By Robyn Ironside
February 08, 2010 12:00am
CYCLISTS are taking to the roads in their thousands minus potentially life-saving helmets.
Although helmets have been compulsory for cyclists in Queensland since the early 1990s, police are issuing around 7500 fines a year to bare-headed bike riders.
The offence is by far the most common committed by cyclists on Queensland roads, according to statistics provided by Queensland Transport for 2007 to October 2009.
The list of the “top 12 bicycle offences” shows about 250 cyclists a year are fined for not having operational lights and about 200 are caught running red lights.
Riding while talking on a mobile phone is the fourth-most common offence by cyclists.
Carrying a rider who is not wearing a helmet is another relatively common breach of the law, followed by cyclists found to be riding bikes that are unsafe.
Ben Wilson, from Bicycle Queensland, said it was in a cyclist’s own best interests to obey the road rules.
“The danger that a bike rider poses to themselves by breaking the road rules is enormous, and that’s a huge deterrent the world over,” Mr Wilson said. “The basic tenet of why bike riders should behave is: For their own safety.”
Superintendent Col Campbell, from the State Traffic Support Branch, said “vigilance and visibility” were cyclists’ best friends.
“It’s incumbent on all people who use the roads to make sure they’re aware of the road rules that apply to them,” Supt Campbell said.
“Just as pedestrians create a significant risk when they don’t obey don’t walk signs, so do cyclists who don’t obey the rules.”
Independent research commissioned by insurer AAMI found two out of three drivers found cyclists hard to see, and 64 per cent classed them as “an outright road hazard”.
“Despite these attitudes, we are seeing evidence that the larger community supports the more widespread use of bicycles,” said AAMI corporate affairs manager Mike Sopinksi.
“The experience in other countries tells us that once a significant number of bikes appear in traffic, motorists adjust their behaviour and learn to anticipate how riders use the road.
“That will ultimately help reduce the number of accidents between cars and bikes and encourage safer driving.”