A very disconcerting video was posted on Reddit on March 14, 2014. A witness with a dashboard camera captured a video of a driver of a white Audi ploughing through a male cyclist after a set of traffic lights at Mt Gravatt: http://bit.ly/1eKNwkC .
Now, there are new rules in Queensland which commenced 1 January 2015 that give cyclists more ability to utilize the roads while they are on their bicycles. It is important that motorists are not only aware of these new rules, but also that they take extra care in safely handling their vehicle when in proximity to cyclists.
The aim of these new laws is to make the roads safer for cyclists. A general overview of these new rules is as follows:
– Cyclists are now allowed to ride their bicycle outside of bicycle lanes and share the roads with motorists. This rule is also consistent with the rules for other special purpose lanes (e.g. buses do not have to use bus lanes.)
– Cyclists can bike through zebra crossings and children’s crossings provided they come to a complete stop prior to doing so. They then have to proceed slowly and safely, as well as give way to pedestrians. They must also keep left of any other oncoming cyclists, as well as people using personal mobile devices.
– Cyclists can ride on any part of the road that is appropriate for their point of exit on a single lane roundabout and no longer have to ride on the far left side of the road on a single lane roundabout.
– The minimum passing distances for a motorist to give cyclists are 1m if the speed is equal to or below 60km/hr and 1.5m if the speed limit is over 60km/hr. The distance is measured from the rightmost part of the bike (or the person riding the bike) to the leftmost part of the vehicle (including areas that stick out such as the side mirror.)
To apply the new laws with the minimum passing distance, for example, two cyclists are allowed to ride side by side as long as they stay no more than 1.5m apart from each other. If a car wishes to pass both of them, the minimum distance applies to the cyclist closest on the driver’s right.
These new rules also mean that cyclists are subject to the same penalties as motorists for breaking the law and disobeying Queensland bike rules.
Both motorists and cyclists have a duty of care to operate their respective vehicles safely and with a reasonable degree of skill. This duty also extends to obeying all Queensland traffic laws. Failure to do so not only opens you up to liability in a civil claim, but potential criminal charges.
A dashboard camera is also a useful tool to have in order to provide evidence should another driver or cyclist operate their vehicle unsafely or improperly. Evidence gathering is a key element in supporting an injury claim should the need arise. Having a video recording that shows the occurrence eliminates the “he said, she said” argument.
A lesson to be learned from this video is to be patient while driving. Blind spots should be checked regularly before changing lanes because cyclists are much smaller than cars and may be difficult to see. Gradual acceleration at a traffic light not only saves you petrol, it also allows you to control the distance that you have between vehicles.
If you have been injured in an accident involving another motor vehicle or a cyclist, it is important that you speak to an accredited specialist in personal injury to be informed of your rights. The circumstances around your claim and your rights to compensation may be difficult to interpret without the assistance of a trained legal professional.