In re death of Rodd (2013) H&FLR 2015-26

Inquest into the death of Robyn Anthea Rodd (2013) H&FLR 2015-26

Coroners’ Court of Victoria

6 February 2012

Coram: Coroner Bryant

No appearances – finding without inquest.

Catchwords: Victoria – Coroner – cyclist – collision with truck – death – pilot vehicle

Facts: The deceased was aged 55 years and an experienced recreational cyclist.  On 26 May 2010 she was cycling on the Great Alpine Road between Harrietville and Mt Hotham.  While descending Mt Hotham the deceased was wearing a fluorescent green jacket and travelling at about 40 kph (25 mph).  As she approached a sharp left bend she saw a slow moving Kenworth prime mover and low loader driven by a Mr Skahill.  Rodd braked, causing her bike to fishtail.  She fell from the bike and into the path of the truck, sustaining fatal injuries.

It was accepted that the truck was on the correct side of the road at all times.

Held: 1. The truck driver did not contribute to the deceased’s death.

2. The roads authority (VicRoads) should consider requiring the use of pilot vehicles by oversize heavy vehicles on steep roads with multiple blind or hairpin bends where the heavy vehicle’s size means it takes up a substantial part of the lane or must cross the centreline to negotiate a bend.


The Court’s judgment is available here.



In re death of Cross (2011) H&FLR 2015-24

Inquest into the death of James Bernard Cross (2011) H&FLR 2015-24

Coroners’ Court of Victoria

10 November 2011

Coram: Coroner Spooner

Appearing for the the family of the deceased: Mr Hevey
Appearing for Mrs Richards: Ms Gleeson
Appearing for the Roads Corporation: Ms Fox

Catchwords: Victoria – Coroner – cyclist – dooring – death – bicycle lanes

Facts: The deased was a 22 year old student.  On 17 March 2010 he was cycling to university along a designated shared parking and cycling lane on Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn, south of the intersection with Barkers Road. A car driver (Mrs Richards) was parked in the shared lane approximately 150 metres from the intersection of Barkers and Glenferrie Roads.  She opened the driver’s-side door, which collided with Mr Cross causing him to fall onto the roadway beneath the trailer wheels of a heavy vehicle with was also travelling south on the road.  Mr Cross sustained fatal injuries in the accident and died at the scene.

The driver’s evidence was that she had considered the possible presence of cyclists, that she had checked her wing mirror and that she had opened her door only 12cm (about 5 inches) when it was struck (1).  She said however that she had not seen the deceased.  The truck driver’s evidence was that he was travelling at around 30 kph (19 mph) at the time of the accident.

Police opted not to charge Mrs Richards with breaching Road Safety Road Rules 2009, r.269(3) (opening a vehicle door to the danger of another).

Held: Concluding that Mrs Richards had opened her door wide enough to knock Mr Cross off his bicycle, but that the truck driver’s driving had not contributed to the accident, that –

1. Cyclists should be considered vulnerable when riding in close proximity to other vehicles.

2. It is the responsibility of motorists to check for the presence of cyclists before opening car doors.  However, it is incumbent on cyclists to remain vigilant when riding past parked cars.  It was recommended that VicRoads take steps to remind both groups of their responsibilities.

3. It was recommended that reconfiguring bicycle lanes to pass to the left of parked cars be encouraged.


The Court’s judgment is available here.

Comment: Intriguingly, Court’s third recommendation may have little trouble attracting support at a policy-setting level.  Pro-cycling politicians have observed that “a significant number of people would ride to work and sports and make as many short trips as they could by bike, if it were safe to do so … That means having safer on-road or off-road paths that connect and link the various centres” (2).  The safety-enhancing effect of having bicycle lanes to the left of parked cars would have prevented, for example, the accidents discussed in a blogpost by attorney Tina Willis (3) and looks remarkably like arch-conservative Rush Limbaugh’s robustly-expressed view that cyclists should be required to ride on footpaths rather than on public roads (4).


(1) How far the door was opened was disputed by another witness.

(2) ‘Pushbike pollies pedalling a new line’, Newcastle Herald, 6 March 2015.

