Barney Gask says better education for road users can reduce accidents between cars and cyclists.
With the number of car accidents involving cyclists dramatically increasing in the last 12 months I have often found myself thinking about what is not being done to improve the situation.
There are a number of factors that have increased the number of cyclists on our roads, such as the success of Cadel Evans in the Tour de France and the popularity of our own Tour Down Under, the increase in petrol prices and people seeking alternative modes of transport, and the focus of society on fitness and keeping in shape. As a result the numbers of cyclists hitting the roads has increased three fold, and many of them are jumping on to a bicycle for the first time. The number of motor vehicles on the roads has not changed and we know that a large proportion of them are also inexperienced.
So what is being done to educate both groups on the road rules and how they should deal with the current infrastructure we have to cater for cyclists? It is a long time ago (over 20 years!) since I sat for my Learners Permit but there were very few, if any, questions aimed at scenarios involving cyclists. The Drivers Handbook presently includes scenarios to be considered in theory but are these applied practically? I am certain my driving instructor did not direct me into a notorious thoroughfare for cyclists when I completed the test to obtain my probationary licence. There is currently no requirement for cyclists to sit or complete any sort of test before donning the lycra. That being the case, these two groups are coming together on the roads and are forced into situations where neither are sure of their legal obligations.
What is the answer? If it is education, should that be a Government initiative or one that perhaps the South Australian Police should be implementing? Should training of cyclists be placed into the hands of a private entity? Should cyclists complete testing of some variety before they are allowed to ride on the roads? This might sound extreme but something needs to be done or accidents, injuries and fatalities will continue into the future.
Author: Barney Gask
TGB is South Australia’s largest injury law firm. Barney and his team handle many cycling injury claims. For a free interview in Adelaide or Perth, contact (08) 8212 1077.