We need to have a serious chat about road safety...

We need to have a serious chat about road safety.

I’m not talking about the hoons that speed around corners and run red lights. I’m not talking about the pedestrians who play chicken. I’m not talking about the cyclists who ride where they like without consideration for those around them. I’m talking about the drivers who do the right thing and drive safely, for the pedestrians who follow the rules and travel safely and for the cyclists who want to ride in the bike lanes and ride safely.

There have been a couple of incidents happening lately involving the aforementioned. The first was that a young woman, Emily Greenwood was walking across a road at an intersection with a pedestrian green light when a cyclist ran a red light on the road and collided with her. The 24 year old woman was left unconscious, with a fractured collarbone and several missing teeth. She has fronted an estimated $15,000 medical bill to repair the damage to her body, particularly in dental fees. A police spokeswoman has said to the media that the offender, a 34 year old man would be charged with negligent driving – even though he is a cyclist. This means that if he is found guilty, he will face a fine of $67 and court costs.

Currently, there is no liability on the cyclist for the damage the victim endured because like most cyclists, they do not have third party or public liability insurance. If it were a car that hit her, she would be compensated as it is a legal requirement for every car on the road to have third party insurance. But because there is no compulsory registration or insurance system for cyclists, they have no liability.

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The second thing that happened was last week when the game show, Family Feud asked the question, “What I something annoying that a cyclist might do?” The available answers for this question were; taking the driving lane, pulling out in front, cut you off, ride slowly, everything, ring bell, run red light and wear lycra.

I know so many cyclists who are safe. There are two people in my immediate family who cycle, one for sport as they are a triathlete and another who does it for transport. They have both worn a small camera on their different purposed rides and I was amazed at the footage they caught.

The one who rides for transport remained in the bicycle lane and stayed in the middle of it. He rides a typical bike, not a high-tech road bike so his tyres absorb shock and rocks on the path don’t bother him. There were two cars that drove past within a foot of him, both small cars, and another had a young man shout profanities at him. It was quite clear from the footage that he was well inside his bike lane and was out of the path of traffic.

The problem is that the type of things, like mentioned on Family Feud only encourage the stereotype that cyclists don’t belong on the road. Do we only believe that people with motors should be on the road? I personally believe most cyclists are safer than some motorcyclists that zigzag in and out of lanes at ridiculous speeds.

So why can’t we find harmony on our roads and make them a safe place again? As far as I can see it there are three things that need to be addressed:

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  • The first is the proper legal claim for cyclists to ride on the road. They should be registered and it should also become compulsory for them to hold third party insurance.
  • The second is that cyclists need to respect vehicle drivers and vehicle drivers need to respect cyclists.
  • The third is that everyone on the road needs to remember that they have a commitment to their own safety as well as those around them and start travelling with consideration for other people – pedestrians, other vehicle drivers or cyclists.

The roads should be a safe place and everyone using them for travel should be equals in their rights and their liabilities.

 

 So tell me, what do you think? Do we need to create harmony between everyone on the road? Should everyone become legally equal? Share your thoughts in the comments below…