Cycling fatality sparks safety outcry

CYCLING groups have stepped up demands for increased safety measures, including a one-metre passing rule, following the death of a 21-year-old cyclist in a crash with a utility on the West Tamar Highway yesterday.

Cycling Tasmania chief executive Colin Burns, who happened to be driving past the crash scene north of Riverside, called the accident a tragedy.

"It's a tragedy ... it was where I was going to ride this morning. We train down here every day," Mr Burns said.

Cycling Tasmania wants the state government to introduce a mandatory one-metre passing distance for motorists overtaking cyclists.

"We consider nothing else is acceptable because we're vulnerable road users," he said.

"If a car gives at least one metre to a cyclist we will not have deaths."

Mr Burns said the government had recently knocked back the idea, however, Queensland had just decided to run with it.

Amy Gillett Foundation chief executive Tracey Gaudry estimated 50 cyclists had now been killed on the nation's roads this year compared with an average of 35.

The foundation believes driver distraction was one of the fastest growing dilemmas in road safety.

It is pushing for legislative changes and increases in awareness by both motorists and cyclists.

"The harsh reality is though that most bike rider fatalities involve a collision with a motor vehicle and a significant percentage of those are when the bicycle rider is hit from behind," she said.

The foundation also supports a one-metre passing distance, calling it the single most relevant factor for cyclist safety.

Road Safety Advisory Council chairman Jim Cox said yesterday's cycling death was a tragic reminder for road users to "just take a little bit more care".

"It's just a tragedy - a young bloke riding with a mate, doing the right thing and he doesn't come home," he said.

"An awareness program regarding cyclists is a wonderful thing but if people don't pay attention to what they are doing you could give them all the room in the world and it wouldn't matter. What does matter is people paying attention."

The Tamar Bicycle Users Group said authorities needed to take concerns raised by cyclists more seriously.

"We need to review the speed limit there. Is there a need for a 100km/h speed limit on that short stretch of road," the group's president Malcolm Cowan said.

Others also raised concerns about the wisdom of doubling the speed limit, in some instances, for such a short burst of road.

Mr Cowan said much of the safety legislation was in place but it was a matter of having the resources to enforce it.

Yesterday Infrastructure Minister David O'Byrne appeared to be warming to the metre- matters campaign.

"A metre does matter and we've been working ... to develop appropriate programs and protections for cyclists," he said.

"We will continue to work through this process to ensure our laws are offering the best protection and to reinforce through appropriate education that the road is a shared space."

Tasmania Police has reminded motorists that cyclists have a right to be on the roadway and to give them sufficient room. When following cyclists, motorists are asked to remain patient until they can pass safely. Cyclists are reminded to ride as far left as practical and to be conscious of other road users.

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