Are cyclists the real heroes?

Some of YCAN’s best friends are cyclists. Cycling is a fantastic way to get some exercise, zip around Yarra and do your bit to have a smaller carbon footprint. But shockingly the City of Yarra has been identified as one of five high risk municipalities for the Victorian Police’s Operation Halo which has been running over the last few weeks. It is also disappointing that the Council is being very slow to properly implement its bicycle strategy.

Operation Halo has seen about 100 police a day working across the Melbourne, Port Phillip, Yarra, Boroondara and Stonnington Police Service Areas (PSAs) during peak commuter times at high-collision locations. YCAN believes that cyclists deserve the opportunity to cycle around Yarra without running the gauntlet. Cycling deserves to be a normal part of our lives in Yarra. It takes up a tiny proportion of the space that cars do, making the roads less congested for those who have to use motor vehicles. We all want to know that the ambulance is not going to get stuck in gridlock when we call it, cyclists leave the road clearer.

Police have detected 3943 offences which could have contributed to pedestrian, cyclist and motorcycle road trauma in the first three weeks of Operation Halo.

368 pedestrian offences: that’s 9.33%
427 bicycle offences: that’s 10.82%
309 motorcycle offences: that’s 7.83%
2839 car/truck offences: that’s 72%

State Bicycle Coordinator Sergeant Arty Lavos said “This operation is about targeting road trauma involving our vulnerable road users such as cyclists, motorcycle riders and pedestrians,”

“Our road toll is currently 47 – that’s 15 higher than this time last year. Of those deaths, four have been cyclists, five pedestrians and six motorcycle riders.” Sgt Lavos said.

It isn’t surprising that motor vehicles make up the majority of the offences.

What is surprising is that means 8.5% of those deaths were cyclists. It seems a disproportionate number of cyclist have died in that period. We are not saying that it is the fault of motorists. What we are saying is that both motorists and cyclists deserve the opportunity to travel safely and that having separate bike lanes in the Copenhagen style will make travelling safer for everyone. This is a failure to provide the infrastructure that the huge increase in cyclists calls for.

The City of Yarra has a Bicycle strategy that should have meant that our community got five Copenhagen lanes per year. As yet the City of Yarra has failed to provide even one. How many people will be injured or die before Yarra Council starts to meet this modest target? Would the Police have needed to deploy one hundred officers if our community was safer for cyclists? If you are a cyclist or have someone you love who enjoys cycling then this affects you. Let’s make cycling safer. And let’s solve gridlock before it strangles our city.

It is time for Council to stop thinking that some white lines and green paint will protect the people of this city. Everyone is a winner when more people regularly cycle, unless it ends in tears.

YCAN calls on the City of Yarra to fully implement its bike strategy and show genuine leadership by becoming the highest per capita funder of cycling infrastructure in Australia.