Police have released the name of the 19 year old German touring cyclist (see previous post ) who died in a road collision in Bulls Manawatu: Mia Susanne Pusch.
Mia had been in NZ on a cycling holiday since late October and was travelling towards Wanganui when she was struck by a truck heading in the same direction, according to a police statement.
Mia kept a public blog of her journey through New Zealand (translation) on the bike she’d called “pinkie”. In it she spoke about being constantly harassed by drivers honking their horns at her – either as by way of a greeting, often accompanied by a thumbs up sign. These positive honkers appeared to be particularly frequent in underpowered and overloaded vehicles, people on vacation, since the owners had generally learned that they didn’t need to hurry.
Then there were the less positive types – the negative tooters driven by the importance of an “incredible race against time”. Those who were fond of using a loud horn when a cyclist got in their way and slowed them down. The type that would sneak up at high speed to well within her safety zone (0.5 -1.0 metres) and then overtake with horn blaring, leaving her shaking with adrenaline.
Her mother is understandably distraught at her daughter’s death and we’d like to extend our sincere condolences to her for her unimaginable loss, it’s every parent’s worst nightmare to lose a child in such a way.
Cycling cannot be considered to be a safe pursuit in New Zealand when there are so many aggressive hoons owning the road. We are instantly reminded of the awful death in October of North Shore doctor Graham Robinson who was struck and killed under similar cirumstances whilst cycling outside of Helensville. The driver of the white Toyota Hillux sped off after hitting him and police have yet to track him down, despite having an excellent description of the vehicle.
We also recall the ‘Tamaki carnage’ a month earlier when a cyclist was critically injured and three others hurt when a car ploughed into a pack of 20 riders on Tamaki Drive, Auckland. News reports at the time stated
“Witnesses to the crash said the vehicle was turning from Cliff Rd on to Tamaki Dr when it collided with the pack, who were riding from the waterfront towards Vale Rd. They said the car appeared to slow down briefly before speeding towards the cyclists.
“She accelerated into the middle of the group, just cleaned the guys up,” said John Cooney. The driver was “roundly abused” by the riders when she stopped. Police inspector Willie Taylor said the driver appeared to have driven through a compulsory stop before colliding with the group.”
Heather McCracken’s report concluded with details of other cycling fatalities and high number of injuries on NZ’s roads during 2009
* Fatal cost of riding your bike
Seven cyclists have been killed so far this year on New Zealand roads.
Last year 10 riders were killed and almost 900 injured, with most crashes occurring at intersections on urban roads.
Last weekend cyclist Frank van Kampen, 46, was killed after being struck by a car near Otaki.
A 34-year-old cyclist was killed last month in a hit-and-run accident near Leeston, Christchurch.
Another Christchurch crash took the life of a 19-year-old cyclist in July.
Two cyclists have been killed in the Bay of Plenty, one in a May accident at a Mt Maunganui roundabout, and another following a crash involving a logging truck near Te Puke in March.
Two Dunedin cyclists have also lost their lives – one after colliding with a car in the city in March, and another in a crash outside of Mosgiel in June.”
Pretty awful figures for such a small country. NZ does have the worlds highest car ownership – 720 per 1000 people, even more than the United States’ 675 per 1000 people (in 2005) and when that’s combined with intolerance towards other road users the weaker and more vulnerable need to be better protected than they are at present.
We suggest a national network of safe cycling routes, in which bike riders are protected from collision hazards with motor vehicles and more publicity given to visitors about which roads are dangerous for cyclists, so that they may plan out their holidays around those routes before they leave home.
Something has to be done to re-educate NZ drivers too, perhaps a national advertising campaign to make them more aware of the difficulties cyclists face and that the roads are for all to share, a revision of the driving test and tougher penalties for dangerous driving causing death or injury.
Today’s posts – click here)