A metre really does matter

Cyclist riding in Melbourne traffic

Not so close: giving cyclists a metre's clearance can make things a lot safer for everyone.

Through the generosity of media outlets of TV community services, pay TV, radio and cinemas across Australia and the use of large roadside billboards in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane an important shared road use safe cycling message is being conveyed through the Amy Gillett Foundation. It is quite simple and catchy: “A Metre Matters”.

For over nine years, bike sales have exceeded car sales with in excess of 1.1 million bikes sold per year. As more and more people are turning to bicycle riding for health and transport needs, the potential for fatalities and injuries on our roads can increase. All road users need to be mindful of their actions on the road to avoid the potential dangers of mixing cars and bikes.

The Amy Gillett Foundation’s primary objective is to reduce the incidence of injury and death caused by the interaction between cyclists and motorists. In doing so, they hope to promote a safe and harmonious relationship of shared respect between the two groups. It is almost 5 years since Amy Gillett, was tragically killed in an accident in Germany on 18 July 2005.  The 29 year old champion cyclist was training with the five other members of the Australian team preparing for the start of the Thuringen Tour when a teenage driver lost control of her vehicle, veered across the road and ploughed into the group.

Each year, an average of 35 cyclists are killed and over 2,500 are seriously injured on our roads and many more incidents go unreported. The majority of these collisions involve a motor vehicle and most are preventable. They seek to highlight the importance of being responsible every time we head out on the road whether we’re on two wheels or in four.

It’s not rocket science, it something we can all do starting today – because everyone deserves to arrive home safely irrespective of their chosen mode of transport. The promotion will also see car bumper stickers to be available in Big W stores nationally for the month of August and all Amy Rides will be promoting the campaign with approx 6000 tee shirts and cycling jerseys having the logo of “a metre matters”.

Approaches to state authorities and councils across Australian will be continued by the Amy Gillett Foundation to promote safe shared road use. More detail and media examples on the foundation’s web site.

There is also another approach being undertaken on the similar pathway. Sharing the Road has been developed by VicRoads and other members of the Victorian Bicycle Advisory Council, including Victoria Police, RACV, Bicycle Victoria, Cycling Promotion Fund and the Retail Cycle Traders Association. It is a community-based campaign being delivered in conjunction with local government, Roadsafe Community Road Safety Councils, and other organisations concerned with safe use of our roads.

There are four common crash types involving cyclists that have been identified. These involve cyclists colliding with a vehicle:

  • At an intersection, turning or passing straight through
  • When leaving a path or driveway to enter a road
  • From behind or from the side
  • When a car door is opened in their path.

They have suggested the following balanced approach for all road users.

How cyclists can share the road:

  • Obey the road rules and stop at all red traffic lights and stop signs
  • Wear bright coloured clothing, and use lights when cycling at night
  • Ride predictably and indicate to motorists when you intend to turn or to change direction
  • Allow at least 1 metre clearance when riding past parked cars
  • Wear a bicycle helmet at all times when cycling.

How motorists can share the road:

  • Be patient and give cyclists a clearance of at least 1 metre when passing them
  • Watch out for cyclists at intersections and roundabouts
  • Drive slowly and watch out for cyclists in residential streets
  • Check behind before opening your car door
  • Do not drive in bicycle lanes
  • Give way to cyclists in bicycle lanes.

Locally the adopting of these simple yet worthwhile rules will increase safe passage for many cyclists. The 1 metre for cyclists passing parked cars will reduce the risk of having a car door opened into the pathway of cyclists. The additional 1 metre being given to cyclists by vehicles approaching from behind allows for a measure of safety and reduced risk for the cyclists.

Larger vehicles create a vortex draft and can apply pressure that pulls shared road users such as cyclists sideways onto the roadway as they pass.  The metre really matters where there is a large vehicle mass or heavy traffic flow.

Look forward to seeing you on the road soon God willing.

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