Rider safety remains the main inhibitor to increasing the number of cyclists on our regions roads, according to the results of a transport survey conducted by Bike Bendigo, but figures from the state’s road accident insurer suggest serious incidents involving cyclists are rare.
The community cycling group quizzed 157 people – almost 40 per cent of which classified themselves as ‘interested but concerned’ regarding cycling around town.
Despite the sample size being relatively small, the results are indicative of a national attitude toward cycling.
“While bicycles are defined as vehicles, and given similar rights to cars when on the road, they face disproportionate vulnerability,” Bike Bendigo president Jac Torres-Gomez said.
“This highlights why all users need to feel safe – and how things like separated bike lane infrastructure, safe distance passing laws, community rides to help those ‘interested but concerned’ feel safety in numbers to improve their confidence is so important.”
Footage emerged last week of an 11 year-old boy being struck by a car in a hit-and-run at a Bendigo roundabout.
However, some statistics show incidents involving cyclists on the region’s roads are rare.
According to Transport Accident Commission figures, 40 hospitalisation claims for incidents involving cyclists have been lodged with the organisation over the past 10 years.
That accounts for 4.15 per cent of the 962 overall claims in the municipality over the same period.
Of the 40 claims, 35 were for a hospitalisation period of 14 days or less, while five were for incidents where a person was in hospital for more than 14 days.
Claims involving pedestrians (86) and motorcyclists (204) were higher than those involving cyclists.
Ballarat’s TAC claims involving cyclists over the same period are identical (40), with Shepparton (33) slightly lower and Melbourne at 432.
The City of Greater Bendigo is aware of the need to improve its bicycle networks.
Bendigo council manager strategy Trevor Budge referenced a section of cycling track the followed the Back Creek, which was cut off at the intersection of the McIvor Highway, as an area that could be improved for cyclists.
Funding for dedicated bicycle lanes at Averys Road, Howard Street to Bright Street and Symonds Street, Aspinall Street to Mackenzie Street West, was allocated in council’s latest budget.
Lanes are also planned for Upper California Gully Road and Jackson Street.
Earlier this year, the state government refused to legislate a one-metre gap between cyclists and passing motorists.