Melbourne's seeing red over cyclists

Cyclists are running red lights at an alarming rate, with hundreds detected in a covert operation.
MELBOURNE cyclists are running red lights at an alarming rate, with hundreds detected in a covert operation; at one intersection more than one in 10 cyclists ignored the red light.
Hidden cameras placed at 10 Melbourne intersections by the Monash University Accident Research Centre caught 6.9 per cent of the 4225 cyclists observed ignoring red lights.
At one intersection, 13 per cent of cyclists ran the red light.
Colour blind? Cyclists observed by <i>Age</i> photographers in Melbourne city streets over recent days.
Colour blind? Cyclists observed by Age photographers in Melbourne city streets over recent days. Photo: Penny Stephens, Wayne Taylor
Cyclists turning left were 28 times more likely to ignore the light than cyclists going straight, and male cyclists were the worst offenders. Female bike riders were 40 per cent less likely than males to run red lights.
If other vehicles including bikes were present, cyclists were deterred from disobeying red lights, the study found.
Cyclists face a $299 fine for running a red light; driver demerit points are not affected.
''Riding through red lights is frequently cited as the cyclist behaviour that most annoys drivers and is perceived as typical behaviour,'' the report notes.
''Unpredictability is a key concern of drivers when interacting with cyclists on the road and cyclist red light non-compliance is likely to increase driver perceptions of unpredictability.''
Report co-author Dr Stuart Newstead said he did not think licensing cyclists or registering bikes would help.
''Cyclists really need their own space on the road now rather than trying to share it with very heavy fast-moving vehicles that may not give them the attention that they need,'' he said.
He called for ''bicycle paths off-road or dedicated areas on road''.
Sergeant Arty Lavos from Victoria Police's state bicycle co-ordination unit said he believed cyclist behaviour was improving. But he said cyclists should think of their own safety.
He said police regularly blitzed busy intersections to monitor cyclists' behaviour and those caught would be fined.
Sergeant Lavos said registering bikes and licensing cyclists would be a ''logistical nightmare'' that would not work.
Garry Brennan from Bicycle Victoria said: ''It is really important that bike riders are predictable in their behaviour.
''We rely for our safety on drivers understanding how and where we ride on the road,'' he said. ''Running red lights upsets the patterns of expectancy.''
Mr Brennan also said there was no evidence that registering bikes was beneficial.
The study, Riding through Red Lights, appeared in the Accident Analysis & Prevention journal.
- Hidden video cameras at 10 Melbourne intersections between October 2008 and April 2009
- 4225 cyclists detected facing a red light - 6.9 per cent went through red light
- At one intersection 13 per cent went through red light; at another it was 3.9 per cent
- Cyclists turning left were 28.3 times more likely to go through a red light than those going straight
- Female cyclists were 40 per cent less likely to go through a red light than male cyclists