Action after cyclist’s ‘preventable’ death
A powerful government agency will probe allegations that lax policing has put the lives of countless cyclists at risk, after the death of an outspoken bike safety activist.
The Queensland Government will support the referral of submissions to the Crime and Corruption Commission to examine how adequately authorities have enforced a law requiring motorists to leave a safe distance when passing bicycle riders.
It's a law many believe could have prevented the death last week of cyclist advocate Cameron Frewer on the Sunshine Coast.
Mr Frewer was hit by a ute and killed on Monday last week, just days after he wrote an impassioned open letter pleading for safe pass rules to be taken more seriously by authorities.
The 44-year-old father of three had been campaigning on the issue for more than a year before his death, believing police were turning a blind eye to drivers breaking the law.
This week, news.com.au launched a campaign to highlight Mr Frewer's legacy, the issues surrounding the 1m safe pass law and growing animosity between motorists and bike riders.
Now, senior ministers within the state government have pledged support for the safe pass issue to be closely examined.
Bicycle Queensland chief executive officer Anne Savage confirmed she met with Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey and Police Minister Mark Ryan on Tuesday.
"The meeting was to discuss the enforcement of road safety laws, following the horrific crash that claimed the life of our close friend and respected cycling advocate Cameron Frewer," Ms Savage told news.com.au.
"The ministers carefully considered the information presented by Bicycle Queensland, and have suggested our concerns be referred to an independent authority for examination.
"We have offered our full support for this process. Over the coming days we will prepare a detailed statement and background submission."
Anger has been brewing in the Australian cycling community since Mr Frewer's death, which many believe was entirely avoidable.
Across Queensland last year, just 39 infringements were issued to motorists for failing to leave a safe distance when overtaking cyclists.
In NSW, between March 2016 and May 2018, police issued just 65 fines to drivers who passed too close to bicycles.
Cycling advocates in other states have told news.com.au that low enforcement rates in the state are not uncommon.
David Maywald of the Dulwich Hill Bicycle Club said there had been "thousands of victims of dangerous close calls" compared to the handful of infringements.
Mr Frewer's devastated wife Catherine said her husband wanted the law enforced, for the sake of everyone's safety, but his pleas were usually dismissed.
"Some of the comments he would get was that he shouldn't be riding on those rides because they were too busy, and that maybe he should just buy an exercise bike.
"And they weren't from ordinary people - the authorities would say that to him. It's so silly.
"It's blaming cyclists for being on the road. He got excuse after excuse and it's why he was fighting so hard to be able to enjoy riding and to be safe."
In early 2018, he kicked off the Safe Pass, Drive Wide campaign in a bid to educate motorists and encourage police to take action.
Generally speaking, in most cases the law states that motorists must leave a gap of at least 1m when passing a person on a bicycle on the road.
In many jurisdictions, that space increased to 1.5m in speed limits higher than 60km/h. Motorists are permitted to cross double lines to obey the rule provided it's safe to do so.
A spokesperson for Queensland Police said the force took all matters of road safety seriously and undertook a number of "proactive and reactive" strategies.
"While Section 144A provides an offence for the driver of a motor vehicle failing to pass the rider of a bicycle at a sufficient distance, the onus as with any offence remains with the prosecution to prove each and every element of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt," the spokesperson said.
Each day this week, news.com.au's campaign will explore the impact of Cameron Frewer's death, the 1m rule, dangers on the road and the battle between bike riders and drivers