
14. There may have been a passenger in the front left seat but I am not 100% certain.
15. I have not seen that vehicle since that day.
16. This incident has been recorded on a Jumbo HD808 #11 key digital video camera mounted on my bicycle’s handlebar to the left of the stem.
17. Due to past experience at this roundabout where it is common to have vehicles stop pass the give-way line when they realise a vehicle is in the roundabout and having experienced a previous incident similar to this one (please refer to Inspector SM Warner’s letter of November 14, 2011, Incident Report 220911 1532 85478) I take a very cautious approach to this roundabout ensuring my speed is such that I can stop if necessary. In this incident I was able to reduce my speed further without resorting to an emergency stop.

My concerns:

● That this driver thinks their aggressive behaviour towards other road users is acceptable.
● That they may behave this way to other road users who feel unable to take the matter further without access to supporting proof of the aggressive behaviour.
● That they have an incomplete knowledge of the road rules as it relates to their requirements as road users.
● They have no knowledge of the traffic regulations as they relate to cyclists and cyclists use of the roads.
● That my pre-cautionary approach to this roundabout avoided a crash and possible serious injuries or worse to myself.
● A less experienced cyclist or one not familiar with driver behaviour at this roundabout could have been seriously injured or worse.

What I would like:

● I would like this driver to be charged with applicable offences under the Western Australian Road Traffic Regulations. I draw your attention to the previous incident referred to above. I believe it is reasonable to expect a similar Traffic Infringement Notice to be issued.
● I am happy to make a formal statement about the matter, please let me know when I can do this.
● I am prepared to go to court and give evidence should the driver contest any charges brought against them.
● I have retained the full video from which this extract has been taken should it be required for evidence or analysis.

5 Responses to WA Police Inconvenienced by Cyclist Reporting Road Safety Incident

  1. CylingGirl February 16, 2013 at 7:38 AM #

    Reminds me of something that happened to me in Brisbane a few years ago. I was out for a long ride that I had done many times before and was on a stretch of road that has a very very wide emergency lane and I was on the far left of it (way, way out of the way of any cars). This bit of road also goes through bushland and there’s not much traffic. Suddenly I felt a thwack on my helmet and I was covered in broken glass. Yes, somebody had thrown a glass bottle at me from a moving car. Fortunately it hit the back of my helmet (a few centimetres lower and I suspect I’d not be writing this now). Unfortunately by the time I had realised what had happened (and noted the hoons hanging from the car laughing) I couldn’t get the number plate (though I could describe the car and one it was travelling in convoy with). I was, as you may expect, somewhat upset & in shock by what had happened. So I called the police, and once they realised I didn’t need an ambulance, suggested I ride 5 kms to the nearest police station and tell them. Which I duly did. They were not really very interested and they made some cursory notes that I didn’t even sign and I certainly didn’t get any copies of anything (I think I was still in shock because in normal circumstances I would have demanded copies). So I left there and cycled the 30km home very warily and I never heard another thing.

    Some months later I was out for a short ride on bike tracks around the brisbane river and was thinking I’d forgotten something, and only when I was thinking how nice it was that the wind was blowing in my hair did I realise I’d forgotten my helmet – so I immediately turned around and started to go back the 300m I’d come so I could go and get it. The shortest route was to cross a quiet road. And that’s when the police saw me. And even though I immediately pointed to my head and explained that I was on my way to get my helmet, they told me to “pull over to the side of the road and get off the bike”. And because I didn’t have ID on me, made me stand by the side of the road for an hour while they clarified who I was. This despite the fact that we could see my apartment and I kept offering to take them there to get the necessary ID. I copped a fine and was told to walk my bike back home and if they saw me on it without my helmet they’d arrest me!

    I was, and still am, astounded by it all. And your post just highlights that it’s all about the helmets, not about the people that regularly try to kill cyclists (deliberately or otherwise).

    • Kris Rhodes February 17, 2013 at 2:42 AM #

      This echoes my experiences with the Joondalup, Fremantle and Cannington police stations, specifically having glass bottles hit me (Joondalup, twice), and being sideswiped by a car (Cannington, Joondalup, Fremantle twice). Not all of these happened while riding my bike either; one of the glass bottle incidents on Ocean Reef Rd. was while I was walking my dog.

      Unlike Andrew, I would have been mad but probably not reported this particular driver for what they did there, although I would have been well within reasonable guidelines to do so. I take a very forgiving attitude and generally only report the most egregious of violations. However, while police will say to your face to report these incidents as they can lead to determining a pattern of behavior, clearly behind our backs they are pushing these to the bottom of a pile labelled “garbage”.

      I too have had the “helmet discussion” from a WAPOL officer in Ocean Reef next to Prendiville College; riding at 5 km/h next to some pedestrians (talking to them), staying on the grass next to a sidewalk but not riding on the sidewalk, an officer was “convenienced” enough to pull over and issue me a fine as well. He said he’d been following me for 10 minutes, which was difficult to believe as we’d just exited the BP on the same corner not 2 minutes before. His argument was a car could mount the curb and hit me, and somehow, having a helmet would magically save my life should that happen, and not only that, the lives of the two unhelmeted pedestrians next to me. I guess helmet manufacturers clearly forgot to mention that when I bought the helmet. Clearly, if you want to kill a man and get away with it, run him down on his bicycle with your car in West Australia, because WAPOL will not care. Sorry, more specifically, they will not want to be, “inconvenienced” by having to deal with that.

      The motorcycling community of Perth (specifically Perth Street Bikes and Perth Riders) have also made it abundantly clear that cyclists are not alone in this. WAPOL really need to step up their game and start taking crime more seriously. They have a fantastic training facility in Joondalup, yet they’re failing to protect the most vulnerable users – pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists.

      For what it’s worth, when you file a report like this in Seattle, the following will occur if all the incidents occur within 3 years:
      1) 2 pamphlets are sent to the driver’s address, reminding them of safe road rules, for the first two offenses, and often including driver training course information.
      2) Attempts to contact the driver will be made to remind them of safe driving rules, usually but not always a phone call obtained through publicly obtainable information. Many times it does not move past this point.
      3) After both of these occur, police are put on “high alert” whenever this individual’s registered vehicles pass in front of the license plate reader, as someone with a past history of dangerous driving.

      For occasional offenders, they simply receive a pamphlet reminding them that infractions resulting in death or injury to cyclists and other vulnerable road users is punishable by a 90 day suspension on their license, and the choice of a fine of up to $5000 and/or one year in jail, or 100 hours of driver training and/or community service and a fine of $250, as per the court’s direction*. I am close friends with a Perth IT contractor who has been working with WAPOL to enable them to read license plates at high speed, so none of these are out of the question, and these would lead to safer roads. For serial offenders, they are caught and fined fairly quickly.

      *Historical information: Previously the fine for killing someone was $42, payable by cheque.

      • Andrew Priest February 17, 2013 at 12:17 PM #

        Thanks Kris for sharing your thoughts. They are very insightful and highlight the issues we face.

        I do like the Seattle approach but would also like to them actually issuing traffic infringement notices off the video evidence or does this happen? Often I have incidents happen where I would be happy with a follow-up chat because that maybe all it takes to reduce the chance of it happening again.

    • Andrew Priest February 17, 2013 at 6:38 PM #

      Thanks for sharing your experiences. Sadly it seems we have not moved on with reports of the Western Australian Police operating in a group in Fremantle to book cyclists not wearing helmets. They do this whilst ignoring far more serious offenses occurring on our roads.

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