Defensive riding the key to safety on busy roads

  • Other Sport
  • Saturday, 08 Jun 2013

IT’S sad when tragedy strikes. What more when a youngster – with so much still to live for – is killed in an accident.

On Wednesday, Terengganu junior cyclist Syafiq Imran Shahril was the victim of a fatal road accident in Kuala Terengganu. He was only 15.

He was out training with 40 other cyclists, riding towards Bandar Bukit Besi in Dungun.

The accident is reported to have happened on a narrow bridge at Kampung Gemuruh, Tepuh, when his team-mates reportedly fell after hitting a pothole. Syafiq tried to avoid his fallen team-mates but fell onto the path of an oncoming trailer.

Whenever such accidents happen, fingers are immediately pointed towards the other road users.

Can’t really blame them though, can you? There has been a rise in the number of hit-and-run cases involving cyclists. The year started on a black note in January when South African Burry Stander, who finished fifth in the London Olympics mountain bike race, succumbed to injuries after being hit by a taxi while out training in South Africa.

That was a month after promising mountain bike talent and former world junior champion from Spain, Inaki Lejaretta, was struck by a car whilst training on a highway in the Basque town of Luretta. He died on the spot.

At home, recreational cyclist Rafizi Hamdan was killed in an accident at the Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2) near Taman Melawati after being hit by a car in March.

In January, national cyclist Mariana Mohammad suffered multiple fractures on her left arms and ribs after being hit by a car during a closed road training session in Putrajaya.

In April last year, national cyclist Ng Yong Li was lucky to have escaped with just bruises after a motorcycle hit him during training near Taman Tasik Ampang, also at the MRR2.

Many may argue that a dedicated cycling lane would be the best solution but, trust me, even that may not be enough. Just ask reigning time trial world champion Tony Martin what happened to him last year.

While wrapping up his training, near his home in Switzerland, Martin became just another statistic when a car swerved into the bike lane and hit him. Martin lost consciousness and suffered a fractured jaw and cheekbone. I once heard a senior Road Transport Department officer say that “a vehicle is practically a killing machine”.

Drive recklessly, and you may end up killing other people ... or get killed yourself.

The same goes for the cyclists: if you make a mistake on the road, chances are you will end up being just another statistic.

There, there. I’m not pointing out that the tragic accident in Kuala Terengganu was due to the victim’s negligence.

We can argue till the cows come home and we’ll never know who was at fault. Maybe the lorry driver could have stopped sooner. Maybe Syafiq should have been more alert. Or maybe the town council should have closed up the gaping pothole on the road! The state cycling team did their best to provide car escorts to aid the cyclists in training.

But they can’t just close off the roads, can they?

Everyone has the responsibility to watch out for one another on the road. Everyone has the right to use the road – drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists, pedestrians.

Perhaps cyclists should adopt a heightened sense of alertness when riding in busy areas.

Defensive riding on busy roads could very well save your life.

The writer is an avid cyclist himself. He is fully aware that accidents can happen anywhere, anytime. But he always makes it a point to stop when the traffic light turns red.

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