Driver forces cyclist off road - lectures him

By Hayden Donnell

Cyclist John McLaren has a broken collar bone and shoulder blade after being knocked from his bike. Photo / Richard Robinson
Cyclist John McLaren has a broken collar bone and shoulder blade after being knocked from his bike. Photo / Richard Robinson

An injured and shaken Auckland cyclist says he was subjected to an angry lecture from the driver who forced him off the road last week.

DOC Ranger John McLaren broke his collarbone and shoulder blade when he fell while trying to avoid a grey SUV in east Auckland on Thursday.

He was still in shock and recovering on the footpath when the driver came to blame him for the crash.

The driver then left without calling an ambulance or giving his name and contact details.

Mr McLaren was given morphine and spent two days in Auckland Hospital recovering from his injuries.

The incident shows the animosity that still simmers between some cyclists and motorists, he says.

"I think drivers don't realise they're in this insulated steel box. Cars do have to give cyclists space.

"It would have been nice to be able to speak to him. If I could talk to the guy now I'd just ask him whether he realises driving that close to people can be dangerous."

The crash happened about 4.45pm during Mr McLaren's daily bike home from his work on North Head.

An SUV tried to pass within centimetres of his right side when he was going into a bridge on Tamaki Drive, he says.

He tried to rebalance his wobbling bike by putting a hand on the SUV window before crashing and skidding along the pavement.

"He just got really close to me and nearly pushed me into the curb.

"My survival instinct kicked in. I put my arm up to defend against the car. I wobbled then fell. I landed quite heavily."

The driver then stopped to claim he was not at fault, saying he had been a competitive cyclist and Mr McLaren should have watched his front wheel.

He was angry his car window had been hit in the crash.

Mr McLaren says he has been cycling New Zealand roads for four years and is a keen multi-sport athlete.

"I'd just got myself together and was leaning against a railing when the guy decided to have a go at me for banging on his window," he says.

"I just told him I didn't want to speak to him.

"As soon as I took out my phone, he parked way down the road. Then he just took off."

There is renewed debate about the respect shown to cyclists by car drivers in the wake of a double fatal accident on the weekend.

Cyclists Mark Ferguson, 46, and Wilhelm Muller, 71, were killed when a car driver collided with their bicycles south of Morrinsville on Sunday.

Responsible Cyclists Association founder Rowan Larsen said although it looked as though there was little the victims could have done to avoid the crash, it highlighted a need for all road users to improve behaviour.

Mr McLaren says he wants the guideline of giving 1.5m space when passing cyclists to be made law.

"I can't understand why on Tamaki Dr when you're a single cyclist this should be happening.

"If he had waited 10 seconds then he'd have been miles away - there would have been plenty of space."

- additional reporting Michael Dickison

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