Cox sees problems in cyclist rule

A ONE-METRE clearance law between cyclists and motorists may be difficult to police, according to Road Safety Advisory Council chairman Jim Cox.

 The state government has announced intentions to trial a minimum one-metre clearance rule for motorists when passing cyclists.

The decision follows the death of 21-year-old Trevallyn cyclist Lewis Hendey, who was hit by a utility while cycling on the West Tamar Highway outside Riverside last Sunday.

The one-metre rule has been supported by the state's key cycling bodies but rejected by the RACT.

Road Safety Advisory Council chairman Jim Cox said the government was yet to formally ask the body to look into the one-metre rule.

He said he personally had reservations  over making it law as it may be hard to enforce and the distance difficult to prove in court.

``I have some concerns over making it into legislation but I'm extremely supportive of an awareness campaign,'' he said.

In Queensland, motorists from this year have to keep a one-metre distance from cyclists in 60km/h zone and more than 1.5 metres in faster areas in a trial to last two years.

Mr Cox said the taskforce, in any instance, would most likely be guided by  Queensland's experience.

Bass Liberal MHR Andrew Nikolic said he was talking with the state Liberal Party about pushing for a one-metre clearance rule in the upcoming election.

``There are  over 10,000 serious injuries for bike riders each year and that includes about 40 deaths, which is tragic,'' he said.

``The cost imperative is huge too, not only in human terms.

``In Australia each year, the cost of bike rider deaths and serious injuries is almost $500 million.

``Something has to be done.''

Cycling Tasmania chief executive Collin Burns said the one-metre rule would be the start of a cultural change on the interaction between cyclists and motorists.

``Part of the one-metre matters campaign is to give us protection on the roads,'' he said.

``As a bike rider, you are 100 per cent attentive and you are looking for every possible danger.

``The only one that you can't see is the one that is coming from behind.

``We hope that the drivers out there are obeying the road rules and keeping their distance, but unfortunately at the moment  that distance is not defined.''

Bike fitness trainer Mark Connelley said novice riders in particular lacked confidence in motorists, which made them particularly vulnerable on the road.

``Most riders, no  matter their ability, go out on the road with an aspect of uncertainty, and they shouldn't have to,'' he said.

``They should not have to worry about whether they will return home or not.''

Launceston cyclist Ben Mather said he would rather see more cyclist awareness measures   than more road rule legislation.

``A one-metre distance or a 10-metre distance does not change driver inattention or the bad behaviour of some cyclists,'' he said.

``Any legislation that makes the public aware that roads need to be shared is welcome.''

Tourism Northern Tasmania chief executive Chris Griffin said that as the tourism body wished to elevate the region's status as a cycling destination for road bikes and mountain bikes, he supported a one-metre clearance rule.

``Anything that contributes towards a perception that Tasmania is cycle-friendly is a good thing,'' Mr Griffin said.

Personal trainer Mark Connelley rides along High Street in Launceston. Picture: PAUL SCAMBLER

Personal trainer Mark Connelley rides along High Street in Launceston. Picture: PAUL SCAMBLER


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