Failure to act on coroner’s advice ‘cost Carolyn her life’

TUESDAY'S horrific bicycle and truck crash that claimed the life of Brisbane nurse Carolyn Lister could have been avoided had recommendations following a 2015 coronial inquest into the death of another cyclist been implemented by the state, say the cycling community.

Mrs Lister - an avid cyclist with around 10 years of experience - died just moments before her arrival to work at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital when her bicycle and a truck carrying a trailer collided in Herston around 7.30am.

The incident bears some similarity to a 2014 bicycle and truck crash that killed 22-year-old Danish student Rebekka Meyer in South Brisbane.

Ms Meyer's death was later the subject of a coronial inquest, of which coroner Chris Clements made several recommendations to ensure the safety of cyclists, including banning heavy vehicles from roads unless fitted with appropriate technologies to warn the driver of road users within the truck's blind spots - a recommendation that was ignored.

 

Rebekka Meyer, 22, was killed in a cycling crash in South Brisbane, 2014.
Rebekka Meyer, 22, was killed in a cycling crash in South Brisbane, 2014.

"If those recommendations had been followed Carolyn would not have been killed yesterday. It's really that simple," said Belinda Ward of Space for Cycling Brisbane.

Ms Ward is calling for a coronial inquest into Mrs Lister's death.

"We've already had this inquest," Ms Ward said.

"We had it after Rebekka was killed …. We might just need to have the same inquest again but more importantly than that, let's act on it for goodness sake.

"The coroner's recommendation was very clear. These trucks should not be operating in an inner city environment without warning devices so the driver is not in a position where they can't see anyone. The State Government's response to the recommendations we think have been quite weak."

Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey said he would seek to put the recommendation on the agenda for discussion with other state minister's at the next Transport Infrastructure Council.

Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey will discuss mandating sensors on trucks at the next national transport meeting. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt
Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey will discuss mandating sensors on trucks at the next national transport meeting. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt

"The idea of mandating sensors on trucks so they can detect if a cyclist or pedestrian is in their blind spot is a good one, but to be effective it needs to be applied nationally as heavy vehicles are now regulated nationally," Minister Bailey said.

Minister Bailey said cyclists' safety will be the main focus of next week's first meeting between the State Government and Brisbane City Council as party of The Active Transport Advisory Committee to address missing links between Brisbane bikeways.

Brisbane City Council's Public and Active Transport Chair, Cr Ryan Murphy, said he looked forward to working with the State Government.

"We are always looking for ways to improve safety for people riding bikes and pedestrians, and this is a key focus of the new joint Brisbane City Council and State Government transport advisory group - the Active Transport Advisory Committee," he said.

Cr Murphy said the Brisbane City Council would act on recommendations made by a potential Coronial inquest following Mrs Lister's death.

The Brisbane City Council has invested $320 million in the last decade into cycling infrastructure, while the State Government continues to invest in new bikeways across Queensland, including last week's opening of the latest $45 million stage of the Veloway 1, a 17km separated bikeway freeway between Eight Mile Plains and the CBD.

Ms Ward hoped the expenses associated with changes to infrastructure and technology to ensure cyclist's safety would not be a deterrence.

"Yes it would be expensive, but what is Carolyn's life worth? What is the next person's life worth?" she said.

 

Carolyn Lister was killed just metres from her work as a nurse at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital - Photo Supplied Facebook
Carolyn Lister was killed just metres from her work as a nurse at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital - Photo Supplied Facebook

 

Statement from Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey

Carolyn was a well-known and loved member of the Brisbane cycling community and advocate for better bikeways around Brisbane and my heart goes out to her family and friends.

There is no doubt that building dedicated bike paths to separate riders from traffic is the best way to increase safety for riders.

That's been a major focus of our government's investment in new bikeways across Queensland, including building new bikeways as part of major road and rail upgrade projects like the Gateway North, Ipswich Road Motorway Rocklea to Oxley, the Moreton Bay Rail Link and the M1 Upgrade from the Gateway Merge to Daisy Hill.

Last week we opened the latest $45 million stage of the Veloway 1, which is a 17km separated bikeway freeway between Eight Mile Plains and the CBD.

We've also recently finished two sections of the North Brisbane Bikeway for safe access to the CBD and we'll start building the next 4.5km section later this year.

Brisbane City Council also has a strong record of investing in local bikeways and there are opportunities for the State and Council to work more closely together on co-ordinating our cycling infrastructure programs across the city.

The Active Transport Advisory Committee we recently established with Council will hold its first meeting next week, and a main focus will be what more we can achieve together to increase safety for bike riders.

The idea of mandating sensors on trucks so they can detect if a cyclist or pedestrian is in their blind spot is a good one, but to be effective it needs to be applied nationally as heavy vehicles are now regulated nationally.

It's certainly something I will seek to put on the agenda for discussion with other state transport ministers at the next meeting of the Transport Infrastructure Council.

Brisbane City Council is responsible for managing most of Brisbane's local inner-city road network, so it would need to consider options for what is appropriate on those roads.

 

Statement from Public and Active Transport Chair Cr Ryan Murphy

My heart goes out to the family and friends of Carolyn Lister, the death of such a key member of Brisbane's cycling community in this way is horrific.

Brisbane faces significant challenges to retrofit a city historically built for car travel, to be as safe for cyclists as we would want.

That's why Council has invested a record $320 million in the last decade into cycling infrastructure, with spending increasing every year.

We are always looking for ways to improve safety for people riding bikes and pedestrians, and this is a key focus of the new joint Brisbane City Council and State Government transport advisory group - the Active Transport Advisory Committee (ATAC).

It's important that we await the outcome of the Queensland Police Service investigation into this death, and of course, we will act on any recommendations made by the Coroner in due course, as we have in the past.

Originally published as Failure to act on coroner's advice 'cost Carolyn her life'



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