Shared paths in the city of Sydney have become a norm for cyclists and pedestrians, with the number of bicycle users in Sydney increasing significantly year after year, as reported in the Bicycle NSW Sydney Cycling Survey. However, as The Sydney Morning Herald reported, a recent collision between a pedestrian and a cyclist on Sydney’s roads has brought safety and compensation issues relating to bicycle use again under the spotlight. On an evening in December last year, Emily Greenwood was reportedly struck by a cyclist who did not obey a stop sign at a crossing in Marrickville; she suffered injuries to the tune of $15, 000 in medical treatment costs. Reducing cyclist speed limits and creating dedicated bicycle lanes on roads are risk management measures that have been taken by the City of Sydney (Council) to reduce road-related incidents and trauma. However, because the cyclist does not have public liability insurance, there are questions over Ms Greenwood’s entitlement to compensation for the cyclist’s negligent riding.
Unlike other road users including car and motorcycle riders, there is no legal requirement on cyclists to take out compulsory third party insurance. This highlights the absence of any legal ‘safety net’ for cyclists to be financially compensated as a result of a crash.
According to Bicycle NSW, cyclists may be financially liable for injuries caused in a crash involving another person, however it is yet to be determined whether Ms Greenwood will be awarded civil damages for her injuries.
While Victoria has introduced a Transport Accident Commission scheme to clearly indicate the compensation requirements for registered bicyclists in accordance with the Transport Accident Act, no Australian state has yet to introduce compulsory registration.
With the amount of cyclists on the road set to grow again in 2015, at this point our best risk management advice is take care or catch the bus!