Feb 242012

Sally is riding out of the city on a busy road, heading towards an excellent bicycle route.  She needs to turn right.  Rather than cut across two lanes of fast-moving traffic, Sally pulls onto the footpath at a pedestrian crossing and crosses with the pedestrian lights.

Sally did this because she was looking out for her own safety.  But at the same time, Sally breached the road rules that make it an offence for a cyclist to ride on a footpath, and to cross at a pedestrian crossing.

Ideally, Sally wouldn’t have to make this call, because there would be more safe bike lanes forming a coordinated network across the city.

But until that happens, we believe that cyclists should not be punished for taking defensive action.

We think these offences don’t look at the reality of roads from a cyclist’s perspective. Even the definition of a ‘road’ in the road rules implies that roads are for cars.

The car dooring bill goes some way to addressing the inadequate penalties that currently apply to car drivers who endanger cyclists.  But we would like to see a broader review of all road rules – looking at strategies to make it safer (such as clear rules on safe passing distances), and looking at removing barriers to safe cycling.

What do you think?  Are there road rules that just don’t make sense for cyclists?

  4 Responses to “Demand number 4: review the road rules to remove barriers to safe cycling”

  1. Jonathan,

    Maybe, but getting off a bike to walk across a pedestrian crossing is an inconvenient pain. People are lazy, including cyclists! The intent of banning cycling on ped crossings is to prevent collisions – but collisions don’t happen if cyclists on ped crossings presume that it is their responsibility to give way to pedestrians in that particular location. It’s only if someone is riding too fast for such a location that collisions become a potential problem (ie, the Southbank free for all.) So, how about instead introducing a rule that cyclists must give way to pedestrians on pedestrian crossings, and retract the no-riding-on-ped-crossings rule? It’s the way most pedestrian crossings on highly trafficked routes appear to function already, and it seems to work safely and well. Why treat cyclists like second class citizens? Many car collisions happen at intersections, yet motorists aren’t required to get out of their cars and push them across!

    My problem with the walk-bikes-on-pedestrian crossings is that it’s conducive to a process that turns cyclists into lawbreakers by degrees – and once one knows that one’s already breaking one rule, it’s not much of a step to breaking another for reasons of safety or convenience.

    The underlying problem is that cycling in Australia has never been planned at a high level with a systems approach. The result is a situation where I, on my ride home from work, break a handful of rules for a range of reasons ranging from practicality to safety to convenience. Not stopping at stop signs (my track stand isn’t that good), riding on the footpath along Cremorne to get past the (car) traffic jam to Swan St, riding on the footpath on the eastern side of Punt Road under Richmond Station (a long walk!), riding the Punt Road ped crossing, turning left into Albert from Clarendon on the red, so as to get into the bike lane without having to tend with crossing travel paths with left turning motor traffic (the bike and car left turns cross over on the turn)… With a bit of thought I might be able to identify ten. And I don’t run reds, that’s just dangerously stupid (and *really* helps cyclists get a bad rap!).

    The idea that we have lots of lovely bicycle infrastructure and lots of good rules is a crock. The infrastructure that we have is piecemeal, generally inconvenient and often dangerous, the rules sometimes put cyclists at extra risk. There is no overarching vision by any central authority to make cycling easy, safe, and convenient. What we need is broad cultural, legal and infrastructural change – not constant pissing around the edges, slapping down a bit of green paint here and there, introducing a new rule or two, and wasting money on piss weak advertising campaigns like “Share the Road”.

    I want to see a system where the rules and infrastructure make sense and are convenient and help to keep me safe – so that I can ride home without breaking any rules and do so with maximum safety, convenience and courtesy to my fellow citizens.


  2. Sally has two options: she can do a hook turn or she can get off and push her bike. This post creates a false dichotomy.
    There are solutions that are legal nd age for pedestrians and therefore I don’t understand whats wrong with the law as it stands.

  3. I do exactly this at least daily as I commute. There are many intersections where it’s just too dangerous to approach as ‘normal’ traffic, particularly at certain cycles of the lights. On the other hand, there are many cyclists who ride aggressively and quickly on footpaths, where it’s clearly not appropriate – and this is where it gets sticky. As we’ve seen many times before, legislation is necessary for clarity, but you can’t legislate common sense.

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