There are many things I love about living here in Cairns, in the heart of far north Queensland. The driver behaviour is not one of them. I’ve often been heard on the radio lamenting some of the things I’ve seen on our roads. We have an odd combination of aggression, frontier machismo and distraction evident in the behaviour of a small but very obvious minority of drivers.
There is a bigger and more complex problem – and that’s the way drivers and bicycle riders share our roads. Well, the way they compete on the roads – we can’t really say the current situation is what anyone would call sharing. Some drivers think there’s no place for cyclists on the roads, and so they’re fair game. Some cyclists don’t ride safely or in a way that gives drivers a chance to work with them. And then there’s the dangers posed by the aggro, macho frontier factors mentioned before.
I don’t take sides in the debate between drivers and riders. There’s right and wrong on both sides. And, to be fair, some stretches of our roads make it hard for them to accommodate each other. What I do believe is that, like it or not, roads are shared spaces and we’ve got to get better at sharing.
An opportunity to do this comes up next Wednesday, August 14, at James Cook University. The Safer Together Cycling Road Safety Forum. The organisers have come up with a lively format, based around the SBS TV discussion show Insight, with road safety experts and road users ready to discuss, debate, answer questions and encourage dialogue. They’re not necessarily looking for agreement or consensus – just a lively exchange of views, drivers and bicycle riders getting to understand each other, generate some ideas to make our roads safer for all users.
Nikki Huddy is one of the organisers. She’s a town planner, and a cyclist. LISTEN Click on the red arrow to hear Nikki talk about the Safer Together Cycling Road Safety Forum
The Safer Together Forum is at James Cook University Cairns Wednesday 14 August at 6pm at the Cairns Institue Building. Register here alumni.jcu.edu.au/SaferTogether