After the accident last weekend where six cyclists riding in a group were hit by a car in a hit and run, and the public awareness raised by that incident, the scene was set for more tolerant treatment of cyclists when two more incidents involving cars and bikes occurred, both being recorded on camera and both going viral on the internet. Luckily, none of these cyclists was killed, though some were injured.
It is rare that prosecutions are made in favour of cyclists in Autralia, in spite of the letter of the law. Often, there is little evidence or, in the case of doorings, the magistrate will feel sorry for the car driver who is often traumatised by the incident and very regretful. In most cases, a lenient fine may be given, or no sanction at all. This is hardly fair, nor does it help the cause of cycling on the roads.
In the two most recent cases, the video evidence and the subsequent widespread viewing, showing the identity of the offenders involved, meant that it was difficult for authorities to ignore. In the case of the dooring, one man even turned himself in. The other accident, where a cyclist was hit from behind, was also captured in terrifyingly graphic footage by a passing car’s camera, and it is a wonder that the cyclist was not seriously injured or worse. The subsequent $600 fine and 6 months’ loss of licence is seen by some to be adequate and a step in the right direction by the courts, and by others as grossly inadequate.
Another good outcome from all of this horror is that inappropriate comments made on the media reporting of the first incident were removed by the newspapers at the request of cycling advocacy bodies. Many of them were unrelated to the incident and were the usual bike hatred along the lines of “cyclists should pay rego and why do they always run red lights”, and possibly worse. This is victim shaming of the worst possible nature and was finally seen by the media to be so.
It is hard to see some good outcomes when such bad things happen, but so far it appears that some form of justice will prevail in these incidents and that public opinion may be swayed in favour of cyclists and their rights on the roads.