MORE than 100,000 ‘concerned citizens of Australia’ want cyclists banned from high-speed roads that do not have bike lanes, and forced to ride in single file when in groups.
But a community group promoting cycling in Bendigo believes claims in the Change.org petition have ‘no merit’.
The ‘Compulsory single file for cyclists’ petition, which launched four months ago, calls on state and national ‘transport ministers’ to implement a number of legislative changes.
In addition to making riding in a single file compulsory for groups of cyclists, ‘Drivers for Registration of Cyclists’ wants cyclists to be prohibited from riding on roads without bicycle lanes, where the designated speed limit exceeds 80kph.
“We are tired of taxpayer dollars being lavished on expensive road systems with designated bike lanes, only to see cyclists continue to ride two or more abreast, spilling into main traffic lanes and impeding traffic flow,” the group’s petition states.
“We are tired of the safety hazards such cyclists present, and we are tired of being we're told we're bad drivers if we complain about this problem.”
Drivers for Registration of Cyclists believes compelling cyclists to ride in a single file to be the most effective safety initiative for road users.
“Every text book on the subject of risk management says ‘isolating a hazard’ is a superior solution than changing the way people operate,” the petition states.
“And building a bike lane is an example of ‘isolating the hazard”.
Bike Bendigo president Jac Torres-Gomez says claims in the petition lack evidence.
“This petition does nothing to promote a positive culture of understanding of difference and vulnerability on our roads,” she says.
“We will continue to focus on the benefits cycling brings to individuals and society as a whole, improving health, inclusiveness, culture, reducing congestion, reducing public health costs, and – most importantly – the simple joy and freedom of riding a bicycle.”
Cyclists are allowed to ride two abreast in any traffic lane on single and multi-lane roads in Victoria, provided they no more than 1.5 metres away from one other’s bicycle.
Recognised safety benefits of the formation include increasing the cyclists' visibility and reducing their overtaking length.
Advisory signs indicate areas where single file riding is suggested because overtaking can otherwise prove difficult.
Restrictions can also be found on some major freeways.
Cyclists are, otherwise, permitted to use most of the road and must obey the same road rules as drivers.
“The road rules are there to protect everyone – because one person dying on our roads is one too many,” Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Luke Donnellan says.
He did not directly address the suggested legislative changes in his response to the Bendigo Advertiser, but did comment on infrastructure.
“Cyclists are significantly over represented in the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads – that’s why we’re investing more than $100 million in off-road and separated walking and cycling paths across the state,” Mr Donnellan said.
Cyclists are 34 times more likely to be seriously injured than vehicle occupants and 4.5 times more likely to be killed in the event of a crash.
The government is understood to consider cycling to be key to addressing pressures on the transport network in regional and metropolitan cities as Victoria’s population grows.
A lengthy post by the petition’s authors, celebrating the 100,000 signature milestone, notes push-back from an unspecified, collective ‘cycling lobby’.
“Compulsory single file won't stop people from cycling, it will simply help traffic flow more safely for everyone concerned - especially when a bike lane is present,” it concludes.