Cyclist death prompts call to make dangerous intersection safer
The death of a cyclist at a dangerous West Melbourne intersection has been labelled a “preventable tragedy” as community calls mount to make the road safer.
Angus Collins, 22, was struck by a truck while cycling at the Footscray Rd-Dock Link Rd intersection on February 2 at around 12.30pm and died at the scene.
Angus’s death has rocked the local community, with the Brunswick Cycling Club launching a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money for Angus’s family towards funeral and related expenses.
The campaign’s introduction states that Angus was “such a beautiful young man who always had a wonderful smile and brought energy and joy to all those around him”.
The incident has prompted a wave of calls from the community to improve safety at the intersection, with concerns a large concrete pillar built recently for the West Gate Tunnel construction was creating a “blind spot”.
A West Gate Tunnel Project (WGTP) spokesperson said, “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the cyclist involved in the incident.”
“While investigations continue, traffic controllers are on-site at Footscray Rd to assist in the management of both truck traffic turning into Dock Link Rd and cyclists using the Footscray Rd cycling path,” the spokesperson said.
“They will remain in place while investigations are carried out and further safety improvements are considered.”
The Department of Transport and WGTP will work with Victoria police as they investigate the incident.
The WPTG also confirmed it was actively involved with Bicycle Network Victoria in planning traffic set ups and “will work with them and other bicycle groups as we investigate these improvements”.
Bicycle Network has called on authorities to urgently ban left turns at the crash location, with the organisation’s CEO Alison McCormack saying any death of a person on a bike was one too many.
“It has been a tragic start to the year on Victorian roads with far too many road users of all kinds suffering fatal or serious injuries,” she said.
We have to turn this around, and quickly. Victoria has a proud history of being a global innovator in road safety, but we have become complacent. Our road safety strategies are among the best, but progress is simply not fast enough.
Ms McCormack said although there had been a parliamentary inquiry into road safety as recently as 2021, Bicycle Network would “back any new initiative with a chance of starting a revival of the state’s safety culture”.
Also joining a chorus of voices are The Greens who have urged the state government to establish a parliamentary inquiry into road safety 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,” Melbourne Greens MP Ellen Sandell said.
“We must urgently investigate how to improve road safety for all Victorians to prevent cyclist and pedestrian deaths on our roads.”
Research fellow at Victoria University Dr John Symons, whose work includes the economics of road safety interventions, as well as advising United Nations bodies, said more needed to be done to fix dangerous intersections.
“Simple things like changing the geometry of intersections – one; you’ve got to get rid of blind spots, that’s just madness with trucks and people riding bikes and people walking, and secondly, you’ve got to slow people around corners by having tighter intersections,” he said.
“The other thing you’ve got to have is traffic signal phases where you don’t promote conflict.”
Dr Symons, who frequents the Footscray Rd-Dock Link Rd intersection on his bicycle, said everything about its design was “wrong”, adding he was almost “cleaned up” himself in recent weeks where both he and the driver had a green signal.
“I’ve been through that intersection thousands of times because it’s my route from home to work. It is terrible,” he said. “It does everything wrong in terms of a protected intersection – the signal phasing is wrong, it’s got blind spots, it’s got large radius curves.”
He said any changes to the intersection “would mean slightly longer delays for everyone – but that is the question: what’s our priority? To not have to wait 30 seconds or is it to save someone’s life?”
Dr Symons, who is also president of cycling advocacy group BikeWest, said he understood collisions would happen no matter what road design, but not “so severe that someone dies or is seriously injured”.
“Not for a second will I say that any of these truck drivers deliberately try to harm people on bikes. This was the result of poor road design leading to a terrible tragedy.”
Victoria Police is investigating the incident, stating “the male driver of the truck stopped at the scene and is assisting police with their enquiries”.
They have urged any witnesses or those with dash cam/CCTV footage or information to contact Crime Stoppers Victoria on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report online at crimestoppersvic.com.au. •
Caption: Cycling advocacy group BikeWest president John Symons says dangerous intersections like Footscray Rd-Dock Link Rd need to be urgently fixed.