Drivers urged give us a break

MONICA TISCHLER
Last updated 05:00 13/02/2014
Marie Taylor
Monica Tischler
GAINING CONFIDENCE: Marie Taylor was involved in a cycling accident in Swanson three years ago and still thinks about it every time she gets on her bike.

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Marie Taylor still has flashbacks of her cycling accident every time she gets on her bike.

The Titirangi resident was riding through a chicane down Swanson Rd three years ago when a car tried to drive through it at the same time, hitting her from behind.

It knocked her off her bike, tearing ligaments in her shoulder, and knocking her confidence.

"I was so angry, I was shaking from head to foot.

"My brakes had been scrunched and my helmet was smashed.

"I had just bought a new helmet two weeks before the accident and I'd hate to think what would have happened if I didn't have it," she says.

February marks National Bike Wise Month, a programme supported by the New Zealand Transport Agency to promote cycling as a fun and healthy way to travel while encouraging all road users to share the road safely.

Sadly, the Swanson accident is just one of many "close calls" the mother of two has had with angry drivers.

"There's no getting past the fact cyclists have to be very wary. Cars just don't see us."

But then there are the small minority of drivers who "just don't like cyclists", Mrs Taylor says.

"I've experienced a guy drive up slowly beside me, bringing his car closer and closer to me, running my bike into the gutter.

"I've also been out for rides on the weekend and had abuse yelled at me from cars going the opposite direction."

It took Mrs Taylor eight weeks to recover emotionally and physically from the accident.

She's gone on to cycle in the Tour de France and is now trying to build up the confidence to bike to work at Auckland Airport.

She says the rough tarseal and lack of cycleways in West Auckland make it difficult for cyclists to ride safely.

She has an important message for all road users.

"Drivers need to give us more attention, more rights and stop cutting us off.

"Cyclists need to be sensible and if we want to use the road we have to abide by the rules. We don't have the right to go through red lights - it means stop."

New Zealand Transport Agency road safety director Ernst Zollner says with more people on bikes over summer, it's important to "remind drivers and cyclists to look out for each other, be considerate and share the road safely".

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- Western Leader

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