Coroner’s recommendations reflect Pedal Power’s ongoing plea to government to increase shared path maintenance across Canberra

14 Oct 20 | By pp-admin | Advocacy, Infrastructure, Pedal Power

14 October 2020

ACT Coroner finds badly maintained shared bike path contributes to a bike rider’s death

Comments attributable to Ian Ross, Chief Executive Officer, Pedal Power ACT

In 2018 Dr Teresa Foce, a psychiatrist working at the Canberra Hospital was killed because of an accident that occurred when she was riding on a shared bike path.

The ACT Coroner has now released findings about the circumstances leading to Dr Foce’s death and has found that the poorly maintained path, awash with gravel, materially contributed to the death of Dr Foce.

The Coroner has recommended that the ACT Government institute a regular audit program for its off-road bicycle paths and that inspections should occur at sufficient frequency so as to minimise the risk that a path becomes dangerous to persons using the path.

Shared paths in the ACT are becoming increasingly hazardous and their condition is deteriorating to the point where complete reconstruction is sometimes required.

The current level of funding for path maintenance (around $4.7 million per annum) is not adequate to properly manage and maintain this important public asset.

As this infrastructure deteriorates, far greater funding will be required in the future to properly maintain/reconstruct the network.

A 2017, an Auditor-General report into Road Infrastructure Assets stated that 77 per cent of paths in Canberra are not subjected to regular inspections, and the ‘risk-based approach’ is insufficient to cover all locations that require maintenance.  

A Path Condition Assessment and a rolling Strategic Asset Management Plan for shared paths (similar to that existing for roads) need to be introduced to inform a rolling program of proactive maintenance, alongside budget transparency and accountability measures for path maintenance and condition.

While ACT Roads manages a structured sweeping program for roads, there is no comprehensive sweeping program of the path network. 

The ACT government’s open data portal for cycle crashes shows that hundreds of riders are crashing on our roads and shared paths every year.   We must do more to protect riders.

Teresa Foce was a valued doctor: a healer in our community, she was a mother, a partner, an athlete,  and a member of Pedal Power’s cycling community,  her loss is all the deeper because it was avoidable.   

A well-maintained path network which is regularly and thoroughly assessed for hazards will prevent future crashes. 

Pedal Power urges the incoming ACT Government to heed the growing number of calls to take action to properly maintain our shared paths before further avoidable tragedies occur.


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