Passenger vehicle and taxi
Uber rules rile riders

If you’ve ever been scared by the occasional taxi swooping into your bike lane to drop off passengers, keep that finger on the brake lever as things could be about to get a whole lot worse.

State Government reforms to commercial passenger vehicle regulations may result in a flood of ride share vehicles such as Uber, Taxify and Ola getting up to the same dangerous tricks.

Taxis can drive and stop in a bike lane, unlike other vehicles. Under the new regulations taxis and rideshare services will now operate under the same overall rules.

The government says this will create a level playing field for all industry participants and will improve customer choice, service, and the fare offer.

And, the government says, it will increase the safety of passengers. But what about bike riders?

The changes will result in a huge increase in the number of commercial passenger vehicles that are acting like taxis, but confusingly, may look like normal vehicles to a bike rider.

Some projections say we will soon have more than 25,000 rideshare drivers cruising the streets, picking up and dropping off passengers.

This has major implications for the risks of doorings of bike riders as passengers alight from these vehicles. At least with taxis bike riders had a sixth sense of impending doorings when they noticed a car stopped in the traffic lane ahead. But now?

The government did commission a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) that looked at the possible risks associated with the proposed new regulations.

There is much worthy analysis of the risk of harm to people in the vehicle, but little about the risk to people out of the vehicle.

The RIS does say that Transport for Victoria (TfV) was concerned about the safety implications of all commercial passenger vehicles being exempt from rules such as driving in a bike lane to pick up passengers.

TfV argued that only “clearly marked as available” vehicles be allowed the exemption. But the context of “clearly marked” was from the perspective of the person hailing the vehicle, not other road users.

In any case, Roads Minister Donnellan ignored the concerns of his Department.

One plus may be that the training and accreditation process under the new regulations could result in better behaved drivers of commercial passenger vehicles.

Bicycle Network spoke to the Herald Sun about the rule change. The State Government said the change was made to improve safety for passengers.

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The Regulatory Impact Statement is available here.

The Gazette with the new regulations is here.