Carnage in Sydney - Angry driver takes out 50-strong cycle pack

Angry driver takes out 50-strong cycle pack
Dylan Welch and Daniel Emerson
May 8, 2008

About 50 cyclists - including Australian racer Kate Nichols, who was injured in a 2005 German road racing crash in which a teammate was killed - have been involved in a hit-and-run crash in Sydney this morning.

The resulting smash forced a semitrailer to lock up, jackknife and screech to a halt behind the cyclists while cars had to swerve to avoid them. Also involved in the crash, at 6.35am on South Cross Drive, south of the corner of Dacey Avenue in Mascot, were former Olympians Ben Kersten, Kate’s father Kevin Nichols, Graeme Brown, Mark Renshaw, Michelle Ferris and Matthew White.

Witnesses to the crash have told the group of about up to 60 professional cyclists were riding south on Southern Cross Drive, just south of Dacey Avenue, Mascot about 6.30am when a driver, agitated with being held up, accelerated in front of the pack and then slammed on his brakes.

One of the riders said the cycling group called itself the Coluzzi Ride after the Darlinghurst cafe it regularly set out from and was made up of "serious, A-grade riders and pros’’.

"A lot of Olympians and professionals when they are in town join the ride, most of them are just higher level amateurs, you have to be pretty fast to keep up,’’ said rider, 27-year-old Nick Cooper.

One of the group said the motorists was “worrying” the rear of the pack, then overtook, pulled in front and slammed on his brakes, giving the riders no time to stop. “Everyone’s slammed into each other … there were broken bikes - wheels busted and wheels snapped - and people lying on the road.”

Mr Cooper said" "{`Three female cyclists took the brunt of the accident, careering into the back of the braking vehicle, several of them being thrown into the air landing on the boot and roof of the car. "Most riders were left with cuts and bruises and at least some damage to bikes, shoes and helmets, including some bikes sustaining thousands of dollars of damage.

"This whole incident really exemplified the escalating road rage towards cyclists happening on Sydney’s roads. "Road rage seems to occur with or without provocation, and regardless of whether cyclists are riding in a law abiding way, or slowing down traffic.

"A perfect example of the enmity were the jeers and taunts of several drivers (more than 3 separate drivers that I noticed) making their way past the aftermath of the accident, despite the fact that a police car and two ambulances were on the scene treating seriously injured people.

"[A] policemen informed us that the back of the group was nearly cleaned up by a semitrailer locking the brakes to avoid the suddenly halting group, with its trailer jack-knifing and sliding towards the group before being skilfully brought under control by the driver, narrowly avoiding potential fatalities,’’ Mr Cooper said. He said he overheard one rider telling a policewoman that his bicycle, which had sustained major damage to its front wheel, was worth $9000.

Michelle Ferris, who was a the front of the pack, described the collision. "We we’re all in the left hand lane and this Ford Falcon came from the middle lane and swerved into the front of the bunch and braked suddenly,’’ she said. "We were doing about 40 kilometres an hour , there was no way for me to go and I went straight into the back of his car and other riders went into me. "My chin [hit] the back window and my bike was totalled.’’

Police - including an off-duty officer who witnessed the crash - quickly closed the lane down while they investigated the incident. It is understood they know who the driver of the car is, and are attempting to contact him now.

It is expected he will be charged, including with failing to stop at the scene of an accident and negligent or dangerous driving. There was no doubt the driver of the dark blue Ford Falcon - described by other witnesses as in his 30s with a female passenger - had done it deliberately, she said.

Everyone was particularly worried about Kate Nichols, given her involvement in the 2005 road crash in Germany in which national team member Amy Gillett was killed, Ferris said. "We we’re all very worried about her. When I saw her she was as white as a ghost still sitting on the ground.’’

Kate’s father Kevin, who was also involved in the crash, said his daughter was at a doctor’s surgery having some serious grazes treated. She also received a bad bump to the head, he said. "Everyone’s slammed their brakes on and slammed into each other … there were broken bikes - wheels busted and wheels snapped - and people lying on the road,’’ another cyclist involved said.

No-one was seriously injured in the crash, but most most cyclists suffered cuts, bruises and some sprains and possible fractures, he said.

The damage bill for the crash is expected to exceed $30,000, the cyclists said.



This is the part that made me really mad:

“He said he saw the face of the driver of the Falcon and his female passenger, who he believed were both aged in their 30s, and said they appeared to find their actions funny.”

what’s the maximum penalty for the charges?
surely it should be permanent licence suspension amongst other things. and charge the passenger with leaving the scene of a crime.

be pretty surprised if it’s permanent suspension…

One word: Appalling.

i don’t think they can do it, but he sure deserves it. make him ride a fucking bike for the rest of his life. that’s justice.

Graeme Brown and Mark Renshaw aren’t even in Australia at the moment! One is going to do the Giro and the other one is riding the Tour of Dunkirk…

Anyhow, this is why i advocate instant justice. I know it isnt agreeable to everyone but when the law allows car drivers to use their vehicle as a weapon and potentially maim or kill and only get a “dangerous driving” charge…well the law is an ar$e.

that is fucked. absolutely fucked. thank god nobody was too seriously injured.

with a bit of luck his insurance company won’t cover him for the damages because of reckless driving and he has to pay the $30k out of his own pocket.

