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German cyclist blogged about New Zealand lorry danger just days before her death

19-year-old talks of lack of space given by overtaking lorry drivers

A 19-year-old German cyclist killed by a lorry in New Zealand last week had blogged only days before her death about the danger posed by speeding drivers on the country’s roads posed only days before her death.

Mia Pusch, from Fulda, north-east of Frankfurt, died last Tuesday after being struck by a lorry on State Highway 3 near the town of Bulls in the country’s North Island while on an extended solo cycling trip through Australian and New Zealand.

In her final post to her blog, on 30 December, Mia had written: “When you're a cyclist on New Zealand’s roads, you’re not torn from your daydreams just by dive-bombing magpies, but frequently threatened by an even more common species: truck drivers.”

Her post went on to make a distinction between friendly motor vehicle users, typically travelling in the opposite direction, who would give her a thumbs-up and toot their horns to help make other road-users aware of the cyclist’s presence, and drivers who would overtake her leaving no more than half a metre to a metre’s space and blasting their horns impatiently as they passed.

A director of the haulage firm that owns the truck that killed Mia told The New Zealand Herald that the driver, who was experienced, had been traumatized by the fatal crash and that the company had not previously been involved in this type of incident.

But Greg Hamilton, of cycling pressure group Bike NZ, which in the last three months has gathered 15,000 signatures on a petition calling for a minimum 1.5 metre passing distance, claimed that local cyclists were only too aware of the dangers on the country’s roads, saying: "The amount of comments we have on a daily basis of near misses on New Zealand roads... it's a very clear message that it's a scary place to be."

Mr Hamilton called on the government to put money into educating drivers as part of its plans to develop a national cycleway, saying "New Zealanders are just not good at sharing the road."

Meanwhile, government minister Pansy Wong sent condolences to Mia’s family and friends, but said that she was hopeful that people planning cycle tours of New Zealand would interpret the police investigation into Mia’s death as a sign that the government was serious about road safety.

With a population of 4.2 million, cyclist fatalities in New Zealand are fairly rare – official statistics show that in the decade to 2007, fewer than ten cyclists on average were killed on the country’s roads – so a rider is killed, it tends to make the news.

Last March, another German tourist, Stephan Stoermer, was fatally injured by a lorry just one week before he was due to fly home after a three-year bike rode that took him through 26 countries, while two months earlier, Police Superintendent Steve Fitzgerald, a road safety expert, was killed when he was involved in a collision with a truck as he cycled home.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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skippy | 14 years ago

in 2000 between the Olympic and Paralympic i rode the "sun/herald tour route".as i rode into the start area , one of the m/bike marshalls rode so close to me that the touch put me off the road. his colleagues thought it hilarious that i turned up with skin damage!

these guys were working for a cycle tour, what and how would they behave like in the course of their regular work? there are many who ask me why i do not visit the "TDU", well there is the answer, europeans respect cyclists but there are too many other nationalities who need "common sense" beaten into them.

reading of Amy during the 2005 Tour was heart breaking enough without all the other tradegies that have followed since.

on 18th july i carry the Oz flag upside down, at least people who see it ask for the reason. many respond by joining in, you can't half mast without a flagpole!

follow or visit if you wish to join in making a difference.

G-bitch | 14 years ago

Just what I wanted to hear when planning a 2011 tour of NZ!

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