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Queensland's cycling laws set for overhaul review

Alia Parker's picture
Report recommends complete overhaul of Queensland's cycling laws. Cycle Traveller

A Queensland parliamentary committee has recommended a complete overhaul of the state's cycling rules, including a minimum passing distance for vehicles, increased penalties for cyclists breaking the law and the handing of management of all cycling related matters to the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

In the report – A new direction for cycling in Queensland – tabled today, the Transport, Housing and Local Government committee made 68 recommendations to improve cycling safety and participation rates. It is the first major review into the state's cycling laws in more than two decades.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson said he would take the next few months to consider the report's findings, but confirmed he would support the recommendation to implement a safe passing distance for cyclist.

“This will mean that motorists must maintain a minimum distance of one metre when passing a cyclist in a 60kph or less zone, and 1.5 metres when travelling above 60,” he said. “This rule was heavily supported by the cycling community and I’m prepared to conduct a two-year trial to test its practical implementation.”

Mr Emerson said he would also support the recommendation to increase penalties for cyclists breaking the road rules to bring them in line with those imposed on vehicles. For instance, the current fine of $110 for a cyclist entering a level crossing with a train approaching would be raised to be equal with the $330 faced by motorists.

It is unlikely all 68 recommendations will be approved with the minister already declaring that he opposed the recommendation to remove the need for helmets on bike paths and areas with speed limits of less than 60kph.

“I’ve put a lot of thought into this issue since it was first raised six months ago and I’m yet to be convinced of its merit,” he said. “Personally I’m a big believer in the benefits of helmets and I believe the evidence shows helmets reduce the risk of serious injury.”

Other recommendations included handing the management of all cycling-related matters over to the Department of Transport and Main Roads as well as ensuring the amount allocated to cycling in the annual road safety budget is proportional to the number of cyclist in the Australian population, which is 18%.

The report was welcomed by cycling lobby group Amy Gillett Foundation, which has actively pushed to encourage safe passing distances for cyclist. The group said it supported 65 of the 68 measures.
“In our opinion, the Inquiry Committee has got it right,” said Amy Gillett Foundation chief executive Tracey Gaudry.

She said initiatives to introduce nationally accredited bicycle education programs as well as the inclusion of mandatory cycling related material in practical and written drivers licence tests were particularly encouraging.

“The implementation of the recommendations will ensure the place of cycling as a safe, mainstream form of recreation and transport,” she said.

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