Cyclists plead for space from abusive motorists

By Joanne Carroll

From left: Cyclists Josh Sanford, Jarrod Harris and Toni Zwicker. Photo / Michael Craig
From left: Cyclists Josh Sanford, Jarrod Harris and Toni Zwicker. Photo / Michael Craig

A group of cycling friends are calling for motorists to show tolerance as the summer season begins for two-wheeled enthusiasts.

The pedalling pals chalked up six incidents of dangerous driving and abuse from drivers on a training bike ride last week.

Richard Johnston, Toni Zwicker, Bruce Thompson, Hayden Paul and Jarrod Harris headed out on a 120km training cycle ride from Silverdale to South Head on Monday.

"We encountered a middle-aged woman at the lights who took exception to us being beside her car by blowing her horn and giving us hand gestures as she took off. We had a truck thunder past close enough to make my heart skip a beat or two," Harris said.

"A guy in a Falcon gave us the horn for what I still don't know; an older man in a crappy white ute made sure he got close enough that we almost rubbed elbows on his paint work; a young guy in a red Mazda swerved violently in front of us to indicate his displeasure; and a ute full of teenagers screamed angry expletives which would have made a sailor cringe."

Harris said he regularly encountered anger, intolerance, and impatience on the roads.

"I can only assume it's a hard-wired paradigm that a good portion of Kiwi drivers have developed over the years, and are either not capable or not willing to change."

Cycling Advocates' Network spokesman Patrick Morgan urged drivers and cyclists to show common courtesy.

"Drivers should give us space when overtaking. If they are on the open road, 1.5m is good but on a suburban street that is not always practical," he said.

Cyclists should also abide by the road rules and communicate with motorists as much as possible using hand signals and eye contact, limit their group size and try not to cycle during peak traffic.

NZ Trucking Association chief executive David Boyce said the road network was not designed to give cyclists enough space. Dog and Lemon Guide editor Clive Matthew-Wilson said there was an entrenched attitude that cyclists were a nuisance.

In 2010, there were 10 recorded cycling deaths, 149 serious injuries and 695 minor injuries.

- Herald on Sunday

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