Inquiry into Motorcycle and Bicycle Safety

0.D0 The Parliament of New South Wales Joint Standing Committee on Road Safety has tabled its report, Vulnerable road users: Inquiry into motorcycle and bicycle safety.  This extract from the Chair’s foreword to the report provides an insight to the Committee’s thinking (my emphasis):

The current inquiry into Vulnerable Road Users, focussing on motorcyclists and pedal cyclists, complements an earlier inquiry conducted last year into Pedestrian Safety.  The Committee suggests that the reports be read together to provide an overall picture of recommended strategies to improve safety risks for these less protected groups of road users.

Major areas for suggested reform, some of which have been consistently stressed in all  previous reports, include: improved data collection and management; improvements in  roads engineering; better targeted education and public awareness programs and  campaigns; and improved planning processes, including enhanced collaboration between the NSW Government and local councils.

A key message stressed throughout the Report is that roads serve as access points and vital arteries for the whole community.  The diverse range of people using the road network creates policy and planning challenges for all agencies involved in managing the transport system and securing public safety.

Road agencies everywhere are constantly engaged in monitoring safety and devising countermeasures to mitigate risks.  Staysafe makes its own contribution to this process by actively consulting and providing a public forum for discussion and debate about proposed strategies and interventions.  The recommendations made in this and other Staysafe reports seek to promote full community participation in the policy process, which is one of the hallmarks of participatory democracy.

Whilst community participation is one of the hallmarks of participatory democracy, action it seems is not.

The report makes 19 recommendations. I have highlighted below the ones I consider are of relevance to cyclists in particular and ones that other authorities including our own Western Australian Minister of Transport and our own Councils should be considering.

The Committee also recommends that the interagency crash data working group develop a strategy to better document the incidence of bicycle injuries on the roads in order to target appropriate interventions more effectively.

The Committee recommends that the RTA strengthen its monitoring of road surface conditions to improve safety for vulnerable road users and implement a direct reporting system to alert the appropriate engineering and maintenance areas of the agency and local councils to potential hazards, for immediate remediation as problems arise. [City of Joondalup please note!]

The Committee recommends that the RTA trial a system of bike boxes, also known as advanced stop lines (ASL), that allow bicyclists to move in front of vehicles when stopped at a signalised intersection in order to reduce the potential for conflicts with vehicle turning movements on the green signal.

The Committee also recommends that separate signal phases for bicyclists at intersections, which stop all vehicular traffic while permitting cyclists to proceed through the intersection in designated directions, should be trialled where appropriate.

The Committee recommends that the RTA conduct a comprehensive review and safety audit of shared paths and zones and undertake appropriate engineering modifications and other necessary measures to reduce potential risks to users of these facilities.

The Committee recommends that the RTA report on the results of its current trial of post-licence mentoring activities and implement appropriate strategies to improve the skills of novice riders on the basis of the findings of this research.

The Committee recommends that the RTA and the NSW Police Force evaluate the effectiveness of the CARES program with a view to increasing its funding for wider expansion.

The Committee recommends that the RTA and local councils conduct further educational campaigns to make road users aware of the location, operation and potential risks associated with the use of shared paths and cycleways.

The Committee recommends that the RTA initiate a new broadly based campaign to promote the Road Rules.  This includes an emphasis on the different rules applying to all road users and highlighting areas of potential conflict.  Included in this campaign strategy should be a strong focus on educational resources for schools, the inclusion of more detailed information about vulnerable road users in licensing test arrangements and targeted media and public information material delivered in a variety of print and electronic formats.

The Committee recommends that the RTA review The George Institute for Global Health’s research findings regarding retro-reflective materials and visibility aids for cyclists and promote the safety benefits of these aids as part of its education and promotional activities.


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