The NSW Staysafe Committee issued its report on road safety, focussing on bicycles and motorcycles. Staysafe is the joint standing committee on road safety of the NSW parliament.

In October 2011, Bicycle NSW – Omar Khalifa, Chloe Mason and Warren Salomon – appeared before the Staysafe Committee to answer questions about its written submission. Our focus was on improving the safety and amenity for bicycle riding in the road environment, and the relationship to other people using the road space – pedestrians, motorcycle riders, and motorists.

The Chair’s Foreword suggests that their new report be read together with its earlier report on pedestrian safety “to provide an overall picture of recommended strategies to improve safety risks for these less protected groups of road user” (described in road safety circles as ‘vulnerable road user’).  Bicycle NSW had highlighted the overlapping factors contributing to injury and deterring people from walking and cycling, in its submission. We recommended that bicycle safety could be expedited by incorporating cycling actions into the action for improving pedestrian safety already being planned by the RTA in response to the earlier Staysafe report exclusively on pedestrians.

On transport planning and the road system, Staysafe stated that “encouragement of cycling as a safe and viable transport alternative has a range of physical, environmental, economic and social benefits which must be supported.” It also recognised the need integrated planning at all levels of government, reiterating the “…importance of effective consultative and collaborative arrangements…”.

On the positive side, Staysafe made recommendations for the use of ‘advanced stop lines’ (‘bicycle storage boxes’) and incorporating of bicycle traffic at signalised intersections, as in our recommendations, and other useful actions such as expanding the CARES program.

In response to the oral evidence, we are pleased that Staysafe also recommended the NSW Government examine the feasibility of negotiating arrangements with local councils to achieve similar benefits as intended in agreement with the City of Sydney, called “Transforming Sydney” that values streets in urban centres as places to which people are linking rather than as mere roads to carry motor vehicles.

Overall, the Report reflects traditional road safety:  emphasising personal protective equipment and information for individual road user rather than a package of measures in which designing out the hazards tops the list. Traditional road safety practice could learn a lot from the systems approach to risk management as in occupational health and safety or environmental management.

Bicycle NSW recommended and still calls for review and updating of NSW and Australian Road Rules; similarly, Bicycle NSW still calls for professional continuing education of RTA and council staff, and expansion of cycling teaching, including train-the-trainer.