Alpine cyclists ask to be seen on and off the bike: "We're human too"
The Amy Gillett Foundation has launched a fresh safety campaign featuring eleven local community leaders who ride bikes in the Alpine Shire region in Victoria. Live, Drive, Ride Like A Local features the stories of local cyclists who live and work in Bright and the surrounding areas and who want the community to understand that they are human too.
Thousands of cyclists arrive in the Alpine region across the Australia Day long weekend for the much-loved Alpine Classic Cycling Festival. Live, Drive, Ride Like A Local encourages everyone using the roads to take a little extra care on the road, and for each other.
Based on research evidence, this awareness raising campaign reminds everyone that we are particularly vulnerable when we ride. More than 500 people who live, drive, ride and who visit the Alpine region were surveyed to understand their insights and understanding of cycling in the area. Being able to pass cyclists safely was a top concern among respondents. 82% of respondents drive and ride in the Alpine Shire, and 86% of respondents underestimated the value of cycling tourism to the North East region.
Live Drive Ride Like A Local points out the importance of a wave or a nod hello to let other road users know you’ve seen them. This campaign centers on the need for acknowledgement and visibility on the road, but in the community as well.
Amy Gillett Foundation Research and Policy Manager, and Senior Researcher in the Department of Civil Engineering at Monash University, Dr Marilyn Johnson, says the key messages of the campaign emerged from the research and from extensive conversations with the local community, including key road safety and tourism stakeholders.
“So many people from across the Alpine Shire told us about needing to ride for their mental and physical health and needing that even more during COVID.”
“For example, Phil, the pharmacist in Mt Beauty talked about spending his days helping people in the community manage their medications and their health. He hopes that when people see a cyclist on the road, they say to themselves, oh, that might be Phil, I’ll give them a wave and plenty of space. And that’s one of the goals of the campaign, to keep reminding people that people on bikes are often people they know” said Dr Johnson.
The Alpine regions of Victoria typically sees four million visitors each year, contributing over one billion dollars to local industry. Victorian high country features premier on and off road riding and is a popular destination for cycling tourism. With an ever-increasing number of cyclists on the road, and with COVID-19 driving people to holiday regionally, it is vital that cyclists and drivers share the road with respect, acknowledgement and consideration for each other.
Alpine Shire Council Mayor John Forsyth said the campaign reminds all road users that no matter your choice of vehicle, everyone deserves to be safe and respected on our roads.
“It’s fantastic to see many visitors joining our locals and making use of the region’s unparalleled cycling experiences at the moment” said Cr Forsyth.
“With so many people in our townships it’s more important than ever to be respectful, to share the road and to give each other space. This campaign beautifully captures the personal reasons why our locals ride, and what draws people to the region,” said Cr Forsyth.
Campaign development was led by an interdisciplinary team of leading cycling researchers from Monash University and RMIT University with expertise in road safety, law, and design, in collaboration with the Alpine Shire. This project demonstrates the power and potential of interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches to road safety to produce true and human messages and perspectives for the community.
Dr Robbie Napper is an Industrial Designer and Senior Lecturer with the Department of Design at Monash University. Dr Napper is also a dad and he and his wife, often ride with their kids.
“This research is built on what we learned from locals and visitors to the Alpine Shire. Whether for transport or recreation, our behaviour when we use the roads, with all types of vehicles, has a huge impact on how safe we are and how safe we feel,” said Dr Napper.
Dr Vanessa Johnston is a Senior Lecturer in the Graduate School of Business and Law at RMIT University. She often commutes to work by bike, and rides for fitness to compete in triathlons.
“The way drivers and riders behave on the roads as individuals, and interact with each other, is influenced by many factors. This includes the obligations that drivers and riders have under the Road Rules and road safety legislation to ride and drive in particular ways. Sharing the road can be challenging on mountainous roads around the Alpine Shire. Knowing the road rules, how to drive and ride within those rules for the conditions of the road, and thinking about how your driving or riding affects other road users, are important ways to keep everyone safe,” said Dr Johnston.
The Live, Drive, Ride Like A Local campaign uses the power of local stories to bring greater awareness and acknowledgement of cycling safety. The campaign is part funded by a TAC Community Road Safety Grant, the Alpine Shire Council and donations to the Amy Gillett Foundation.
To watch the campaign video, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aPflYraKtw&ab_channel=AmyGillettFoundation