Truckie taken off the road

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 15/02/2013
Daniel Coxhead
ROBERT CHARLES/Fairfax NZ
FOUND GUILTY: Daniel Coxhead outside the New Plymouth District Court after denying he played chicken with cyclists during an around the mountain cycle event last year.

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Scores of cyclists were intimidated by the dangerous antics of a truck driver during the Around the Mountain Cycle Challenge last year, says organiser Selwyn Brown.

A huge number of people were affected by his driving, not just those who gave court evidence, the man who has run the event for 12 years said.

"You can excuse an isolated incident but not that many. He has deliberately gone out of his way to scare and intimidate scores of cyclists."

Mr Brown was referring to Waitara truck driver Daniel Coxhead, 31, yesterday found guilty of nine counts of dangerous driving when he drove a truck close to the event cyclists, swerving in at others and sounding his horn on January 28, 2012, between Stratford and New Plymouth.

Judge Peter Butler, who presided over the two-day defended hearing, disqualified Coxhead from driving for eight months and ordered him to pay witness expenses of $525 and nine court costs of $132.89.

One of the cyclists who gave evidence at the hearing told the Taranaki Daily News he saw between 50 and 55 hands go up when they were asked at a post-ride meeting who was affected by the truck driver's actions.

Mr Brown said the organisers worked very hard to make the event, which attracted between 1100 and 1400 cyclists each year, as safe as it could be.

Mr Brown said cycling groups took time to train kids to be responsible and safe on the road.

"But how do you counter that sort of behaviour? I'm horrified anyone could deliberately do this to a young kiddie.

"It's about sharing the road, not intimidating cyclists and being respectful. It's a shame that people have to go to court for this sort of behaviour."

Mr Brown said Coxhead's actions had not affected this year's event.

Road Transport Association regional spokesman Tom Cloke said yesterday Coxhead's disgraceful actions were completely unacceptable to truckies.

"We do give respect to all other road users."

The main issue for one of the cyclists, Andrea Waddell, from Cambridge, was to get the message out that everyone could be safe on the road.

"If nothing else people can learn to consider each other and share the road."

Last year was the first time she had ridden in the Around the Mountain Cycle Challenge and, despite her frightening experience, she said she would come again.

She described it as one of the best marshalled and controlled events in her 14 years of riding.

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She advocated cyclists join a club and get taught how to safely ride on the open road. "Way too many buy a bike and just go."

Cyclists Steve and Rochelle Cragg, of Hawera, told the court how the truck driver tooted continuously at them as he drove up behind them near the crematorium.

Outside court, Mr Cragg, 57, said the truck driver came so close to him he had visions of bits of bike and bodies splattered all over the road.

"It frightened the living daylights out of me. I thought I was going straight to the crematorium across the road. It was 13 months ago and it's still vivid in my memory."

At sentencing yesterday Judge Butler found nine of the 13 charges proven.

Three charges were dismissed.

- Taranaki Daily News

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