Cyclists say they're 'terrified' by cars, but who is in the right?

There's been debate for year's over who's right - motorists or cyclists. Source: Pixabay.

Cyclists and motorists have been locked in a global long-running feud for years over their rights on the roads. But now, a leading bike-rider group has spoken out to say they’re becoming “terrified” of cars.

Bicycle Queensland is calling on motorists to take more care when driving, citing the fact that eight cyclists were among the 248 people reportedly killed on the roads last year. Now, Chief Executive Anne Savage has launched a bid to stop hostility between drivers and cyclists.

“Drivers, I have a message for you. Ordinary Queensland bike riders – our mums and dads and kids – are terrified of you,” she told the Courier Mail. While she admitted “cyclists also have responsibility for their behaviour on the road”, she added: “When you honk, shout, and hurl profanities, we get hurt… We have a right to be on the road, and we ask you to respect that right.”

Meanwhile The RACQ’s Steve Spalding has echoed the call for peace, and told the site it’s important that bikes and cars “can co-exist”.

“The message is no different to any other road user – we have to coexist on the network,” he said. “If you don’t coexist you get chaos, aggro on the road. Motorist or cyclist, they are a fellow human being.”

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According to Transport for New South Wales, “drivers must give bicycle riders at least one metre of space when passing”, while bicycles “are also encouraged to allow pedestrians a metre of space on shared paths, where possible”.

The site adds: “Drivers, bicycle riders and pedestrians all need to Go Together safely. We should all respect each other’s space and ensure that everyone stays safe. On average, nine bicycle riders are killed and more than 1900 seriously injured in NSW each year. Cyclists represent about 2.5 per cent of total road fatalities and about 16 per cent of serious injuries.”

There has previously been calls for cyclists to pay their own road tax, like cars, but it’s been met with fierce debate, as many argue it would put people off the more environmentally-friendly mode of transport.

Bicycling Western Australia says on their website: “Forcing people to register their bike will make bike riding less attractive, more expensive and less convenient. Many people would suffer from the financial burden of bike registration including families with children that go for leisurely rides and people who own more than one bike.”

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However, on the flip-side, one cyclist previously told the Courier Mail: “Cyclists shouldn’t get a free ride. If they want to take over the road then they should at least pay for the privilege.”

The debate doesn’t end in Australia, and it’s becoming a world-wide issue. According to The Independent, England’s government road safety statistics in October last year stated that cyclists are 15 times more likely to be killed on the road than motorists.

But elsewhere, during the summer of 2015, Paris law was modified to allow cyclists to treat certain stop lights as yield signs as allowed by signage. It essentially means they can jump a red light with care and attention to pedestrians and their surroundings, depending on whether there is a sign signalling it’s allowed at that particular junction. The change only applied to right turns or going straight at a T-junction.

It received a lot of backlash at the time, with motorists claiming it gave cyclists more rights on the roads and greater chance for accidents to occur.

So what do you think? Should motorists and cyclists both pay road tax? Should they have equal rights on the roads?