Cycling in the news 1 Feb – 7 Feb 2020

A 17-kilometre cycleway in Brisbane that runs from Eight Mile Plains to Lower River Terrace in South Brisbane is nearing completion. On Monday, the Brisbane Times reported that one of the final pieces of infrastructure planned for the Veloway 1 project would be subject to a public consultation process.

The planned cycling and pedestrian bridge would connect Veloway 1 to the Kangaroo Point Bikeway near Captain Cook Bridge. The Times quoted South Brisbane MP Jackie Trad as saying the primary justification for the new bridge was increased safety. The existing path is steep and disembarks cyclists directly onto a busy main road. The planned bridge will pass over the road allowing cyclists easy access to the south bank of the Brisbane River.

The Courier Mail reported that the “ambitious bikeway […] will allow cyclists to zoom right over the Brisbane River.” However, they also quoted Greens Councillor Jonathan Sri, who questioned the cost of the project, the impact it might have during construction and the government’s decision to prioritise the bridge “when there are lots of other cycling blackspots that also urgently need funding.”

Commenters on the Mail’s Facebook page were critical of the project. Many argued that the $45 million to be spent on Stage E of Veloway 1 could be better spent upgrading existing road infrastructure. Some complained that with Brisbane experiencing significant roadway congestion cycling infrastructure should not be a priority for the government.

Minimum passing laws were in the news again in Victoria. On Wednesday the Geelong Advertiser reported the results of a study commissioned by the Amy Gillett Foundation that looked at passing distances between cyclists and motorists in Geelong. The study captured more than 1000 passes and found that motorists on the Surf Coast Highway between Belmont and Charlemont were passing within 1.5m of cyclists 38 per cent of the time. Some motorists were recorded as passing within as few as 54, 64 and 73 centimetres of a cyclist.

A spokesperson from the Foundation argued that public support was behind a change in laws that would see drivers fined for passing within one metre of a cyclist.

“It’s not just people who ride bikes who want the legislation amended, it’s people who care about them and want them to be safe on the road. It’s also people who have lost loved ones or who have been injured riding bikes” Sarah Dalton was quoted as saying.

On the Geelong Advertiser’s Facebook page some commenters were supportive of the proposed laws. Others expressed frustration with cyclists using roads instead of cycleways and footpaths, cyclists riding two abreast and cyclists being unpredictable or breaking road rules. Many commenters cast doubt on the credibility of the study as well, arguing it was impossible to know the real distance without the cyclist carrying a tape measure.

In other news, Uber-owned Jump has announced it will trial its rollout of dockless rental bikes first in Melbourne. Jump has sought to head off criticism of such schemes by declaring it will have a “signed memorandum of understanding” with the city that will constrain how the bikes will be used. This will allegedly stop the bikes from “clogging up footpaths” where they might provoke vandalism. Jump states it will also have “strict time frames” to recover damaged or dumped bikes and that users who incorrectly park bikes could be banned or fined using the Uber app.

In Sydney, a teenager has faced court charged with dangerous driving causing the death of two cyclists just before Christmas. News.com.au reported that the two victims “were husbands, fathers and members of the North Western Sydney Cycling Club.”

Finally, a motorcyclist has been given an 18-month suspended prison sentence by the Supreme Court of Tasmania for assaulting a cyclist in a road rage incident near Derwent Park in 2018 . The Mercury reported that the incident took place after the cyclist berated the motorcyclist for passing too close. In response, the motorcyclist abused the cyclist, knocked the victim to the ground, destroyed his bicycle and violently assaulted him to remove a mobile camera from his helmet.

The accused was ordered to pay $2700 in compensation and will undergo a two-year community correction order.

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