Cycling rule drivers want banned
THE war between motorists and cyclists is one that we likely won't see the end of any time soon.
Many drivers think that cyclists shouldn't be on the road while riders say they deserve the same right to travel on the road as any other vehicle.
But there is one particular rule that is a point of much contention for Aussie drivers. In fact many feel so strongly about it that more than 82,000 people have signed a petition to have the rule overturned.
A Change.org petition started by Drivers For Registration of Cyclists is calling for all Australian cyclists to be made to ride in a single file, rather than the current law that allows them to ride two across.
"We, the undersigned, respectfully call on the Transport Ministers of each and every State in Australia, and each State Cabinet, to implement Compulsory Single File for all cyclists who ride in groups, regardless of whether a bike lane exists or not," the petition reads.
Australian cyclists are permitted to ride alongside one other rider, so long as they are travelling within 1.5m of each other.
The group claims that the rule creates a hazard, particularly in conjunction with the new rule requiring NSW motorists to leave minimum gaps when passing cyclists.
The rule requires drivers passing a cyclist travelling in the same direction to leave a minimum gap of one metre between the car and bike when the speed limit is 60km/h or less.
That distance bumps up to 1.5m when it is higher than 60km/h.
But according the petition, titled Compulsory Single File for Cyclists, both of these rules mean that drivers can be forced to swerve into other lanes to avoid the riders.
"We are tired of taxpayer dollars being lavished on expensive road systems with designated bike lanes, only to see cyclists continue to ride 2 or more abreast, spilling into main traffic lanes and impeding traffic flow," the petition reads.
"We are tired of the safety hazards such cyclists present, and we are tired of being told we're bad drivers if we complain about this problem."
Bicycle NSW communications director Kim Lavender told news.com.au that riding two abreast is actually safer than a single file.
"If you are riding two abreast on a road it means you are taking up less length on the road so it is easier to for cars to overtake," Ms Lavender said.
"It reduces it down to two metres of overtaking as opposed to three or more if riders were in a single file."
She said it also means riders can be seen more easily by motorists. If cyclists are in a single file they are less visible and an accident may occur.
Ms Lavender said the reason some drivers may be frustrated by the rule is they don't fully understand the reason it is in place.
"For some part I think it might be lack of education about why the rule is there in the first place," she said.
"It is there for a reason and it is actually in place to reduce hazards on the road."
Despite this, 82,195 people have shown their support for the petition. The organisation that started it also has a Facebook group with more than 42,000 followers.
The group also wants cyclists to be banned from riding on roads with a speed limit above 80km/h, if the road doesn't have a bike lane.
Ms Lavender said such a rule would open up a whole other range of issues for other people on the road too.
"If you want to propose a law like that you would also have to look at the other side - are we then going to ban L platers from driving on roads about 80km/h as well?" she said.
"A law like this would have a huge impact on cyclists. Already in places like Sydney the cycle lane networks aren't fully connected meaning riders have to travel on the road to get where they need to go."
This means that if cyclists weren't allowed on certain roads it would force a lot of people to find other transport options as there aren't enough bike lanes to avoid travelling on those roads.
"I think these drivers need to try and understand why people are riding bikes in the first place, the benefits that come along with that and how it positively impacts society," Ms Lavender said.
"Riding has physical benefits but it means that there is less congestion on the road and on public transport."
The petition claims that even when there are bike lanes, cyclists often ignore them and choose to ride on the road anyway.
"We believe our money is being wasted every time an expensive bike lane is built on a main road in circumstances where cyclists ignore such infrastructure as a matter of routine behaviour," it reads.
Ms Lavender believes that an essential part to drivers and riders sharing the road peacefully is patience.
"If you find you are stuck behind a cyclist if you just wait a few seconds you will usually have an opportunity to overtake safely," she said.
"It's all about being patient and respectful to other people on the road."