Cyclists are calling for better safety signage to warn drivers at busy intersections, following a spike in cyclists being hospitalised following accidents in Melbourne’s city centre over the past five years.
Between January 2018-19, 76 claims involving injured cyclists hospitalised were recorded, up on 69 the previous year, 63 in 2016-17, 43 in 2015-16 and 51 in 2014-15, according to the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) road trauma numbers.
When Jan Leman crossed the road at one of Melbourne’s busiest intersections on his bike on 15 May this year, he never expected to be hit by a car. The 28-year-old nurse had been riding home from work to Alphington along Cemetery Road East, Carlton. He was trying to cross Lygon Street when a driver coming from the opposite direction turning right failed give way to him, knocking him to the ground.
“I was on the ground on the tram tracks. I fractured my two front teeth and ended up with fractured facial bones next to my nose on both sides which required surgery the next day. I had three titanium plates inserted in my face with 13 screws that will remain there permanently. I was on a diet of soups and fluids for a while, to let the bone heal where the titanium plates and screws are,” he said.
“My bike was pretty heavy duty and wore most of the brunt of the force. Unfortunately though, my head went over the top of the right-hand side of the car, I landed face first on the road and sustained nasty facial injuries. My main concern was if I had a bleed on my brain, which I didn’t. I had a massive headache.”
Mr Leman’s face is still swollen and his teeth have not yet been fixed due to the COVID dental restrictions. He suffers from facial pain and ongoing headaches. He is waiting for his jaw and face to heal before crowns are put in. Victoria’s new road rule requiring cars to remain one metre away from cyclists when travelling slower than 60km/h, expected to apply next year, cannot come soon enough.
“We need more bike lanes. There is no bike lane on Princes Street, so many people ride on the footpath instead because the road is so dangerous. It will be great when cars have to stay one metre or 1.5 metres away next year. Drivers need to be wary of cyclists and I think better signage to warn drivers about cyclists and pedestrians – especially at intersections like this – could improve things,” Mr Leman said.
“I wasn’t really aware of the TAC entitlements available to me. TAC covered 80 per cent of my wages when I couldn’t work, covered my medical expenses, surgery and specialist appointments. They have provided great support throughout the recovery.”
Slater and Gordon Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer Micaela Dalli is investigating further potential entitlements for Mr Leman and said the number of cyclists seeking legal support following accidents had sharply increased in the past years.
“Many cyclists don’t know that they have access to entitlements such as loss of wages or that the TAC can cover their reasonable medical costs. Physical therapies and home care can also be accessed through the TAC scheme to help you recover. It’s important that you are able to access all the benefits and entitlements available to you to help you get back on track after an accident. These entitlements are also available to cyclists if they are car-doored (struck by an open or opening car door) or if they collide with a motorcycle, stationary car or public transport vehicle,” Ms Dalli said.
“It’s best to seek legal advice as soon as possible if you’ve been injured on your bike, to understand what your options are and to receive your maximum entitlements.
“Drivers need to be aware of cyclists on our roads, especially now that we are seeing more people cycling for fitness and as an alternative to driving coming into warmer weather.”