THE S.C.A. STORY

The road less travelled, for more reasons than we can shake a bent frame pump at.

IF YOU HADN’T HEARD OF US BEFORE NOW, READ ON. YOU’LL BE SURPRISED TO KNOW WHAT S.C.A. HAS ACHIEVED SO FAR.

HOW WE BEGAN

Safe Cycling Australia sprang to life after Sean Harrison and myself met through our mutual love of cycling and shared passion for safer roads, and decided to petition the Queensland government in 2009 for the introduction of a Minimum Safe Passing Distance law. Despite a campaign netting in excess of five thousand Queensland cyclist’s signatures, gaining the support of elite cyclists Robbie McEwen and Cadel Evans and others, meeting with the Transport Minister during the campaign and recieving widespread media attention, we were ultimately unsuccessful in changing the exiting QRR144. The law at the time effectively required a motorist to collide with and potentially kill a cyclist before they could possibly be found to have overtaken them too closely. The response of the Transport Minister to the parliamentary petition at the time was that the government’s recommendation for motorists to overtake “with sufficient room” was sufficient.

Enouraged by the response from the Queensland cycling community and from cyclists and their families nationally, if not left a little deflated by the dismissive response from the Minister, it was decided that a more substancial effort be made  to campaign and lobby for a specific distance law for the benefit of both cyclists and other road users.

On November 9 2009, I started the Safe Cycling Australia page on Facebook. In the years since, the page has grown to be one of the most heavily supported cycling advovacy-specific pages anywhere in the world. Everyone involved in our growth including Sean, Graham, Scott, Tony, Kat, and others such as those who have provided free online work, campaign assistance and advice to help us stay on track, particularly when we looked like we’d fly off the rails, dererves our unending gratitude. It’s taken a long time to get to this point, and it’s mostly been worth it. Let’s not mention the negatives. 

 

TURNING POINT

May 6 2013. the day a cement truck driver accused of driving dangerously and causing the death of cyclist and gifted musician Richard Pollett was found not guilty.
Richard, 25, was killed after being struck by the cement truck’s rear tyres as the driver attempted to overtake him on Moggill Rd at Kenmore at 1.30pm on September 27, 2011.
His devastated mother, Patricia Pollett, called me from the courtroom immediatelyafter the verdict was read out. QRR144 had failed her and her husband Philip, so in her despair she turned to us, hoping we could do something to help ensure this never happened to another family again. They hoped that their son’s passing would remind motorists of their duty of care to one another on the state’s roads. Sean and I agreed to try a second time to campaign for the existing rule to be changed, and we relaunched the petition, sponsored by Dr Bruce Flegg MP forthe Queensland seat of Moggil, who’s electorate office lay within 2km of Richard’s ghost bike. 
Bruce and his staff felt so passionately about the cause that his staff helped us organise and launch the petition within 24 hours, staying back until midnight of that Friday to ensure it went live on the Queensland parliamentary website before the weekend. By Saturday afternoon we had already seen the petiton signed by over 2,000 Queenslanders.
The following week, Bruce gave the first ever speech concerning the need to protect vulnerable road users in the Queenslnd Parliament on our behalf.
The sad passing of Tanya Roneberg that afternoon in Cairns to an unsafe overtake from a D.U.I driver in Cairns, served to remind us all of the dire need to change a law which had failed to protect so many. Unfortunately, during the priod in which we campaigned for change in 2013, cyclists Les Karayan, Michell Smeaton and Sue Bell also lost their lives to unsafe overtaking on Queensland’s roads.

THE REWARD

The response to the 6,700 signature petiton from the Transport Minister ~ Scott Emerson MP for Indooroopilly, was to launch the Parliamentary Inquiry into Cycling Issues, to which we made joint submissions in partnership with Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, as did so many other cycling (and motoring) organisations, groups, BUG’s and individuals.                              
The recommendation by the Inquiry committee to introduce the current Split Rule was accepted and implimented by Scott emerson on November 29, and commenced on April 7 2014. The Inquiry committee also recommended that Presumed Liability Legislation (P.L.L.) be adopted into civil law as an additional road safety measure, although this was rejected by the Minister.
As we had always hoped, the legislation has been adopted in turn by the A.C.T., South Australian, N.S.W. and Tasmaninan governments, currently leaving only Victoria, West Australia and the Northern Territory as the only jurisdictions who have yet to make the change required in order to save lives (August 2017). W.A. is trialling the Split Rule in 2018.
We are incredibly proud of the leading role we played in the introduction of the Split Rule in Queensland, and we are of course eternally grateful of the support we’ve recieved during 2009 and 2013 in particular, as well as during our campaign in 2015 for the introduction of P.L.L.                                    
We intend to continue campaigning for P.L.L. into the forseeable future, and we are fully expectant that Australia will see the introduction of Presumed Liability within five years. That might just be because we don’t take no for an answer. We are one of the loudest and most annoying voices in cycling advocacy, and our social media reach has helped us advocate more effectively for you, and the more support we gain, the louder our voice becomes. Without trying to sound precious, thankyou to every one of you for that gift.

"IT'S JUST ANOTHER FORM OF SOCIAL EXCLUSION IN AUSTRALIA, WHERE BIGOTRY HAS BECOME A NATIONAL SPORT"

“WE ALREADY HAVE CYCLING INFRASTRUCTURE. IT’S CALLED OUR ROAD NETWORK, AND CYCLISTS PAY TO USE IT JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE. THAT’S WHY WE WISH ALL CYCLISTS FELT SAFE ENOUGH TO BE ABLE TO RIDE ON THE TARMAC. THAT THEY DON’T FEEL SAFE ENOUGH PISSES ME OFF.”

~ DAVE SHARP, FOUNDER – S.C.A.