A damning review of cyclist safety around Newcastle light rail has found that the initial audit vastly underestimated the risks posed by unsafe crossings, including an intersection where local cyclist Danny Egan died in July.
The review raises the risk rating of cyclists’ tyre’s getting caught in the tracks from “medium” or “high” to “intolerable.”
Additionally several risks, including that of tyres becoming caught in the rails, had been identified as early as February 2016.
The review makes a number of recommendations to improve safety, including excluding cyclists from the mixed running section, improving permanent advisory signage, holding workshops with key stakeholders, reviewing audit practices and ensuring learnings are passed onto other light rail projects.
The review also calls on the Government to “carry out market sounding and assessment of potential safety technologies” that improve cyclist safety. Transport for NSW had previously refused to clarify whether they had investigated SafeRails or technology to stop wheels from getting stuck in tracks at difficult intersections.
The Opposition is now calling on the Government to fix its abhorrent stuff up and not only identify a safe east-west route for cyclists, but also fund it and get it built as a priority.
“This was a fatal error and the Minister must explain how this was allowed to happen on his watch,” said Jo Haylen, Shadow Minister for Active Transport.
“He owes cyclists an apology for suggesting that accidents were their fault when his Government underestimated the risk posed to them by the Newcastle light rail project.
“The Government needs to ensure that these recommendations don’t end up in a bureaucrat’s drawer and that they’re acted on quickly, including investing in alternative routes for cyclists through Newcastle.”
“The Minister needs to guarantee cyclist safety in Sydney given that the same audit process was used to assess risks along the CBD and Eastern Suburbs light rail line.”
Tim Crakanthorp, Member for Newcastle said, “The banning of cyclists from the mixed running section of Hunter Street is a stark admission that the Government absolutely failed to plan for active transport as part of the light rail project.
“Even after a number of serious accidents at this intersection received extensive coverage, months before the fatality, the report reveals that these incidents were not captured, investigated or addressed by Transport for NSW – this is an indictment on this Government.
“There was accident, after accident, after accident. How many times did the Minister have to be told? How many people had to get hurt?
“It is absolutely tragic that it has taken a fatality for this Government to come to the conclusion that we have known and been telling them all along, and it is absolutely disgraceful that over three years ago areas of high safety risk were identified and nothing was done”