LEGAL PROCEEDINGS ARE A TRAGIC REMINDER THAT THERE REMAINS MUCH TO BE DONE TO MAKE AUSTRALIAN ROADS SAFE FOR CYCLISTS
Last week’s media coverage of proceedings into the deaths of cyclists Jason Lowndes and Mike Hall is a tragic reminder of the vulnerability of bike riders, and also that there is much to be done to improve safety on Australian roads.
Mike was killed on 31 March 2017, near the small NSW locality of Williamsdale just south of the ACT border, while taking part in the inaugural Indian Pacific Wheel Race, where participants ride solo and unassisted from Fremantle to Sydney. The three-day inquest into Mike Hall’s death concluded in Canberra last Wednesday 26 September.
Jason had returned home from overseas for Christmas and was on a training ride when he was struck on Sedgwick Road, south of Bendigo, on 22 December 2017. The driver who killed Jason appeared before the Bendigo Magistrates Court on Friday charged with dangerous driving causing death, careless driving and using a mobile phone while driving in relation to the fatal collision.
Mike and Jason were two of 38 people tragically killed while cycling on Australian roads in 2017. Already this year another 31 people have died as a result of crashes with vehicles.
These two tragic events remind us that all road users have a responsibility to take basic steps to improve safety on our roads. Regardless of any findings to come out of the inquest or the court proceedings, the key issues raised are a stark reminder of the vulnerability of cyclists on our roads.
As drivers we can all be more vigilant about our attention while driving. We can make sure we are not texting, making phone calls, eating or doing any other task that distracts us from being focussed totally on the road ahead of us, and what’s going on around us.
This includes complying with minimum passing distance (a metre matters) laws, by leaving at least one metre in speed zones up to 60km and at least 1.5 metres in speed zones over 60km when passing cyclists. This simple measure is about keeping cyclists safe and helping drivers know how to share the road safely.
Both cases, where riders were struck from behind whilst travelling in the same direction as the vehicle which hit them, highlight the vital importance of leaving cyclists adequate space.
As cyclists we need to be respectful and responsible road users, including following the road rules.
Every one of us, whether driver or cyclist, must follow the law, and, we have a moral imperative to our fellow citizens, our families, friends and loved ones, to do whatever we can to ensure every person gets home safely.