In memory of Angus Collins, we need to protect cyclists and prevent further tragedy

In memory of Angus Collins, we need to protect cyclists and prevent further tragedy
Ellen Sandell

The tragic death of Angus Collins, who was killed in February by a truck while he was riding his bike in West Melbourne, has shaken our community. To family and friends of Angus, I’d like to extend my deepest condolences.

Angus was killed by a truck turning left into the path of cyclists on the corner of Dock Link and Footscray roads – an area dominated by West Gate toll road construction.

A huge concrete pillar blocks trucks and cyclists from being able to see each other, and they both get a green light at the same time, sending them on a collision course. It’s an absolutely disastrous design.

The state government and West Gate Tunnel Authority were warned about this intersection by community members numerous times, but nothing was done.

What makes this death even more tragic is that in 2021, the coroner handed down a report into a similar incident which resulted in the death of a young woman, Arzu Karakoc, who was killed by a truck riding her bike in the western suburbs.

The coroner’s recommendations included changing lights to ensure cyclists and heavy vehicles weren’t in conflict, providing alternative safe bike lanes during construction projects, and fitting trucks with protective barriers. If these recommendations were followed, Angus would likely still be with us today. But they weren’t.

At this particular intersection, some quick, sensible changes could make it a lot safer, such as making sure vehicles have a red arrow when cyclists get a green light, so they aren’t on a collision course with one another.

In response to this tragedy, the West Gate Tunnel Authority promised to put in more signage and send traffic controllers to the intersection. Yet when I went down there at peak hour, the traffic controllers were nowhere to be seen, and many commuters told me they’re either absent or not willing to do anything to assist at the intersection.

I’ve contacted the Ministers and authorities responsible and raised this matter in Parliament. I’m calling on the Victorian Government to urgently fix this intersection to ensure no more senseless deaths occur, and to look more broadly at making our streets safer, especially for those who ride or walk.

With this path closing soon due to the West Gate toll road works, we’ll also need to make sure the alternative cycle path – which I’m told will be Dynon Rd – is made safe. But I know that paths right across this area of the city are unsafe, so we need a broader review and for the government to make safety on our roads a priority. •

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