Safe space for cycling is a great way to save lives

September 17th, 2018

OPINION PIECE

SINCE 2016, about 1.5 million traffic tickets have been handed out in Queensland, and about 600,000 of these were for motor vehicle speeding — equal to around 44 per cent.

Traffic tickets issued to cyclists for speeding account for about .01 per cent of tickets issued.

Of greater concern, Queensland Government research shows 94 per cent of people who drive admit to speeding, and nearly 50 per cent admit to exceeding the speed limit by up to 10km/h most of the time.

Either way, all of us need to stick to the speed limits — whether we are driving or riding.

It’s a brutal and barely comprehensible reality that if we don’t stop speeding, more people will die on our roads.

Tragically, nearly 181 Queenslanders have died in road crashes involving motor vehicles this year, and the speed of the motor vehicle was a significant factor in most of these deaths.

The number of drivers killed has increased by over 36 per cent since last year, and the number of fatalities involving heavy vehicles has jumped by over 40 per cent.

Dismayingly, one in four people killed in vehicles on Queensland roads weren’t wearing seatbelts and 75 per cent of Queensland drivers admit to using mobile phones while driving.

Clearly, we have a problem, and it’s for all of us to solve.

I have written to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey calling for greater leadership on road safety.

What can — and should — be done, immediately?

Firstly, we can create a Road Safety and Healthy Travel Commission to spearhead efforts to reduce our road toll and promote a healthy and safe transport future for all Queenslanders.

Secondly, we can reform heavy vehicle laws and regulations to adopt the recommendations put forward by Bicycle Queensland in our submission to the Heavy Vehicle National Law and Other Regulation Amendment Bill, available here.

And thirdly, we can increase investment in targeted education and awareness strategies guided by a commission of experts drawn from across sectors and industries.

My message to all Queenslanders on the benefits of riding a bike remains strong.

Relatively speaking, riding a bike is more likely to be beneficial for your health, and lowers your risk of death from all causes.

The evidence also shows that our likelihood of dying in a car crash is higher than our risk of dying in a bicycle crash with a motor vehicle.

The difference being that if you are hit by a car while you’re riding or walking, your likelihood of surviving is much lower.

This speaks to the critical need for Safe Passing Laws and improved infrastructure for people who walk and ride.

Notably, high speed roads still account for the largest proportion of fatal crashes.

This has not changed appreciably over the last decade.

In terms of age-risks, young people are nearly twice as likely as older age groups to die in a traffic collision.

Those aged 17-25 make up less than 13 per cent of the population but more than 26 per cent of road fatalities since 1989.

Traffic injury is the biggest killer of children under 15 and the second-biggest killer of Australians aged between 15-24.

Seven in 10 road fatalities are men, and men are more likely than women to drive aggressively and take risks, according to research.

What’s my key message? For today, let me just say we all have a role to play in road safety.

More people riding bikes, with safe space for cycling, is a great way to save lives.

Anne Savage is the chief executive officer of Bicycle Queensland.
Originally published here in The Courier Mail.

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