Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 25 October 2018) . . Page.. 4298 ..
The evaluation report conducted an analysis of police enforcement data during the pre-trial and trial periods in an attempt to identify the level of compliance with the safer cycling reform trial rules. Eleven motorists were issued a traffic infringement notice or caution related to non-compliance with the minimum passing distance rule during the trial, while only one cyclist was issued a traffic infringement notice for non-compliance with pedestrian crossing allowances.
The evaluation report notes that the small number of infringements issued for the minimum passing distance rule, combined with the fact that in some cases its enforcement was based on reports from cyclists, suggests that ways should be investigated to allow the police to practically enforce the rule in the future.
I am actively involved in discussion with Minister Gentleman, the police minister, about this issue. Some of the interesting possibilities include police using a lateral measuring device as a tool to enforce and educate road users on the laws. Police could also deploy an officer on a bicycle who notes vehicles that pass closely and radios ahead to another officer.
Another opportunity is for police to open a user-friendly portal through which cyclists or other road users could submit recorded footage of incidents. These are some of the initiatives that have been used by police forces in other jurisdictions. West Midlands Police in the UK is a notable example. I actually had the opportunity to meet with the West Midlands Police during my recent visit to the UK. Their efforts on cycling issues have been well received in their community. Since they launched operation close pass, which targets motorists who endanger cyclists by overtaking too close, there has been a 20 per cent reduction in the number of cyclists killed or seriously hurt in collisions.
As I noted, because of the small number of crashes and infringements it is hard to draw conclusive safety evidence from the trial data. However, there is further ongoing work to collect evidence related to cycling safety. Last year we launched a project, funded through the ACT’s road safety fund, which is undertaken by the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Automotive Safety Research. Lateral measuring devices are attached to bicycles and will collect data for an evaluation of bicycle passing distances in the ACT.
What I think is very clear, though, is that the minimum passing distance law, and the accompanying education efforts, are improving community attitudes and improving the general cycling experience. This, I expect, will create a safer environment for cyclists, as well as attract more people to cycle. More people cycling also means the practice becomes safer.
As evidence of this, we can look to the results of pre and post-trial community surveys and correspondences received from ACT residents. The awareness level of the safer cycling reforms trial as reported in the post-trial survey essentially doubled compared to the pre-trial survey, indicating that 70 per cent of the ACT residents were aware of the reforms by the end of trial. This is a significant increase from the pre-trial awareness of 36 per cent.