Cyclist runs daily gauntlet

'I would probably be in a box'

ESTHER ASHBY-COVENTRY
Last updated 05:00 16/01/2014
Colin McConnochie
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/Fairfax NZ

PROTECTIVE LID: Crash survivor Colin McConnochie is grateful he was wearing his helmet when a car hit him in Domain Ave, Timaru, on Saturday.

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Recreational cyclist Colin McConnochie's helmet split down the middle on impact after he was struck by a car in Timaru on Saturday.

He is nursing severe bruising and swelling but he knows it could have been so much worse.

"If it wasn't for the helmet, I think I would probably be in a box," Mr McConnochie said.

The retired forklift driver was riding down Domain Ave as he headed towards the beach when he was struck by a Nissan Lucino failing to give way on High St.

The driver was turning right and panicked when she realised her mistake but instead of stopping, she accelerated.

She was so mortified she has already financially compensated Mr McConnochie for his written-off bicycle, and for the loss of his watch and helmet, as well as buying him a Lotto ticket.

Ironically, four weeks ago Mr McConnochie found himself in a potentially similar situation when a taxi driver on the same corner did not see him immediately but managed to brake in time.

In the 15 years the cyclist has been riding regularly, he has been the innocent victim of four vehicle crashes. He has ended up under vehicles, been hit by them and was collected by a car door being opened, but it has not put him off his daily ride of 30 to 60 kilometres.

Until his injuries have healed, his exercise regime is confined to walking his dog about 20 metres.

"Car drivers need to be more careful," Mr McConnochie said.

He is unsure why motorists do not always see him, despite his bright coloured clothing, but he is thankful he has always worn a helmet.

New Zealand Transport Agency spokesman Andy Knackstedt said cyclists could often look like silhouettes to a motorist.

"We want to remind drivers when they're on the road that cyclists are everyday people just like them - they are mums and dads, sisters and brothers.

"They could be their friends, relatives, neighbours or colleagues. We all have a right to travel safely on the road," he said.

From July to November last year, almost 50 Timaru cyclists were issued with $55 fines for not wearing helmets or using cycle lights. Senior Constable Alister Doonan said most cyclists were law-abiding.

Some repeat offenders eventually gave up on pushing boundaries and bought helmets, he said.

"If they [a first offender] produce a receipt proving they have bought a helmet, the fine is often wiped," he said.

Serious cycle enthusiasts like Mr McConnochie were the least likely to offend, according to Mr Doonan.

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- The Timaru Herald

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