National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020

Public submissions for the draft National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020 close this week on 18 Feb 2011.  Sadly, the current draft contains almost no reference to improving cyclist safety in Australia. In fact, cycling is only mentioned twice in 64 pages.

If you are concerned about safe cycling here in Oz and want to make your voice heard, then here is your chance.  You can submit feedback in two ways

Here are some thoughts we’ve put together if you want some help:

1. What road safety issues are most important to you?

Cyclist and pedestrian safety, and urban speed limits.

2. Is there anything important that you think is missing from this draft strategy?

There is no reference in the draft strategy to improving cycling safety. Why is the Department of Infrastructure and Transport continuing to discount the needs and safety of cyclists?

3. Are there things that are not explained or where you think there should be more information?

Please state what actions your are taking to improve cyclist and pedestrian safety and what evidence you are using to make your evidence-based decisions.

4. What do you think is good about this draft strategy?

You seems to be trying to base your strategy on evidence of what actually works.  Please examine the evidence about why helmets work but helmet laws do not and end your support for mandatory helmet legislation.

5. What can we do differently to improve this draft strategy?

Support transport safety policies that have been shown to work and drop others that have no evidence of efficacy.

  • Provide proper transport infrastructure that separates pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.  The leading cause of cycling fatalities is collision with a motor vehicle and cycling on separated bike paths is over twice as safe as sharing the road with motor vehicles (Risk of injury for bicycling on cycle tracks versus in the street, 2011, Injury Prevention)
  • Reduce urban speed limits to below 40kph whenever proper separated infrastructure is not provided.  The current draft recognises 30kph as the speed as which the risk of death increases significantly in car/pedestrian and car/motorcycle collisions; while your 2006 report ‘Death of Cyclists Due to Road Crashes’ notes that less than 1% of cyclists were killed in 40kph zones and below.
  • Change driver behaviour by providing legal protection of non-motorised road users.  Many European countries have introduced strict liability for motorists to acknowledge the cause of most road casualties and protect vulnerable road users.
  • Remove support for mandatory helmet legislation.  While helmets have been shown to reduce the chance of head injury in the event of an accident, they do not address the leading cause of cycling injuries – collision with a motor vehicle.  There are no peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate helmet laws have been effective at reducing cycling fatality rates and significant evidence to show that helmet laws make cycling more dangerous by reducing cycling levels.  Your 2009 briefing paper ‘Cycling Infrastructure for Australian Cities’ shows a 34% reduction of risk per km cycled when cycling numbers are doubled, while RTA & VicRoad data showed a 30-40% reduction in cycling numbers when mandatory helmet laws where introduced.  This indicates that any benefits of helmet wearing was more than negated by the decrease in cycling levels and subsequent increase in collisions with motor vehicles.

Remember, things will only change if you do something about it.  So go to the website and have your say.

Safe riding everyone.

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