"Every motorist that overtakes a rider within the legally-required 1 metre could be liable for the mental harm they cause that cyclist…"
Finances are one things but the trauma of a near death experience is another.
Fortunately for Queensland cyclists, their peak body, Bicycle Queensland (BQ), has stepped up to the plate to provide a free trauma counselling service for affected riders.
The ”Incident Debrief Service" is an Australian first.
Leading Brisbane-based CycleLaw Principal, Emily Billiau praised BQ on their new initiative, which sees their members given 24/7 phone-based support from a qualified counsellor.
“This program gives unprecedented support to Queensland riders. Any service that gives cyclists access to immediate and useful support is a win in our mind.”
We often hear reports of accidents involving cyclists and cars.
The physical injuries are often well-known.
Trauma is the elephant in the room.
The anxiety and mental problems riders face after they are involved in repeated ‘near misses' can be life changing.
In January 2018, over 50 percent of the riders CycleLaw spoke to suffered psychological trauma as a result of an incident involving a motorist.
Emily Billiau said, "The cyclists who I spoke to listed the same anxiety triggers when getting back on the bike. These included the:
These anxiety triggers, if left untreated, can sometimes develop in to more serious mental illness.
The downward spiral often has a devastating impact on the cyclists ability to carry out their job.
and this is where a successful lawsuit against the careless driver begins.
You don't have to physically touch a rider to be liable for the mental harm you cause them.
“It is a fact of law that driver's need to give riders at least 1 metre of space when overtaking.
Failure to do so can leave drivers liable for the psychological harm they cause.
Times are changing, and motorists can no longer ignore the mental consequences of their blatant disregard for rider's rights."
Emily Billiau - Principal, CycleLaw
In the meantime, initiatives such as Bicycle Queensland’s incident debrief service is a valuable support resource for cyclists.
If you would like more information on this service, please visit the BQ website here.