Cyclist Nathan Thomas thinks he is lucky to have survived being struck by a car in 2013.
“As I was cycling through an intersection a driver of a car either didn’t see me, or didn’t regard me, and sped up to go through the intersection and T-boned me, which sent me flying through the air and onto their windscreen and onto the bonnet and then onto the road,” Mr Thomas said.
Mr Thomas had had close calls while riding before, but said this incident was the first time he had actually been involved in a crash and it made him second guess getting back on the bike.
“Am I going to get hit again? Is someone going to cut me off? Is someone going to regard me as a road user or am I just an inconvenience?”
Last year alone there were 113 crashes involving bicycles reported across the ACT.
In October, Canberrans responded in anger when one of those incidents was caught on dashcam footage and went viral.
The video shows a ute towing a trailer changing lanes at the last minute to make a turn off, sideswiping a cyclist at speed and knocking him from his bike.
The driver was fined just $393.
The incident prompted ACT Greens MLA Jo Clay to introduce a bill in the Legislative Assembly that would create tougher penalties for crashes that cause injuries to vulnerable road users.
The bill would create a new offence of “negligent driving – harm to vulnerable road user” with a maximum penalty of 50 penalty units – a fine of $1,600.
“Reducing harm to pedestrians, cyclists, people entering and exiting public transport and everyone else on or near our roads is so important,” Ms Clay said.
“While we continue to push for more paths that are separated from roads, it’s critical we develop a culture of care among drivers.”
Pedal Power ACT chief executive Ian Ross said the current penalties are not enough of a deterrent.
“That is not good enough and that is not what we need to change people’s behaviour.
“We need to value people riding bikes, we need to give a really clear message that if you’re riding bikes on a road then you are protected and our police will protect you.”
Transport Minister Chris Steel did not indicate whether or not the government would support the bill when it is introduced in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.
“The government will carefully consider Ms Clay’s bill over the coming weeks, and how escalating penalties might contribute to safer roads for all users,” Mr Steel said.
“We are also currently reviewing broader road transport offences and penalties to improve safety on our roads, including for vulnerable road users.”