Brisbane cyclists suing motorists, lawyers report
June 06, 2009 12:00am
Theres a war on our roads(this line was left off the online version but was in the printed version)
BRISBANE cyclists are fighting back against motorists, with new figures revealing injury claims for bicycle accidents are rocketing.
In the past six months, lawyers have reported a 50 per cent rise in claims from cyclists hit by cars.
Commuting cyclists are most at risk, as growing numbers ditch the car to beat the city's traffic snarls.
The figures have sparked calls for the city council to build more cycleways and bike lanes - several of which have been blocked in recent months due to roadworks.
Trilby Misso lawyer Jaswant Sandhu said the increasing number of claims they were receiving highlighted the potential risks cyclists faced from having to share the roads with motor vehicles.
"If more was done to separate cyclists from motor vehicles that would help reduce the number of injuries that have been occurring," Ms Sandhu said.
Among the recent claimants is Brisbane father of three Graham Steger, who injured his back in an accident with a car.
Mr Steger, 35, who rides to the city every day, said it was hard to get to work safely.
"Every time I take my bike out I am afraid of being hit by a car again," he said.
"Drivers are becoming more aggressive because of all the congestion."
More than 2500 cyclists are seriously injured on Australian roads each year and 35 are killed.
Brisbane City Council Opposition leader Shayne Sutton said the figures were a wake-up call for the council.
"Modern cities need first-class cycleways and at the moment, Brisbane isn't measuring up," Cr Sutton said.
Council transport chairwoman Jane Prentice said spending on cycleways had quadrupled in the past year to $100 million.
"An unfortunate side effect of traffic congestion is that people become frustrated on the roads and are tempted to take risks," Cr Prentice said.
"We just urge everyone to take care and realise that a variety of vehicles use the roads."
RACQ spokesman Gary Fites said cyclists were as much at fault as drivers.
"There is an undercurrent of antagonism that runs both ways," Mr Fites said.
"Cyclists shouldn't ever forget that in an accident they will come off worst."