Hazards focus

11. 12NEWSStories by STEVE GRANT:

FREMANTLE councillor Rachel Pemberton was knocked off her bike this week, the second time in three months she’s been skittled.

Dismissing the incident on South Terrace as a “genuine accident”, Cr Pemberton says it nonetheless highlights that improved cycling rates in the city must be matched by more driver awareness.

“My fall was broken by the car, which gently lowered me down onto the street,” she laughed.

“We have spent a lot of time and effort making Fremantle more bike-friendly, and that’s why I wanted to make mention of this incident in the middle of bike week—to highlight to drivers that they have to be aware that there are more cyclists around now.

“We are really pleased the rate of cycling has been going up.”

Coincidentally, the bike-mad councillor attended workshops this week aimed at making the city’s cycling infrastructure safer.

“We spent a lot of time on Wray Avenue, as it’s an area prone to problems,” she said.

There was general agreement to look at “soft treatments” to reduce traffic speed. These could include a roundabout at the intersection with Attfield Street, pedestrian crossings, changed surfaces or bike logos to alert drivers. Another hotspot is the southern end of the old Fremantle traffic bridge, listed as the 18th busiest cycling area in Australia in last year’s “super-Tuesday” bike count.

“But it’s a disaster,” Cr Pemberton says, adding she’s been asking Main Roads for minor safety amendments for 18 months. “We rode there and tried to cross, and realised there was no easy way.”

1m matters

DRIVERS who come within a metre of cyclists on suburban roads will face fines up to $2500 under a law introduced into WA’s parliament by the Greens this week.

The one-clause law seeks to introduce a new section into the road traffic act making it an offence to drive within a metre of cyclists on roads where the speed limit is 60kph or below, and 1.5m for all other roads.

Fremantle-based Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren says current laws are vague, only telling drivers to leave a “safe” distance. She says her bill will be a cheap way to reduce accidents involving cars and lead to better driver education. Last year 1300 people were hospitalised for bike accidents in WA, with 90 per cent hit by cars.

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