Safe riding space urged in TAC campaign

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Cyclist Daniel Clair has had a few close calls while riding
Cyclist Daniel Clair has had a few close calls while riding

Daniel Clair describes it as harrowing, that feeling when, as a cyclist, you feel a vehicle doing 60km/h or more approaching from behind.

“Especially if you’re on a road without a wide shoulder, having vehicles come up behind and pass so close to you, it makes you feel extremely vulnerable and there’s no margin of error for either party,” he says.

Daniel, who lives and works in Geelong and cycles a few hundred kilometres a week, recalls a recent particularly frightening experience.

“A truck came up behind me doing about 60km/h and I had nowhere to go on the left side – the truck passed me with about one foot of space between us.

“I couldn’t veer to the left without falling off the bike and couldn’t veer to the right without hitting the truck or potentially falling under it. It’s not an infrequent situation.”

Not all cyclists escape such situations unscathed.

“Cyclists are extremely vulnerable on our roads, with 421 riders hospitalised with injuries sustained in transport accidents in Victoria last year,” says Transport Accident Commission lead director of road safety Samantha Cockfield.

Did you know we have roadside assistance for bicycles?

Leave a safety gap

TAC has launched a public education campaign, encouraging drivers to leave a safety gap of one metre between their side mirror and cyclists to the left in 60km/h zones. In higher speed zones, the safe gap should be 1.5 metres.

The campaign has the tagline: “Drivers, give the space to ride safe.” It will be on TV, radio, online and billboards, and was developed with input from drivers and cyclists across Victoria.

“The vast majority of drivers willingly give space when they pass a cyclist, but people can be unsure of the guidelines on just how much distance they should leave,” Samantha Cockfield says.

RACV roads and traffic manager Dave Jones welcomes the campaign, saying drivers who change their behaviour become role models for others. “All road users need to behave in a safe and considerate way near other users,” he says.

Daniel sees the launch of the campaign as timely, as there will be more people holidaying in rural areas over summer, making cyclists even more vulnerable. “Providing a metre reduces a harrowing experience to one where all road users feel more safe.”

Photo: Shannon Morris

Written by Kathryn Kernohan
November 24, 2017