Pedestrian, cyclist, motorcyclist/scooter rider accidents can be very hazardous. Everyone knows that riders of bicycles, motorcycles and scooters are vulnerable on Sydney’s busy and dangerous roads. There are no seat-belts or airbags to protect them. There is no such thing as a ‘soft landing’ on bitumen or asphalt.
Riders knocked off their conveyancers ‘stay hit’. Injuries are often severe, if not catastrophic.
However, the general perception is that pedestrians are generally safe and protected if they behave sensibly. For example, they use pedestrian crossings, wait for the lights to turn green, don’t look at their phones as they are crossing a road, and don’t run or stagger onto carriageways.
The situation becomes far different where there is a possibility of pedestrians and cyclists sharing the same carriageway.
In Centennial Park, for example, cars were banned from using the park on weekends during the lengthy Sydney lockdown in 2021.
In order to promote social distancing by pedestrians, the Centennial Park Authority allowed and encouraged pedestrians to walk on the roadways and not just the pedestrian paths.
In an attempt to keep bicycles and pedestrians apart the Centennial Park Authority placed coloured bollards at about 50 to 100 metres apart around The Grand Parade with signs indicating that cyclists were not to stray from the cycle path whilst pedestrians were to stay on the roadway. That appears to have been the extent of the traffic control.
The inevitable occurred. Cyclists travel at different speeds. Serious cyclists use the park for training purposes, often in pelotons. They travel very fast, clearly faster than the 30km per hour speed limit for cyclists. The riders often ride with their heads down rather than looking in front of them. Cycling can be a serious business. Cyclists are loath to slow down as they near slow cyclists. Instead, impatiently, they move into the roadway to pass the slower bikes. Most pedestrians, including women pushing their babies and toddlers in strollers and prams, elderly folk going for a stroll and serious walkers generally had their backs turned to the oncoming cyclists, as Centennial Park accommodates only one-way traffic for cyclists, ie clockwise.
What happened on at least several occasions is that hapless pedestrians were skittled like 9‑pins by speeding cyclists. Some have suffered horrendous injuries which will have long-term deleterious consequences for them. Many will have had their last walk in the park.
Do these injured pedestrians have any right to receive compensation based on the negligence of the cyclists who hit them? The answer is ‘yes’. The cyclists were clearly negligent. The problem for the injured pedestrians however is that very few cyclists have insurance against personal injuries. Most cyclists don’t have ‘deep pockets’ needed to compensate seriously injured people, unlike insurance companies.
This means that injured pedestrians either remain uncompensated and have to fend for themselves. Or they can try and find fault with the traffic control system or lack thereof by park authority, which will be covered by insurance.
HOW CAN STACKS GOUDKAMP HELP?
We act for injured pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, riders of scooters and others who have been injured through negligence on our public roadways.
We will act for you on a no win, no fee basis. We will gather evidence from various medical experts, the police and other experts. We will also examine how your injuries have impacted your ability to participate in the activities you enjoyed prior to the accident and your ability to continue working. We conduct thorough negotiations with at-fault parties and insurers in order to obtain the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to. In many cases, we are able to do this successfully without the need of going to court.
Read some of our successful pedestrian case studies here: case studies – pedestrian injury
Written by Tom Goudkamp OAM