(3) Tina Willis, ‘Bad Week For Bike Riders’, Tina Willis Law, 25 September 2014

(4) Adam Voiland, ‘What does Rush Limbaugh have to say about bicycling?’,, 5 March 2009


cyclistlaw 2015

In re death of Sizeland (2013) H&FLR 2015-22

Inquest into the death of Rex Sylvester Sizeland (2013) H&FLR 2015-22

Coroners’ Court of Victoria

28 June 2013

Coram: Coroner Parkinson

Appearing for the family of the deceased: Mr G Stewart (solicitor)
Appearing for Mr Costa: Mr T Bourke (instructors not identified).

Catchwords: Victoria – Coroner – cyclist – hit by car – distracted driver – death

Facts: The deceased was aged 66 years and an experienced road cyclist.  On 21 December 2009 he was riding between Torquay and Barwon Heads. During the ride, he and the other two men with whom he was riding were struck from behind by a car driven by a Mr Costa.

The evidence of lay witnesses was that the deceased and the other two riders were to the left of the road and using about half of the width of the northbound lane.  The court concluded that there was no reason for Mr Costa not to have noticed the cyclists.  The court was somewhat critical of his evidence and considered it likely that he had been distracted by something inside the vehicle, although it could not conclude that he had been reading a text message.

Held:  That Mr Sizeland’s death was preventable and that the death could have been prevented had he paid proper attention to the task of driving.  No action of Mr Sizeland’s caused his death.


The Court’s judgment is available here.



In re death of Sidebottom (2013) H&FLR 2015-20

Inquest into the death of David Andrew Sidebottom (2013) H&FLR 2015-20

Coroners’ Court of Victoria

18 October 2013

Coram: Coroner Saines

Appearing for Ms Connor: Mr Brendan James (solicitor)

Catchwords: Victoria – Coroner – cyclist – distracted driver – death – funding

Facts: The deceased was aged 53 years and an experienced cyclist.  On 2 January 2011 he was riding west on Murradoc Road at Drysdale.  He was approached from behind by a Honda CRV driven by a Ms Connor.  The front left corner of the Honda struck the bicycle and caused the deceased to be thrown off and suffer fatal injuries.

Both at the time of the accident and subsequently the driver was not able to say how the accident occurred (the Court was satisfied that this was not intentional or evasive).  No charges were laid against her.  The driver was not affected by alcohol, speeding or using a mobile phone.  There was some evidence that she may have been distracted.  There was also evidence that the deceased may have deviated suddenly into the path of Connor’s vehicle.

Held: 1. It was likely that the deceased had deviated into the path of Ms Connor’s car in circumstances where she may have neither anticipated nor seen the deviation.

2. Decisions as to the spending of public money was not generally appropriate for a recommendation under §67 of the Coroners Act.  That said, a significant increase in cyclist numbers could support a special case for priority funding in order to enhance community health and safety and reduce the risk of death or injury to cyclists.


The Court’s judgment is available here.


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In re death of Lynch (2014) H&FLR 2015-18

Inquest into the death of Brendan Paul Lynch (2014) H&FLR 2015-18

Coroners’ Court of Victoria

2 July 2014

Coram: Coroner Carlin

No appearances (finding without inquest)

Catchwords: Victoria – Coroner – cyclist – highway – hit by bus – fail to give way – signage

Facts: The deceased was aged 52 years and a keen recreational cyclist.  On 31 March 2013 he was cycling from Benalla to Melbourne.  At around 1:55pm he was cycling in the emergency lane of the Hume Freeway at the point where the Freeway merges with the Northern Highway.  He turned his bicycle to the left, bringing him across the path of a bus which was merging onto the Hume Freeway.  Mr Lynch sustained fatal injuries in the collision.

Witnesses said that the deceased had extended his left arm to signal a left turn, but did not agree on whether he looked back for traffic.  The witnesses agreed that the bus driver could not have avoided the collision.  The bus’ speed was estimated at between 80-90 kph (50-56 mph).  A sign on the on-ramp warned of cyclists crossing within the next 150 metres.

Held: 1. That the deceased had failed to give way to the bus pursuant to the Road Safety Road Rules 2009, r.74 and that there was nothing the driver could have done to avoid the collision.

