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Canberra brings in law targeting people who throw objects at cyclists

Up to two years' jail for anyone found guilty of new offence in ACT...

Cyclists in Canberra are to be protected by a new law that will make it illegal to throw objects at them, or at other vehicles.

The law, which has been approved by the government of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) also makes it illegal to place objects in the way of road users, reports The Canberra Times.

People convicted of the new offence could be imprisoned for up to two years.

ACT road safety minister Shane Rattenbury said: "These new laws will help protect the territory's road users from irresponsible and dangerous actions, such as throwing rocks at cars or cyclists.

"Throwing objects at cyclists is unfortunately a relatively common practice, and many regular cyclists will have a story of being hit or nearly hit by an object thrown from a car.

“These days, with the popularity of helmet cams, a quick internet search will bring up videos of cyclists being subjected to dangerous behaviour."

He said that the new law as well as existing legislation such as minimum passing distance would help protect people on bikes.

"Initiatives like these aim to improve accessibility and connectivity, improve safety and raise awareness of cyclists on our roads," he explained.

"This is all extremely unsafe, criminal behaviour, and it is appropriate that our laws recognise it. People need to be able to travel around our city safely."

Compared to some Australian states such as New South Wales, which recently introduced massive increases in fines for offences such as riding a bike without a helmet, ACT seems more accepting of those who choose to get around on bikes, with the minister saying earlier this year that it could relax its compulsory helmet law.

> Australia’s capital could relax compulsory helmet law

Lisa Keeling, president of Cycling ACT, told the newspaper that while cycling she had experienced objects being thrown at her such as a McDonald’s milkshake and eggs.

"It is only a small minority who throw things at cyclists, but they need to have consequences and take it seriously that someone could get hurt,” she said.

“A lot of our members talk about their stories of how dangerous it is and how unsafe they feel," she added.

> Australian study blames hostile media coverage for increased harassment of cyclists

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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