A petition to change the road rule allowing drivers to cross solid white lines to overtake a cyclist has attracted more than 1000 signatures (see picture above) in just four days over the New Year break!
Crash victim Maritha Keyser’s petition claims the rule puts the lives of motorcyclists, such as herself, in danger.
“It is sobering to read the vast majority of the comments – hundreds and hundreds – that mention near-misses,” Maritha says.
“Reading the (petition and Facebook) comments was eye opening. So many near-misses or even accidents quoted. We need this rule to change.”
Each time someone signs the petition, an email is sent to the relevant state minister.
Motorbike Writer has also contacted the ministers and Cycling Australia to seek comment about the success of the petition. We will report back if or when we receive any responses. So far we have only had automated email responses.
The petition was started on the one-year anniversary of Maritha being involved in an accident when a vehicle legally crossed a double white line to pass a slow-moving cyclist and give them the required 1m buffer (or 1.5m in over 60km/h zones).
Maritha was left with permanent disabilities. She has difficulty talking, is unable to work, drive or ride, struggles to perform basic functions for her family, or remember simple tasks and had to learn to walk again.
Cyclist passing rule
The laws actually state that you can only cross or straddle a solid white line or painted island “if it is safe to do so”.
However, the petition claims that the very fact that it is allowable creates the wrong impression for drivers.
Motorists already can’t see riders, don’t want to see us or simply ignore us as no real threat to them.
They wouldn’t cross a solid line if another car was coming, but they seem willing to do so for motorcycles.
Here is a video example of a close call as a rider nearly runs head-on into a van that is over the white line on a corner because of a cyclist on the side of the road.
While Maritha’s accident was not a head-on with the overtaking vehicle, its presence on the wrong side of the road led to a chain of events that caused the crash.
Change the laws
She is calling for a repeal of the laws and asked for Motorbike Writer’s help to start her petition.
Maritha has the support of former Australian Motorcycle Council chairman Peter Baulch, the Victorian Motorcycle Council, BMW Clubs Australia chairman John Eacott and Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party member, motorcycle crash widow and passionate rider Judith Kuerschner.
Legislating to protect one vulnerable road user that heightens the risk of another vulnerable road user is simply wrong, they all say.
Judith says the above sign is all over Tasmania, suggesting it is ok to overtake cyclists.
“Yet a simple ‘watch for motorcycles’ tacked to the top could go a long way to preventing incidents like Maritha’s from happening,” she says.
Peter says the fundamental principle that seems to have got lost in all the “cyclist safety” is that “road safety is a shared responsibility of all road users”.
“The safety of one road user group should never be achieved at the expense or risk of other road user groups,” he says.
Maritha has written to us about her crash that happened while riding in Tasmania on December 29, 2015, because of the difficulty she still has in talking.
“It would be great if I can somehow influence this ridiculous law of overtaking over a white line,” she says.
“The crash wasn’t head-on with the driver of a campervan overtaking the cyclists, thankfully, as at 110km/h I wouldn’t have survived.
“I must have swerved to miss him, as did the rider in front of me, and this caused a chain of events, ending up with me coming off the bike and being hit by another oncoming sedan. They were also innocent victims of the driver’s decision.”
Maritha says she can’t remember anything of the crash or even the day before.
“I was told that I hit the rider in front of me,” she says. “He swerved to the side of the narrow road to avoid a head-on collision, too. He and his pillion fell to the side and both were badly hurt.
“I fell, separated from my bike, and I hit the white sedan on its right and my bike hit it on its left. The bike came to a halt on the side of the road, where it caught fire.
“I was under the car until they apparently reversed off me.”
Maritha suffered fractures in her pelvis (six), shoulder blade, all ribs, sternum, leg and arm, plus severe traumatic brain injury. The MRI showed multiple bleeds, contusions and diffuse axonal injury.
“I can’t handle people, public places, any noise, music, light” she says.
“I can’t ever work again or drive a car.”