‘Drive (and ride) So Others Survive’: Share our paths and roads and save lives

Op-ed by WestCycle CEO Wayne Bradshaw

Improving driver behaviour is this year’s core theme but real road safety will only be achieved when all road and path users are alert and responsible.

With National Road Safety Week in the headlights this week, WestCycle affirms the growing popularity of all forms of active transport from road bikes, to off-road bikes, to BMX, e-bikes and other e-rideables.

There has never been a more critical time to ensure that our roads and paths are safe for people on bikes and e-rideables as well as for pedestrians and motorists.

While our roads and paths are generally safe spaces, between 2016 and 2020, 507 cyclists were killed or seriously injured in collisions with motor vehicles on WA roads.

This number is too high.

With this in mind, this year WestCycle continues to advocate for:

•           Safe, fully separated spaces for people on bikes. This means completing the Principal Shared Path (PSP)network and the Long-Term Cycle Network, as well as increasing funding for local governments to improve the local bike network and link it to the wider infrastructure.

Fully separated spaces for people on bikes reduces the risk of accidents and makes it easier for people to choose to ride their bikes instead of driving. This can lead to a number of benefits, including improved public health, reduced traffic congestion, and a cleaner environment.

•           30km/hour speed limits on all local streets. Slower speeds help make streets safer for everyone, build better communities and environments, create opportunities for connection and interaction, and foster better passive surveillance.

Slower speeds are also proven to reduce the severity of accidents that do occur, making it less likely that people will be seriously injured or killed.

•           Better driver behaviour – it affects all road users. WestCycle continues to raise awareness about the 1 or 1.5metre passing law, encouraging drivers to avoid phone use and other distractions, to stick within the speed limit, and to never take the wheel while intoxicated.

People opening car doors without looking for cyclists is another oft-overlooked aspect of motor vehicle use. Opening car doors is part of the driving experience, part of understanding roads are shared spaces, part of driving so others survive. 

•           Finally, with National Road Safety Week this Saturday (20 May) devoted to ‘Share the Path’, WestCycle is promoting best practice in shared path etiquette. When we look to the growing network of shared paths, it’s important to remember path etiquette is everyone’s responsibility. We all need to be alert, courteous, and predictable when using shared paths, just as we would be on the roads.

This means keeping left and overtaking on the right, using a bell or speaking to let others know you’re coming, signalling and not entering traffic on a shared path without looking. A great thing about being on bikes or on foot is we can use our voices – a thank you when someone behaves courteously never hurt anyone! 🗣️🙌

By working together, we can create a safer and more enjoyable environment for all road and path users.

Ride (and drive) safe everyone! 🚴‍♂️

Wayne Bradshaw

WestCycle CEO

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