The study found Sydney Road was one of the most dangerous spots in Victoria for cyclists. (ABC Melbourne: Clare Rawlinson, file photo)
The Princes Highway in Pakenham and Sydney Road in Brunswick are the two most dangerous spots for cyclists in Victoria, a study has found.
- On average, a Melbourne cyclist is passed by a car in a dangerous way three times per commute, the researchers find
- The Bicycle Network says Victorian law should require cyclists to have one metre of space when being overtaken
- Victoria’s Transport Safety Minister says the Government is considering the study findings
The Curtin University “Passbox” study fitted 150 cyclists with sensors on their bicycles in Melbourne, Geelong, Bendigo and Perth over a three-year period to find out how close cars came to them and how often.
Project coordinator James Sinclair said on average a Melbourne cyclist gets passed by a car in a dangerous way three times during their daily commute.
“And for every hour on the road, a cyclist can expect to be overtaken at a distance of less than one metre five times,” he said.
The study and the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) consider a car getting within one metre of a cyclist when the speed limit is 60 kilometres per hour, and within 1.5 metres at higher speeds, as dangerous.
The researchers found the vast majority of drivers pass cyclists safely, but videos released by the researchers also show cars getting as close as 32 centimetres.
Mr Sinclair said the guidelines were breached most often on the Princes Highway in Pakenham.
“Nearly two-thirds of cars pass within 1.5 metres on this 80kph road,” he said.
“The second-highest risk road was Sydney Road, Brunswick, where 38 per cent of passing events are too close.”
Videos released by the researchers show cars getting as close as 32 centimetres to riders. (Joe Castro: AAP, file photo)
Jamie Holton is a manager at a bicycle shop on Sydney Road in Brunswick and rides to work from Clifton Hill.
“We are getting at least half a dozen people in each week taken out by a car, whether it is a car door, a car following too close, overtaking too close. I’m seeing it on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
“I’ve had a car door open on me before, resulting in a broken collar bone.
“A lot of drivers don’t understand that coming off a pushbike can be fatal.
“It was about a year-and-a-half ago that a man was collected on Sydney Road and he is no longer with us, unfortunately.”
Jamie Holton says it is important to build mutual respect between cyclists and motorists. (ABC News: Iskhandar Razak)
Nine cyclists have been killed on Victorian roads so far this year, and seven were killed in 2018, according to the TAC.
The CEO of the Bicycle Network, Craig Richards, said it was unacceptable that cyclists were put in danger three times every time they rode a bike.
Mr Richards said Victoria needed a law requiring drivers to give cyclists one metre of space when overtaking.
“The rest of the country has done it. Victoria is lagging behind,” Mr Richards said.
The researchers said they were yet to analyse the impact of laws such as those introduced in Western Australia last year.
In 2017, the Victorian Government rejected calls to introduce laws for a minimum passing distance, instead opting for a public education campaign.
Craig Richards says Victoria’s road laws should be brought into line with other jurisdictions. (ABC News: Iskhandar Razak)
Asked about the study’s findings, Victoria’s Transport Safety Minister Jaala Pulford said the Government was evaluating the research as well as laws in other states.
“The way it is done in other jurisdictions differs slightly, and if this was something we were to apply in Victoria we have to ensure we do it right,” she said.
Ms Pulford said the study found separating bike paths from roads was the best way to ensure cyclist safety, and the Government was spending money across the state doing that.
“In our major transport projects, level crossing removals, West Gate Tunnel, North East Link, building in separated space for people on bikes has been a very important part,” she said.
“And we have a massive project underway in St Kilda Road, $45 million, which will transform that entry into Melbourne’s CBD.”
Mr Holton said changing attitudes would have a greater impact on safety than structural changes.
“Victoria is doing really well with putting in a lot of bike paths all over the place, but the next big thing is building that relationship between drivers and riders … building that mutual respect,” he said.