Cycling on the right track

October 07, 2017

It has been more than a year, but Shepparton cyclist Roger Smith has almost fully recovered from a road incident that left him significantly injured.

At the time, Mr Smith had more than 50 years’ cycling experience under his belt, but said nothing could prepare him for the moment a truck travelling along Verney Rd collided with his bike.

The incident happened in August last year when he and two other cyclists were riding along a small lane reserved for traffic during the road’s construction works.

It was part of a loop he had ridden for three decades, knew like the back of his hand, where the truck driver believed he had enough room to get through.

He did not.

‘‘The truck clipped me, I flew up in the air and coming down I broke my pelvis, and it was the only serious accident I’ve had during my time as a cyclist,’’ Mr Smith said.

‘‘After that, it was a pretty big surgery and I was in rehab for a short time, but I got out as quickly as I could. I couldn’t do anything for a long time, I couldn’t drive a car for 12 weeks.’’

The injury is common for pedestrians and cyclists who collide with cars, along with head injuries and liver and spleen lacerations.

When it comes to recovery periods, many doctors talk in terms of months and years and, although he spent less than a month in hospital and rehabilitation, Mr Smith is still attending physiotherapy appointments 14 months later.

‘‘What happened didn’t affect my attitude towards cycling, but it has affected me,’’ he said.

‘‘When push comes to shove and you’re riding along with vehicles, you’re in their hands.

‘‘All you can do is ride directly and keep straight, but at the end of the day there’s not a lot you can do to feel completely safe.’’

His riding has taken him on marathons across Australian states, through the mountains of Buller and Hotham and the countryside of France and Italy.

Mr Smith said there was nothing better than the routes just outside of Shepparton, but there were barriers for finding a safe route to gain access to those beautiful country roads.

While he said the circumstances of his accident did not reflect the general safety infrastructure of roads around Shepparton, he did believe attempts needed to be made to accommodate not only motorists, but cyclists and pedestrians as well.

Mr Smith said cycling was an efficient form of transport and he would expect more people to ride if the region’s roads had more to accommodate cyclists.

‘‘As the population here has grown and with it the traffic, it places greater demands and it becomes harder to provide for a range of road users,’’ he said.

‘‘I think we’ve done well in the past and we’re also good at updating existing infrastructure, but I think we need some really good, safe routes running through the city where riders of all experiences will feel comfortable to take it up.’’

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