People were vocally concerned about the inconvenience of the driver but had less time to consider the safety of the cyclist.
People were vocally concerned about the inconvenience of the driver but had less time to consider the safety of the cyclist.

Fierce debate over road rule question

A simple online quiz about road rules quickly went off the rails on Monday as Facebook commenters instead debated whether cyclists should be allowed to use the road, forcing one state's transport department to explain why it doesn't make cyclists pay registration fees.

Queensland's Department of Transport and Main Roads was also forced to step in and defend the state's road rules designed to protect the safety of bicycle riders.

"Bike riders are allowed to ride on the road in Queensland, so please note that rules about staying wider of the rider are here to stay," the Department wrote.

"If you're worried about registration we're just going to remind everyone that we all (including bike riders) contribute to the cost of roads with our rates and general taxes."

Every Monday the Department uses its Facebook page to quiz drivers on road rules.

This week the discussion got tense over a question about how much space cyclists should be given when being passed by a car.

Discussion got heated when asked how much clearance the orange car had to give the cyclist.
Discussion got heated when asked how much clearance the orange car had to give the cyclist.

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"What's the minimum passing distance the orange car needs to give this bike rider?" The Department asked, giving four options between 0.5m and 2m.

The answer is 1.5m because the speed limit is over 60km/h. (On roads with posted speed limits under 60km/h motorists only have to leave at least 1m.)

That's not what people wanted to talk about though. Instead the conversation centred on drivers complaining about cyclists.

"Why is the bicycle even on this road? They should be restricted to bike lanes or 60km/h roads," wrote one person who also said he is waiting for cyclists to "generally start demonstrating road courtesy" before he changes his "attitude to them".

"They need indicators and mirrors. Some just cut straight in front of you without looking or hand signals," another wrote.

 

A number of commenters were upset that cyclists don't have to pay registration fees and so shouldn't get to use public roads.

"Registration fees don't go straight into infrastructure - they're incorporated into the whole-of-government consolidated fund which is used to pay for all sorts of important state government initiatives," the Department replied.

"The costs to develop and administer a registration scheme and the costs to members of the public to register their bikes outweigh the benefits we'd see from it - which is why there isn't a jurisdiction in Australia that registers them," it said.

Some of those who did focus on the question of how much distance to give cyclists suggested measuring it in pool noodles and cricket bats, while others thought cyclists should have to ride on the shoulder.

While the answers didn't paint Queensland road users as particularly courteous, at least one person thought they could be worse.

"As a Kiwi living in your country, let me congratulate the vast majority of you on being reasonable road users," they wrote.

"If you don't know how far 1.5m is, you're a menace, your journey is not more important than the life of a cyclist (or any other road user)."

Originally published as Fierce debate over road rule question


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