Rider disputes police view on crash

OLIVIA WANNAN
Last updated 05:00 09/01/2013
Douglas Mabey on his bike
Supplied
CYCLIST: Waikanae man Douglas Mabey on his bike. The 56-year-old died on Saturday after colliding with a trailer.

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A man who was riding with a cyclist killed on a rural Wellington road is questioning the official version of events.

Neil Wanden was cycling with Waikanae man Douglas Mabey on Saturday when the 56-year-old died after colliding with a trailer being towed in Ohariu Valley Rd, near Johnsonville.

Police have said the crash appeared to be the result of a "perfect storm" of unlucky events, with Mr Mabey's bike locking up and causing him to skid across the centre line.

But Mr Wanden called that scenario "unlikely", saying Mr Mabey kept his bike very well maintained, and he would not have jammed on his brakes.

Such an act would have been a beginner's mistake, while Mr Mabey was one of the most experienced road cyclists in Wellington.

Instead, Mr Wanden suggested deterioration of the road surface might have caused the bike's front wheel to bounce, resulting in the loss of control.

Sergeant Peter Sowter, of the Wellington serious crash unit, has said it appeared neither the cyclist nor the driver had done anything "majorly" wrong. He said the surface of the road and its accident history would be looked at as part of the investigation.

Yesterday, Wellington Masters Cycle club captain Ross Jackson said the road was highly popular with cyclists.

He said the angle and unevenness of the bend were likely to have contributed to the accident, and he had heard of cycling mishaps on the corner in the past.

"Any improvements [to Ohariu Valley Rd] would be welcomed, but you've also got to be aware of the route you're on."

Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said the road surface was in good condition.

The driver of the vehicle involved in the crash, who lives in the Ohariu Valley, said he was "very distressed" by the incident.

"My heart goes out to Doug's family. It is an awful tragedy . . . [Ohariu Valley Rd] is a narrow and winding road with very little margin for error."

LOVER OF LIFE REMEMBERED

The partner of Douglas Mabey, pictured, has described him as man who "loved life and lived it the way he wanted to".

Kay Barns said the 17 years they had spent together were "fantastic".

"As far as a partner goes, he was just fantastic. We had lots of love, fun, laughter."

The pair took over the old Fishbowl bar in Willis St in Wellington in the mid-1990s and ran it for six years after Mr Mabey left KiwiRail.

Despite enjoying his work, his family said it was the weekends Mr Mabey lived for, preferring to be "out on his bike, out in his vege garden, or racing his pigeons".

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In the past decade, he rode several long-distance races, including the 1200km return Paris to Brest race, and was training for a 250km race in Australia.

- The Dominion Post

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