Bicycle safety is close to the heart of the Collie staff, a number of whom are daily commuter riders.
VicRoads recorded 10,000 bicycle accidents between 2007 and 2012. As published by The Age this week, researchers have used this data to map where these accidents have occurred (http://www.theage.com.au/data-point/cyclists-get-warning-on-danger-spots-20130521-2jz6f.html).
To add to this information, it is also encouraging cyclists to report other incidents that have occurred.
The mapping has indentified five ‘accident black spots’ where the highest volumes of accidents have been recorded. Notably Swanston Street shows two of these black spots however, since 2007 some work has been done along Swanston Street to separate cyclists from other modes of transport so it will be interesting to see if the number of incidents around these locations will reduce in the future (especially on a pro-rata basis).
The other three blackspots are located on Macarthur Street in East Melbourne, the corner of Johnston and Brunswick Streets in Fitzroy and along Canning Street in North Carlton. Given the number of cyclists travelling through these areas on a daily basis, these black spots are not surprising. We hope that they provide government with guidance as to where to focus investment on improving safety for cyclists and improving our already excellent bicycle network. Clearly, separating bicycles from other forms of traffic reduces potential incidents.
One thing that we notice in reviewing this mapping is the number of accidents that happen along streets where alternate, safer routes are available nearby. This leads us to believe that some cyclists need to take more responsibility for the routes that they take.
A prime example of this is Brunswick Street where a number of accidents have been reported. Brunswick Street is a popular route for cyclists heading into the northern suburbs despite the potential conflict with high levels of traffic, parked cars, trams and buses.
Running parallel approximately 200 metres to the east of Bruswick Street is Napier Street. Extensive work has been completed along Napier Street in recent years to make it bicycle friendly. This includes features such as limited through traffic, low vehicle speeds, traffic breaks, bike lanes and bicycle focussed traffic lights at key intersections with Johnston Street and Alexandra Parade. A high number of cyclists use Napier Street, yet the number of recorded incidents is very low.
While alternative cycling routes are not always available, if main thoroughfares like Brunswick Street and Sydney Road are avoided in part or entirely through designated cycling streets or cycling trails, then cyclists are reducing their risk of being involved in an accident. We think that more cyclists should review their options in terms of where they ride. After all, if there is an incident between a bicycle and a car, who is likely to come out worse off? So why not reduce that potential conflict?