Manawatu cyclist shot, abused and bumped off his bike says they have become 'targets'

Manawatu man Wayne Butcher is calling for motorists and cyclists to be more patient and respectful on Kiwi roads.
MURRAY WILSON / FAIRFAX NZ

Manawatu man Wayne Butcher is calling for motorists and cyclists to be more patient and respectful on Kiwi roads.

Manawatu man and cycle enthusiast Wayne Butcher has endured a lot on the Central District roads.

In the past six years, Butcher says he has been hit by cars on three separate occasions, has been hospitalised, verbally abused by motorists, and shot in the buttocks with an air rifle. 

On Wednesday Butcher was clipped by a car's wing mirror while cycling with eight others near Taonui Airport, in Manawatu. 

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"We were biking along by Taonui Airport and this car had to slow up, it just about hit the back rider and when it pulled in, it hit me.

"It was a straight road and there were no cars coming - it could have gone way over the white line."

Butcher said there was a thirteen-year-old and fourteen-year-old cycling with the group on Wednesday and it was lucky nobody else was hurt. 

He said the negative attitudes towards cyclists in New Zealand drastically needed to change.

Butcher recently returned from a cycling trip around France and said the behaviour of motorists towards cyclists there was "outstanding".

But in New Zealand he believed it was "a straight out attitude thing". 

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"The mentality of people out there is unbelievable - I just don't know what we can do to alleviate this problem of people just thinking we are targets basically. It happens far too often to be comfortable." 

Four cyclists have died as a result of crashes on New Zealand's roads so far this year, Ministry of Transport figures show. This figure has doubled in comparison to August 2015. 

ACC statistics show incidents resulting in cycling claims increased in the Manawatu District, from 7 in 2014 to 11 in 2015. .

In Palmerston North City however, cycling claims decreased from 70 in 2014 to 50 in 2015.  

More than $15 million was paid out nationally by ACC in cycling claims in 2015. 

Butcher said he cycled because it was fun, kept him fit and was a social sport. But he believed the behaviour of some motorists was scaring people away from cycling.

"I think some people do it to scare you and a lot of people give up cycling on the road because they have so many near misses. They're just too frightened to ride on the roads."

 Another Manawatu cyclist, Dan Mackay, said he had been abused by motorists multiple times.

He said there were also some cyclists who did not obey the road rules and were at fault.

But the intimidation shown by some motorists was "a total disregard for human life".

"I don't know how many times we've been yelled or screamed at, and you'll find the person drive past you in a big huff and 100 metres up the road they'll pull into a driveway. That's all they were going to do. It's an arrogant attitude," Mackay said.

"I don't know whether they feel macho or tough, but they're obviously going to come off better than we are. I don't think they look at the big picture. If they actually killed one of us, they'd spend a long time in jail." 

Palmerston North City Council safe city co-ordinator Alane Nilsen​ said worked with many cyclists and many of them, if not all, had stories of being knocked off their bikes or near misses.

"I do often get complaints about aggressive drivers who appear to deliberately cut off or drive in unsafe ways."

She believed cyclists had a higher risk of injury and drivers has a higher duty of care. But both parties needed to be more considerate and aware, she said. 

Cycling Action Network (CAN) spokesperson Patrick Morgan said there was a small percentage of "idiots", both cyclists and motorists, who caused trouble on New Zealand roads. 

He said there had been a "boom" of people taking up cycling recently, rather than an increase in aggressive behaviour towards cyclists. 

 

 - Stuff

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