Cyclist rule petition gains traction

Petition against cyclist passing rule

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.

SIGN MARITHA’S PETITION

“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.

Maritha Keyser Cyclist rule endangers motorcyclists
Crash scene on double white lines

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.

HAVE YOU SIGNED THE PETITION YET?

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.

Maritha Keyser Cyclist rule endangers motorcyclists
Tasmanian road sign

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 writes

Maritha Keyser Cyclist rule endangers motorcyclists
Maritha Keyser

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 Keyser Cyclist rule endangers motorcyclists

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 Keyser Cyclist rule endangers motorcyclists

Massive injuries

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.”

Maritha Keyser Cyclist rule endangers motorcyclists
Maritha will never ride again

15 Comments

  1. On two separate occasions while riding down Mt. Glorious to see my dad who’s in his eighties, I have come across cyclists and as I have approached on both occasions, the back cyclist has come out and sat beside the lead rider, my bike has loud pipes which can be heard for a distance, If not for my motorcycle defence riding course in the army I wouldn’t be here to tell my story. Now before you all jump on the band-wagon I ride a Yamaha 650 custom cruiser, I ride like miss daisy (speed limit and to the conditions of road and weather).
    I broke my back in the eighties, suffer from PTSD ex firefighter and have covered hundreds of klm”s on motorcycles since the seventies till now with no accidents. I’m not saying all bike riders are like these smiling idiots (yes as I passed legal down the road further the rider that came out as I went to pass made a point of smiling over the top at me, knowing full well what he had done.) My point is some of these bike riders are abusing this rule and we have to just stay calm until the powers to be change this rule for the benefit of ALL road users.

    1. So the rider was not smiling as a form of appreciation that you waited until safe. Must think the worst of them because you were inconvenienced.

      Not sure how a cyclist can abuse this rule and would be curious to hear you elaborate on how such abuse occurs. It is fairly simple after all, cyclists are allowed by law to ride side by side, so long as no further than 1.5 metres apart. No requirement to be anywhere in particular in the lane as it is their discretion based on where they think it is safest (as left as practicable is what the regulations say).

      I know as motorcyclists we get a raw deal from other road users, try being a cyclist, trust me from personal experience they have a worse deal from road users treating them poorly. Having walked in the shoes of both users I can understand why some cyclists may ride more “defensively” as they are tired of being cut up by rogue road users. Maybe these cyclists were sensing a potential issue and decided to position themselves in a manner to prevent that (not saying you would have just saying they thought that). That is not abuse of the rule, its just plain common sense on their part for their own safety. No less than you would do on your motorcycle if you sensed a situation unfolding ahead of you and you wanted to take necessary precautions for your safety.

  2. It seems that a lot of comments have been removed form this article. If opposing or alternate views are shamelessly quashed then I have lost a lot of respect for what I was lead to believe was an independent source of commentary.

    1. Hi Sean,
      No comments have been removed. None. Zip. Nada!
      Maybe some comments take time to appear because they all have to be approved, but that might be simply because I’m out riding instead of slaving away in the office.
      However, all comments are published (although some rude words might be edited out!)
      Cheers,
      Mark

      1. My sincere apologies, you have almost a carbon copy article (pictures etc https://motorbikewriter.com/cyclist-rule-endangers-motorcyclists/) about the same petition which at the time I wrote this had 50 comments. When I saw this article I saw the pictures causing recognition, but minimal comments and I thought they had been edited/removed.

        For the record though the original article is still factually incorrect in the second sentence, the driver did not cross the lines legally and to say so is simply incorrect. The mere fact that this incident occurred suggests it was an illegal pass.

  3. Push bikes should be banned from ALL roads that dont allow for a 1.5 of passing without crossing the white line, We are not permitted to have 2 d=cars in the 3.3 m lane yet in effect with te buffer we are allowing that PLUS th width of the vehicle( trucks inclusive).. Whether riding or driving narrow roads are nr meant =for 3 vehicles in tandam, ironically drivers will respectthe space of a cycilist over a motorbiker,,,A a further point the mt cootha, mt nebo, roads in the afternoon are in a direction where we have the sun in our eyes after about 4 om , it is difficult to see approaching cars and is impossible to see push bikes going in the same direction, Strangly enough these idiots know this and are happy to putthier lives in danger,, go figure,,we have plenty of dedicated bicycle path ways ,if like us they wantto test their limits they should use a track or these pathways,,they shoud have yellow flags flashing lights high vis jackets and have restrictions of the roadways and even times of use, they exceed the 50 kph speeds down mt cootha and are just accidents waiting to happen ,Hey ,Dont get me started ,, lol

    1. And if you want to test your limits on the motorbike should you not take yourself to a race track and not do it on the mountains surrounding Brisbane? After all it would be far safer for everyone including yourself. Same argument you are using for cyclists can be equally applied to motorcyclists. Don’t get me started about insurance claims for Mt Glorious and Mt Mee roads, I’ve heard that more than 50% of motorcycle insurance claims in Qld are for those two roads alone and going by what I have witnessed personally from my motorbike, it is not surprising.

  4. Clowns were doing this all the time before the rule was introduced, however they were more careful
    but the new rule encourages them to do it no matter what.
    No use saying “as long as it’s safe to do so”
    they don’t hear that bit.

    The idiot obsession with speed limits makes people think their driving’s safe no matter what they do
    as long as they’re under the idiotically low speed limit.

  5. While I agree that there are morons out there I don’t think the rule has anything to do with many of the accidents and near misses. It is more likely the nut behind the wheel is loose without supervision of a functioning brain to keep it from making poor choices and stupid decisions. If you watch YouTube you will see countless examples of idiots making the poor choice of swerving to avoid an obstacle only to head on with a bus or truck. The problem is not the rule it’s the Lycra brigade who choose to pick locations for their suicidal escapades that cars trucks and bikes like to drive on at the speed limit not ten kph as a sweaty ahole struggles up a hill swaying all over the road. Those idiots should be banned from such roads, if they can afford upwards of five thousand for a bike and gear they can afford the drive to a dedicated track or organise an event with safety cars etc if they want to ride one of those roads.

    1. Exactly right! They shouldn’t be on roads with limits faster than 50km/h, unless they have a dedicated lane. Not the shoulder, not the emergency/breakdown lane. A proper cycle lane to seperate them due to the dangerous speed difference they ride at. I got into an argument with my boss about cyclists sitting on the white line and constantly in the vehicle lane, went something like this…
      Boss – “we have to ride there, the shoulder has sharp rocks, glass and sticks that constantly give me flat tyres!”
      Me – ” you’re clearly on the wrong bike, your 10,000 dollar push-bike with paper thin tyres isn’t fit for purpose of commuting, why not get a mountain bike with thicker tyres?”
      Boss -“there are so many obstacles I have do deal with, you have no idea..”
      Me – “ha ha, please. Your biggest worries are popping a $20 tyre and getting hit by a vehicle while riding in its lane! That would be like me complaining that it’s annoying how many near misses I get walking along the railway tracks, those pesky train drivers need to share the tracks!”
      Boss – “yeah, but trains are made to use the tracks, they’re big, fast and dangerous, no one would ever put themselves in that situation…”
      Me – “you do realise that you’ve just proven every anti-cyclists point right?”
      Boss – “you don’t get what it’s like to be invisible on the road, drivers need to share!”
      Me – “look out the window, see that large black motorcycle? It’s about 150hp-ish, weighs around 230kg, can accelerate faster than you can think and brake damn well as good. It has lights, reflectors and horn. Not to mention an exhaust that sounds like an f1 car on full chat .I ride that, every day, rain, hail, fog or shine. On contact patches about the size of postage stamps. I dodge oil, branches, animals, errant pedestrians, gravel, sand, tar snakes, potholes, speed bumps, slick paint, glass, slivers of tin, nails…. Not to mention the copious amount of buses, taxi’s, vans, soccer mums and mobile-mobilephone users, completely unaware at the wheel. And I’m still here. You know why?”
      Boss – “motorcycles are death traps..”
      Me – ” I’ve gone and done the road rules test each time I wanted to go up in class of machine, I attend advanced training every year to keep sharp. I practice every day I’m on my bike, and most importantly I hone and develop road-craft. Motorcyclist call it the 6th sense or spidey sense. What it is, is your brain recognising a pattern of dangers, about to unfold and taking evasive action. The first two parts are
      1) situational awareness – what you are doing, what other traffic is doing.
      2) road surface – how can I use it, what dangers are there I have to mitigate.
      I have, never seen a cyclist apply even the first 2 bits of basic common-sense. ”
      Boss – “like what?”
      Me -” like not putting themselves and by proxy, others in a dangerous situation by riding dangerously under the limit, on roads with no safe run-off, for example, the narrow 100km/h country lane out here to work”
      Boss, after 3hours. “what’s the cheapest motorcycle?”

  6. way I understand it, if there’s nobody else on the road & I cross a double white line I get fined & lose points.
    If there’s a pushbike there & I cross a double white line I dont get fined & I dont lose points.
    So how does the pushbike suddenly make it safe for me to cross the double white line, some sort of magical safety field surrounding it?

  7. I recently had a car coming towards me swerve over the double lines to miss a cyclist on his side without slowing down at all and I had to take to the dirt to avoid a head on collision; as I ride a Can Am Spyder which is the same width as a small car.
    This rule is incredibly dangerous! (and stupid)

    1. No, the driver of the car coming the other way is incredibly dangerous and stupid.
      The rule didn’t make them ignore you or not even look for oncoming traffic. They are just a bad driver – too entitled to accept that a momentary touch of the brake is required, believing they should not have to slow down for anyone. Driver at fault, not the rule.

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