A Partnership Approach to Improving Cycling Safety
Interim CEO Belinda Clark recently spoke at the National Road Safety Forum in Sydney, joining senior decision makers across a range of road user groups in discussing road safety strategies.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen for the opportunity to talk today about a ‘Partnership Approach to Improving Cycling Safety’.
Nowadays it seems that every organisation is expected to have a range of partners. And the word ‘partnership’ is often used pretty loosely.
From my experience in large commercial organisations a PARTNER was much more than a contracted relationship. It meant dependability and delivery in an entirely different dimension beyond the exchange of finance or a social responsibility ‘bottom line’.
For the Amy Gillett Foundation it’s important to make the distinction that for us partnerships form around issues – we PARTNER to tackle complex social problems because we can’t achieve change on our own. And road and cycling safety are certainly complex.
Looking over the past 10 years the Foundation has been incredibly fortunate in our partnerships. For those of you who don’t know, Amy Gillett was an elite cyclist who died when she was hit by a car while cycling in Germany with the Australian national team. There was a national outpouring of grief. But, through this tragedy the Amy Gillett Foundation was formed with the single purpose to make bike riding safer. The Foundation has become Australia’s leading bike safety organisation.
Our mission is to achieve zero bike fatalities in Australia – we would be very happy if our organisation was made redundant.
Initially the Foundation’s approach to partnerships was for funding, to build a corpus, with other organisations who also wanted to see improvement to road safety for bike riding. The cycling community was a natural first place start.
However, as the Foundation developed its agenda for change the only way to achieve outcomes was through PARTNERSHIPS.
We have partnerships to gain evidence – we work with Monash University, the Victorian Transport and Accident Commission, University of NSW, and a range of others organisations so that the Foundation has evidence on which to propose better solutions for road safety.
Then, using that evidence we recommend changes to public policy and legislation. We work with all levels of government, in all jurisdictions across Australia. It’s important here to make a comment about how we work because I believe that our organisational behaviour also demonstrates what we mean by partnership. It’s about finding the balance between partners, individual and mutual objectives.
Sometimes they align and sometimes the don’t. And it’s important to be clear about when they don’t. We need to be strong about what we stand for. But the way we go about things is collaborative. The Foundation does not endorse protest action as a means of getting things done. We talk, we debate, we discuss and persuade government of changes needed based on evidence, with the support of a range of road users. And we believe that the way we go about things, also makes us stand out.
We know that legislation alone won’t change behaviour on our roads. This is why we have worked in PARTNERSHIP with trucks, and motoring organisations and bike groups, and the NSW Government to form ‘It’s a Two Way Street’ campaign to focus on sharing the road together. Only with behavioural change will we have a safe system for all road users.
This campaign has aired extensively in NSW on television, cinemas and radio. We were fortunate to have one of our Ambassadors – Charlie Pickering – support this endeavour by doing the voice over, because he is committed to seeing bike safety improve, but also because he likes the style of how we do things – collaboratively.
As I said earlier the Foundation makes bike riding safer through conducting research, working collaboratively and influencing improvements to road safety. One of the campaigns we are particularly proud of is ‘A Metre Matters’ which is extending to minimum overtaking distance legislation.
We know from evidence that the most common cause of bike rider fatalities is being hit from behind. And as much as we would like separated bike lanes and paths everywhere, we know practically that in Australia it will never be possible to build these on every road, in every town in Australia.
So, ‘A Metre Matters’ builds a virtual space around a bike rider. A Metre Matters is in place now in Queensland and working very well. It’s a proven strategy which changes driver behaviour and has broad public support. It will be introduced in the A.C.T. in October, and very soon in South Australia. We continue to work with NSW and the Victorian Governments and we remain confident that it will be introduced here.
We try to ‘model’ sharing the road safely in our approach to partnerships. Partnerships in our opinion are the ONLY way to improve road safety, particularly for bike safety.