Making Sydney's roads safer for all

Elaena Gardner and David Borella gave evidence at the NSW Staysafe Inquiry into Vulnerable Road Users on Tuesday 12 October. We had an opportunity to make an opening statement. This is what we said.

BIKESydney represents the interests of people who ride bicycles for transport in the City of Sydney. We want to live in a city where riding a bicycle safely and comfortably is part of everyday life.

Our submission was quite long but we’ve boiled it down to six key ideas.

Firstly …Creating a safe cycle-friendly environment is not rocket science; it is a matter of political will and leadership. We need programs that legitimise cycling as an essential form of transport – one that is deserving of infrastructure, promotion and investment.

The crux of the safety problem for bicycle riders centres on the fact that there is lack of planning for them and that the road system is predominantly designed for the movement of cars, not for the movement to people.

2. Reporting dangers and incidents needs improvement. More bicycle riders are being injured and injuries are under reported. We do not include road rage assaults in road injuries – this seems to be a serious issue for Sydney bicycle riders. We need a more thorough reporting system which includes an ability to report near misses, conflict points, road maintenance issues and dangerous driving.

3. The legal system must recognise bicycle riders as legitimate road users. Police inaction in response to complaints about dangerous driver behaviour and inconsistency by the courts send a message to the general public that bicycle riders are not equally valued citizens. This must be reversed.

4. Cycling gets safer the more people ride – and so we need to actively encourage more people to ride.

There is good evidence from around the world to support the idea that cycling gets safer the more people do it.

This can be done by:

  • the government adopting a long term goal to eliminate death and serious injury to bicyclists,
  • improving driver behaviour with ongoing education campaigns,
  • enforcing road rules, particularly around mobile phone use and speed,
  • amending the Australian Road Rules – particularly in relation to introducing shared zones on pedestrian crossings and reviewing mandatory helmet legislation
  • creating more welcoming and cycle-friendly streets,
  • training people to cycle with more confidence – including kids, and
  • implementing well designed, well connected and well maintained infrastructure.

Safer cycling infrastructure is not always visible and not always cycling-specific.  Speed management is critical.

BIKESydney believes that the general urban speed limit of 50 or 60 km/h is no longer acceptable. A 30 km/h limit is more appropriate for the safety of all road users.

5. Adequate funding is essential.

The NSW Bike Plan has a total allocation of $208 million over 10 years – it’s simply not enough. Ten years ago the Govt pledged $250 million for cycling projects over the same timeframe.

The NSW Government must, as a matter of urgency, review the budget allocation to cycling projects. If it is to reach its target of having 5% of trips made by bicycle by 2016, it must allocate a similar percentage of its roads capital expenditure to bicycle specific infrastructure and programs.

6. We must truly embrace the Safe System approach to road safety policy.

This approach puts people at its heart and aims to ensure the safe mobility of all citizens. It makes all road users responsible not only for their own safety but the safety of other road users.

We believe that the current state of road planning in NSW reflects a widespread lack of understanding of the Safe System approach.

We recommend that the NSW Government recommits to the Safe System approach and enshrines it in its new road safety strategic planning documents for the next decade.

So in summary…

  • We need to tackle the issue of road safety for bicycle riders boldly and with confidence that we can make a difference.
  • We need to find a better way of reporting dangers and incidents.
  • We need to be recognised by the legal system as legitimate road users.
  • We need to encourage more people to ride.
  • We need to make sure funding is adequate.
  • We must truly embrace the Safe System approach.

You can view all the written submissions here.

And you can download BIKESydney’s submission here.

4 Responses to “Making Sydney's roads safer for all”
  1. Karen says:

    Great article. We specialise in trying to teach children safely to ride here in the UK. Wish we can take your lead

  2. hector says:

    Thanks for sharing these informations. These could be done if the leaders will be serious in this matter. This will make bikers safe in the road.

  3. Gemma says:

    Great info! We should all make a concerted effort to bring in as many people as possible into cycling. It will make the roads so much safer for kids bicycles/cycling.

  4. zerodtkjoe says:

    Thanks for the info


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