A Levin woman who lost a close family member to a cycling tragedy almost 100 years ago can't believe the number of cyclists she sees without helmets.

Betty Hennes feels so strongly about cyclists wearing helmets, she approached a group of youngsters recently, and shared with them her sobering story.

Hennes said her mother's first husband, Robert Douglas Budge, died in 1929 when he fell from his bike on Lake Rd, in the Auckland suburb of Takapuna.

Budge was on his way home from work when he and his friend Montague Wareham hitched a ride with a lorry truck. They hung on to the left-hand side of the vehicle with one hand as it climbed a hill.


They let go when the truck reached the top of the hill. Wareham looked back after hearing a crash and saw his friend lying on the road, bleeding from his left ear.

An inquest heard that the lorry driver, who was only travelling at 20km/h, hadn't known the cyclists were there.

Budge was just 29 at the time, and his death left Hennes' older sibling without a father.

Hennes said last week she saw a group of cyclists without helmets and was compelled to warn them of the dangers. She stopped her car, hopped out, and shared her story with them.

"I told them to 'put those helmets on'. They had them dangling from the handlebars," she said.

"They could have given me the fingers, but they said 'okay, thank you lady'.

"I am concerned though. All it takes is a car door to open ... there's so much traffic on the road."

She said what was also dangerous was cyclists wearing caps under their helmets when they did wear them.


If they were to fall forward, the peak of the cap hits the ground first and throws their head back.

"It can snap your spine at the back. It annoys me when I see it. It's more the older ones than the kids."

Hennes said she was comfortable speaking out for what she believed in. She said her father once told her she had been "vaccinated with a gramophone needle".

"I'm too old and too lazy to ride a bike now, but we used to ride everywhere. We lived on our bikes," she said.

It was an offence to not wear a helmet while cycling, carrying a fine of $55.