Truck­ies and cy­clists start talk­ing

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By TERESA HAT­TAN

Don Brown wants to see change on our roads.

The truck driver ap­proached cy­cle club Mata­mata Ped­dlers af­ter he saw a clip on Camp­bell Live last year about truck and cy­cle safety.

Don wants to see change in how truck driv­ers and cy­clists in­ter­act on Mata­mata- Pi­ako roads. An ed­u­ca­tional project could now be on the cards to bet­ter ed­u­cate road users as a whole.

Don en­cour­ages road users to put aside feel­ings over who should ‘‘own’’ the road. ‘‘We’ve all got the same con­cept, we all have the same idea. We want to get some ed­u­ca­tion, some com­mon ground be­tween both par­ties so we can all use the roads to­gether safely.’’

Don said it comes down to truck driv­ers and cy­clists each know­ing what the other is up to on the roads. ‘‘As a truckie, no mat­ter what you think of cy­clists, they have a right to use the road . . . for good­ness sake, lets find out how we can work to­gether.’’

Don said it’s about a change in men­tal­ity. ‘‘As much as I’ll get a rib­bing from peo­ple who don’t agree with that, the fact of the mat­ter is the law’s the law.’’

Don ad­mits the ed­u­ca­tion project might not be able to fix cer­tain at­ti­tudes, but Mata­mata Ped­dlers Cy­cle Club pres­i­dent Dale Er­tel be­lieves if there was a chance they could save a life then they would have done some­thing right.

‘‘I’m damn sure we’re not go­ing to fix any­thing sit­ting on the couch at home wish­ing some­one else would do some­thing. So now I’m go­ing, ‘stuff this’, some­one’s got to stand up and do it.’’

But Don can’t do it all him­self, he needs help from the com­mu­nity. ‘‘If we can get enough peo­ple be­hind it and if it be­comes vi­ral and ev­ery­one gets the con­cept, think­ing will change,’’ he says.

Don has spo­ken with truck­ing com­pa­nies through­out the dis­trict who all be­lieve the two road users work­ing to­gether is a good idea.

He re­alises there will be things each road user can do to im­prove ex­pe­ri­ences of us­ing the road. It comes down to com­mu­ni­ca­tion and train­ing, Don be­lieves.

He has al­ready at­tended meet­ings with the cy­cle club, with both par­ties ad­mit­ting they have al­ready learnt a lot from each other.

Don feels there could be ed­u­ca­tion from a truck­ing com­pany per­spec­tive about train­ing their driv­ers and get­ting driv­ers to change their at­ti­tude to­wards cy­clists. Dale said cy­clists had a lot to learn from truck driv­ers too.

‘‘What are our choices here? You can’t elim­i­nate the cy­clists, if you’re a cy­clist you’re not go­ing to elim­i­nate the trucks, they’re only go­ing to get worse, we’re go­ing to get more cy­clists. Let’s find a way to make it work. It has to hap­pen,’’ Don said.

When Don ap­proached Dale about the idea for the ed­u­ca­tion project, Dale said the club im­me­di­ately knew they needed to get in­volved. ‘‘We’re go­ing to learn some­thing out of this.’’

Dale was sure cy­clists have al­ways won­dered what the truckie can see out on the roads. ‘‘ We need to be ask­ing ‘ what can we do to make sure we un­der­stand each oth­ers needs?’.’’

Dale said the club ac­tively pro­motes cy­cle safety, while he ad­mits that not every­body does it, the ma­jor­ity do. He would ul­ti­mately love to see the truck­ies and cy­clists from the dis­trict come to­gether to cre­ate an un­der­stand­ing and con­sid­er­a­tion for each other that will pre­vent in­jury or tragedy.

Photo: TERESA HAT­TAN

ED­U­CA­TION: Truckie Don Brown and cy­clist Dale Er­tel are spear­head­ing con­ver­sa­tions be­tween truck driv­ers and cy­clists in MatamataPiako.

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