Warrnambool City Council has announced a new campaign to improve the safety of road users amid growing calls from cyclists for safer roundabouts, better bike lanes and less 'road furniture'.
Recommendations from the Warrnambool Cycling Reference Group and the Moyne Warrnambool Road Share Group have helped secure funding from the Department of Transport for WCC's 'Live, Drive, Ride Like a Local' campaign.
Chief executive officer Peter Schneider said the program would launch in May and expand on existing messaging from the 'Share the Road' and 'It's a Two Way Street' campaigns.
"There can be a perception from some motorists that bike riders don't always do the right thing and at the same time, there can be a perception from some bike riders that motorists don't always do the right thing," Mr Schneider said.
"The reality is that a little bit of understanding and awareness of each other can go a long way. The campaign will encourage everyone to 'live, drive and ride' like a local. Most people travelling on our streets are fellow south-west residents, just like you.
"We want to remind everyone that the people you share the road with are exactly that - people. There are small things we can all do to help each other stay safe when driving, riding or walking.
"A part of this campaign will discuss bike riders, motorists and what to do at roundabouts."
The initiative comes just weeks after a fatal incident involving a cyclist and tip truck on Wangoom Road.
Cyclist Richard Wade was involved in a hit-and-run at a Timor Street roundabout a year ago and has kept off the roads ever since.
"I haven't been back on the open road ever since I was hit nearly twelve months ago," Mr Wade said.
"I was in the middle of the roundabout just sort of coming out the other side, heading east along Timor Street and was struck by a car that didn't give way and clipped my rear wheel.
"I was really lucky I actually stayed upright ... I'm just really wary of roundabouts now."
He said road safety education was important in preventing incidents and there should be more initiatives.
"Around town you need to be particularly careful - ideally you would have a dedicated bike lane but that's not cheap or easy to do, it really comes down to ongoing education for motorists."
Cyclist Kevin Rhodes, who has been riding regularly for more than 30 years, said attitudes needed to change.
"Even this morning a car went past and he wasn't happy," Mr Rhodes said.
"We had done nothing wrong, we were all riding two-abreast on the road and he decided he wanted to display his unhappiness with us by tooting his horn at us as he went past.
"There was no need for that. We were doing the correct things - occasionally people will wander across the road when we're not meaning to. But people with caravans or trailers tend to sometimes forget they have something behind their vehicle, cutting us off a little too quick.
"At roundabouts, cars will often take you on because you're slower and don't have the power or speed to cut across."
Cyclist Leesa Russell said she experienced taunting more frequently in Warrnambool than anywhere else.
"When we rode through Melbourne for a 'Big Ride for a Big Life' during peak hour, we had more respect in Melbourne with three or four lanes of traffic behind us than we do around here," she said.
"Nobody there was tooting us angrily or telling us to get off the road - that's saying something."
Among other suggestions, many cyclists including Mr Wade said infrastructure upgrades were also needed.
"Distractions are also a big part of accidents these days," Mr Wade said.
"Particularly around the CBD there is a lot of road furniture meaning there's an enormous amount of things like signage, roundabouts, little bits of raised concrete areas which are designed to make the CBD pedestrian friendly but I just wonder whether it's come at the expense of being cyclist-friendly."
Agreeing, Mr Rhodes said road maintenance was critical.
"The bike lanes including at Wangoom are in very poor condition, cyclists can't get into them because they're either ripped up or we might even fall off into the dirt, into the asphalt or into the path of the car," Mr Rhodes said.
"The bike lanes need to be swept and kept in better shape so it's safe for the bike rider to be in the lane."
Mr Schneider said infrastructure upgrades were ongoing, especially at roundabouts.
"As well as education, infrastructure can help make busy roundabouts safer for everyone," he said.
"The roundabout at the intersection of Banyan/Merri/Pertobe was upgraded using funding from the Federal Government's Black Spot Program in 2021.
"By making the roundabout larger and installing pedestrian humps and cycling 'sharrow 'markings, the aim is to slow traffic and make this busy intersection safer for everyone.
"At roundabouts, cars need to wait behind cyclists as they travel through the intersection. Education, as well as physical infrastructure like 'sharrow' markings, aim to help with this.
"We have improved infrastructure at a number of busy roundabouts in recent years, and this work is ongoing."
He said community consultation was key in all council plans.
"Nobody knows the city better than the people of Warrnambool and that's why these plans involve extensive community consultation to help ascertain what the community would like to happen, ranging from broader themes such as implementing programs to encourage more people to ride bikes for transport or exercise, through to infrastructure improvements for specific streets," he said.
Warrnambool Cycling Reference Group secretary Richard Adams said a holistic approach to road safety was needed.
"It's about what needs to be done to make Warrnambool a better cyclist city," he said.
"But it's not just about cyclists, it's also about pedestrians, car drivers and trucks having to get through and do their job. It's about creating a whole system to make it work smoothly.
"Sometimes, in saying 'This road is good for cyclists and this road is not, we're going to focus on this road being good for trucks and heavier vehicles and this one being a good one for cyclists' (doesn't do much good) - the thing is they've put a new bike lane on Wangoom road and that's some improvement but certainly on the south side it keeps breaking up so it hasn't been done properly.
"You've got tip trucks coming along there and picking up rubbish and damaging that bit of bike lane which forces bike riders back out on the road again."
He said it was important to acknowledge cyclists were from all walks of life.
"Cycling is a whole cross section of society," he said.
"People come from all different walks of life, they're all different ages and it could be your mother, your uncle, your best friend at work.
"Cyclists are all sorts of people and they don't go out to try and frustrate drivers, they just want to use the roads to exercise, get to work and for recreation.
"They are limited by the infrastructure that's available to them."
IN OTHER NEWS:
Now just one tap with our new app: Digital subscribers now have the convenience of faster news, right at your fingertips with The Standard:
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.