New Laws Leave Cyclists Flat

New road rules are set to redefine Victorian arterials for both cyclists and motorists from the 1st of July.

The laws give riders access to all bus lanes across Victoria unless otherwise signed and include $476 on the spot fines for cyclists caught using their phone.

These changes bring cyclists into line with all other road users and are designed to streamline the prosecution process with police issuing on the spot fines, rather than charging riders through the expensive and time-consuming court process.

Changes to the bus lanes come following a five year trial on two of the Yarra’s busiest arterials, Hoddle Street and Johnston Street. The trials found that allowing cyclists bus lane access increased rider safety and reduced traffic congestion.

Acting Minister for Roads and Road Safety John Eren says that the new legislation will make Victorian roads quicker, and easier for everyone.

“Safety is our top priority – that’s why we’re investing in separated cycling paths and updating the road rules to move riders away from high volume traffic lanes.”

“These are common sense changes aimed at keeping people safe on our roads,” Mr. Eren said.

However, Val Nagle from the Yarra Bicycle Users Group believes that giving cyclists access to bus lane’s is only a start and much more should be done to improve rider safety.

“These changes are window dressing, cars going down these roads are travelling at 60 kms an hour and any cyclist who has any awareness of their own safety doesn’t ride down a road with a bus lane in it,” Mr. Nagle said.

Bus/Bike lane on Hoddle Street. Photo: Joseph Regan

“Personally, the only bus lane I use is the one on Johnson Street and that’s spooky enough as it is, there’s so many bikes and cars moving in an out, particularly between Smith Street and Hoddle Street, that it’s just too tight.”

“No cyclist likes using bus lanes, its dangerous but it’s the lesser of two evils, it’s like the choice between Stalin and Brezhnev.”

The new on the spot fines have also caught the ire of cyclists with many feeling the new law is unnecessary.

“I can understand the argument that there should be one sort of penalty for everyone operating a vehicle on the roads, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen one person out on their bike having a text.”

“This is not a real issue for cyclists, it’s just a law for laws sake,” Mr. Nagle said.

Distracted road users are a danger to themselves and others. Photo: Joseph Regan.

However, Chief Scientist – Human Factors from the Australian Road Research Board Professor Michael Regan believes that any legislation that encourages people not to use their phones while commuting will reduce road trauma.

“In terms of crash risk, the latest studies suggest that if you talk on the mobile phone while driving you increase your risk of having a crash by two times. If you are texting on a phone your risk is roughly multiplied by seven.”

“Using a mobile device while riding takes your eyes off the road, mind off the road and hands off the road, so I would say that in many ways using a mobile phone while riding a bicycle is more dangerous than in a vehicle,” Prof. Regan said.

A full list and further details on the new laws are available on the VicRoads website.

Written by Joseph Regan

Domestic Violence in Australia

We all would like to have a happy life in place that everything is treated fair and no discriminative. However, there are some people have used their power to persecute other people, especially some men who commit violence on their friend or family. This has shown on the Domestic Violence Statistics taken by Department of Families, Housing and Community Affairs Fact Sheet 2 Women’s Safety in 2005.

  • Half a million Australian women reported that they had experienced physical or sexual violence or sexual assault in the past 12 months.
  • More than a million women had experienced physical or sexual assault by their male current or ex-partner since the age of 15 (some women may be counted twice if they experienced both physical and sexual assault).
  • 37.8% of women who experienced physical assault in the 12 months before the survey said the perpetrator was a current or previous male partner and 34.4% said the perpetrator was a male family member or friend.  Most incidences of physical assault against women in the 12 months prior to 2005 were committed in a home (64.1%).
  • 33.3% of women had experienced physical violence since the age of 15.
  • 19.1% of women had experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.
  • 12.4% of women had been sexually abused before the age of 15, compared with 4.5% of men, between 1996 and 2005. There was an increase in the reporting of sexual assault to police from 14.9% to 18.9% between 1996 and 2005 and there was an increase in the reporting of physical violence to police from 18.5% to 36%.
  • 64% of women who experienced physical assault and 81.1% of women who experienced sexual assault still did not report it to police.  The proportion of women aged between 18 and 34 who reported experiencing physical violence has decreased but the proportion of women who reported experiencing physical violence after 45 increased over the same period.  The percentage of women who reported that their children had witnessed partner-related violence either from a current or ex-partner was lower than in 1996.

So, what should we do to solve this problem to help women not to get abused or assault by their men? How can we help them to have a good life if they unluckily live with a violent male?

If you require support on any domestic abuse issues please contact National Sexual AssaultFamily & Domestic Violence Counselling Line 1800 737 732

By Johnny Nguyen