A cycle of safety

CYCLISTS, beware – as part of the 29th annual Safe Cycle month, an annual campaign by Victoria Police, you may be pulled over for doing the wrong thing, or even for doing it right.

Division Five Traffic Advisor Senior Sergeant David Watson said the purpose of the month-long campaign was to reduce the frequency of cyclist accidents as well as promote cyclist safety.

“Not just Highway Patrol, but all uniform (police members) will keep an eye out for cyclists; for those doing the right thing, you will be rewarded with some incentives, but if you do the wrong thing, you may be penalised,” Snr Sgt Watson said.

“The focus is on bike safety, with riders taking responsibility by having their helmets on and being visible, but also making car drivers more aware of bicycles on the road.”

Over the past month, three cyclists have been seriously injured on local roads.

“All three were hit from behind; it is important to be watchful and maintain your distance,” Snr Sgt Watson said.

Latrobe Highway Patrol Sergeant Clint Wilson said on a local level, police members hoped to focus on young cyclists in particular.

“The program is educational rather than enforcement,” Sgt Wilson said, adding school visits were also on the agenda to promote cyclist safety.

“It is hard to give notice to a 14 year-old for a fine of $171 for not wearing a helmet; it is better to explain to them why a helmet is important.”

He said as part of the Safe Cycle campaign, cyclists seen doing the right thing would have the opportunity to win a bicycle sponsored by VicRoads in addition to other prizes.

Sgt Wilson reminded cyclists to ensure they wore their helmets, donned bright or reflective clothing, were predictable on the roads and considerate of their surroundings.

Meanwhile, he reminded motorists “a metre matters” – that when sharing the road with cyclists, drivers should consider a metre’s length as a minimum safety buffer zone between them and the cyclist.

“This is even more so in areas where speeds are higher, or on back roads – some of the roads are in poor conditions, and it may be impossible for (cyclists) to maintain their position,” Sgt Wilson said.

“Consideration by both drivers and cyclists will go a long way in improving road safety.”

In terms of local “hot spots” for cyclist accidents, Sgt Wilson said Mattingley Hill Road near Loy Yang as well as Old Melbourne Road were typical of roads around Latrobe used by cyclists.

“A lot of people (working at the mines and the Australian Paper Mill) ride to work, so you think their presence would be noted by colleagues,” he said.

“Nearly all the secondary and back roads are used by cyclists because the freeway is hazardous.

“On weekends, bike clubs also do rides around Hazelwood and Willow Grove; there is not a lot of room to overtake, and drivers are reminded to do so lawfully”.

He reminded drivers if there was an unbroken double line, they were not allowed to overtake.