Two bicycle accident scenarios to ponder:


1st Accident Scenario:

NB:    Heavy rain in Sydney in March and May in 2008 took its toll on some of Sydney's less used roadways, whereupon new potholes appeared that regular Bunch Riders had not previously confronted.

A small cycling group of about 7 cyclists is descending the 4km slope from Hornsby Heights to Galston Gorge which has several switchbacks.  The group does not Bunch Ride, rather it relies on its riders knowing the next cafe Nosh Stop (cafe) or agreed Sag Stop to regroup, accepting that some riders are faster than others.  During the lower half of the descent (to Galston bridge) where the switchbacks are, this small group is averaging about 25km/p/h in between the switchbacks, and slowing to about 10km/p/h through the sharp switchbacks.  Each cyclist endeavours to stay well away from other riders in the 7 person group.  A cyclist 'up front' suddenly crashes to the ground, either due to hitting a fresh pothole or a greasy road section.  A cyclist who is about 5 cycle lengths behind (5 x 1.6m = 8m) attempts to brake and avoid the fallen cyclist, but his rear wheel skids sideways and he loses control and rides over the neck of the cyclist prostrate, spreadeagled ahead, who ultimately is found to be a quadriplegic.  

The injured cyclist is 30, a self-employed plumber, has a large mortgage with 3 children and a wife who is a full-time mother. 

If this scenario involved two motorists, most readers would agree that the injured motorist could rely on Green Slip third party person cover to receive compensation for his serious neck injury.

Q1.    Mindful that Green Slip cover does not extend to cyclists, even if they hold Green Slip cover for their respective motor vehicle, if you were the injured cyclist, would you litigate (for many millions of dollars to cover foregone income and diminished QOL, and reduced duration of life) the cyclist that rode over your neck and likely rendered you a quadriplegic, alleging that, pursuant to Regulation 126 “Keeping a safe distance behind vehicles” of the Australian Road Rules - Feb 12, the cyclists behind had been cycling too close to stop or avoid him

Q2.    If you were the public liability 'Insurer' of the cyclist that rode over the injured cyclist's neck, would you seek to deny liability to the second cyclist by alleging that the second cyclist had breached Regulation 126 “Keeping a safe distance behind vehicles” of the Australian Road Rules - Feb 12 which obligates “A Driver (which includes a bicycle Rider) must drive a sufficient distance behind a vehicle (which includes a bicycle) travelling in front of the Driver so the Driver can, if necessary, stop safely to avoid a collision with the vehicle ahead” - as calculated in Section 4 “Crash Avoidance Space” of the RTA Road User Handbook.

2nd Accident Scenario:

A cyclist 'down the line' in a Bunch Ride is not alerted to a nasty fresh pothole following recent heavy rain, his front wheel hits the pothole and crashes and s/he breaks their neck. 

Could the seriously injured cyclist litigate the Bunch Ride organiser, or a cyclist ahead, for not warning him/her of the new pothole?

Could the public liability 'Insurer' for the Bunch Ride organiser deny liability because the 'Insured Party' was breaking Regulation 126 “Keeping a safe distance behind vehicles” of the Australian Road Rules - Feb 12 and may have also breached sub-clause (1) or (2) of Regulation 151 "Riding a motor bike or bicycle alongside more than 1 other rider" whilst engaging in a Recreational Activity which involves a Risk Of Harm  Sufferable?