An “Independent” review of cycling road rules and legislation was a surprisingly boring catalyst to the media beat up this week, leading to the following headlines.
Herald Sun: “Report to VicRoads recommends cyclists be blameless in any crash with a driver”
Cars Guide: “Cyclists should be blameless in car accidents | report”
Except the report “Review of Victorian Cycling Related Road Rules & Legislation” in fact had no recommendation of this at all and only mentioned it as discussed with stakeholders. The actual recommendations are around clarifying and making more widely understood some of the road rules which are likely to impact cyclist safety, then suggesting some rules which may require changes in the future. But certainly no recommendation for assumed liability/fault. Sydney Morning Herald got to “print” first and then amended some of the article to remove some incorrect statements, well done to them on presenting an accurate and balanced view focusing on the points highlighted in the report. Back to the actual report, it raises some very obvious issues with the current road rules in Victoria.
141 No overtaking etc. to the left of a vehicle
(1) A driver (except the rider of a bicycle) must not overtake a vehicle to the left of the vehicle unless-
(2) The rider of a bicycle must not ride past, or overtake, to the left of a vehicle that is turning left and giving a left change of direction signal.
Which when repeated in isolation makes drivers think they do not have to give way to cyclists, as happened recently with a driver claiming they were entirely in the right to cut across the front of me when turning left across a bicycle lane. Until you arrive at:
148 Giving way when moving from one marked lane or line of traffic to another marked lane or line of traffic
(1) A driver who is moving from one marked lane (whether or not the lane is ending) to another marked lane must give way to any vehicle travelling in the same direction as the driver in the marked lane to which the driver is moving.
(2) A driver on a road with 2 or more lines of traffic travelling in the same direction as the driver, and who is moving from one line of traffic to another line of traffic, must give way to any vehicle travelling in the same direction as the driver in the line of traffic to which the driver is moving.
148A Giving way when moving within a single marked lane
If a driver diverges to the left or right within a marked lane, the driver must give way to any vehicle that is in the lane.
144 Keeping a safe distance when overtaking
A driver overtaking a vehicle-
(a) must pass the vehicle at a sufficient distance to avoid a collision with the vehicle or obstructing the path of the vehicle; and
(b) must not return to the marked lane or line of traffic where the vehicle is travelling until the driver is a sufficient distance past the vehicle to avoid a collision with the vehicle or obstructing the path of the vehicle.
Which is how “lane splitting” (sharing the road) is supposed to work, not the current situation of some vehicles passing a cyclist and then cutting in front of them to turn left. Vicroads distills it to a simpler:
Give way to bike riders in bicycle lanes if you are turning across the lane.
The other large inconsistency in the rules raised in the report is the current exemption for children under 12 to ride on the footpath, and that only an adult can accompany them. Once a child turns 12 they are expected to ride on the shared paths (which lack connectivity) or roads and children over 12 years old may not accompany younger children on the footpath. The recommendation to extend the accompanying riders to people of any age should be obvious to everyone once it is pointed out that children aged 12-18 may not ride with their family on the footpath even if some of them are children under 12.
We’ll see if the editor of the Herald Sun has anything to say about their headline and story.