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Negligent cyclist ordered to pay $1.7 million in damages

Simon Parker's picture
Should cyclists get third party accident insurance? Image via Wiki Commons. Cycle Traveller

Cycling insurance has been thrust into the limelight after an ACT Supreme Court judge found a cyclist negligent to the tune of almost $1.7 million.

The case centred on two cyclists riding on Capital Circle in Canberra in the ACT in June, 2009. According to the court's judgment document, the first rider, David Blick, who was riding "slightly in front of and to the left of the plaintiff", was found negligent for hitting a piece of wood on the road which, in turn, led him to hit fellow cyclist, Michael Anthony Franklin.

This, in turn, led to Mr Franklin falling onto the road and being struck by a motor vehicle.

"The plaintiff suffered significant injuries, and now claims damages from the defendant on the basis that his injuries were caused by the negligence of the defendant," the judgement said.

In his judgement, Justice John Burns said Mr Blick did not exercise reasonable care in avoiding the piece of wood.

"In my opinion this duty extends to exercising reasonable care to avoid running over objects on the cycleway likely to cause him to lose control of his bicycle," he said in his judgement, which was published on Friday.

"The defendant was aware that the plaintiff was riding his bicycle adjacent to the defendant, so that any loss of control of the defendants bicycle presented a risk of injury to the plaintiff. The need to exercise reasonable care to avoid colliding with objects likely to cause the defendant to lose control of his bicycle was even more apparent because the cycleway on which the plaintiff and defendant were riding was immediately adjacent to a busy road."

Claims that the area was not well lit – the incident occurred at 5.45pm – were dismissed by the Judge as a contributing factor in the incident.

"Bearing in mind the size of the piece of wood and the lighting in the area, I am satisfied that if the defendant had exercised reasonable care he would have seen and avoided the piece of wood."

Mr Blick was reported in The Canberra Times to have had insurance.

Most state and territory-based cycling associations offer personal accident and liability insurance as part of their annual membership packages. This insurance generally covers applicable riders across Australia and New Zealand.

A number of private insurers also offer similar policies.

The incident has highlighted the issue of insurance for cyclists, particularly those who commute to work, as in some jurisdictions, such as NSW, cycling to work isn't covered under Worker's Compensation laws.


Some home insurance policies also cover damages caused by you when out cycling.

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