More than 12 months after the death of a cyclist on Newcastle’s light rail tracks, the Berejiklian Government has finally decided to make an effort to prevent future tragedies.
The NSW Government has issued a notice for the provision of Flange-way filler solutions for the light rail track in an effort to mitigate the risk of wheels falling into the gaps from items such as bicycles, strollers and wheelchairs.
The notice is a backflip on previous rejections of such a solution from several advocacy groups, as well as in a 2019 NSW Parliament Question on Notice asked by Member for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp, which stated that Transport for NSW supported a study that indicated that “flange filler is not appropriate for light tracks”.
The action comes more than 12 months after cyclist Danny Egan lost his life on a notorious section of the track and almost 12 months after a Government report found that sections of the track posed an “intolerable” risk to cyclists. Several risks had already been identified as early as 2016.
NSW Shadow Minister for Active Transport Jo Haylen said that this delayed action demonstrated that once again the NSW Government had placed the safety of pedestrians and cyclists at the bottom of the priority pile.
"From the earliest stages of the Newcastle Light Rail the Minister was warned the tracks were a risk to cyclists, wheelchair users and pedestrians with prams,” Ms Haylen said.
"The Minister must explain why it has taken a year since the Government's own review found the Newcastle Light Rail posed an 'intolerable risk' to cyclists for him to take action and put a solution in place.
"I welcome any measure that improves the lives of cyclists and pedestrians, but time and time again this Government considers their safety to be an inconvenient afterthought. It’s not good enough."
Mr Crakanthorp said that the delay to act was negligence.
“This Minister should be hanging his head in shame when his Government knew over four years ago that the light rail tracks were unsafe for cyclists but did nothing,” he said.
“They resisted, and resisted, and resisted this Flange-filler solution, even after a cyclist tragically died on these tracks.
“This is negligence, pure and simple, and waiting so long to do what we all knew was the appropriate solution, while continuing to put people at risk, is a stunning display of pig-headedness.”