With the Port Macquarie Iron Man race fast approaching, our fearless leader and race competitor Dan Hutchinson is smack in the middle of his gruelling training regime. Part of this training involves weekly bike rides of as far as 200km in length, all on the open roads of SE Qld. It has therefore been with considerable interest over the last few months that the C&H team have been observing the new developments on Queensland’s cycling laws.
Recent years have seen a marked spike in the amount of people taking up cycling in the wider Brisbane area. While this is obviously good from a community health perspective, there had been an alarming increase of incidents involving cyclists and motorists. One of the worst of these was the tragic death of young Brisbane cyclist Richard Pollett in June of 2011, which led to Queensland MP Bruce Flegg calling for an examination into cycling conditions on Queensland roads.
Now, we will see the fruits of that examination, with the introduction last week of a two year trial whereby motorists will have to give at least 1 metre of space to cyclists in 60kph or less zones and 1.5 metres in faster zones. Penalties for non compliance have yet to be determined, however, fines for cyclists who break the road rules will now also be brought into line with those faced by motorists.
“These changes have been a long time coming”, said Mr Hutchinson.
“I have seen, and sometimes been the subject of, a number of instances of unacceptably dangerous conduct from passing motorists while out on the bike.
“Most of the time I don’t think it is intentional. I just think that that, from the surrounds of their cars, trucks or buses, it’s easy for motorists to underestimate how close their vehicles can sometimes get to cyclists.”
But, locally, the initial signs are that the community seems to have taken the new laws seriously.
“Since the announcement of the upcoming changes, I have certainly noticed a marked difference from passing motorists, the majority of whom have started to give our group a bit more space on the road,” said Mr Hutchinson.
“There will always be the odd one or two who will look to cause trouble and, overall, I think we still have a long way to go. However, it has been really heartening to see the response from the wider community. With any luck a few of them might be encouraged to come down and join us!”