Thumbs down to texting cyclists

By Amy McGillivray

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A motorist who narrowly avoided hitting a young cyclist was shocked to see she was texting as she rode.

Charles Purcell was driving along Maunganui Rd near Bayfair this week when a girl in her early teens swerved towards him.

"I saw two girls riding in the left-hand side of the road. All of a sudden the one in front veered sharply to the right. I pulled out and glanced as I went past and to my astonishment the wobbly one was texting," he said. "I thought to myself, 'There's a very temporary Kiwi'."

Mr Purcell said he could not believe someone would behave that way on such a busy road.

"I've never seen anything as dumb as that before."

Mr Purcell contacted the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend to highlight his concern and remind parents to warn their children against such behaviour. "What's the point in having a crash helmet if you're going to do something dumb like wobbling out in front of a car doing 70 kilometres on Maunganui Rd."

Western Bay of Plenty road policing manager, Senior Sergeant Ian Campion, said texting while cycling was not only stupid but also illegal. "The road user rules prohibit the use of mobile phones while operating a vehicle and a bicycle is a vehicle."

Cyclists caught texting while riding faced an $80 fine and 20 demerit points, he said.

Tauranga cycle safety advocate Iris Thomas described the girl's actions as "absolutely nuts".

"The same laws that apply to motorists apply to cyclists as well. Anyone who uses the road has to abide by the same rules."

Ms Thomas said the girl's behaviour was as silly as wearing headphones while cycling. "That is cutting yourself off from everybody else who is on the road. You don't just use one skill on the road. You don't just look, you listen.

"You don't wear a suit of armour. You only have a helmet. There's not much between your body and the road and your body will come off second best."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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