An Open Letter to Cyclists Riding on Heavy Haulage Routes


I am an open minded wife of a farmer who is currently carting canola to Geraldton.
I love physical activity, slow down to pass cyclists safely and value humanity.

The emotion I observed in my husband whilst listening to the ABC Rural Report this morning was overwhelming. Truck drivers and farmers are very connected to land and life. They have families and they feel profound responsibility. They quite simply do not want to kill someone.
We all have a right to use the roads. We are all happy to share. We all have a responsibility to ourselves and our fellow human beings.

I would like to invite cyclists to come ride with us. The passenger seat in our road train is empty and you are welcome to sit in it and experience being part of 79t moving down a tired road without sealed verges at 90km/hr. Passing another truck with 1m between you is something to behold. Heaven forbid doing so over a bridge. Seeing a cyclist evokes the kind of stress that few would admit to but I can tell you that it is very real.

I would like to encourage other farmers and truck drivers to make the same offer. This is not an opportunity to berate each other. This is an opportunity to practice radical honesty. This is jumping in the passenger seat to connect with another human being who is having a different experience to you whilst using the same piece of infrastructure. Another human being who has just as much right to be there as you. Another human being who is genuinely concerned for your welfare. Another human being who has a family. Another human being who doesn’t want to end up broken after taking someone’s life whilst trying to make a living.

We all have rights. We also have responsibilities to each other.

A suggestion has been made that reducing the speed limit by 30km/hr would make our roads safer. Assuming this suggestion is limited only to heavy haulage vehicles, I would argue that it may make them more dangerous. The roads in question are well worn and do not have large sealed verges. Slower moving heavy vehicles would encourage smaller vehicles to overtake in less than desirable locations on a road that is precarious at best. “The braking distance of a loaded road train is about 70 metres if the vehicle is travelling at 60 kilometres per hour. That distance increases to 170 metres when the speed is 90 Kph.” Yes – that is a significant difference but I’m not sure if 70 meters is really enough time to stop on these roads and I would question the accuracy of these figures. I have attended a defensive driving school and stood on the side of a road whilst an ex-policeman/paramedic drove a car at 110km/hr and braked to a stop. None of us guessed the distance it would take accurately. We are literally talking about the difference between dead and deader.

Agriculture and farmers are the reason why Chapman Valley Road and Morrell Road exist. The licence fees paid by small vehicle users or land rates of those residing on rural residential blocks in Chapman Valley could not possibly cover the cost of maintaining such infrastructure.
It costs $12 314.10 to licence our roadtrain (prime mover with two trailors) which carts grain to Geraldton.

Last financial year, our farming enterprise outlayed $21 401.37 to the Department of Transport for annual licences.

The typical family with two 4WD vehicles and a trailor pays $1636.35 annually to licence these vehicles. Bicycles incur no licence fees.

This is not an open letter written to antagonise or point the finger at anyone. I am appealing to all road users to walk a mile in each other’s shoes and seriously consider whether riding bicycles on Heavy Haulage routes during the harvest period is an absolutely necessary activity. It is only 10 weeks of the year.

Please think about your comments - lets find a balance together through mutual respect.
Come ride with us – I’m about to jump in right now!

Renaye Stokes