Cycling in the news: 11 Jan – 17 Jan 2020

SA Police Launch Operation Safe Cycling 13 Jan – 26 Jan

On Sunday, South Australia Police launched Operation Safe Cycling which will run from the 13th of January to the 26th. Police say they will be targeting high risk behaviours by both motorists and cyclists that are allegedly contributing to the high death toll of cyclists on South Australian roads.

Speaking to the press, Inspector Cynthia Healey began by stating that cyclists needed to remember their helmets, be highly visible and obey all road rules and traffic signals. Additionally, she stated cyclists needed to remember they could only ride two-abreast.

“These are non-negotiables. These are the laws that must be followed and if you don’t, we will take appropriate action” Inspector Healey said.  

Some Facebook commenters pointed out that SA Police’s focus on cyclists could be interpreted as “victim blaming” and urged police to target unsafe motorists instead.

The Advertiser reported that according to data released by SA Police “almost $3 million in fines have been dished out to riders in the past five years”. According to the Royal Automobile Association of South Australia the majority of these fines were for riders caught without helmets or lights.

As Mirage News reported, Operation Safe Cycling will coincide with the launch of the Tour Down Under which will take place in and around Adelaide from the 16th to the 26th of January. SA Police have launched similar operations in previous years in the lead up to the Tour. In 2018, Tour participants Team Sky were pulled over by police in Adelaide for making an illegal turn and going through a red light.

Later in the week cycling tech company Cycliq posted a video to Twitter showing a Melbourne cyclist who was clipped by a trailer being towed by a motorist.

Cycliq likened the dangerous near miss to “assault” and “attempted murder”. Daily Mail Australia reported that the driver had been “reckless” but also argued that accusing the driver of attempted murder “was taking the situation too far”.

“Despite the aggressive overtake, an unused bike path next to the road suggests the cyclist may have also been in the wrong” the Mail wrote.

This framing prompted many commenters to blame the cyclist for the incident, with some stating that cyclists needed to take “low risk” routes and should be fined for riding on the road if there was an alternative.

On January 10 News.com.au reported that a cyclist had assaulted a woman in Melbourne, grabbing her from behind and attempting to drag her into an alleyway. The man was described as “wearing a bike helmet” as a defining feature. News also published stills from CCTV footage showing the man walking his bicycle, requesting that if anyone recognised the assailant they should contact police.

In Cairns, The Post reported that the Regional Council will order substantial changes to a roundabout on Des Chalmers Drive to make the intersection safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Councillors are calling the roundabout a “bicycle awareness zone”. They will lower the speed limit to 30km/h and stencil bicycle symbols to “make it clear to drivers that cyclists are encouraged to use the main traffic lane to navigate the roundabout.” The council will also install a new shared path and a no right turn sign for cars leaving the nearby McDonalds.

In international news, a Dutch regional councillor has again petitioned Lego to include bicycle lanes in the roads that appear on Lego toys. Councillor Steeman argues that Lego “should reflect today’s desirable city life”. Steeman states that Lego has rejected his design proposals previously because bicycle lanes were not a consistent feature of international road rules and designs. Additionally, Steeman says he was told his design proposals “should not make political statements”.

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