The head of Queensland’s peak cycling body says the state’s bike riders are “terrified” of car users and with good reason.
Anne Savage, the chief executive of Bicycle Queensland, said there were eight cycling deaths last year and not enough is being done to protect the most vulnerable of road users.
In a strongly worded opinion column in the Courier Mail on Monday, Ms Savage claimed serious injuries in cycle crashes have been increasing by eight per cent annually, costing the state economy $150 million and leaving people traumatised.
She said of motorists: “Ordinary Queensland bike riders – our mums and dads and kids – are terrified of you.
“At least one in five Queenslanders say the main barrier to bike riding is fear of traffic.”
Ms Savage told The New Daily on Monday that drivers must understand that it did not take much for a car to severely injure a cyclist.
“They’re scared of drivers,” she said. “What we’re really calling for is for safe behaviours both on the part of cyclists and drivers … greater awareness and much greater vigilance.”
Brisbane has seen a boom in cyclists riding to work in a bid to beat the traffic, but that’s caused some problems as road users have struggled to adjust to the new reality.
In 2016, after a successful two-year trial, Queensland adopted a new road law requiring motorists to give cyclists one metre of space, there have also been new bike lanes
But since then there have been several high-profile incidents between cyclists and motorists – as well as Brisbane bus drivers – coming into conflict with cyclists.
In August a cyclist and bus driver came to blows after the bus had passed a cyclist on the way back to its depot.
Cyclists also staged a mass protest on Victoria Bridge in Brisbane last July after the Brisbane City Council moved to stop riders accessing the area because of the Metro bus project.
In her opinion column, Ms Savage said when drivers “honk, shout, and hurl profanities, we get hurt” and that aggression was directly responsible for many Queenslanders not wanting to ride.
Ms Savage said cyclists also needed to take responsibility for their speed and behaviour on the road.
“What we’re really calling for is safe behaviours both on the part of cyclists and car drivers.”
She said greater awareness and vigilance was needed.
“Bicycle Queensland is going to be working with both state and local governments this year to look at the way we can improve both participation rates and safe cycling – and that involves driver education as well as the promotion of safety training for cyclists at all levels, from beginner through to professional.”
She said it was time for the “hating” to stop.