Safer roads for cyclists: the aim of the Amy Gillett Foundation
The Amy Gillett Foundation addresses this issue head-on, aiming to reduce the incidence of death and injury of bike riders. This Australian charity was created out of tragedy: the death of Amy Gillett, an Australian world class athlete who was hit by an out of control motorist whilst cycling with her national team mates in Germany.
The AGF’s aim is to support and promote projects promoting road safety awareness amongst cyclists and motorists in Australia.
One of the key programmes of the foundation is the “A Metre Matters” campaign calling for drivers to leave at least a metre’s clearance when overtaking someone on a bike. At the 2014 Australian Road National Championships, professional cyclist Richie Porte launched a petition requesting this measure to be included in an amendment to the Australian Road Rules. The petition was supported by nearly 30,000 signatures and has been submitted to the Australian Government.
In five years, the “A Metre Matters” campaign has had a snowball effect, gaining the support of riders, motorists and the industry. In this case study, you can discover how the campaign has used messaging, innovation and promotion to bring about a change of behavior in motorists.
Tracey Gaudry is CEO of the Amy Gillett Foundation, UCI Vice President and Chair of the UCI Advocacy Commission. We ask her three questions:
What are the key challenges when promoting the everyday use of bikes in Australia?
In terms of bicycle safety awareness, Australia has been playing catch-up for decades. Be it the development of infrastructures or attitudes when it comes to sharing road space with those on two-wheels, the mentality has generally always been “motor vehicle first.”
This is changing and there are some regions that show exemplary leadership in bringing bike riding to the forefront as a legitimate alternative means of transport. However, it’s a long mountain to climb.
The belief that the 'car is king' has grown over the past 40 years, meaning that behaviour and attitudes towards bike riders have deteriorated. Significant effort is required to establish a culture of shared respect that can reverse this thinking. Much headway has been made, with the implementation of different initiatives such as the AGF's “It's a Two-Way Street “campaign. But it’s not an overnight fix. It requires commitment, not just from groups such as the Amy Gillett Foundation, but also from peer organisations, governments and motoring groups.
Separate infrastructures such as independent bike paths and welcoming attitudes from motorists - not uncommon in Europe - may seem idealistic to many Australians, but they set a benchmark for Australian legislators and public policy influencers.
How important is it that athletes such as Cadel Evans, Richie Porte and Anna Meares, who signed the “A Meter Matters” petition, stand up to defend they cycling community?
The likes of Cadel Evans, Richie Porte and Anna Meares are known globally. At home in Australia they command media attention, foster community support, and have a certain political clout.
To have them lend their names and support to the “A Metre Matters” campaign shows the legislators that safety on the roads is something that affects everyone, whether it’s a mother riding to the shops, a teenager biking to school or elite cyclists battling it out on the world stage. The road is their workplace and it needs to be safe.
As chair of the UCI advocacy commission, how do you think the UCI can contribute to encourage more people to cycle?
As an International Federation, the UCI is in a unique position to draw on the inspiration of sport to influence public policy decisions and investment, and to improve the perception of, and participation in, cycling worldwide.
For example, starting with UCI World Championships, we can work with event organisers to ensure that they leave a lasting legacy. This can include awareness and education programmes, cycling infrastructures and cycle tourism initiatives.
Also, our champions have millions of fans and can like no other inspire children to cycle, encourage authorities to invest in cycling infrastructures and promote safety on the road.
Last but not least, there are more than 175 National Federations who can do similar work at national level. The UCI can help them by sharing best practices of colleague National Federations, advocacy organisations and governments.