'Useless' WA cyclists need lessons

Lessons: Call for Perth cyclists to get safety lessons. Picture: Supplied

Former transport minister Simon O’Brien wants Perth’s “useless” cyclists to be taught the road rules to avoid being killed.

During a recent parliamentary exchange, Mr O’Brien said most people already recognised that West Australians were useless drivers, but the same applied to cyclists.

“They are also useless bike riders because no one tells them, whether they are kids or adults, how to ride a bike in a way that is not going to get themselves killed,” he said. “They don’t understand the rules of the road. That is the problem.”

Mr O’Brien’s comments coincided with the release of an Office of Road Safety analysis that found eight cyclists were killed and 18 were critically injured on WA roads last year.

Six fatalities occurred in crashes with other vehicles and, in four of these, the analysis found the cyclist was at fault, through inattention (twice), failing to give way or contravening traffic lights.

The other two fatalities occurred in crashes involving just the cyclists, one where the bike rider hit an object and the other in a fall triggered by a cardiac arrest.

Six of the fatalities and 14 of those critically injured were men and aged 20 or older. None was under 16.
Most of the accidents occurred between 6am and noon.

Of the critically injured cyclists, 15 were in multiple vehicle accidents, most often in right-angle (eight) and rear-end crashes (four).

Three cyclists were critically injured in single-vehicle crashes, including two where the cyclist hit a pedestrian.

Mr O’Brien, who was transport minister in the first Barnett Cabinet from 2008 to 2010, said teaching children how to ride bikes safely made a lot of sense.

“Cyclists don’t need a licence or any type of qualification,” he said.

“There is no guarantee that they know basic road rules — like what to do at traffic lights, how to not cut corners or to not ride all over the road.

“When I was a boy in the Scouts, we used to have a ‘cycling’ badge. To get the badge, we had to learn about basic road rules and pass a test. It was very good grounding for us. It would be great if something similar could be done in our schools.”

On a recent visit to Perth, Dutch consul-general Willem Cosijn said teaching road rules to student cyclists was a key reason for low bike injury rates in the Netherlands.

He said it also meant young people were conscious of cyclists when they got a driving licence.

And a new schools program aimed at teaching about bicycles and road rules was one initiative canvassed at a roundtable meeting convened by Premier Colin Barnett and key cycling representatives last month.