'We're mums, we're dads. Share the road'

By Teuila Fuatai

Ian Farrelly (centre) with sons Ben (left) and Nick at the funeral of wife and mum Jane yesterday. Mr Farrelly described his wife's death as "brutal and a tragedy". Photo / Sarah Ivey
Ian Farrelly (centre) with sons Ben (left) and Nick at the funeral of wife and mum Jane yesterday. Mr Farrelly described his wife's death as "brutal and a tragedy". Photo / Sarah Ivey

The sister of a woman killed in a cycling accident has made an emotional plea at her funeral for motorists to share the road with cyclists.

Jane Farrelly, 50, became the latest cyclist to die on New Zealand roads last weekend when she was killed while on a group ride with friends near Taupo.

Mrs Farrelly's death - which happened in view of her husband, Ian Farrelly - is the second cycling fatality this year and has led to renewed calls for safety and awareness from cycling advocates, the Government and those grieving her death.

The Minister for Transport Safety, Michael Woodhouse, has urged caution, saying one mistake could easily lead to death.

Cycle Action Auckland believes the area where Mrs Farrelly died is so dangerous for cyclists it's, "like we are lambs to the slaughter".

Yesterday, Tina McCullough, Mrs Farrelly's sister, asked drivers to think carefully about their actions when near cyclists on the road.

Ms McCullough, also a cyclist, had a clear message for drivers.

"We're mums, we're dads, we're daughters, sons. Share the word, share the road," she told mourners at the Manukau Memorial Gardens chapel in south Auckland.

She also urged cyclists to be vigilant on the road.

Mr Farrelly was cycling behind his wife when she was knocked off her bike and dragged under a truck.

He met his wife when he was 17, and struggled to contain his emotions as he spoke in the packed chapel yesterday.

"Wife, friend, soulmate and mother," Mr Farrelly said. "You've stood up to the mark."

He described the circumstances of last Saturday's accident as "brutal" and a tragedy which should never have happened.

It would be a struggle to move on without his wife of 26 years, he said, leaving a "void that may never be filled".

Warm stories from Mr and Mrs Farrelly's two teenage sons, Ben and Nick, drew smiles and even chuckles from mourners.

The elder, 19-year-old university student Ben, told how his mother strived to do the best for her sons.

She was a member of the board of trustees at his primary and high schools, he said.

"This is how she made sure the schools we were going to were fine."

At the time of her death, Mrs Farrelly, worked in logistics at K-Mart and was the chairwoman of the board of trustees at James Cook High School in South Auckland.

Members of the school's kapa haka group paid tribute to Mrs Farrelly in an emotionally charged performance at the end of the funeral service.

Representatives of the Manukau City Veterans cycling club, wearing yellow jerseys lined the chapel exit to farewell their fellow club-member.

Each year about 10 cyclists die on the roads and Mr Woodhouse said too many live were being lost.

"Tragedies such as this not only take a life too soon, but leave a massive hole for the family left behind, their friends, and the wider community," he said.

"We all need to be mindful of others sharing the road, particularly where cyclists and pedestrians are involved as one small mistake can so easily end in fatality."

Cycling Action Auckland chairwoman Barbara Cuthbert said a lack of roading infrastructure in popular cycling destinations such as Taupo was an increasing danger for cyclists.

Aucklanders travelled to cycle events in Taupo in their thousands to compete and train. The region was profiting from those cyclists and as such should invest in better, safer roading for them, Mrs Cuthbert said.

"It's almost like we are lambs to the slaughter. I wouldn't have said that a year ago but I am now.

"Many Taupo roads simply don't have shoulders. My feeling is that if the district is making money from events and is encouraging out-of-towners to ride the roads they need to ensure that road is safe. The bottom line is that all rural roads that being used for events and training need shoulders."

Police yesterday said the investigation into Mrs Farrelly's death was in its early stages and no charges had been laid.

- Additional reporting Steve Deane

- NZ Herald

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