Why is it that motorists and cyclists can’t seem to find common ground when it comes to sharing the road? Would it help to put ourselves in the other person’s seat?
A NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Driver Training and Road Safety will address these questions next month with two proposals. The first: drivers should be tested on the road rules every five years. The second would require learner drivers to complete bicycle safety courses in order to obtain their driver’s licence.
“These courses help learners understand their responsibilities and the dangers faced by people riding bikes in traffic,” a City of Sydney spokesperson tells Broadsheet. “[Our] submission aims to improve road safety and reduce the road toll.”
Australia’s current road toll sits at 372 and 24 of these deaths were pedal cyclists. About 3.6 million cyclists ride every week in Australia, according to the Australian Cycle Alliance, which was one of 75 organisations to submit proposals, along with Transport for NSW and the Amy Gillett Foundation.
The City of Sydney has suggested learner drivers engage in an existing safe cycling course to “experience what it feels like to be on the road as a bike rider”. As part of the proposed four-hour course, participants would have to spend time cycling in Sydney traffic. Hours would contribute to the 120-hour log book. This idea has been widely supported by several organisations including Bicycle NSW.
The “knowledge refresher test” for motorists, proposed by Bicycle NSW, would include questions regarding the minimum passing distance when overtaking cyclists.
“This is a mass opportunity to update and educate drivers,” a Bicycle NSW spokesperson says. “At the moment, a NSW driver can get their licence at 18 and drive for 60 years without assessment and the road rules change quite frequently.”
The proposal is supported by the Australian Cycle Alliance and the Amy Gillett Foundation but Transport for NSW believes periodic re-testing of drivers is “not an effective method for influencing driver compliance and reducing crashes”.