Bendigo cyclists will receive extra financial support when injured on regional roads if legislation introduced into parliament on Thursday passes both houses.
Under current legislation, cyclists are entitled to cover from the state’s road insure, the Transport Accident Commission, if they hit a moving vehicle, a car door or a stationary vehicle on the way to or from work.
The Treasury and Finance Bill Legislation Amendment 2018 will cover cyclists injured in accidents with stationary vehicles, regardless of whether they are travelling to work or not.
The amendment, if passed, will be retrospective and apply to accidents from July 9, 2014.
Other proposed changes include extending family-related benefits to grandparents, extending benefits for dependent children to those completing an apprenticeship and increasing the cap on travel and accommodation from $10,000 to $20,000 for immediate family to attend hospital for distances greater than 100 kilometres.
Bendigo Cycling Network’s Edward Barkla, who has been left out of pocket for a scenario the legislation aims to cover, said the changes were a positive move for cyclists in the region.
“There’s lots of scenarios where that can apply,” he said.
“There’s lots of cyclists that have been hit by a door or have hit a car from passing another car.”
And while he admitted the legislation felt a little ‘Melbourne-centric’, the increasingly busy nature of Bendigo’s CBD meant incidents such as this could become more commonplace.
Mr Barkla said he was aware the idea could anger some motorists who believe cyclists shouldn’t be afforded the same level of state-based cover because they didn’t pay vehicle registration.
“The reality is a large majority of cyclists do pay registrations because they are drivers as well, they just choose to cycle as a second means of transport,” he said.
He said the benefits that cycling brings – reduction in heart disease, municipal stress – paid for itself over the long run.
Principal at Arnold Dallas McPherson and Accredited Personal Injury Law Specialist John McPherson said the proposal will not extend TAC’s liabilities profoundly, but will provide much-needed medical and income support to people injured in cycling accidents.
“If a cyclist is injured as a result of an accident caused by the driving of a motor vehicle, they have always been covered, and this does not change,” he said.
“For some time now, cyclists injured while travelling to and from work either by ‘dooring accidents’ (when a car door is opened in their path) or by colliding with a stationary vehicle have been covered by TAC.”
“Along with the abolition of the ‘medical excess’ of $651 from 14 February 2018, usually required to be paid by people injured in motor vehicle accidents before they could rely on TAC for payment of medical expenses, this recent change further expands and enhances TAC’s support for people injured in traffic accidents, and is a pleasing development in the context of a well-funded scheme."
The RACV was supportive of the proposal and its senior planner of mobility Stuart Outhred said: “RACV welcomes these changes as it means cyclists are now protected regardless of their destination.”