Porte adds voice to call for change

INTERNATIONAL Tasmanian cycling star Richie Porte will be the first person to sign a petition calling for a change to the Australian road rules.

Cycling Tasmania will launch its petition this weekend, which calls on the federal government to implement a minimum overtaking distance of one metre when drivers pass cyclists on the road.

The petition will also request that the minimum distance between bikes and motorists on the highway should be 1 1/2 metres and that both rules should be included in the learner drivers' handbook.

The calls comes almost two weeks after 21-year-old Lewis Hendey died after being hit from behind while riding on the West Tamar Highway.

Porte, of Hadspen, said he saw close encounters between motorists and cyclists almost every day.

"And all we have is a little helmet to protect us," Porte said.

"At the end of the day I'm at work, that's my job, and other people just love getting out there to ride.

"We don't want to slow people up and annoy people.

"The majority of drivers are pretty good to us, but then you get others that just want to prove a point."

For Louise Padgett, formerly Yaxley, the fate of that is one she knows too well after losing her team-mate Amy Gillett in 2005.

Padgett, Gillett and four others had been riding as a team in Germany when they were hit front-on by a car.

Padgett stayed in hospital for six weeks and suffered bleeding in the brain, had a blood clot, punctured lungs, a broken wrist, her right forearm was hanging on by a muscle thread and a stick went through her abdomen.

"The driver was an 18-year-old female. She was coming around the corner, hit the gravel and over- corrected," Padgett said.

"It comes down to being aware, alert and it all comes back to being educated."

Cycling Tasmania chief executive Collin Burns said if the legislation passed it was something that should go in the learner drivers' handbook to ensure from day one, drivers looked out for cyclists.

Bass Liberal MHR Andrew Nikolic will table the petition in Federal Parliament in the next few months. He said it was also important that cyclists wore bright clothes, had the right protective gear and had lights and reflectors so they could be seen. The petition will be available to print and sign from the Cycling Tasmania website.

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