Sharing the road with cyclists


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Sharing the road with cyclists

Getting around by bike is becoming more populari. The 2011 National Cycling Participation Survey found that in a typical week about 18% of Australians ride a bicycle for recreation and transportii. 3.6 million people ride for recreation, leisure or fitness and more than 1.2 million make at least one transport journey by bike. As a mode of transport, the survey found that people make trips on their bike to school, university, work, the shops and to visit family and friends. The Northern Territory (11.1%) and ACT (9.5%) have the highest rates of cycling for transport, while New South Wales (3.6%) and South Australia (5.6%) have the lowest.

Commuting by cycling is a great way of squeezing physical activity into a busy day and it's better for the environment than driving or even taking public transport. Depending where you live, cycling could let you avoid peak hour traffic congestion, saving you time on your journey in and out of urban areas. Furthermore, switching to the bike can save you money on every day parking fees or travel tickets.

In Australia, cyclists are amongst the most vulnerable of road users (Source:Wood, J.M., Lacherez, P.F., Marszalek, R.P., & King, M.J., 2009, Drivers' and cyclists' experiences of sharing the road: incidents, attitudes and perceptions of visibility, Queensland University of technology).

However, there are few bike-only lanes in Australian cities and towns, and current cycle networks do not stretch far. That leaves most cyclists to get around on the roads, which comes with its risks. It is important for both drivers and cyclists to recognise these risks and remember that the road is there to share.

The risks

In Australia, cyclists are among the most vulnerable of road usersiii. They have the highest proportion of self-reported near-miss crashes, which is significantly higher than that of motoristsiii. The average probability of a cyclist being seriously injured in a collision was almost 27%iii - that's more than 1 in 4 crashes resulting in a serious injury - and there were 35 pedal cyclist fatalities in 2011iv. In 2008, the majority of cyclist fatalities occurred on Sunday (21) and Friday (18), and 12-6pm was the most dangerous time for cyclist fatalitiesi.

A factor that influences vehicle and bicycle collisions on the road is that drivers are unable to detect cyclists until it is too late to avoid a collisioniii. These accidents are called "looked-but-failed-to-see" crashes and occur when a driver looks as she or he should before proceeding to drive, but fails to see the cyclist in the way. This suggests that cyclist visibility on the road may be an important factor in collisionsv.

Abiding by the road rules and respecting all commuters can reduce the incidence of accidents occurring between drivers and cyclists.

Tips for staying safe

Whether you're driving, cycling or walking, there are measures you can take to ensure a safer trip for everyone. It's important to abide by the road rules and to know your rights and responsibilities when on the road. Here are a few safety tips that drivers and cyclists should keep in mind when travelling on the road.

Driversvi -

Cyclists -

No matter how we choose to travel - drive, cycle or walk - the road is there for everyone to use. Respecting all types of commuters and abiding by the road rules can make travelling on the road a safer experience for everybody. However, accidents can occur and as a driver, you want to have a peace of mind that your investment is safeguarded in the event of one. By taking out car insurance you can make sure that you are financially protected for damage to your vehicle or third party property in the event of an accident.

^ Bicycle helmets are specialist head protection designed to reduce the likelihood of injury to a cyclist in the event of an accident. The mandatory standard for bicycle helmets covers design, construction and safety marking requirements for bicycle helmets. This mandatory standard is set out in the Trade Practices (Consumer Product Safety Standards) Regulations 2001-Bicycle Helmetsx.


i CARRS Centre for accident research and road safety, 2011, State of the Road: Bicycle Safety Fact Sheet, http://www.carrsq.qut.edu.au/publications/corporate/bicycle_safety_fs.pdf, p.1

ii Australian Bicycle Council, 2011, National Cycling Participation Survey: National Fact Sheet

iii Wood, J.M., Lacherez, P.F., Marszalek, R.P., & King, M.J., 2009, Drivers' and cyclists' experiences of sharing the road: incidents, attitudes and perceptions of visibility, Queensland University of technology, http://eprints.qut.edu.au/29579/1/29579.pdf, p.3

iv Australian Government Department of Infrastructure and Transport, 2012, Road Deaths Australia 2011 Statistical Summary, http://www.bitre.gov.au/publications/2012/files/RDA_Summary_2011.pdf, p.1

v Wood, J.M., Lacherez, P.F., Marszalek, R.P., & King, M.J., 2009, Drivers' and cyclists' experiences of sharing the road: incidents, attitudes and perceptions of visibility, Queensland University of technology, http://eprints.qut.edu.au/29579/1/29579.pdf, p.4

vi Queensland Government, 2012, Sharing the road with cyclists, http://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Safety/Driver-guide/Driving-safely/Sharing-the-road-with-cyclists.aspx, p.1

vii CARRS Centre for accident research and road safety, 2011, State of the Road: Bicycle Safety Fact Sheet, http://www.carrsq.qut.edu.au/publications/corporate/bicycle_safety_fs.pdf, p.2

viii Bicycle Network, Bikes and Riding: Riding on the road, http://www.bicyclenetwork.com.au/general/bikes-and-riding/90455/

ix NSW Government: Roads and Traffic Authority, Share and be aware brochure, http://www.bicycleinfo.nsw.gov.au/downloads/share_be_aware_may11.pdf

x Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Product Safety Australia, Bicycle Helmets,, http://www.productsafety.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/974624/fromItemId/974621