Cycling and the Qld State Election – My letter to candidates.

*Rant Warning*

I’ve written a letter to each of the candidates standing for my local electorate.  It’s below if you are interested.  I’ve e-mailed / sent it to as many candidates as I could find online contact for.  The e-mail address for the Family First candidate did not work and I couldn’t find an address for one of the independents.  I’ll post their responses for those interested.

If you want to send one of your own, there are some suggestions here.

Dear Candidate for my electorate

I’m writing to you today to find out your stance on some issues in our community that are important to me.  Municipality has been incredibly blessed to have produced some of the best cyclists in Australia and in the world.  But this, really, is a mere coincidence and happenstance as the plight of the average cyclist in Municipality is very poor.

The average cyclist in Municipality faces a very hostile environ as they try go about their daily business.  Cycle way / bike lanes are mostly nonexistent and where they are, they mysteriously disappear and leave you riding in a small, glass filled, poorly maintained, inadequate road shoulder.  Major places of business are mostly inaccessible by bike due to poor planning.  Largest Shopping Centre has to be accessed via the Major Highway or the 6 lane Large Street in which you must cross several lanes of traffic to enter.  In fact, the whole of Large Street is fairly problematic as a cyclist which is a shame for all the potential revenue those businesses are missing out on by being inaccessible both walking and riding.  The Mall which is best accessed from the Busy Street Bridge requires a cyclist to either ride illegally along the signed “no bikes” footpath, gutter hop or take a lengthy detour in order to access the shops you wish to patronise.  Why was the development approval for the new building on the corner of Mall Street and Busy Street allowed but did not include connectivity for those on a bike to the main place of business in the area?  Not to mention the complete lack of bike parking in the city centre when you actually get there.  These certainly are a huge deterrent for those wishing to use the bike as a mode of transport.  What are you willing to do to increase the connectivity and locations that are serviced by bike lanes?

Road rules and traffic legislation is a state issue and I would like to draw your attention to several road rules that cyclists must obey that are unsafe.  Queensland is one of the only states in which it is legal to park a vehicle in the bike lane.  Allowing vehicles to park in the lane requires a rider to ride less predicably and swerve in to traffic making is unsafe for all involved.  This surely an oversight and should be corrected.  In addition to this, we need to adopt a strict liability in which those who have the capacity to do the most harm are liable in a collision until proven otherwise.  We’ve seen far too many drivers get off for causing horrific, life changing harm by neglecting their responsibility as a road user with a casual “I didn’t see you” chestnut as if this is an acceptable defence.  Roads should be places of community, not exclusively for those with the biggest, fastest metal box.  Will you support an overhaul of the road rules to remove hostile provisions to cycling and support and adoption of strict liability?

Once we get past all the physical changes, I would like to know why the learning to drive material and assessment one needs to complete when obtaining a driving licence contains no information on how to behave whilst driving around a cyclist.  Queensland needs a large scale driver education campaign so that drivers understand their responsibilities and how to behave around a cyclist.  This needs to focus on safe passing, giving way, looking before opening the door and sharing the road as well as general cyclist awareness.  I also wish to draw your attention to the old trope that all cyclists don’t obey the road rules.  This is blatantly untrue with research showing that less than 6% of cyclists running red lights in which it was mostly to turn left with no other traffic.  More importantly, a cyclist running a red light, whilst illegal, can cause little harm to anyone other than themselves.  Instead, what will you be doing to reduce the number of motor vehicles running red lights which has the ability to kill many?

I would like to see the language used in reporting car collisions change.  Currently, the terminology most used is “accident” which is plainly untrue.  Car crashes aren’t accidents meaning unavoidable circumstance.  They are always preventable – someone was driving drunk, driving too fast, driving tired, not paying attention, running a red light, not giving way.  These things don’t occur by accident.  They are deliberate acts by the people involved.  This use of the term “accident” normalises the death and destruction caused by cars as an unavoidable by-product of their use.

Municipality has been blessed with wide roads and a generally a great and understanding community.  The people of Municipality deserve better cycling.  Can you please outline what you will be doing to address these issues and feel free to include any other cycling policy or initiatives you will be putting in place if elected.

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