BUG supporters heard about the ‘Ten Questions’ for TRC candidates. These are on the blog now and a ‘candidates response story’ will be posted after 10 March, the deadline for TRC hopefuls to respond by. TRC candidates have been invited to meet cyclists on 9 March at the Dr. Price Rooms at 11.00 am, to provide answers and to listen. Toowoomba media outlets have been invited to cover the story.
Matt and Hugh have met twice with Councillor Graham Barron, who is responsible for our TCC roads and footpaths. Councillor Barron supported the BUG request for TCC to create a Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) to enable State government departments and TCC (or now the new TRC) to work together on all cycling issues. TCC has supported the BUG initiative and it will be presented to the new council as a positive decision of TCC to be considered for adoption after March 2008.
We were advised by the local Department of Health officers that they have received funding which will include some amount for advancing cycling in Toowoomba. The T-BUG has been asked to work with QH to provide some advice in the future.
Matt, David and Hugh attended a meeting of BUGs from around Queensland organized by Bike Qld at Caloundra. They presented the idea of 3Rs – same Roads, same Rules, same Responsibilities and reported on BUG initiatives for the BAC. It seems the Toowoomba BUG is one of very few in Qld to be pushing for the creation of this form of committee, which is a priority of BQ and a pre-requisite for creating a good cycle strategy through a cooperative local partnership.
Other BUGs gave details of their experiences, some of which involve quite hostile relations with local government councilors and officers. The hostility of vehicle drivers seems more acute in some parts of Qld than others, with Toowoomba not as bad as some cities.
A major discussion led by BQ concerned how to get protection for cycle related activities – in the form of public liability. Since this meeting BQ have provided some further advice about what BUGs are covered for and what they are not.
[It is worth mentioning here that Bike Qld provided the required cover note for both 2 March and 9 March meetings to enable the BUG to book the Dr. Price Rooms, for which TCC demands $10m coverage of ‘public liability’. The TBUG supports BQ and encourages supporters to join BQ as individuals-details on the blog or via Google. The membership helps cycle advocacy in Qld, covers members for bike related public liability problems, and provides access to bicycle and other insurance needs via the BQ insurer].
This topic was covered at the 2 March meeting also. Much discussion centred on whether or not the TBUG should incorporate. People with views one way or another should email their thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be collated into a discussion for later. The decision to incorporate depends very much on what activities are undertaken by BUGs, with not all BUGs being incorporated.
David met with one TRC candidate who wanted a face-to-face meeting with the BUG. His response to the ‘Ten Questions’ will be posted later.
Sergeant Col O’Shea from the Queensland Police Department and Toowoomba Traffic section came and spoke to us about taking action against drivers who abuse or act dangerously towards cyclists. Sgt. O’Shea advised cyclists to always take a note of the number plate, maybe using your mobile phone to record the numbers immediately, and to take brief notes as soon as possible after, describing the ‘event’ and any relevant details. Witnesses are vital for a prosecution but it is worth reporting incidents to the Police even without any. This still allows them to speak to the driver and warn them that their activities have been noted. The blog site has a pro-forma form for reporting traffic incidents on it, on the righthand side.
Toowoomba Police do prosecute drivers who ‘assault’ cyclists when they are able to take it that far, so it is worth trying to help them by noting number plates and vital details. There have been about 10 prosecutions in recent times concerning the poor behaviour of car drivers towards cyclists, and a much greater level of follow up to encourage improved behaviour. It seems that nearly 25 percent of Toowoomba Police ride bikes, something local car drivers should be more aware of.
The meeting endorsed the Bike Victoria Ride to Work 2008 later this year (details on the blog). It is hoped to make the Ride to Work Day (R2W) a major event for cyclists in Toowoomba this year. Any BUG members in a workplace can help create a ‘workplace BUG’ to start getting workplaces across the city and region to think about supporting the R2W day. The TBUG will write to TCC (TRC) and local business and community leaders to start the process and encourage bodies, such as the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce, to provide both moral and financial support on the day. The successes at the Toowoomba DPI and at USQ will be built on by those groups in 2008. It was decided to organise some form of rallying point at the Village Green on R2W day if possible, subject to various insurance considerations, of course. Further ideas are sought and all are encouraged to organize something, however big or small that can be managed, at their workplace.
As stated previously, there will be a meeting of TRC candidates at Dr Price Rooms – 9 March. The route from Russell Street to USQ via the TCC created cycle-path will be featured in there in a series of still photographs-with-commentary for discussion with TRC and BUG supporters in a visual presentation of the key arguments concerning the benefits and necessity of improved bicycle facilities in Toowoomba.
The flyer, ‘Cyclists, Coffee & Candidates’ was agreed to be sent to all and sundry as a reminder to turn up. The three bike shops are always included in these sort of communications, with a request that they pass the information on to their e-lists too.
Because of human fallibility, and the need to pick up keys on a Friday afternoon to get into the Dr. Price Rooms on a Sunday, it was agreed that, once the 9 March meeting was over, future meetings will be booked for the City Library meeting room. The next more formal meeting will be held there in about two months, with the date to be confirmed and emailed to supporters in due course.