19 Apr 2022

Family of Brisbane cyclist killed at crossing warn intersection must change

Karin and Robert McDowell have received 220 accounts of near-misses at the Woolloongabba intersection where son Max died

Over the past year, Karin and Robert McDowall have spent countless hours at the Brisbane intersection where their 20-year-old son Max was killed.

Max had been cycling across a pedestrian crossing at a signalised intersection in Woolloongabba in May 2021 when a bus turned left and they collided. Both the bus and Max had a green light at the time.

“After the accident, myself and Max’s girlfriend went there every day,” his mother Karin says.

“We’ve probably spent 15 to 20 hours petitioning [on the side of the road]. We’re really, really angry about what’s happened,” his father, Robert, adds.

Last week, the family submitted an appeal of a Queensland coroner’s decision not to hold an inquest into Max’s death. Meanwhile, they continue to collect signatures and reports of near misses at the same intersection in the hope of forcing the council to make safety adjustments.

“We are outraged because there were so many aspects to this that could have been prevented and recommendations that could be made to prevent [further incidents],” Robert says.

The Director of Public Prosecutions charged the bus driver in February with careless driving causing death. However, prosecutors dropped the charges following publication of the coroner’s report into the incident.

That report agreed with investigators that Max was in the bus driver’s blind spot and that the driver didn’t see him “until after the collision occurred”.

The coroner said an inquest into Max’s death was not “in the public interest” but acknowledged buses are required to give way to pedestrians and cyclists, which “did not occur”.

Max’s family says a double green light for cyclists, pedestrians and bus drivers at the O’Keefe Street crossing is putting people in harm’s way.

The family has launched a petition calling for changes at the intersection, which they say has received 1,300 signatures and 220 accounts of near misses at the crossing.

According to the coroner’s report, Queensland Police recorded 10 similar incidents at the O’Keefe Street crossing between 2014 and 2019.

“If they keep the intersection the way it is, there will be another Max and you’ll be speaking to some other grieving parents,” Robert said.

Max’s family says new safety measures could include a robust red light system separating buses from pedestrians and cyclists, as well as further signage and mirrors.

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A Brisbane City Council spokesperson said the council would provide a full response to the petition after it is lodged.

“This was a devastating accident which saw the tragic loss of a young life and we extend our deepest condolences to everyone involved,” they said.

“The coroner has reviewed the circumstances surrounding this tragic accident and made no recommendations; however, we are currently investigating options to improve safety and reduce congestion at this location.”

A Queensland Police Service spokesperson said officers “conducted a thorough investigation” into the fatal collision and “all evidence was taken into consideration as part of the Forensic Crash Unit investigation”.

“As a formal appeal has been submitted to the coroner, it would not be appropriate for the QPS to provide further comment on this matter at this time,” a QPS spokesperson said.

Before his death, Max was studying marine biology, with dreams of becoming a reef scientist. His family feels an inquest and changes to the crossing would give their son a voice and prevent further tragedies.

“The yelling and the placards and all that stuff is just not in our nature. We are very shy, retiring people,” Robert said.

“But there will be no change there unless we actually force it through.”

SOURCE: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/apr/04/family-of-brisbane-cyclist-killed-at-crossing-warns-woolloongabba-okeefe-st-tersection-must-change

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