Thursday, 29 September 2011

Cyclists or cyclers: both need space on the roads

The veteran Bedford truck on Hume Street has an intriguing sign on the back urging drivers to give cyclers a metre free space when passing.

The owner, James, says he deliberately used an old term to describe bike riders, taken from the early days of ‘cycles’, when people who rode ‘a cycle’ were widely known as ‘cyclers’ and not ‘cyclists’.

“We have ‘drivers’ not ‘drivists’ and ‘swimmers’ not ‘swimists’, so I saw no reason not to stick with one of the original phrases that described people who rode the ‘cycles’ of those days, which it does as well today as it did in the 1870s,” James said.

But what of this request for a one metre space when passing?

Mr. David Allworth, spokesperson for the Toowoomba Bicycle Users Group (TBUG), says that although the Queensland Highway Code advises at least a one metre space when passing, it does not mandate any distance.

“The Amy Gillet Foundation is running a very successful public education campaign, ‘A Metre Matters’, that calls on all road users to leave at least a one metre space, from the elbow of the bike rider, when passing.”

“The Queensland Government refuses to legislate to protect bike riders on this minimum level of safety and have been less than helpful in making Queensland roads safer for all road users, not just bike riders, by allowing road speeds that are far too high by modern standards,” Mr. Allworth said.

“The TBUG is not convinced that bike lanes are the first priority for cycling safety, when distance between the vehicle and bicycle coupled with speed are the two key issues that need to be addressed first,” Mr. Allworth said.

“We have seen Toowoomba Regional Council and the Department of Transport and Main Roads marking out bike lanes in recent years but they do it to a very low standard.

“Many times, bicycle lanes are narrower than they need to be and all too often just end abruptly, throwing the cyclist into ever more dangerous situations,” Mr. Allworth said.

“The sign on the back of the truck is a very simple message for a very dangerous and far too fast road, Hume Street, but it applies to all roads in Toowoomba.

“It is really not much to ask, and helps to provide a modest safety margin where the state government and local council have decided to opt out of increased road safety,” Mr. Allworth said.

Amy Gillett Foundation:

Safe road speeds in Europe: