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Road cycling safety in the spotlight

Road safety and cycling is a hot topic, especially with the growing interest in the sport and the recent changes to the Queensland cycling laws. This weekend Shine Lawyers is hosting a road cycling awareness event on The Strand with interactive safety demonstrations, prizes and a visit from Erin Brockovich.

We recently caught up local competitive cyclist Jake Salmon, who is supporting the event through Top Brand Cycles, to get his valuable road safety tips; plus chatted to local lawyer Garreth Turner of Shine Lawyers – also a cyclist and the instigator of the event – to find out about the new laws and what will happen on Sunday.

Jake Salmon – Top Brand Cycles

How long have you been road riding and how did you get into it? My dad taught me to ride when I was young – he was into cycling and I guess it was a natural progression. As soon as I could ride without training wheels he took me out on the footpaths in our street and taught me about the road rules and how to be a safe cyclist; both for myself and other road users. I started riding competitively in one form or another since I was about 13. I transitioned from swimming to triathlon, then quickly into mountain biking and road cycling and I’ve been involved in all three ever since.

Be smart and mindful of the space that vehicles need to get past you. They won’t be able to give you 1m if you’re taking up the whole road” – Jake Salmon

What are your top four tips for cyclists to remain safe on the roads?

  1. BE PREDICTABLE – This is the most important tip I can give. Being predictable is paramount in group cycling and when around motorists and other road users. Cars indicate and so should we. Cars have brake lights to warn other drivers they are slowing down, and we need to do this with hand signals or calling.
  2. REMEMBER HOW SMALL YOU ARE – We are heaps smaller and more exposed than our motoring counterparts and we will always come off second best. Make sure you enter intersections carefully and assume the motorist hasn’t seen you: Riding defensively will go a long way to keeping you upright. We’re not bullet proof: 1mm of lycra and a foam-moulded helmet isn’t a lot of protection to be mixing it up with cars.
  3. RIDE WITHIN YOUR ABILITIES – Mistakes happen when we are fatigued. Often people crash when they are riding in a group or at a pace that is way too fast for them. This causes fatigue-related mistakes and wobbly riding. If you feel you are losing control then slow down. This goes for descending too! Take it easy when doing downhill.
  4. LIGHTS – Ensure you are lit up like a Christmas tree! Remember that your red light on the back of your bike is the most important. Making yourself clearly visible will keep you safe during the early hours of the morning.

Are there certain roads that people can ride locally that are safer at particular times of day or the week; or perhaps options that are safer while riders build confidence? There are definitely a few areas that are safer to ride than others. You are riding at your own risk being on any road without a shoulder to ride in. Major highways and routes that large trucks use should be avoided if possible and, if you have to use these more dangerous roads, proceed with caution and ride in single file. Pallarenda and North Shore Boulevard are great places to ride as the road is wide and smooth with plenty of room to ride in pairs with cars overtaking. Also remember – in relation to the changing cycling laws – yes, we are allowed to ride two abreast – however – it’s not always practical or the safest option given the width of some of the roads in Townsville. Be smart and mindful of the space that vehicles need to get past you. They won’t be able to give you 1m if you’re taking up the whole road.

“Cyclists will have more flexibility to ride on the roads and footpaths, and will be treated as legitimate road users” – Garreth Turner

Why did Top Brand partner with Shine Lawyers to get involved in this road safety initiative? We were approached by long time customer and team racing member Garreth Turner. Garreth is a solicitor at Shine and a keen cyclist and advocate of safe cycling in Townsville. Together we are really excited about educating people about the law changes and giving people the chance to see how these changes can affect all road users.

Garreth Turner – Shine Lawyers

What are the changes to the cycling laws? With an increasing number of cyclists on the road each year, the Queensland Government has introduced safer road rules for cyclists as of January 1, 2015. The new laws:

  • Allow cyclists to choose whether or not they want to ride in a bicycle lane where one is provided which is consistent with the rules for other special purpose lanes. This also eliminates any limitations cyclists previously had when using the road.
  • Cyclists are now permitted to cross zebra and children’s crossing if they have come to a complete stop before crossing. This rule will override the previous one where cyclists were to dismount their bike before crossing.

The new rules follow the April 7, 2023 changes that ensured motorists stay wider of the rider by giving a minimum of 1m when passing a cyclist in a 60km/h or less speed zone or 1.5m where the speed limit is over 60km/h.

What are the benefits for cyclists? The changes will not only make the road rules on crossings more consistent, but also allow cyclists to ride on footpaths more freely. The introduction of these rules mean all road users will be safer on Queensland roads, cyclists will have more flexibility to ride on the roads and footpaths, and will be treated as legitimate road users.

What’s the plan for the February 15 event? This free event is from 8am to 10am at The Strand Ampitheatre (across the road from Juliette’s). Shine Lawyers’ ambassador Erin Brockovich will be there to meet locals, have photos taken and present the prizes generously donated by local businesses. Plus we will have interactive safety demonstrations and great giveaways from Shine Lawyers, Northern Beaches GP Super Clinic, Performance Physio Group, Free Radicals Triathlon Club and Hardcore Brands.

TheGo is proudly supporting this event in the interests of getting active safely.

Find more information about the event in our calendar.
More information about the new cycling laws:

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Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz is combining two of her great loves — writing and getting active. Previously working as a journalist, sub-editor, and editor in newspapers and magazines; she is editor and co-founder of TheGo Townsville. She stays active with the staples of road cycling and yoga, but has recently discovered triathlon. And become addicted (apart from the swimming part). She also has a Cert III in Fitness and is passionate about improving mental health through physical activity.

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