Yesterday morning at 6.22am a group of grieving Canberrans held a minute of silence for a member of the international cycling community who died on an ACT road exactly one week before.
Mike Hall was participating in the Indian Pacific Wheel Race, cycling from Fremantle to Sydney, when he was hit and killed by a car on the Monaro Highway, south of Canberra on Friday 31 March. He died at 6.22am at the scene of the accident.
One week later at Nara Park on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, hundreds of people from the ACT community came together to pay tribute to Mike Hall. There were cyclists and dot watchers, people who knew Mike Hall and people who had never met him. Most of the Canberrans who were there to pay their respects knew Mike Hall best as a dot on a computer screen, moving from left to right across the map of Australia.
“I know to you he was a hero, but to me, he was just my baby,” said Mike Hall’s mother in a message read by British Deputy High Commissioner Ingrid Southward at the remembrance event. “He would not have liked all of this fuss, because all he was doing was ‘his thing’. The thing he enjoyed the most was riding his bike.”
The cycling community worldwide has expressed grief at the loss of such a well-respected endurance athlete, and closer to home the news hit the ACT cycling community hard.
“He represents in his tragic death something we all feel very acutely, and that is our vulnerability on the roads,” said Stephen Hodge of the Cycling Promotion Fund.
We like to think of ourselves as a bike-friendly place, so what happened last Friday morning made a lot of people step back and consider just what riding on Australian roads means now – to us and to the rest of the world.
“It really is a reminder of how even the most experienced person is vulnerable on a bike,” said Jane Seaborn of cycling safety organisation the Amy Gillett Foundation.
“Nobody goes out to inflict harm on anybody when they hop in their car or on their bike. We recognise that there is a driver out there that is also grieving as a result of this tragedy,” said Pedal Power ACT’s John Armstrong.
“The importance of sharing the road, leaving sufficient space when overtaking and obeying the road rules cannot be stressed enough.”
“Everybody should expect the right to get home safely, irrespective of which mode of transport they choose.”
Mike Hall’s partner sent a statement to the gathering from Britian:
“The best tribute we can pay to Mike is to ride our bikes as often as possible, be respectful and responsible on the road and strive for the day when our roads are safe places for everyone to share.”
Anne Treasure is the Communications Manager for Pedal Power ACT. She writes on bike riding in the ACT from the perspective of a lapsed bicycle rider who should be cycling more.