Grieving father scared to cycle

GEORGINA STYLIANOU AND LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 15/05/2014
Sharla Phyllis Haerewa
TREASURE: Nursing student Sharla Haerewa was "a beautiful, loving and caring girl".

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The father of a Christchurch student nurse killed while cycling to work says he has little faith in the Christchurch City Council to make the roads safer.

Tony Haerewa has stopped riding his bike after his daughter's death on April 2. She was hit by a truck as she cycled along Lincoln Rd about 6.40am.

Sharla Haerewa, 22, was on her way to work at Christchurch Hospital. She had working lights on the front and back of her bike and a reflective cover on her bag.

Police said the truck turned directly into her path at the intersection with Domain Tce, knocking her from the bike and dragging it nearly 40 metres. She died at the scene.

Tony Haerewa said he had not given much thought to cycling safety before his daughter was killed.

"I actually liked biking before this happened but now I don't. Being in a car is probably safer."

He had little faith in the council or Government to make the city's roads safer.

"They didn't do it before so why would they do it now?"

Haerewa believed some cyclists needed to change their attitude, especially the "speed racers who take up half the road".

"But my daughter was doing everything right... and I'm still grieving for her."

While cycle lanes might not have prevented his daughter's death he thought cycling safety would not improve until the roads were wider.

"And it's only going to get worse because there's so many trucks on the road with the rebuild and roads are getting ripped up."

He was waiting to hear back from police about what charges the truck driver would face and when the case would go to court.

A Christchurch police spokesman confirmed that no charges had yet been laid.

CYCLING ADVOCACY GROUP: DITCH STADIUM, WIDEN ROADS

Haerewa's comments come as Spokes Canterbury delivered a stark message to city councillors at annual plan hearings yesterday about cycle safety.

The group believes the council should ditch its plans to build a new sports stadium and instead put more money and effort into improving the city's cycling infrastructure.

"No-one will die without a stadium... In comparison it is clear that people are dying and being seriously injured because our cycle infrastructure is inadequate," the group argued in its written submission.

Spokes is worried that despite the safety problems of cycling on the roads in Christchurch, the council is proposing to push out the delivery of a planned new cycleway network by three years.

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The previous council committed to having 13 major cycleways criss-crossing Christchurch by 2018, but the new council has been advised by staff that it is not feasible to deliver all the projects within the specified five-year timeframe.

The council has since pushed the completion date out to 2021.

Spokes believes that is too far off and wants the council to reconsider its plans.

"If staff cannot change this annual plan to meet the real need for cycle infrastructure quickly, that is a problem to be corrected," Spokes' submission said.

"If politicians cannot hear the voice of the community and accept the moral responsibility to do what is required, that is a tragedy, one which leads to so many more tragedies."

Haerewa said he supported Spoke Canterbury's plea to improve cycling infrastructure across the city.

- The Press

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