Laws must change

Multisport Mecca - - Front Page - Grant Ed­wards

SEN­TENC­ING must be in­creased for those who de­lib­er­ately hurt or kill cy­clists.

A groundswell of sup­port is build­ing to force new na­tional leg­is­la­tion which would en­force min­i­mum jail times fol­low­ing two sen­tences of driv­ers who killed rid­ers were handed down in the past month.

Nathan Craig Mac­Don­ald was sen­tenced to nine years in prison for killing father-of-one Stephen Small, with a pa­role el­i­gi­bil­ity date of March 14, 2020 – four years af­ter the in­ci­dent.

Mac­Don­ald pleaded guilty to dan­ger­ous driv­ing while in­tox­i­cated caus­ing Mr Small’s death, and leav­ing the scene of the crash.

In Vic­to­ria, Ben Smith, 27, was sen­tenced to a non-pa­role pe­riod of 5 ½ years for the man­slaugh­ter of fa­therof-three Steve Jarvie who was left to die on the side of the Old Pa­cific Hwy at Cowan in Fe­bru­ary 2013.

Sun­shine Coast triath­lete, cy­clist and Allez Sport owner David Chick (pic­tured) said both sen­tences were “grossly in­ad­e­quate” and failed to meet com­mu­nity ex­pec­ta­tions.

“These sen­tences are man­i­festly in­suf­fi­cient con­sid­er­ing these in­di­vid­u­als de­lib­er­ately set out to hurt in­no­cent in­di­vid­u­als,” Mr Chick said.

“There needs to be suf­fi­cient de­ter­rents to those who some­how think cy­clists are not hu­man.

“It’s in­hu­mane and be­yond be­lief to think these peo­ple have been killed sim­ply un­der­tak­ing their pas­sion, train­ing and try­ing to bet­ter them­selves.

“I’m not sure what it is that causes some in­di­vid­u­als to har­bour so much anger to­ward cy­clists. Whether its phys­i­o­log­i­cal or jeal­ously that some peo­ple have the mo­ti­va­tion to chal­lenge them­selves, I’m not sure, but the ac­tions of these in­di­vid­u­als are in­hu­mane.”

There are plans for a pe­ti­tion to be for­mu­lated which calls for min­i­mum jail sen­tenc­ing – sim­i­lar to one-punch can kill laws in­tro­duced in 2014. The po­ten­tial penalty is life im­pris­on­ment.

“The judge said there was no re­morse for the at­tack on Steve. Is any­one go­ing to feel safe rid­ing when he is back on the road in four years?” Mr Chick said.

“I ride past Steve’s trib­ute bike all the time and it’s a con­stant re­minder we can­not let this go without ac­tion.”

Sun­shine Coast Cy­cling Club pres­i­dent Robert Thomp­son backed Mr Chick’s com­ments and agreed tougher de­ter­rents were needed.

“This type of be­hav­iour can­not be tol­er­ated in our com­mu­nity,” Mr Thomp­son said.

“It’s a very sad day when any­one is threat­ened on our roads – this is not what the Sun­shine Coast is about. As a com­mu­nity we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to look out for each other and a duty to cre­ate a safer road en­vi­ron­ment.

“Ev­ery road user, re­gard­less of what mode of trans­port they are us­ing – mo­torists, mo­tor­cy­cles, cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans – has the right to re­turn home safely to their fam­i­lies.”

A spokes­woman for the At­tor­ney-Gen­eral said “the penalty for the one-punch law was a max­i­mum penalty rather than a manda­tory penalty”.

“This govern­ment con­sid­ers that the courts are best placed to im­pose an ap­pro­pri­ate sen­tence in the cir­cum­stances rather than im­pose min­i­mum manda­tory sen­tences,” she said.

“Be­fore mak­ing a new law, con­sid­er­a­tion needs to be given to de­ter­mine whether the cur­rent penal­ties are ad­e­quate and there would be a need for com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion and con­sid­er­a­tion of the pol­icy.”

Govern­ments of all lev­els are work­ing to en­cour­age cy­cling across the na­tion to ease con­ges­tion and im­prove health.

The Na­tional Cy­cling Strat­egy was due to fin­ish at the end of last year, but has been ex­tended un­til the end of 2017.

The strat­egy has a vi­sion to dou­ble the num­ber of peo­ple cy­cling in Aus­tralia, and among the key pri­or­i­ties are:

■ Pro­mot­ing cy­cling as a vi­able and safe mode of trans­port, and an en­joy­able recre­ational ac­tiv­ity. ■ Cre­at­ing a com­pre­hen­sive and con­tin­u­ous net­work of safe and at­trac­tive routes to cy­cle and end-of-trip fa­cil­i­ties.

■ Ad­dress­ing cy­cling needs in all rel­e­vant trans­port and land use plan­ning ac­tiv­i­ties.

Ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralian Bi­cy­cle Coun­cil's Na­tional Cy­cling Par­tic­i­pa­tion Sur­vey 2017, about 3.74 mil­lion peo­ple ride a bi­cy­cle for re­cre­ation or trans­port in a typ­i­cal week.

While bi­cy­cle own­er­ship has re­mained steady in com­par­i­son to the 2011 Na­tional Cy­cling Par­tic­i­pa­tion Sur­vey, there has been a sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant de­crease in the level of cy­cling par­tic­i­pa­tion in Aus­tralia be­tween 2011 and 2017.

PHOTO: TESSA MAPSTONE

Cy­clists at the sen­tenc­ing of Stephen Small's killer, Nathan Craig Mac­Don­ald.

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