After video footage emerged of a crash between an elderly man and a person riding a bike in Melbourne, Bicycle Network reached out to our friends at Maurice Blackburn to help clear up some confusion.
The footage, uploaded to YouTube on Sunday, was swiftly picked up media outlets show a crash between a bike rider and pedestrian on Racecourse Road in Flemington, Melbourne. Watch the video here.
The online, morning show and talkback debate raged about who was at fault and (unsurprisingly) whether bike rego was needed.
Before we start appropriating blame and fault, our key concern should always be for all people involved in the crash. Media stories failed to report on whether the pedestrian or the bike rider was hurt, but we hope both are ok and didn’t sustain any serious injuries.
The issue of bicycle lane-filtering
According to Alice Lau from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, there is no specific road rule in Victoria allowing bicycle lane filtering, as there is for motorcycles.
In the absence of a road rule allowing bicycle lane filtering, other road rules still apply. So, in the case of this crash, we need to take a closer look at whether any other road rules have been broken.
Ms Lau highlighted that bike riders are allowed to overtake to the left of vehicles and to the right of vehicles unless those vehicles are turning.
However, the Victorian road rules also say that bike riders (as with any other drivers) are required to travel so that their vehicle is completely within the lane markings, unless they are changing lanes.
The issue is complicated further by a bicycle lane on the far side of the road. According to the road rules, bike riders must use a bike lane if there is one, unless it is not a practical option – for example, if the lane is blocked by a branch.
Similarly, if there is a bike box marked at an intersection, bike riders must use the bike lane to enter the bike box until that is not a practical option.
So Ms Lau concluded that the person riding the bike in the video should not have been travelling between two rows of stationary cars in that fashion given that there is a bike lane, and bicycle lane filtering is not expressly allowed.
Pedestrian crossing the road
According to the video footage, it appears that the man was within 20 metres of a signalised pedestrian crossing which means that he should not have crossed the road where he did.
It is important that pedestrians look out for their own safety as they do not always have right of way. Pedestrians only have right of way in limited circumstances, for example at pedestrian crossings, intersections, driveways or special shared zones.
Fault is not clear cut
Under the road rules as they stand, there’s no simple answer to show who is definitely in the wrong when it comes to this crash.
Ms Lau said that the footage appears to show that both the person riding the bike and the elderly man crossing the road have broken the road rules.
A safe systems approach to road safety accepts that humans mistakes. The best way to prevent crashes such as this one is to take care on the roads, and design and build a transport system that will protect road users.
We’re lucky the results weren’t worse.
Bicycle Network members receive free consultation with Maurice Blackburn Lawyers if they are involved in an incident and need legal support. Click here to see more about Bicycle Network membership.