Cy­clists ditch­han­dle­bars for big wheel

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - LUCY SWINNEN

‘‘We don't nec­es­sar­ily re­alise prob­lem trucks are hav­ing.’’

‘‘Oh, it is quite high up,’’ cy­clist Elaine Richard­son said as she climbed into the cab of a Mercedes Ac­tros truck.

The cy­clist was tak­ing part in the first Welling­ton Share the Road work­shop last week, which saw cy­clists slip off their bike seats and into a 50-tonne truck to get a new per­spec­tive on the road.

The Freaky Fri­day-style work­shops aim to fos­ter a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing be­tween truck driv­ers and cy­clists.

Richard­son has been cy­cling more than 30 years, but said she came to the work­shop to get a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive.

‘‘We don’t nec­es­sar­ily re­alise prob­lem trucks are hav­ing,’’ she said.

The dan­gers of bikes and trucks shar­ing the same road was high­lighted in June this year when it was re­vealed a truck driver who was found guilty for the death of a Tai­wanese cy­clist in Christchurch had pre­vi­ously hit and killed a cy­clist on the Kapiti coast.

‘‘There is a war out there, but I have been on both sides of it,’’ Aaron Forde, from Truck and Trail­ers, said.

Forde, who got ‘‘cleaned up’’ while rid­ing his bike when he was 14, brought the Mercedes Ac­tros truck cab from his sales yard for the work­shop.

He said he had noth­ing against cy­clists, but had seen them do a lot of ‘‘out­ra­geous things’’ on the road.

He wanted cy­clists to re­alise that, when you are in a truck with 50 tonnes and up to 23 me­tres be­hind you, there is not much room to manouevre.

Older trucks could have up to 50 per cent blind spots, he said.

The work­shops were set up by Cy­cling Ac­tion Net­work, with sup­port from the NZ Trans­port Au­thor­ity and National Road Car­ri­ers. They have been held up and down the coun­try for the past three years, and were re­cently ex­tended for three more.

Work­shop fa­cil­i­ta­tor Ju­lian Hulls said he had spo­ken to more than 1000 truck driv­ers, cy­clists and bus driv­ers over the past five years at ed­u­ca­tion work­shops.

The cen­tral is­sues was how the big­gest, heav­i­est ve­hi­cles on the road can share the road with the light­est, he said.

A work­shop for truck driv­ers will be held in Welling­ton early next year.

PHOTO: LUCY SWINNEN/ FAIR­FAX NZ

Cy­clist Elaine Richard­son in the driv­ing cab of a Mercedes Ac­tros truck.

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