Three cyclists die on Australian roads; Crowdsourced mapping reveals Melbourne’s unsafe cycling routes

This week two cyclists have been killed while riding on Australian roads. Another has died under unusual circumstances after colliding with a traffic pole.

On Monday, a 16-year-old boy was killed south of Bunbury after being hit by the driver of an SUV at an intersection on the Bussell Highway in Stratham, Western Australia. Details of the incident have not been released to the public and police are asking for witnesses to the crash to come forward. Photos from the scene show the impact was significant enough to smash the SUV’s windshield and crumple the front sections of the car. The boy sustained serious injuries and died at the scene.

7 News reported on Tuesday that the boy “was just minutes away from his home in Stratham” and that his family were heartbroken by the loss.

On Tuesday, police announced they were investigating the death of a 43-year-old cyclist who was seriously injured after crashing into a traffic control light pole at an intersection on the Canning Highway in Western Australia. Perth Now reported that the man had been riding in the early hours of the morning when he struck the traffic pole at the intersection of North Lake Road. He was taken to Royal Perth Hospital where he later died from his injuries.

The intersection in question is situated on a busy main road and has no dedicated cycling infrastructure or bike lanes.

On the same day, a 50-year-old nurse was killed while riding along O’Connell Terrace near the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. Nine News reported that the woman, Carolyn Lister, was an experienced rider and was on her way to start her shift at the hospital. Police reported that Lister had come to a stop at the traffic lights between a truck and another vehicle. After receiving a green light, the truck driver moved forward striking her and causing grievous injury. She was treated by paramedics at the scene but died a short time later.

As the Brisbane Times reported, the incident has prompted Cycling Brisbane spokesperson Chris Cox to declare Ms Lister’s death avoidable.

In 2015, a coroner recommended that the government amend the Transport Operations Regulation Act 2009 after a Danish tourist was killed under similar circumstances. In 2014, 22-year-old Rebekka Meyer was killed when she was clipped by a truck and dragged under its wheels at an intersection in Woolloongabba. The coroner recommended that regulations be changed such that “motor vehicles must stop behind a bike with optimum visibility and that conventional-shaped heavy vehicles be fitted with blind-spot technology.”

Neither recommendation was implemented by the Queensland government.

Mr Cox argues that if they had been “there is a good chance Carolyn would still be here today”.

In other news, a woman has been charged in Melbourne after handing herself in to police in relation to a hit-and-run in April that seriously injured a 46-year-old male cyclist from Dandenong North. News.com.au reported that the 18-year-old woman had been charged with dangerous driving causing serious injury, driving without a license, handling stolen goods, failing to stop, failing to assist and driving without a number plate affixed in accordance with the regulations.  

She was granted bail and will face a Magistrate’s Court in December.

Source: ‘Riders name and shame Melbourne’s worst cycling spots’. (2020) The Age https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/riders-name-and-shame-melbourne-s-worst-cycling-spots-20200701-p5583x.html

Melbourne cyclists have submitted over 30,000 complaints about the city’s cycling infrastructure to the CrowdSpot mapping website funded by the Amy Gillett Foundation. As The Age reports, data from the CrowdSpot map highlights Chapel Street, St Kilda Road and Hopkins Street in Footscray as the most concerning roads in the city, as thousands of cyclists have submitted complaints of unsafe or insufficient bike lanes, paths and separated cycleways.

Numerous submissions complain of riding in “constant fear” of someone opening a car door on them, with “half of the crashes on Chapel Street that end in a cyclist’s injury resulting from ‘dooring’.”

Data from the map show that roads with separated cycleways were nominated as the safest by riders. As such, CrowdSpot director Anthony Aisenberg argues this shows that cyclists “wanted to be separated from cars”.

While the Victorian government has committed to $27 million to upgrade bike lanes on St Kilda Road and $1.6 million to upgrade the intersection of Albert and Lansdowne street, data from the CrowdSpot website suggests existing commitments will only begin address Melbourne’s safety issues. Cyclists report feeling unsafe on almost every major road in the city, and although there are particular hot-spots the government can focus on, the overall map suggests that there is a long way yet to go.

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