House debates

Monday, 6 February 2023

Constituency Statements

COLLINS, Angus Robert

10:45 am

Photo of Tim WattsTim Watts (Gellibrand, Australian Labor Party, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | Hansard source

I rise today to express my anguish and the anguish of my community and the broader Melbourne cycling family at the tragic death of young cyclist Angus Collins. Angus was just 22 years of age, and he was much loved by his family and friends, his local Williamstown community and by the Brunswick Cycling Club. Those who knew him have told me that he was a wonderful young man, full of energy and enthusiasm, with a quick smile. I want to express my deep condolences to his friends and family about this tragic loss.

Angus died after being struck by a truck at an intersection on Footscray Road, the main and, in relative terms, safest cycling route between Melbourne's west and the CBD. A competitive road cyclist, the tragedy is compounded by the fact that Angus died doing something that he loved. Angus's death has struck a broader chord in our community though as he also died doing an everyday activity on a road that hundreds of residents of Melbourne's west use to commute by bike everyday. I know it well, and I ride it regularly myself. Indeed, I rode it everyday during the lockdowns and, in fact, fractured my elbow 100 yards from that intersection.

I don't want to prejudice any upcoming coronial processes by commenting on the circumstances of the accident in this place, and while the cycling route where Angus was killed will ultimately become a far safer elevated veloway upon the completion of the West Gate Tunnel project, the safety of this intersection during the construction phase clearly needs to be investigated as a matter of urgency. And, after my discussions with the Victorian state government, I'm confident that that will now occur.

I've spoken to Melissa Horne, the minister with responsibility for active transport and the member for Williamstown, about Angus's death, and I know that she shares my anguish. When speaking to Minister Horne, we discussed the upcoming diversion of cycling traffic from Footscray Road to Dynon Road as part of the ongoing construction project for the West Gate Tunnel. The segment of Dynon Road is currently the less safe alternative route available to cyclists commuting to the city from Melbourne's west. I discussed with Minister Horne the potential of both short-term safety interventions for cyclists on Dynon Road during the diversion and more permanent longer-term interventions to improve the safety of this road for cyclists. I should say though that there aren't obvious simple solutions here. Past planning decisions mean that apartments on this stretch of road have very little setback, leaving government with fewer opportunities than it otherwise might have had to improve the safety of the road.

We've seen more focus on and more investment in cycling infrastructure in Melbourne's west in the last few years than we have seen in the decades before, and I congratulate the state member for Footscray, Katie Hall, for her advocacy on this issue as well as the Maribyrnong City Council. But Angus's tragic death this week has reminded us all that we still have a long way to go to ensure the safety of cyclists on our roads.


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