Trying to stay safe on the road

A few things have happened over the past several weeks that have highlighted the need for ongoing cycling road safety awareness, including the devastating news that a man lost his life in Kingston while riding his bike.

Kingston crash

The Kingston crash occurred early in the morning last month on a steep section of road leading into Osborne Esplanade along Kingston Beach.

Media reports said it was possible that the rider came off his bike when he came down a steep hill and around a tight corner onto a road surface that had been dug up and was left with loose gravel over the surface. He was hit by a passing car on the other side of the road.

The coroner attended the crash scene and will investigate exactly what caused the man’s death. Bicycle Network has asked to be classified as an “interested person” to be kept up to date with what the coroner finds.

Coroners can recommend that governments change legislation and processes to avoid potential future deaths.

Kingborough Council requested Tas Networks seal the area of the road it had been working on following the crash.

Longford conviction

In the same week the Launceston Magistrates Court convicted a man of reckless driving and failing to keep a safe distance when passing a bicycle rider.

The man drove past three people riding on Pateena Road on a quiet weekend passing at less than 30 cm at a speed of 80–90 km/h. One of the bicycles was equipped with front and rear cameras.

Tasmania Police made a point of releasing on social media the footage taken by the bike riders that was used as part of the successful prosecution to make the point that dangerous drivers could be caught and taken to court.

Magistrate Sharon Cure fined the man $2000 and disqualified him from driving for two months, although that was suspended for 42 days to allow him to apply for a restricted licence so he could keep working. During the case she said:

"… its appalling conduct by the driver, cyclists are entitled to be on the road.

"If you come up again on a similar charge you would probably find yourself in jail.

"It was a serious example of putting cyclists at risk."

Staying safe around heavy vehicles

Multiple trucks lining Collins Street in Hobart over the past few weeks have changed the nature of the relatively quiet and popular cycling route and highlighted the need for caution by drivers and riders.

Heavy truck and rider crashes account for nearly one-quarter of bike rider deaths in Australia so safey around heavy vehicles is very important.

The trucks have been working on the new hospital being built around the corner in Macquarie Street.

Hutchison Builders predict the high number of trucks will drop off in one or two weeks once demolition is finished. Trucks will be using Collins Street through the duration of the build but there won’t be as many as there has been for the past few weeks.

The key defensive riding considerations for people are their position in the lane and blind spots of trucks:

The trucks when parked block out the space a rider would normally inhabit, so riders need to position themselves in the centre/right of the travel lane to be seen and ensure cars don’t try to squeeze past them.

Considering truck blind spots is also necessary. Many riders don’t realise the extent of truck blind spots and think they can be seen when they can’t. We may be too low for the driver's mirrors, in the blind spots to the side or too close to the front of the vehicle. 

The key blind spots to remember are:

  • The right-hand blind spot when overtaking – riders should be aware of the extent of the blind spot and their height compared to the truck mirrors.
  • The space in front of the truck – the blind spot under the truck windscreen cand stretch more than 2 km ahead.
  • The left-hand blind spot – don’t ride to the left of a turning truck or bus.