As police hunt the hit-and-run killer of a doctor near Helensville, donations are flowing into a Heart Foundation charity ride for which he was training.
A webpage set up in Mairangi Bay GP Graham Robinson's name after his death on Thursday night, from injuries suffered when he was knocked from behind by a cream or off-white ute on Peak Rd the previous afternoon, had by last night attracted donations of $2165.
Dr Robinson, 62, the father of five children and grandfather to seven, was training to join a group of cardiologists and other health professionals on the North Island leg of the Heart Racer charity ride from Cape Reinga to Bluff in February.
"Heart disease prevention is a big cause that affects all New Zealanders, and Graham believed in the importance of it," said fellow North Shore GP Alastair Borwick on the new page, which he has attached to the event's website.
"He became so excited about it, not only the riding itself, but also the huge opportunity to raise awareness of heart disease, such an important part of his GP work," Dr Borwick wrote. "In his honour and in his memory, Graham's family have suggested that in lieu of flowers, people might make a contribution to this fund-raising project."
Although cycling advocates are alarmed that 10 cyclists were killed last year and 185 seriously injured in road crashes, the Heart Racer website says an average of 16 people die of coronary disease in New Zealand each day.
Cycle Action Auckland chairman Mark Bracey said although deaths such as Dr Robinson's might heighten a public perception that cycling was dangerous, it offered great health, environmental and economic benefits and the toll from coronary disease highlighted a need for regular exercise. He was pleased by efforts of groups such as the Pickled Pedallers, who decided to stick with Peak Rd as part of a regular 95km training ride yesterday in solidarity with Dr Robinson, to increase the visibility of cycling while seeking "safety in numbers".
Pickled Pedallers coach John Carter said although most motorists were well-behaved yesterday, giving the 15 or so cyclists in the ride a wide berth, the sight of a wreath at the scene of the GP's death presented a "there but for the grace of God" moment.
Although Dr Robinson had no connections with the Pickled Pedallers, four of that group's members were injured - one critically - by a young woman who drove through a stop sign on Tamaki Drive three weeks ago, crashing into them.
Among donors to the Heart Racer website was a family which thanked Dr Robinson "for all your care over the last 22 years, especially bringing our daughter into the world."