Cyclists hit by car, sent flying

ACCIDENT SCENE: A drink bottle rests beside the Puketaha Rd where four cyclists were struck by a car last night.
ACCIDENT SCENE: A drink bottle rests beside the Puketaha Rd where four cyclists were struck by a car last night.

A male cyclist remains in a critical condition at Waikato Hospital's intensive care unit this morning after at least four cyclists were sent flying - one through a car windscreen - after they were struck by a car last night on the outskirts of Hamilton.

The accident happened on Puketaha Rd, east of the city, at 6.20pm and left one person in a critical condition and three moderately injured.

It is understood the car, a Ford Falcon, hit the bunch of 11 - 14 from behind, striking at least four of the riders - one of whom was thrown through the car's windscreen.

The accident happened soon after nightfall on a largely straight stretch of the road, between the intersections with Sainsbury Rd and Gordonton Rd.

Senior Sergeant Dave Litton of Hamilton police said it appears the driver simply did not see all of the cyclists when overtaking them and pulled back into the group.

Lack of visibility, along with the driver not allowing sufficient space to perform the manoeuvre, both played a part in this collision, he said.

St John Ambulance staff took two men to Waikato Hospital. Further details of their ages and the sex of others involved were not available.

The cyclists were part of a group that hold regular rides twice a week from Flagstaff business Bob's Bikes.

Owner Bob Puru said the group's members were habitually very careful.

"They always ride in single file and they would have been lit up like Christmas trees. Any driver should have seen them a mile off."

Puru said he had just heard about the accident when contacted yesterday evening.
Last night's ride was to mark the second anniversary of the group's twice-weekly trips through the Waikato countryside, he said.

Puru said he frequently heard of motorists driving too close or not being aware of cyclists on the region's roads.

"We have been running this ride for two years exactly and we have never had an incident like this. These guys are really careful. They were all in reflective yellow vests and flashing headlights front and back.

"I know the drivers blame the cyclists for getting in their way, but if you are driving a two-tonne vehicle, you have to show some respect to the people you are sharing the road with.

"It's a family sport. We get whole families involved and it is a lot better for you than sitting in front of a TV screen or going out and tagging someone's fence."

A resident from Animal Lodge kennel and cattery, who gave her name only as Sharon, said speed was a common problem down the long, largely straight road.

"They just hike along here. I was out the front the other day and one guy was just racing [past]."

Sharon, who has lived on the road for 15 years said the speed limit changed from 80kmh to 100kmh just past her front gate but many drivers were already travelling at least open road speed before they passed it.

"The road has just got busier and busier."

She said groups of cyclists were common on the road.

Waikato Times