Cyclist’s death fuels calls for Sydney Rd infrastructure overhaul
- Moreland Leader
- March 03, 2015
HAVE YOUR SAY: How can safety be improved on Sydney Rd for all road users? Tell us below.
The Italian man was hit by a truck on Sydney Rd after being knocked from his bicycle when a parked motorist opened their car door into his path.
Investigations continue into the death.
Alleged dooring death on Sydney Rd
Moreland Bicycle User Group’s deputy convener Ross Millward said Sydney Rd must be redesigned if collisions were to be reduced.
Mr Millward said bike safety must be taken seriously during the road design phase and safety measures built into the system.
“It’s a tragedy for the family, but it’s inevitable when you’ve engineered a system with people parking cars within a door space (to cyclists) and cyclists falling over in the space of a truck,” Mr Millward said.
“It’s up to the engineers, but bikes shouldn’t be an afterthought; they need to be built into the system.
“VicRoads should be feeling really guilty that someone has died: they should have done better.
“It’s impossible to guarantee this ever happening unless we engineer a system with separate spaces.”
Mr Millward said cyclists were encouraged to ride at least the space of an open car door from parked vehicles, but many riders were afraid to ride so close to passing traffic, especially on narrow roads such as Sydney Rd.
He said a clearly marked cyclist safety zone, between parked cars and the traffic lane, would help alleviate the situation.
“A marked zone would put bikes in a better place and it would make cars understand.”
Brunswick Residents Network spokesman Nic Maclellan said investment in infrastructure was essential to improving cyclist and pedestrian safety on Sydney Rd.
“Brunswick’s population is growing and with very narrow roads, arterial and residential, we need to manage the traffic coming through Brunswick, and for that reason we need to invest in infrastructure,” Mr Maclellan said.
“It is clear that Brunswick has a high proportion of bike riders and you need to be aware (of that) if you drive a vehicle.
“This is only going to increase as more and more people come to live in the inner city.”
Mr Maclellan said an increasing number of cyclists were being funnelled through suburbs such as Brunswick, Richmond and Fitzroy on their commute into the central business district.
He said education and a change in behaviour from road users was important, but without adequate infrastructure road accidents were sure to continue.
“It’s a multifaceted issue involving people — all users of the road — and we need to recognise each other’s rights,” he said.
“It’s not just about changing attitudes — cyclists have a right to be cycling on Sydney Rd.”
Brunswick state Labor MP Jane Garrett said a meeting between authorities, public transport groups, traders and police would hopefully kick start a strategy to make Sydney Rd safer.
Last week Ms Garrett announced the State Government would spend $1.6 million on safety upgrades between Barkly and Albion streets.
That money will be used to ban right turns and upgrade street lighting and signs.
$1.6 million plan to reduce Sydney Rd accidents
A change.org petition to remove car parking between Weston and Barkly streets is also gaining traction with more than 1500 people adding their name to the campaign.
Ms Garrett said all options were up for discussion, including Moreland Council’s Brunswick Integrated Traffic Strategy, which was passed last year.
“We have to find a way to coexist,” Ms Garrett said.
“This is not just an issue for Sydney Rd, it’s one for Victoria.
“Everything is up for discussion. This (meeting) will be the start of an ongoing discussion. Every group has its part to play.”
VicRoads Metro North West Regional Director Adam Maguire confirmed the roads authority would attend the meeting.
“VicRoads was very saddened to hear about the unfortunate cyclist fatality on Sydney Rd last Friday,” Mr Maguire said.
“As announced by Jane Garrett MP recently, VicRoads will be delivering road safety improvements along Sydney Rd between Albion St and Barkly St on behalf of the Victorian Government.
“These upgrades are aimed at improving safety for cyclists and other road users.
“The works will include the banning of right turns at certain intersections, upgrades to lighting and signage to alert drivers to the heavy presence of cyclists and pedestrians and extensions and improvements to bicycle facilities.”
Brunswick cyclist death: 'Car-dooring' fatality prompts calls for motorists to pay more attention
The cyclist was struck by a passing truck and died at the scene, police said.
Bicycle Network Victoria (BNV) spokesman Garry Brennan said while the majority of motorists were becoming more aware about the dangers of dooring cyclists, some people were ignoring the safety messages.
"We're optimistic that we're getting on top of the dooring problem, but you can never relent for one moment," he said.
"There are thousands and thousands of people getting in and out of cars, and they're simply not paying enough attention."
Sydney Road is a notorious stretch of road for cyclists, who must navigate trams, cars and pedestrians.
The official figures show about three serious accidents a week involving a car door, but that's really just the tip of the iceberg.
Greens Leader Greg Barber
It has one of the highest accident rates for cyclists in the state, prompting police and VicRoads to conduct an "enforcement and awareness" campaign over the summer.
Senior Constable Sarah O'Keefe said road users needed to be more aware of each other.
"We have been working tirelessly trying to get that message across," she said
But Victorian Greens Leader Greg Barber said Friday's fatality highlighted the need for a better campaign to raise awareness of driving safely around cyclists.
"Unfortunately these type of accidents happen all the time," he said.
"The official figures show about three serious accidents a week involving a car door, but that's really just the tip of the iceberg as any cyclist will tell you."
'Unfortunate' Sydney Road upgrades were not made sooner: BNV
Last week, the State Government announced a $1.6 million package to make riding and walking along the road safer.
The package includes banning right turns at 17 intersections and increasing off-street parking to reduce the number of doorings.
Mr Brennan said the work should be completed next year.
"[Sydney Road] is a risky area for bike riders and for pedestrians, but the plans are already underway and it's unfortunate that we couldn't get this work done earlier," he said.
Floral tributes have been placed at the scene of the fatality.