LAW ‘WON’T END’ DIVIDE ON ROADS
NEW safe passing distance rules will do little to improve the relationship between motorists and cyclists, according to a local cycling club president.
From November 30, drivers overtaking a cyclist must keep a 1m gap between their car and those on a bike while on a road with a speed limit up to 60km/h. A 1.5m gap will be needed on roads with a speed limit over 60km/h.
Melville Fremantle Cycling Club president Russell Miller said the new rules were long overdue, with the relationship between cyclists and motorists as bad as he had seen in 50 years.
But he does not believe all will suddenly be rosy between drivers and cyclists.
“(The rules) shouldn’t even be necessary and wouldn’t be if both parties respected each other,” Mr Miller said.
Atwell cyclist Mark Pearmine, a truck driver for 27 years, said some “headway was being made”.
“You can imagine the arguments I’ve had with my truck driver friends,” he said.
“I do feel we’re making headway. People are more tolerating (of cyclists). With the new laws, every little bit helps.”
The penalty for drivers who break the new law is a $400 fine and four demerit points.
Road Safety Minister Michelle Roberts said seven cyclists had been killed on WA roads this year.
“Cyclists are among our most vulnerable road users and these new rules are designed to provide greater protection and hopefully reduce the number of serious injuries and deaths,” she said.
Jandakot MLA Yaz Mubarakai said the new rules reflected a common sense approach promoting mutual respect.
WestCycle chairman Neil Hackett said the rules sent a “clear message” cyclists have a right to be on the road.
Bicycling WA chief executive Debra Graham said the law provided clarity for riders and drivers.
The new rules will be monitored by the Road Safety Commission, with a report provided to the Minister after two years.
THE first person caught and fined under the State Government’s new legislation, enforcing a safe distance between cars and cyclists, will determine how the public reacts to the new rules. As of November 30, motorists will have to keep at least 1m from cyclists if they are driving less than 60km/h and 1.5m if they’re driving faster, or risk a $400 fine and loss of four demerit points. There’s no doubt the concept of this new rule is flouted all over the WA and if enforced, we can expect someone to be fined first thing Friday morning on December 1. It will prove that the new rule is not just a piece of paperwork but an active law that can’t be ignored. So while they’re there, police need to enforce current rules protecting pedestrians and motorists from cyclists flouting the rules. According to the Department of Transport… ‘When using a public road all bicycle riders must obey the same rules as other vehicles. The most common rules include those applying to traffic lights, stop signs, careless and reckless riding, riding under the influence of alcohol and keeping left’. That means cyclists need to stop at pedestrian crossings, give way to the right at roundabouts and come to a complete stop at stop signs. These rules protect cyclists, motorists and pedestrians and most importantly save lives. They currently, and never will, appease the tension between the different road users.
– Denise S. Cahill