Cyclists fear for their safety on Gladstone roads

Cyclist Karlene Laing is calling for better cycling infrastructure in the Gladstone region.
Cyclist Karlene Laing is calling for better cycling infrastructure in the Gladstone region. Brenda Strong

GLADSTONE'S poorly designed roads are unsafe and a risk to cyclists, according to Safe Cycling Australia.

Group director David Sharp, who worked as a truck driver in Gladstone for two weeks this year, said problems on the roads stemmed from aggressive motorists and poor cycling infrastructure.

Mr Sharp's claims come as Minister for Transport and Main Roads Scott Emerson convinced a parliamentary committee on Friday to conduct a review into bicycle laws across Queensland.

If the recommendations are considered, motorists and cyclists will require a 1m minimum overtaking gap between each other.

While Mr Sharp was happy to see progress on the decision, he said 1m was too close and called for the State Government to legislate on a 1.5m space instead.

"The current legislation states that a safe gap is up to the discretion of the driver," Mr Sharp said.

Since April Gladstone recreational and competitive cyclists have been lobbying the Gladstone Regional Council for more connecting cycling paths, visible line markings and signage across the region.

Cyclists are also calling for the regular sweeping of popular cycling routes to remove debris and rocks.

Councillor Rick Hansen said council was planning to install specialised signage for cyclists along Kirkwood Rd, Blain Dr and Calliope River Rd.

Cr Hansen said it was difficult to determine when other infrastructure could be upgraded without funding from the State Government.

While the council regularly liaises with State Government representatives through the Traffic Environment and Action Committee, Cr Hansen said council hadn't made any submissions for grants to improve infrastructure.

The call for safer infrastructure comes as two cyclists narrowly avoided injury on their bicycles on Kirkwood Rd last weekend.

A traffic counter cable was found tied up along a post on either side of the road, causing the cyclists to jump over the 40cm gap.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson said Parliament's Transport, Housing and Local Government committee would conduct the review into bicycle safety.

"There has been a lot of focus recently on bike safety and I've listened to that feedback and decided to take a closer look at the evidence and laws," Mr Emerson said.

"My personal view is that cyclists and drivers should be considerate of each other and ensure they are travelling safely at all times.

"However, I'm aware there is the potential for animosity between motorists and cyclists, which can lead to dangerous behaviour by both." 

Cyclist has had a few near-misses riding around Gladstone

AVID recreational cyclist Karlene Laing is concerned about problems with Gladstone's bicycle network.

"There are limited shoulders and that causes us to ride on the road," Karlene said.

Karlene said there were also problems with connecting bike paths, designated bike lanes, gravel on the roads and specialised signage.

She has been pedalling on the back streets of Gladstone for about eight months. In that time she has had a few near misses on her bike.

"Initially it was really scary, but most of the time we choose to ride in the early hours of the morning to avoid traffic," she said.

I'm aware there is the potential for animosity between motorists and cyclists, which can lead to dangerous behaviour by both

Fellow group cyclist Mick Newell said he would continue to lobby council until something was done.

"After three years of consulting with council, they have not provided an ounce of funding," Mr Newell said.

"We just want to improve awareness for cyclists in the area."

Mr Sharp said Gladstone was poorly designed to accommodate drivers and cyclists on roads in the city.

"Some roads in Gladstone don't even have dirt on the side of the road, which isn't good," he said.

"What are you supposed to do if you need to pull over?"

Mr Sharp said if Gladstone had better infrastructure, cyclists would use the roads more often.

"If you build it people will come along," he said.

Would you support a one metre rule to make cyclists safer?

This poll ended on 14 June 2013.

Yes. Cyclists should be given greater safety on our roads - 33%

No. Cyclists are mostly to blame for accidents - 12%

No. There is no way police will be able to enforce this - 12%

Yes. But only if we ban cyclists riding side by side - 42%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Topics:  cycling gladstone gladstone regional council

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