Last Saturday a woman was struck by a cyclist while walking along the Iron Cove Bridge near Drummoyne. 7 News Sydney reported that the woman, in her 70s, had suffered severe head injuries after being knocked to the ground. 7 News’s Facebook post related to the news story generated significant interaction, including over a thousand comments and 81 shares.
Many commenters expressed frustration that cyclists in their area were “speeding” and were inconsiderate of other people who used shared paths and footpaths. Others called for the cyclist to be jailed, for cyclists to be made to pay registration and use license plates, or for cyclists to be forced to ride on the road.
On Monday, 7 News Melbourne interviewed a spokesperson from pedestrian advocacy group Victoria Walks who called for changes to infrastructure that would separate commuter cyclists from general pedestrian traffic. Rossiter also called for legislators to close what he described as “a gap” in road rules in order to allow police to stop cyclists and issue on-the-spot infringement notices for excessive speed. It was this second statement that attracted the majority of social media attention.
The next day, on what appears to be the basis of this single interview, the Daily Mail Australia reported that there were “growing calls” for the road laws to be changed so that cyclists could be directly fined.
Many commenters on social media were quick to condemn cyclists travelling at speed along shared paths, but discussion centred around fining, regulating and licensing cyclists rather than constructing infrastructure to separate pedestrian and cyclist traffic.
On Wednesday the 18th the Townsville Bulletin reported that five cyclists had been “mowed down” by a driver on Dalrymple Road at Mount Louisa causing serious injuries. The driver fled the scene. All five riders were taken to hospital and four remain in serious condition.
“The mangled mess of their bikes, reflector lights still flashing and wheels bent, was strewn over the major road yesterday as [a] forensic crash unit pieced together the incident that left all five in hospital” the Bulletin wrote.
News.com.au reported that a 28-year-old local man was later arrested and charged after a “blood-splattered Toyota Rav 4” was found dumped at a nearby wrecker’s yard. The Bulletin reported that the victims included a husband and wife who both worked as health professionals in Townsville and a well known local lawyer for North Queensland Women’s Legal Service.
Even before the full details of the incident became public some commenters on social media attributed blame to the cyclists for riding 2 or 3 abreast, not riding far enough to the left of the road, or for riding on a main road instead of smaller side roads and shared paths.
The ABC later reported that the driver was on bail after facing a magistrate court the previous day for drug possession charges, and that he may have been intoxicated at the time of the incident.
In other news, two cyclists were involved in a collision near Campbelltown on Wednesday that resulted in the death of a 49-year-old man. In a similar incident in Canberra a teenager was taken to hospital after colliding with another cyclist while travelling along a bike path near Wattle Street. And a cyclist in Sydney was knocked off his bike after a passenger of a taxi opened their door into a bike lane causing the cyclist to be hit. Footage of the incident was uploaded to the Facebook page of Dash Cam Owners Australia, which sparked debate in the comments section about whether the cyclist was at fault for speeding past stationary traffic. The social media debate was picked up and covered by Yahoo News and News.com.au.