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Byron Shire
September 26, 2023

Call for rails on the steep slope of Tweed rail trail after cyclist’s fall

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Cyclist who broke his ip on Tweed rail trail calls for a rail to be installed. Photo supplied

On Sunday a 75 year-old man fell down the steep side of the Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail near Crabbes Creek and breaking his hip. 

Greg Bowering said he and his 75-year old friend were riding the Tweed section of the rail trail near where Crabbes Creek Road meets Tweed Valley Way when the accident happened. After the underpass the trail curves around and goes up a very steep incline and that is where the accident happened.  

‘When the cyclists in front of me went up the other side one of them stalled and ran out of power on the slope. I put my foot down, but was near the edge and stumbled and fell down over the side,’ the injured cyclist told The Echo from Tweed Hospital following surgery.  

Both Greg and his friend said there was a sign that tells cyclists to dismount but that they didn’t see it and none of the cyclists in front stopped and dismounted either.

‘It is a really sharp bend and really steep. That’s why they have the sign to dismount I assume, but most people, like me, don’t see it. They need to improve it and put in a rail. They should have some sort of railing to prevents what happened to me happening to someone else. The drop is around one-and-a-half metres down over ruggard, sharp rocks.’

The injured gentleman told The Echo that he’s ‘done a lot of riding’ and while ‘the rest of the trail was excellent’ the section from ‘the underpass was narrow and potentially dangerous if you were not a good rider’. 

His friend Greg agreed, telling The Echo that ‘Someone going past [following the accident] said it is not the first time it’s happened. Then as they were loading him into the ambulance another rider came around the corner and stacked in the same spot, but they didn’t go over the edge.

‘The rest of the rail trail is great,’ said Greg. ‘But they really need to put a rail in there.’

The Rural Fire Service (RFS) were first on site with the ambulance, police and the VRA. Together they were able to pass the injured man on the stretcher hand-to-hand to the ambulance.

Tweed Council to inspect

Tweed Shire Mayor Chris Cherry responded to questions from The Echo saying that, ‘Council will inspect the site where the man fell to see if there are obvious risk mitigation measures that could be put in place. 

‘Council cannot protect for every eventuality, but it is taking continual steps to improve customer safety and experience along the Trail. We do take this issue very seriously.’

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  1. If the accident spot is the connection between Crabbes Creek township and the actual Rail Trail, it is not ridable, as it is too narrow for passing and has a section with a steep edge.
    It is designed for walking your bike to the Rail Trail.
    It is very tempting to ride, but is inherently risky, even if a side rail was installed.
    It is only a metre wide.
    Better signage appears to be needed for this 300 metre access track.

    • The rail trail was said to go to Crabbes Creek village. I asked the engineers – How are you going across Tweed Valley Way? They did not know, Eventually, probabley under the bridge & which was built up with massive amounts of rock against the creek. It then comes up to the road edge into Crabbes. Not private land there. The private land would be the eastern side of Tweed Valley Way. I ‘knew’ youngster would ride down & up, but with the sharp corners, we were all waiting for the first accident. So much for in-depth engineering. A lot of children would not be able to read the sign either and people apparently have ‘missed’ it. All in all – a bad hurried job & design. Really sorry for the poor chap. Jillian Spring

  2. This path connecting Crabbes Creek to the Rail Trail is poorly designed and is disappointing compared to the actual Rail Trail .

    • I think this path is constrained by private land and is only an access to and from Crabbes Creek, where many rail trail users park their cars.
      There are definitely conspicuous signs at both ends of the Tweed Valley Way underpass, advising riders to dismount, but in my opinion, should also apply to the entire 300 metre access path too.
      My thoughts to the poor bloke with his broken hip. It happened to me in 2018 when two crazy dogs tripped my bike over.
      Us riders have to never drop our guard.

  3. Hmm, unfortunate that the fella broke his hip, but possibly a rail there would have caused him to break his neck?

  4. There’s a sign there saying dismount, seems the old saying “you can lead a horse to water” applies here. Once again blame someone else for your inability to follow instructions.

