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Cyclists are still so vulnerable
9:00am Wednesday 8th June 2011 in Letters to the Editor
ON MAY 26, my brother-in-law Robert Jefferies was cycling with a friend on the Wareham bypass.
Cycling was his life; he had ridden since his teenage years, for various cycling clubs in London, Bournemouth and Poole and had competed and won many prestigious competitions.
At 8.10pm, that life was ended in a collision with a car driven by an 18-year-old boy.
Robert had been in our family for 18 years and although his cycling obsession used to take him away from family events at times, he had nurtured my nephew, his stepson George, to cycle at championship level during his teens.
When my niece, Eve, was born in 1999 his life could not have been more complete and he took Eve for regular cycles on the Tagalong and later on a bike of her own.
But more than this, he loved being involved in other areas of her life and became a parent governor at the Swanage Middle School and involved her in other activities such as windsurfing.
Robert’s cycling club, Poole Wheelers, organised a memorial cycle on Bank Holiday Monday.
Meeting at Sandbanks Hotel, the 70 or so cyclists crossed the ferry, where they were met by members of the family and friends.
The group, led by Jane, my sister and Robert’s wife, made their way into Swanage and gathered at Gee Whites for much needed cups of tea!
While on this memorial cycle, my son, sister-in-law and cousin were verbally abused by a driver, who deliberately slowed down, wound down his window and told them to cycle on the pavement.
Later in the week, I was sitting in my car, watching the traffic approaching the spot where Robert died.
A friend of Robert’s has placed a white painted bike, which has since been adorned with flowers and messages from friends and family alike, which acts as a reminder, not only of a wonderful man, but of the vulnerability of cyclists on our roads.
As I was sitting, a cyclist rode past the ‘ghost bike’, tucked well into the side of the road, inside the white line. Not one car that past made any attempt to slow down or move to the centre of the road. What does it take to get the message across?
I am not a cyclist – never have been, never will be – but I am aware of cyclists and respect them for their choice and that they are as entitled to use the road as I am.
I hope that even just a few people reading this will agree and drive more carefully as a result.
Robert’s funeral is on Friday and will be attended by many who knew him from the cycling community, his two families and his many friends in Swanage. Eve has asked for bright clothes to be worn and it will be a celebration of the life of a man with many idiosyncrasies which despite of, or more likely because of, we loved and miss very much.
KATE COLCUTT, Park Grove, York
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