Does the way we enact and enforce our laws shape cycling culture?

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There are many deterrents to cycling in our city, as well as across the whole country:

  • the perception of danger when riding on the roads is largely a subjective one held by car drivers who don’t ride bikes and who often hold a belief that bike riding is inherently unsafe
  • much of the infrastructure, which is not separated from cars, and which can encourage bike riders to make unsafe choices about where to ride eg when using roundabouts and riding in the car door lane
  • mandatory helmet laws, which make cycling appear even more unsafe by requiring a helmet here in Australia, whereas pedestrians and car drivers do not require the same PPE even though the risk is there for them as well
  • council taking an inordinately long time to repair or build bike tracks, preventing cyclists from using paths for up to 6 months, this would never be tolerated on a road, especially if it were busy
  • Our laws about driving slowly near schools vs Dutch laws which discourage parents driving kids to school (see David Hembrow’s blog for information on this)

What is needed is government taking the initiative in Newcastle to shape the way we move around our city, this is the only way to change these perceptions.

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3 Responses to Does the way we enact and enforce our laws shape cycling culture?

  1. laurent says:

    About mandatory helmet laws, I’ve been reading Chris Boardman’s blog who said “…It’s just ludicrous that the facts aren’t matching up with the actions because the press focus, naturally, on the news stories, and [the notion that cycling is dangerous] becomes the norm, and it isn’t the norm.”.
    It’s an extract which seems to gathering your thought.
    Here is the link: http://road.cc/content/news/111258-chris-boardman-helmets-not-even-top-10-things-keep-cycling-safe

    • Vicki says:

      I’ve read some of the helmet law debate going on in Britain now too, it’s been interesting reading it and I know we are held up as an example of what this law can do to cycling: it reduced it by a lot here. I read some of the comments on that link too, they seem much more informed and rational than a lot of the discussion on bikes in the media here. Thanks!

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