Sharing the Road was the theme at the RMS Western Region Bike Forum this year. NSW Public Affairs Manager, Bastien Wallace presented ‘Beyond the Big Smoke’, highlighting the pot-holes and pitfalls of road sharing for people riding bikes, and the opportunities created when communities become more bike friendly.
This followed on from hearing of the projects and programs delivered in Orange, Lachlan and Bogun Councils and the community bike week activity in Coonabarabran. Each community faced challenges to increasing bike riding and worked hard on infrastructure and behavior change issues.
Bastien spoke to the challenges that road sharing presents in rural and regional NSW from wildlife, vegetation and the wider variety of vehicles on the road. She spoke about the use of bikes as mobility assistance and raised the issue that while the shoulder of highways may be marked for bikes, debris and shredded tyres from semi-trailers often obstruct this space.
The best part of the diverse range of participants at the forum was the opportunity to discuss solutions and opportunities arising from the challenges. The group learnt a new chain of responsibility laws beginning on the 1st of July should reduce or eliminate the use of retreads on heavy vehicles. This will positively impact the safety of truck drivers and all road users.
Allowing a larger road shoulder when planning roads, and inspecting and clearing the shoulder as well as the main roadway, were solutions offered that would help everyone using the road. Increasing education on the 1 metre passing rule and local issues impacting people riding bikes was supported, as was the challenge to ensure bike infrastructure would be suitable for an 8 year old to ride on.
Increasing bike riding and improving streets and roads in regional and rural NSW offers health, tourism and employment benefits to local people – the best reason possible to Share the Road.
Read about another presentation from RMS Western Region Bike Forum that focused on the benefits of cycle tourism to communities.