Cycling in the news: 25 Dec 2019 – 10 Jan 2020

The ABC reported on Christmas Day that a 57-year-old cyclist had died after “a major crash” involving a truck near Nullarbor in regional South Australia. Reaction on social media was generally sympathetic, although some commenters were critical of cyclists for riding on highways, using heavy vehicle routes or “thinking they are invincible”.

In November of last year a driver who caused the death of a 49-year-old cyclist in Melbourne pleaded guilty to dangerous driving charges in the County Court of Victoria. The Herald Sun reported that the family of the cyclist are currently facing deportation as the deceased, a UK citizen, was their primary visa holder. Daily Mail Australia highlighted that while the cyclist’s family face deportation the “refugee who killed them can remain”.

Social media commentary on this story is mixed. Although the Iranian driver has legal residency as a refugee many commenters called for his deportation. In contrast to the Nullarbor crash mentioned above, few commenters blamed the cyclist for the incident or made negative characterisations of cyclists.

7 News Sydney reported that work installing the Macquarie Park pedestrian and cycle bridge had reached the “halfway mark”. One Facebook commentator called for cyclists to be charged tolls to use the bridge once it was complete. Another expressed frustration at the $40 million dollar cost stated in the report.

On the Gold Coast, the Courier Mail reported that a cyclist had “smacked” into a toddler on a shared path near Coolangatta causing serious injury and “smashed teeth”. The story was also covered by the Daily Mail Australia and the Gold Coast Bulletin. Comments on the news articles and on Facebook were particularly hostile towards cyclists. Cyclists were characterised as arrogant, riding too fast, careless and dangerous. The Courier Mail’s Facebook post for this article received significant engagement.

The Senior reported that the High Country Women’s Cycling Festival will run from March 20-22 of this year in regional Victoria. A spokesperson for the festival stated they would be partnering with RoadSafe North East to spread the “Pass Cyclists Safely” message in the leadup to the festival. The Senior reports that the festival is backed by Regional Roads Victoria and will promote reduced speed limits and safe traffic management protocols.

In late December and early January news reporting was dominated by stories of the ongoing bushfire crisis. Cyclists were characterised positively in news reporting when video was picked up and reported on by, 7 News, the ABC (among many others) showing a group of South Australian cyclists giving water to a koala during a heatwave. This story was reported internationally and received significant engagement on social media.

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