Cyclist's chilling last words

By Anna Rushworth

Mia Pusch described truck drivers as 'beasts' in her online postings. Photo / Supplied
Mia Pusch described truck drivers as 'beasts' in her online postings. Photo / Supplied

A young German tourist hit and killed by a truck this week wrote of aggressive Kiwi drivers just a few days before her death.

Mia Susanne Pusch, 19, had been cycling around New Zealand since her arrival in the country early last October.

Her last blog, written on December 30, gives chilling details of the problems caused by truck drivers passing her at "phenomenal speed".

She described the truck drivers as "beasts" who seemed oblivious to cyclists.

The cause of the crash, which happened about 11.50am last Tuesday in a passing zone on State Highway 3 in the central North Island, is still under police investigation.

Pusch was about 4km north of Bulls and heading towards Wanganui when she was struck by a truck and trailer heading in the same direction.

In her last blog, Pusch wrote: "When one is a cyclist on New Zealand roads, one is not only torn from one's daydreams by diving-bombing magpies but is more often threatened by a more nasty species that really requires more attention: truck drivers."

While commenting on more positive car drivers, she criticised truckies.

"One usually finds this species driving permanently at a phenomenal speed in a race against time.

"These beasts seem oblivious to the fact that their loud beeping can have no effect in making the heavily laden, long-distance cyclist go any faster.

"They swerve past the cyclists who are struggling under their own steam at break-neck speed mainly within only a half-metre to a metre gap, all the while aggressively honking their horn.

"The fact that this in no way improves the situation, but in fact makes it worse, appears not to enter the minds of these people."

Her mother Gesa replied to the blog from Germany: "I hope you don't come across any more of these negative horn honkers. I love you very much. Your loving Mama."

Pusch's blog also gives accounts of the hot pools in Rotorua, cycling in Taupo and her time in Nelson and Blenheim in early December.

She wrote of being blown off her bike and into a ditch while riding against the wind in the South Island, and hoped it would be her only crash.

By Christmas Eve she was in Christchurch. In her last Facebook entry, on January 2, just three days before her death, she posted a message saying she had named her bike "Pinkie" while visiting Christchurch.

Her mother posted a reply: "Hi Pinkie! Hang in there - only three more weeks of dragging Mia around."

Pusch was hit by an 18m-long, 40-tonne truck.

The director of the trucking company said his driver was traumatised and would be off work for several weeks.

He said the driver was experienced and the company had not been involved in an accident like this before.

"It's subdued everything around here.

"There's no reason for it to happen, it's a mystery. It's very hard on the driver, that's for sure."

Greg Hamilton, of Bike NZ, said Pusch's blog sadly reflected the experiences of local cyclists, as well.

"The amount of comments we have on a daily basis of near misses on New Zealand roads ... it's a very clear message that it's a scary place to be."

Hamilton wanted the Government to invest in driver education alongside their plans for a national cycleway.

"New Zealanders are just not good at sharing the road."

Bike NZ's "1.5 to survive" petition - to highlight cyclists needed 1.5m space on the road - has collected 15,000 signatures in three months.

Government duty minister Pansy Wong yesterday offered her condolences to the Pusch family and her friends.

Wong said she hoped potential cycle tourists would see the police investigation into Pusch's death as a sign the Government took road safety seriously.

Police still want to hear from any motorists who were on the stretch of road between Bulls and Lake Alice on Tuesday, who saw either Pusch on her bike or the yellow truck and trailer.


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