Time to Open the Next Chapter!

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Apologies for it being a month since my last post but it has been a difficult month for me to write a post as the legal proceedings between myself and the TAC were held last week. As a result of this I have not been posting information that may have jeopardised these proceedings coming to an end. Finally some closure has been achieved in relation to the accident. Since my accident I have been going through a process with TAC where they are given time to investigate the accident, its cause and its effect on me as a victim. This process culminated last week with a mediation hearing between my lawyers and the TAC and I’m happy to report that the process is now over. My lawyers and TAC have been wonderful to deal with in this process. With this process now complete I am free to discuss the accident and participate in organisations that are aimed at improving road safety, cycle safety and awareness. My initial aim will be directly related to improving the way Beach Road can be shared between cyclists and motorists. I want to address the us versus them mentality by drawing people’s attention to the fact that most cyclists out there are motorists as well, pay their taxes and car registration so from every respect have every right to use the road from a motorists perspective. As we all know there are many aspects to this argument and one that I would like to see become not an argument at all but a recognition between cyclists and motorists of how to share a road in a safe manner. Motorists need to recognise that a collision between a motor vehicle and a cyclist is likely to result in a catastrophic injury like mine or even a fatality. Cyclists need to recognise that breaking road rules and not being considerate to a motorist and their passage on the road may not result in them getting injured but will anger a motorist that may result in another innocent cyclist becoming the victim of an accident.

Enough said on this matter for now, I don’t want this to become just words. I am hoping to get to act on these words in the near future and be a big part of improving what has become a wonderful recreational activity, whether it be training to race, keeping fit in a great social sport, or just earning that big breakfast on a weekend morning.

Now for those of you who are not familiar with my accident, I will give you a brief synopsis of what has been accepted to have happened. I was performing a training ride on Beach Road in June last year. I was about 5 km from home having completed the hard riding in my training ride and was cooling down. As I was heading up a small rise I heard a large vehicle from behind approaching me. There was a parked four-wheel-drive in front of me that I needed to go around. The truck struck me on the right hand and wrist towards the tail end of the truck. This caused my hand to be dislodged from the handlebars and I lost control of my bicycle. I remember the sheer fright at this point and nothing thereafter. Evidently following this loss of control I collided with the parked four-wheel-drive and broke my neck and jaw. My stay in hospital is what followed including an induced coma for 12 days.

There are a number of things about this accident that I think could have been avoided. One is obviously the use of Beach Road by a truck on the weekend, the other is the issue of cyclists needing to duck in and out to go past parked vehicles. It is this last issue which I believe creates a lot of frustration for both the cyclists and the motorists. There are many other issues at play as we know but we need to start somewhere.

As some of you may be aware Magda Szubanski had a few things to say about cyclists on Beach Road during her appearance on Good News Week last Monday night. Her words even though they were on a comedy show showed a lot of anger and have fuelled the debate once again. Given the nature of my accident on Beach Road this obviously angered me greatly. So you are all aware, I am trying to meet with Magda and work with organisations such as Bicycle Victoria, the Amy Gillett Foundation and the media to discuss this issue and hopefully turn it into a positive for both motorists and cyclists who use Beach Road. Watch this space!

Beach Road is a wonderful recreational facility that both the motorist and cyclist can share. I would like to think that Beach Road could become a blueprint for how to set up a road for sharing by applying rules for its use during the times that it is used for recreational purposes. I believe that as cyclists we could lead the way by following a set of rules that are appropriate to allow motorists clear passage and in return motorists can show consideration to cyclists who are training, riding recreationally, keeping fit as well as the obvious environmental benefits that cycling as a mode of transport offers. The key to a resolution with the issue of sharing a road such as Beach Road will be working positively with both sides of the argument with clear knowledge of the consequences of a collision between a motor vehicle and cyclist.

I hope you are all well as I look forward to the next chapter of my life with the legal proceedings relating to my accident behind me. It is energising me to think once again and hope that I can provide a service to the community by discussing my accident and my condition and using it to make Australia one of the safest communities to breed road cycling champions like Cadel Evans, and a fit healthy community that uses nature as its gymnasium!