More cyclists could die at ‘horrendous’ intersection if nothing is changed, experts warn

Key points

  • 22-year-old cyclist Angus Collins was hit by a truck at the intersection of the Footscray Road trail and Dock Link Road last week and died at the scene. 
  • Cycling safety group the Amy Gillett foundation said a cyclist died every nine days in Australia. 
  • Cyclists and experts have highlighted safety issues with simultaneous green lights at the Footscray Road intersection. 

Cyclists and road safety experts warn there will be more deaths at the West Melbourne intersection where cyclist Angus Collins was killed last week if design changes are not made.

The 22-year-old was hit by a truck at the intersection of the Footscray Road trail and Dock Link Road last Thursday and died at the scene.

The intersection of Footscray Road and Dock Link Road where 22-year-old cyclist Angus Collins was killed last week. Credit:Jason South

Regular users of this road and the bike track said the intersection was designed so that both cyclists and left-turning vehicles have simultaneous green lights.

Signs warn drivers to watch for cyclists, but a large concrete pillar built recently for the West Gate Tunnel construction has created a blind spot for motorists.

Justin Mansfield used to ride along the Footscray Road trail twice a day. He said the intersection had been bad for years but had worsened with the West Gate Tunnel infrastructure.

“Bike riders have to run the gauntlet of heavy vehicles turning in and out of the port,” Mansfield said. “There’s now a huge pillar right on the corner where you are turning that creates a massive blind spot, it seems to be really poor design.”

Cycling advocacy group BikeWest plans to hold a protest in two weeks to highlight poor cycling infrastructure, as riders and advocates were galvanised by Collins’ death.

BikeWest president John Symons said substandard cycling infrastructure was killing cyclists.

“You have a green signal for cyclists and pedestrians at the same time for motorists. The placement of the pillar means that corner has become almost a blind corner,” he said. “It is not an isolated incident, poor intersections are a dime a dozen, particularly in [Melbourne’s] west.”

Symons warned fixing one intersection was not enough.

“We tend to have a black spot focus in Australia on this intersection or that intersection. The black spot approach may have minimal benefits but, overall, it doesn’t work,” he said. “You have to have a systematic approach across the whole city with a whole network of protected bike lanes.”

He said it was disappointing lessons had not been learned from the “shockingly similar” death of cyclist Arzu Karakoc, who was killed at a Footscray intersection in 2017 when hit by a truck that was turning left when there was a green light for both Karakoc and the truck.

The coroner’s findings from the inquest into Karakoc’s death called on the government to review “the risk and therefore appropriateness” of both lights being simultaneously green.

The Amy Gillett Foundation, a cycling advocacy and safety group, has called for safer road design to ensure that when drivers made a mistake it did not cause a pedestrian or cyclist to be killed.

“The vast majority of cyclist deaths and animosity between drivers and cyclists is due to poorly designed roads that put bike riders in danger,” Amy Gillett chief executive Dan Kneipp said.

Kneipp said a cyclist died every nine days in Australia and poorly designed intersections such as the one at Footscray Road meant that rate of fatalities would continue.

He also called for mandatory underrun protection rails on trucks, which are mandated in the EU and ensure that pedestrians and cyclists are not dragged under trucks.

“This outcome is terrible for everyone. It is terrible for Angus, for his family and friends, and the truck driver’s life will be ruined as well,” Kneipp said.

An aerial image of the scene of the intersection where Angus Collins was killed.Credit:Nine News

Jason Thompson, an associate professor of urban design and transport at the University of Melbourne, said the Footscray Road intersection was “horrendous” and showed how intersections were typically built for vehicles rather than pedestrians and cyclists.

“Any time you have vulnerable road users, whether pedestrians or cyclists, mixing [them] with multi-tonne vehicles, you are going to have problems,” he said.

A tribute for cyclist Angus Collins at the Footscray Road intersection where he was killed.Credit:Jason South

“It is not about peoples attitudes, it is not about helmets, it is not about lights. When you are mixing these groups together, you are going to have injuries. Unless we do something about this, it is going to continue to happen.”

Greens MP Ellen Sandell called for the intersection to be urgently fixed and for a parliamentary inquiry into making roads safer for cyclists.

“This young man’s death was a preventable tragedy, caused by a government that gives too little care and thoughts to cyclists and pedestrians,” she said.

A government spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the cyclist involved in the incident last week.”

“The Department of Transport and West Gate Tunnel Project will work with Victoria Police as they investigate this incident and consider any suggested road safety improvement.”

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