2. Effective signage may have prevented the deceased crossing the on-ramp in the manner which he did.  Signs are particularly desirable in circumstances where the road rules are likely to be disobeyed.  In the present case, Mr Lynch’s non-compliance may have been due to fatigue and a failure to think clearly.

3. It was recommended that a sign reading “cross here with care” should be erected at the point of collision, and that “cross here with care” signs in general should also indicate that a cyclist must give way to merging traffic and cross the on-ramp at a right angle at a particular point.


The Court’s judgment is available here.


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In re death of Bailey (2014) H&FLR 2015-16

Inquest into the death of Keiran Bailey (2014) H&FLR 2015-16

Coroners’ Court of Victoria

25 August 2014

Coram: Coroner Spanos

No appearances.

Catchwords: Victoria – Coroner – cyclist – hit by car – death – mental illness – fitness to drive – duty to report

Facts: The deceased was aged 44 years.  On 8 March 2011 at around 1:45pm he cycled from his home to a shopping centre.  He was cycling in a designated bike lane of a road.  The car lanes of the road at the relevant point narrowed from three lanes to two. A car driven by a Mr Veerman, travelling at least 10 kph (6 mph) above the speed limit failed to merge, drove into the bike lane and struck the deceased, causing fatal injuries.  Mr Veerman fled the scene and was subsequently convicted of a range of offences relating to the collision: R v Veerman (2011), Herald Sun, 23 December 2011*.

In the years before the collision Mr Veerman had suffered from marked mental illness and had received some level of psychiatric care.  He held a drivers licence at the time of the collision.

Held: It was recommended that medical professionals be educated to ensure patients’ fitness to drive would be at the front of doctors’ minds when assessing patients with conditions likely to affect their capacity to drive safely.


The Court’s judgment is available here.


* A partially successful appeal by Veerman was subsequently brought: Veerman v R (Vic. Ct App., Weinberg and Harper JJA, T Forrest AJA, 24 August 2012, unreported).



In re death of Peoples (2010) H&FLR 2015-14

Inquest into the death of Scott David Peoples (2010) H&FLR 2015-14

Coroners’ Court of Victoria

11 October 2010

Coram: Coroner Bryant

Counsel assisting the Coroner: Mr John Goetz
Appearing for the family of the deceased: Mesdames Jane Dixon SC and Esther James (instructed by Riordan Legal).
Appearing for the Blay family*: Mr Barrett (Instructed by Barretts Lawyers)
Appearing for VicRoads: Mr Trevor Wraight (instructed by DLA Phillips Fox)
Appearing for the Chief Commissioner of Police: Ms Julia Greenham (instructed by the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office)
Appearing for the Cycling Victoria: Mr K. Mueller.

Catchwords: Victoria – Coroner – cyclist – hit by car – death – fitness to drive – duty to report

Facts**: The deceased was a 20 year old cyclist.  At the time of his death he was on the verge of cycling professionally.  While on a training ride on the Maroondah Highway near Merton he was struck from behind by a Nissan patrol driven by a Mr Kenneth Blay.  Mr Peoples died as a result of his injuries.

At the point of collision the road was paved, with a two metre paved shoulder.  The road runs straight and slightly uphill.  Mr Blay stated that he did not see the deceased prior to the collision and was only made aware of the collision by the noise of impact.  He subsequently pleaded guilty to a charge of careless driving: Police v Blay (Mansfield Magistrates court, 1 August 2007, unreported).

Blay’s speed at the time of the collision was estimated at 73 kph (45 mph).  Police considered that he would have had 500-600 metres of unimpeded vision.  The collision was considered to have occurred on the paved shoulder of the road.  Blay had a significant left-side blind spot as a result of a stroke.  In 2004 he had also been involved in a collision with a cyclist on the same road.

Held: 1. The Court strongly recommended mandatory reporting by doctors to licensing authorities of patients considered unfit to drive on medical grounds.  It was not sufficient merely to recommend the patient not drive.

2. Cyclists and motorists share an obligation to use the roads in a safe manner.  However, the particular vulnerability of cyclists imposes an obligation on motorists to drive in a manner that does not put cyclists’ lives at risk


The Court’s judgment is available here.


* Blay had died by the time of the inquest.
** In assessing the facts, note that the Coroner was scathingly critical of the police investigation.


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