    • Totally agree, though sign or no sign, rather than dismount, the ultimately injured rider had chosen to ‘put his foot down’ and ride around the stalled rider too close to the edge. Poor anticipation or perhaps due for a Specsavers script adjustment.

  5. There are other parts of the trail that have big drop offs. They are on straight sections but a rider near the edge of the path could make a mistake, slip off and fall down a considerable height. People riding trike would be more vulnerable.

  6. With all due respect to the injured rider: how about the fact that he chose to ride a bike up a steep incline and unfortunately had an accident? There is a sign suggesting riders dismount, and just because the bunch in front did not, does not imply he had to stay on his bike. Ride to conditions and ride safely. If he was on a single track and came off, what would the argument be then? I do hope he heals up well and quickly though!

    • The injured rider was travelling down the slope. A rider coming up the slope stalled and fell in front of him forcing him to stop. He had probably already veered towards the edge to avoid the fallen rider before putting his foot down off the edge of the concrete and falling.

  7. Well its there own fault and nobody else.
    That rail trail should never have been built and rail brought back.
    But of course the figures they used were so over the top like a metro project.

    • Thousands of people are using the rail trail every week. If council and the government had followed the advice of you and other rail supporters, this would not happened. .All those people would be at home safely watching rail documentaries on TV out of harm’s way, while the corridor just sat there overgrown.

  8. It isn’t on the rail trail , it is the path that takes Crabbes Creek residents across to the rail corridor.
    The path will be used by train commuters when it returns as it is the only safe way from the village to the Crabbes Creek Train Station. It goes under the road bridge that was once the Pacific Highway but is now the Tweed Valley Way . Speed in this area is signposted at 90kmh .

  9. The location in the photo is far from the most dangerous part of the Crabbes Creek connection. On the trail side of Tweed Valley Way the connection is very narrow with no room for passing and at one point takes a sharp turn over a crest with very little visibility and trees right on the edge of the path.

    This part of the connection is built on the Tweed Valley Way easement. There was very little space available without a major retaining structure. I think the council needs to investigate funding for upgrades.

    Of course, if the trail were a road, the most appropriate piece of land would have been compulsory acquired. Pedestrians and cyclists are not afforded the same privileges as motor vehicles.

    • I can’t see how NERT (New England Rail Trail) would have a case to answer.

      The TVRT is the property of Tweed Shire Council and would be their sole responsibility. It was designed and built in conjunction with Hazell Bros but I expect the council signed off on it as meeting their specifications.

      If anyone decides to go to court, the liability would come down to whether the danger could have been reasonably anticipated by the council and whether the signs advisng cyclists to dismount are an adequate measure. Liability would likely be apportioned on the contribution by the rider (by not dismounting as advised) and the council (by not recognising a reasonable risk) to the accident.

        • Little wonder that trail haters (AKA railway buffs) get no traction when silly remarks like that are the best they can manage.

          Accusations about trail supporters being paid couldn’t be further from the truth and say more about the grasping nature of the accusers who seem incapable of fathoming how much contributing to public good can motivate some of us.

          Little wonder their attempts to fund their own dreams fall flat when they are essentially trying to raise money from the profoundly self-interested. A recent crowd fund campaign aiming to raise $250,000 for advancing railway goals collapsed with the grand total of just $815. Ambitious rail trail funding campaigns have hit their goals of several tens of thousands in a few weeks. That is the reality of the public support for trails versus trains.

  10. Issue is the rider here, take responsibility for your own incapability and mistakes. This is the problem with the nany state mindset, these people think that there should be a prevention for everything or that the blame is somehow someone else’s.
    Down hill mountain bikers manage to stay on their bike (for the most part) I highly doubt that when they do come off their bike, they blame a rouge root or rock. They’d tell themselves they need to up their game.

  11. No one but the rider at fault here, clearly riding beyond their capability.
    I ride down hill trails, if I come off my bike I’m at fault I don’t blame the rouge root or rock that may have caused it.
    Own your mistakes and sharpen your skill set.

  12. Its their own stupid fault its a steep curved hill wouldnt common sense tell you to dismount regardless of whether you can see the sign or not!!!!


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