A high rate of injury to Coffs Harbour cyclists has prompted a joint project designed to increase road safety and assist in the development of an integrated transport plan for the city.
The project is being carried out by the Coffs Harbour City Council in conjunction with Dr Charmaine Daly, a lecturer in Psychology at the Southern Cross University (SCU).
Dr Daly said figures showed that Coffs Harbour cyclists were over-represented in reported casualties in the Northern Region of NSW in the period 1997 to 2001.
She said of the 562 reported casualties from road accidents, 106 were Coffs Harbour cyclists.
“Furthermore, and quite disturbingly, nine per cent of the casualties in Coffs Harbour were not wearing a helmet,” Dr Daly said.
She said there was also evidence that non-fatal injuries were grossly under reported in police/RTA road accident statistics. In a preliminary survey sent to 35 bike users she found that 13 had had an accident or near miss.
“If that is an indication of what we are looking at the notion of it being under reported is very much the case.
“At the end of the day what we have got to get from this is infrastructure to encourage people to use their bikes and feel safe.”
Dr Daly, who is a keen cyclist and member of the Coffs Harbour Triathlon Club, said she had experienced a “near-miss’ which put her off riding for sometime.
“If people have a near-miss they might not get back on their bike at all. We need to look at how we can make drivers and bike-riders more responsible.”
A major part of the project is a survey that will be distributed to motorists and cyclists throughout the city. This will collect information relating to ‘near-misses’ and black spots in the local areas.
Dr Daly said it would also identify things such as who uses bikes and why, attitudes and perceptions of motorists, deterrents to using a bike and sources of safe-cycling education.
“The report emanating from this survey will be the basis of a strategic document identifying priorities for engineering, education, encouragement and enforcement.”
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