http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/roa ... 94573.html
Road rage scare for cycling champ
Email Print Normal font Large font By David Braithwaite
February 22, 2006 - 5:07PM
A man has been charged after allegedly trying to run down a group of cyclists in a road rage incident in Sydney's south.
An argument broke out after the 50-year-old man allegedly almost hit a group of about 20 cyclists on General Holmes Drive in Brighton-Le-Sands shortly before 6am AEDT yesterday as he drove out of a service station, police said.
The man then allegedly drove up behind the group and across three lanes of traffic, narrowly missing the lead cyclist.
The Rockdale man will face Downing Centre Local Court on March 17 charged with dangerous and negligent driving.
Chris Sutton, a champion Australian cyclist riding professionally in France, and an off-duty police officer were among the group from the St George Cycling Club.
Sutton, who cycled to Wollongong and back today, said he was disappointed Sydney motorists had not learned a lesson from last year's tragic accident in Germany, which killed one Australian cyclist and injured five.
"I thought it would have raised awareness on the roads, but obviously it hasn't affected a lot of people,'' he said.
"I've grown up with cycling all my life, and it's always been dangerous on the roads, but just of late it's been getting out of control.
"Every year I come back from Europe and over there people are really nice, but when you come home it's almost like you're scared to ride on the roads.
"You go for a nice ride to Cronulla or somewhere and people are beeping their horns and yelling stuff out the windows.
"We're not like other athletes, swimmers are in the pool, athletes are on the track, but we have to ride on the roads.
"When there are bike lanes they can be full of glass because people have thrown bottles out the window - like the RTA says, the road is there to share.''
A club official, whose name has been withheld after he received two abusive calls at work this morning from callers who tracked down his phone number, said road rage targeting cyclists occurred on a daily basis.
He said he had been riding along General Holmes Drive a few years ago when a motorist ran up the back of his cycling group, damaging their bikes.
"It's a pretty common common occurrence - every day you go out riding someone tries to swerve at you, you develop a bit of sixth sense about it,'' he said.
"We're riding early in the morning and against the traffic, but if we hold some motorists up for five or 10 seconds they think it's their God-given right to have a shot at us.
"The whole road can be clear and they'll have a go at you.
"General Holmes Dr is probably worse than normal, but it can happen everywhere.
"If you go further out west they start to throw things at you - sometimes you'll catch an orange or mandarin in the back.''
St George Cycling Club president Phil Bates said Sydney was one of the worst places in Australia for cyclists.
He said a lack of cycling infrastructure and the attitude of some Sydney motorists were to blame.
"Sydney is one of the worst places in Australia for cyclists - it's pretty scary and visiting riders from overseas just shake their heads,'' he said.
"Most of these professional cyclists are doing more than 40,000km on the road each year, so they know what road safety is all about,'' he said.
"They're very conscious of what they need to do and how to go about it, but some people out there are just anti-cyclist.
Cyclists are permitted to ride two abreast in traffic lanes and must remain with one-and-a-half metres of other riders, a police spokesman said.
In another incident involving cyclists on NSW roads, a man and a woman were injured when they were struck by a car north of Newcastle today.
Police say the cyclists were riding south on Bobs Farm Road at Nelson Bay when they were struck a car travelling in the same direction about 6.10am (AEDT).
The male driver, believed to be from Anna Bay, told police he did not see the riders until too late.
Cessnock Acting Inspector Brad Elloy said the car had been travelling about 80 kmh shortly before it he hit the riders.
A woman aged in her 20s was airlifted to John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle with multiple abrasions and knee injures.
A man aged in his 30s was taken by ambulance to the same hospital with minor injuries.
The driver was interviewed and released by police at the scene.
Investigations into the incident are continuing.
- with AAP