According to a controversial cycling lobbyist from Melbourne, a shocking new video of a cyclist almost being killed by an SUV proves Safe Passing Laws are desperately needed in the State of Victoria to stop drivers from deliberately aiming at cyclists for cheap thrills.
Michael Kater, a well known Admin for the Australian Cycling Alliance, claims the incident is clear evidence of intent to cause injury and harm by a driver who took aim directly at a fallen rider.
“You can see the driver in the black 4WD intended this incident to happen from a kilometer away,” he says. “That driver was aiming at that bike rider. It was on purpose, it was attempted murder!”
However, many online viewers say the incident was completely the cyclist’s fault. The video shows a group of cyclists on a morning training ride. As the group negotiates a left hand corner, a rider is seen clipping a pedal which results in a second rider being high sided on to the road.
Nonetheless, Michael Kater is adamant. He says he has good evidence this incident was actually planned by the driver, which in turn proves Victoria desperately needs Safe Passing Laws. “You can see this driver intended to come as close as possible to the rider on the road surface. It was a deliberate close pass. It’s what we call a punishment pass. The driver clearly intended to intimidate this bike rider and it worked. It’s a pattern of behaviour cyclists are subjected to on a daily basis all over the world nowadays.”
Not everyone in the cycling community is convinced. Dave Sharp from Safe Cycling Australia reckons Michael Kater is definitely wrong about this incident.
“Quite frankly, Michael Kater is a fool,” says the well known cycling advocate. “I used to do a lot of work with Michael a few years ago, and it’s no secret we’ve had quite a falling out since that time but sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. It’s obvious this video is a classic mistake by a rider who clipped his pedal while taking a corner,” Sharp continues. “It’s a basic mistake to be honest. Anyone who reckons the driver in this video took aim at the rider is a deluding themselves. But that pretty much describes Michael.”
While extremists like Michael Kater are obviously fringe dwellers, the fact remains an increasing number of cycling advocates are aware the Safe Passing Laws aren't working. Hence they're now lobbying for an even more expensive option. It's called the 'cycling superhighway'.
Recent statements by the RACV indicate they continue to push for Safe Passing legislation. They recently said the government’s 2017 “Share the Road” education and awareness campaign does not appear to have been successful in changing drivers’ behaviour.
“In March 2017, the government agreed to trial minimum passing if the community education campaign was ineffective in achieving safety benefits for cyclists,” Mr Kartsidimas said. “Safety is always our number one priority and we are reviewing the effectiveness of this road rule in other states to see if it could be rolled out in Victoria,” a government spokesman said on Tuesday.
But Australian Cycle Alliance president Edward Hore says a distance of one metre was not enough. He has called for European-style rules where cars must entirely change lanes when passing cyclists.
“A car is 20 per cent occupied, a bike is 100 per cent occupied. It just makes sense,” Mr Hore said. “Ideally what we need in Australia is a multi-billion dollar separate road system built to the world’s highest standards, just for cyclists. Bike riders have a right to be safe and that means we really should be looking at cycling superhighways instead of Safe Passing Laws.”
When asked who will fund the cycling superhighway, Ed Hore is forthright. “Motorists will of course,” he says. “Less than one percent of adult Australians actually ride a bike to work so it’s obvious the 99% of people who don’t ride a bike to work will have to pay for it.”