The Inner North is the most accident-prone area for cyclists on ACT roads, and the morning commute is the most dangerous time, with close to 40% of crashes occurring between 7am and 9am, according to ACT Government data.
Over 1,700 bicycle accidents have been reported to ACT Policing since 2012, and the most frequently reported accident sites are in Civic, Braddon, Turner, Ainslie and Dickson.
Of those, one in five incidents occurred between 8am and 9am.
About 40% of all bicycle crashes caused an injury, and the remaining 60% caused property damage without physical harm to those involved.
This information comes as no surprise to Canberra’s peak cycling body, Pedal Power ACT.
“There are high volumes of cars and bicycles in these areas at peak commuting times,” a spokesperson said.
“Drivers and riders can be so focussed on getting to work or home at peak periods that they take risks they may not take at other times, like speeding and cutting in and out.”
Of the top 12 accident locations over almost a decade, 50% were along Northbourne Avenue and the majority were caused by a vehicle travelling in the same direction as the cyclist sideswiping their bike.
Just over 30% of all accidents were a right-angle ‘T-bone’ collision.
Two intersections tied in top place as the most frequently reported cyclist accident sites in the ACT, with 24 incident reports each to date.
One is the intersection of Barry Drive, Cooyong Street and Northbourne Avenue in Braddon and the other is the zebra crossing where the bike path intersects Challis Street in Dickson.
According to ACT Road Rules, cyclists approaching pedestrian crossings are not required to dismount but they must slow down and ride across at no more than 10km/h.
Drivers approaching pedestrian crossings must drive at a speed at which the driver can, if necessary, stop safely before the crossing.
ACT drivers’ need for speed a serious safety risk for cyclists
There have been five cyclist fatalities on ACT roads since 2012.
Pedal Power ACT says cyclists are in danger when ACT drivers become solely focussed on getting to a destination as quickly as possible, taking risks while overtaking, changing lanes or emerging from an intersection.
Drivers should maintain concentration and drive in a way that protects other vulnerable people legitimately using the roads, including people riding bikes.
A Pedal Power spokesperson said the most common mistake made by cyclists was being unpredictable, making it difficult for drivers to understand where they are going.
“It is also a mistake to always assume drivers have seen you.”
Pedal Power push for removal of slip lanes
According to a Pedal Power ACT spokesperson, separation from other vehicles is the key to cycling safety.
The peak cycling body’s long-term vision is for the ACT to have a separated cycleway network to provide direct, safe and time-efficient cycle corridors for bicycle travel.
In the short term, Pedal Power would like to see the removal of slip lanes in high traffic areas and a commitment not to build any more.
“Slip lanes, designed for speedy left turns, especially at intersection traffic lights, shift a driver’s focus to the traffic to their right.
“This means they are prone to not see cyclists approaching zebra crossings from their left.
“The inconsistency of the design and treatment of these crossings throughout Canberra is a challenge to both riders and drivers.”
Many cycling accidents go unreported
These figures may be the tip of the iceberg, according to a Pedal Power spokesperson who said not all cyclist accidents were reported.
“Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t realise they need to report crashes to police regardless of whether someone is seriously injured.”
Cyclists involved in a crash with another vehicle in the ACT should report the incident in person at a police station within 24 hours or via the AFP Crash Report form online.
The spokesperson said reporting accidents helps with insurance claims and contributes to data which is used to plan for road safety improvements.
Last year there were 100 fewer crashes reported than in 2019, which may be attributed to lighter traffic during peak hours with many Canberrans working from home during the pandemic.
ACT bicycle accident heat map