Cyclists appeal for respect

Inspiration on wheels: Derek Unwin (74) is competing in his second criterium on February 2. Picture: Emma Reeves www.communitypix.com.au d413239
Inspiration on wheels: Derek Unwin (74) is competing in his second criterium on February 2. Picture: Emma Reeves www.communitypix.com.au d413239

Northern Beaches Cycling Club is preparing to host its second criterium ” the Yanchep National Park Challenge, on February 2 ” and president Chris Howard said drivers should be conscious of safety as they pass cyclists.

‘One of the issues that we have on the road is how dehumanised cyclists are,’ Dr Howard said.

‘Some drivers go out of the way to harass us.

‘They can’t see our faces, we have got our backs to them.’

Dr Howard said among the cyclists who had experienced abusive behaviour from drivers were the club’s oldest member, Derek ‘the Fox’ Unwin (74), and young talent Jacob Wood (16).

Dr Howard said Mr Unwin was an inspiration Unwin was an inspiration in the club, having overcome health problems to become a ‘superfit retiree’.

‘He often rides out early and solo so that group riders can try to catch him before he reaches the coffee shop,’ he said.

However, the Jindalee grandfather has had near misses while riding on Marmion Avenue, and heard drivers shouting, swearing and honking their horns at cyclists.

‘Derek has resorted to filming his rides in the event of the abusive rants of a small minority of drivers,’ Dr Howard said.

‘He has seen it on his regular rides on northern suburbs and would appreciate a wave rather than abuse from other road users.’

Mr Unwin said he was riding towards Yanchep on one occasion when a driver turned left in front of him.

‘He looked right through me ” he missed me by about six inches,’ he said.

‘Some of the cyclists have had bottles thrown at them. Like a flag, they attack us because we are there, not for any reason.

‘It is the exception rather than the rule but the problem is the exception can be pretty dangerous.

‘Good drivers still move over and give us plenty of room.’

Mr Unwin said he started cycling in 2006 then discovered he was at risk of a stroke because he had a 95 per cent blockage in an artery.

As he recovered, he joined the fledgling cycling club and found they were always willing to ride at his pace, with all members meeting up at a caf´┐Ż afterwards.

‘The club have really looked after me ” I am slow,’ the septuagenarian said.

‘If anyone is the same age as me, they shouldn’t worry about joining because they won’t be left behind.’