That said, it’s only going to make him and the mates that he tells more angry at cyclists. Perhaps driving should follow some of the same rules as competitive cycling, there should be limits on the amount of testosterone in your body.

i replaced the battery in my car on the weekend after it not working since june last year (the capacity got seriously diminished because i never drove it). I drove out to my parents place yesterday and i forgot how shit being in a car is. you don’t go anywhere fast at all. i’d be pretty fucking angry if i had to do that every day during peak hour both ways, that said I realise it’s all the other motorists who make it slow, not the cyclists that zip past that i never catch up to. i almost feel sorry for the drivers.

I am appalled at this as everyone else.

Leaving aside the serious criminal consequences of this, any insurance company that pays out on a broken bike will turn around and try to recover against this guy.
So he will have potentially fairly serious financial consequences of those claims let alone criminal liabilities.

He clearly deserves everything that is coming his way.

Let’s hope Brendan’s Law bites this guy in the arse.

Doesn’t look like much has changed in the last two years – Sydney Ride of Silence, anyone? :cry:

That made me laugh out loud. I’m not sure if this guy actually feels threatened or terrorised or whether he’s just employing hyperbole and slanted language. I guess perhaps it’s one way to justify using your car as a weapon. assault starts in the mind of the victim.

Quite the opposite. the majority of bicycle riders that I pass are targeting cars. The ride in the roadway slowing down drivers particularly when they know we can’t pass them for safety reasons, e.g. oncoming vehicles, narrow roads. They tend to ride 2 or more abreast whenever they are out with a friend. Even on country roads when I was young we rode single file when cars were on the road.
They should be warned more of their need for courtesy to drivers. If their riding habits didn’t infuriate motorists they would probably be a lot safer on the road from drivers with short tempers.

that post reads like it should be laden with sarcasm.

Imagine if someone drove onto a football field and ran over the Australian rugby team or the mighty saints whoeverwhile they were training, how much shit would you get into,
Cyclists who race on the road dont really have much option as to where they train and I really think the law needs to start reflecting this to some extent. Penalties need to be much greater and there needs to be greater media coverage and representation for cyclists as athletes who need to train somewhere.
Something like a media campaign, like the old AIDS or the diff Cancer Council ones
as there are these big incidents and for each of these there are prob thousands of smaller things…

I hate nothing more than young f#ck heads with absolutely no regard for anyone except for number 1 and who go OUT OF THEIR F#CKING WAY TO HURT AND INJURE PEOPLE, like that d1ck head in PERTH a couple of months ago,
I remember a few years ago doing critical mass in Melbourne and this rider was blocking a roundabout so the cyclist could move through and the bloke in the car nudged the cyclist anyway the cyclist picked up has bike and threw it a the cars window… sometimes I would seriously love to take matters into my own hands but I know it only makes it worse for everyone else out there on pushies…
I need a beer :evil:

On the daily Telegraph website there is a radio exchange on some shock jock show between Ben Kersten and the driver.

Apparently his car stalled/backfired (he couldn’t stick to either one of these scenarios) and come to a sudden stop. Now I’m no expert on driving, but i have stalled many a time (1983 Laser…notorious) and blown a head gasket on the Calder Fwy and my car didn’t come to a sudden stop. I cant think of what could do that even if the tail shaft broke or the gear box seized it wouldn’t just stop.

Ben Kersten was right…“your a lying dog…and a Goose”. After years of riding/reading about this its amazing how malicious some Knob heads can be, even my old man had that attitude till I got collected, and the fat bastard took up riding to work

I saw this on the news last night and it had me so furious. This kind of things needs to be approached as attempted murder, because it’s nothing less.

The only way this kind of thing is going to stop happening is with suitably heavy penalties and a media campaign that makes people realise they’re driving a weapon at 100kph and they need to treat it as such. Put the guy in jail for a few years and let him get a dose of reality.

Either that, or a bit of street justice and burn his car.

Sadly, this is probably the only way to change things. Driver education isn’t working - up the fines so they hurt, more demerit points to get them off the road and send c@nts like this to jail.

Biko is coming for the driver. He’ll fix him up real good.

"Police have interviewed Huss, and last night had laid no charges but the cyclists have intimated they may mount a class action and seek up to $50,000 compensation.

A political row erupted, with the Minister for Roads, Eric Roozendaal, saying it was “not helpful” for cyclists to ride in peak hour traffic. But the Greens MP Lee Rhiannon said he was sending a dangerous message."

Dear Mr Roozendaal. I ride my bike in peak hour traffic every day, to and from my job. Please send me your Z-car and pay for petrol and parking and I’ll stop doing so.

If this guy had done this to a group of pedestrians and accidentally hit them, he’d be strung up by the balls. Apparently cyclists are not really people.

Wasn’t it 6:30am heading out of the city?

Sounds like Sydney to me. :roll: