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Cyclist death: Urgent call for cycleways

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Truckers want cycleways built with greater urgency after a 22-year-old cyclist was killed under a truck in Christchurch this morning.

Police said initial inquiries had found cyclist Sharla Phyllis Haerewa and the truck were both travelling towards the city on Lincoln Rd when they collided about 6.30am.

Ms Haerewa, a student nurse from Christchurch, died at the scene. Police believe she was cycling to work at Christchurch Hospital at time of the crash.

"The truck turned left from Lincoln Road into an unnamed road opposite Domain Terrace, but turned directly into the path of the cyclist, with the front of the truck striking the cycle side-on,'' a police statement said tonight.

"The truck continued around the corner, knocking the cyclist from her bike and dragging the cycle nearly 40 metres before coming to a stop. The cyclist died at the scene.

"Initial enquiries indicate that the cyclist was wearing a reflective cover and flashing LED light on her backpack, and had working lights to the front and rear of the cycle.''

Police were considering whether charges would be laid against the driver of the truck, a man aged in his 70s.

Black Horse Hotel duty manager Josh Mckenzie, who works near the crash scene, did not witness the crash but saw the aftermath.

"The bike ended up under the truck and it got pretty mangled ... it went under the front of the truck.''

The driver of the Bidvest truck had received counselling today, Bidvest Christchurch manager Greg McGale said.

The company was working with police.

Mr McGale said the company had a very good record and it was the first incident of its type for Bidvest in Christchurch.

The company's drivers were trained to look out for cyclists as part of their induction, and most had also taken defensive driving training courses.

"If anything could avoid a tragedy like this, I would like to see it happen.''

Mr McGale said he supported Christchurch City Council's $68.3 million plan to build 13 new cycleways over five years.

Trucking Association chief executive David Boyce, a cyclist himself, also supported the plan but was disappointed with how long it would take.

"I know they've got budgetary constraints around the rebuild and that, but how important are people's lives?''

Mr Boyce said there was not enough room on some roads for both trucks and bicycles.

"They need to design things in a way that people aren't in conflict, and certainly education is part of it. But you shouldn't have people paying an ultimate price just because they make a small mistake.''

The trucking industry had engaged with cyclists so both could understand each other's perspectives.

Earlier this year, the Cycling Advocates' Network and the local trucking industry held a workshop in which cyclists sat in the cab of a truck, while truck drivers sat on bicycles, allowing them to see what the other road user saw.

Mr Boyce said if a cyclist was in front of a truck's drive axle on the left-hand side, or in front of a truck's bumper, then the truck driver could not see them.

"And next thing you know, you've got someone underneath the truck.''

Spokes chairman Keith Turner, whose group represents Canterbury cyclists, said he did not know the circumstances of the incident.

"But what we hope comes from this is that the council perhaps looks a little more closely at the timeframe for putting in the separated cycleways.''

Mr Turner said separating cyclists and other traffic on busy routes would make everybody safer.

"Lincoln Rd is a busy commuter route into Christchurch. It's used by a lot of cars and a painted line on a road is fine at times, but in early morning, when it was quite dark at that time, it's not a barrier - it's just a line.''

Interactive graphic: NZ cycle crashes 2008-2012

- APNZ

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