There’s no love lost between motorists and cyclists on the roads, but now thousands of drivers have hit back in a campaign calling for bike riders to be forced to ride single file.
More than 90,000 drivers have launched a petition on change.org, slamming cyclists for clogging up the roads by riding side by side and in groups. They claim it’s causing major safety hazards, while their money “is being wasted every time an expensive bike lane is built on a main road”.
It’s sparked a mixed response, as many back the campaign while others – including Today presenter Karl Stefanovic – have defended cyclists.
The petition calls on transport ministers of each Australian state to introduce the compulsory road rule as soon as possible, stating they must: “Implement ‘Compulsory Single File’ for all cyclists who ride in groups, regardless of whether a bike lane exists or not.”
They also want cyclists banned from driving on roads with a speed limit of 80km/h or higher, if there isn’t a designated cycle lane in place.
“We are tired of taxpayer dollars being lavished on expensive road systems with designated bike lanes, only to see cyclists continue to ride 2 or more abreast, spilling into main traffic lanes and impeding traffic flow,” the petition added. “We are tired of the safety hazards such cyclists present, and we are tired of being we’re told we’re bad drivers if we complain about this problem.”
The goal amount of signatures is currently 150,000, and it looks to be well on its way to achieving it.
One Twitter user commented: “License riders and make them pay insurance. That will stop them going through red lights,” while another added: “If bikes want to take up a lane on our roads then they should be made to register their bikes. Taxpayers pay for all those cycle lanes. All drivers have to pay rego for the privilege to drive on these roads so it’s only fair.”
However, not everyone is in favour of the new road rule being introduced, and Stefanovic launched into a surprising speech on air on Tuesday, backing cyclists who he says are helping to save the planet by reducing pollution.
“I do think it’s the driver's fault on the roads I think that cyclists can be two or three wide…and it’s up to drivers to be patient.” Karl is firmly on the side of the cyclists here. Where do you stand? Should cyclists be forced to ride single file on our roads? #9Today pic.twitter.com/BARbbmV69v
— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) May 29, 2018
“I don’t understand why they (motorists) are so angry,” he said on the morning TV show. “Cyclists are doing their own thing, they are great for the environment – making their own way to a place. “It is up to drivers to be patient. Drivers are the ones losing their heads here. I think cyclists are the people unfortunately bearing the brunt. Look at them, no dramas.”
He went on: “It is drivers out there. It is drivers out there who are impatient and who are running and endangering cyclist’s lives. I am sick of it.”
Another Twitter user agreed, and wrote: “How about people in charge of tonnes of fast moving metal stop using their mobile phones!”
And another stated: “There also has to be a distinction between ‘cyclists’ and ‘commuters’. Cyclists know the road rules and try keep out of the way as much as possible. Commuter riders are generally the ones breaking the road rules.”
Current Australian road rules state cyclists are allowed to ride alongside one other rider, as long as they are travelling within 1.5m of each other.
Deputy PM Michael McCormack told Starts at 60 in a statement: “The Australian Government is committed to reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries caused by road crashes in Australia, working with State and Territory Governments through the National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020. The national Strategy recognises the importance of creating safer road environments for cyclists and other vulnerable road users.”
He added: “The recently-released National Road Safety Action Plan for 2018-2020 includes priority actions focused on a combination of infrastructure and speed reduction measures to reduce crashes at urban intersections, expanding lower speed limits in areas with high pedestrian and cyclist usage, and the development of vehicle technologies expected to bring benefits to pedestrians and cyclists.
“The designing, building and funding of cycling and pedestrian infrastructure is an important mechanism providing improved safety and amenity for all road users. Although this is primarily a matter for State, Territory and Local Governments, the Australian Government’s $75 billion in infrastructure funding and financing from 2018-19 to 2027-28 will include, in relevant projects, the provision for inclusion of new cycling and pedestrian infrastructure as part of the overall project. In Australia’s federal system, road traffic regulation and enforcement is the responsibility of State and Territory Governments.”