I recently met Dave Sharp through a friend of mine. He was looking for some design work for his organisation, Safe Cycling Australia. When he explained to me what SCA was about I immediately jumped on it! I was inspired by his attitude and determination to make “SCA all about cyclists reclaiming space on Australia’s roads”. As a cyclist I find it pretty impressive that people, like Dave, take the time and effort to rally for projects such as the State and Federal Government’s for a Minimum Safe Passing Distance rule of at least one (1) metre to be enshrined in law. Such a change will help to ensure that we can all get from A to B and back to A again by being able to maintain a more authoritative position whilst sharing our limited roadspace with other users. I asked Dave to share his story…
I started Safe Cycling Australia (SCA) without actually starting SCA in 2009 when I decided to address a growing list of personal health concerns and the inevitable depression that sets in when you feel 20 years older than your actual age.
My parents had recently returned from visiting the family in NZ and had told me about their recently introduced 1.5 metre rule and as I’d litterally just started riding again, I thought it’d be great to see a similar rule implimented here.
I was finding at the time that in the 20 years since I’d stopped riding regularly (4-500km per week) motorists had become a lot more aggressive and seemingly anti-cyclist, so I set about asking a few riders I knew what they thought of petitioning the State Government for a Minimum Safe Passing Distance to be made law in Queensland, Australia. There were more thumbs up than thumbs down. So late in ’09 I penned an e-petition and a paper copy which was distributed to every bike shop in Brisbane we could physically get to.
After gaining some press and the support of a few high profile athletes such as Robbie McEwen, the 2 copies of the petition were tabled in Parliament, and we gained a response from the then Minister – Rachel Nolan MP – around 2 months later.
The rubbish response and my determination to see this through to the end resulted in the birth of Safe Cycling Australia in 2009.
In the first year we received a nomination in the Australian National Bicycling Acheivement Awards, receiving an Honorable Mention and being beaten to first spot by the Qld Transport Minister herself. We also started work on the first version of the SCA Jersey, now a full kit, and we began doing what we could via social media to grow a supporter-base and lobby harder for the 1m rule to be introduced.
We have in the last three years gone from strength to strength with SCA almost taking on a life of it’s own. We are the first Org (first anything really) to have been nominated in the Australian National Bicycling Acheivemment Awards three years running which is huge for us.
We were instrumental in seeing Brisbane’s Share The Road signage introduced into Brisbane’s CBD. We are very proud to have been able to enlist the support of Brisbane’s cycling community in 2011/12 to gather and donate over 240 bicycles to the flood affected after the SEQ floods. That was an emotional roller coaster for us after meeting so many that were hit so hard and had lost litterally everything, which is where the bikes came in handy, particularly in Ipswich and the Lockyer Valley.
We’ve helped cyclists be more visible on Australia’s roads thanks to the jersey in three years. Everyone who wears one swears it actually does affect driver behaviour around them while riding. WIN!
While we are a small operation, we are pushing 24/7 to see the 1m Rule (now increased to 1.5m as we think that 1m simply isn’t enough) brought in in Queensland. With the way our States and Territories work, once one State makes the change, the others will usually follow with regards to roads policy and traffic rules/legislation. We are leading the way in this one area nationally, but we are also trying to encourage bike riders to acknowledge good driving by showing their appreciation, and not doing the stuff that makes drivers angry, such as red light running and wearing helmets while we’re legally obliged to, as much as we may loathe having to. Peer pressure is a good thing and we’ll always encourage our riding buddies around Oz to use it.
We also have Australia’s first National Drive2Work Day on November 11 which we will be starting to focus on shortly, the SCA Thingies which can be thrown on various parts of your bike and the ever popular cycling kit.
We run on an almost $0.00 budget – and are determined never to see a single cent of Government funding as it comes with strings, but we still punch well above our weight nationally and internationally. We do that because our supporters love and cuddle us, and help us keep charging ahead for the things they themselves consider important. We listen to bike riders and then do what we can. Without all of them, and a few so generous with their time and financial support such as Studio e and Australian Cycle Skills, we’d be nothing.
Oh, nearly forgot, I’m a massive world cycling fan (nut) and am an Australian ambassador for BikePure who also support us, and I have seen Courney Feild, Alex Morgan and Brook Ramshaw all signed up and committed to riding as clean and Proud Aussie future, no, current future…hmmm…stars and future Olympians and world champions.
You can follow Safe Cycling Australia at
Twitter ~ @SafeCyclingOz
Queensland Government Department of Transport and Main Roads Road Rules ~ http://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Safety/Queensland-Road-Rules/Bicycle-rules.aspx