Call for safe riding after young son knocked down

Maia resident Millie Leckie is concerned about the safety of pedestrians using the shared...
Maia resident Millie Leckie is concerned about the safety of pedestrians using the shared cycleway beside State Highway 88 after her young son Owen Roberts (below) was hit and injured by a cyclist over the past weekend. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
A Dunedin mother is calling for cyclists on the shared cycleway between Dunedin and Port Chalmers to slow down after her 7-year-old son was knocked down by a Lycra-clad speedster.

Millie Leckie said her son Owen Roberts was out with the family for a stroll on the shared cycleway near Maia at 11am last Saturday.

Owen was just entering the track on his scooter when an athletic cyclist barrelled straight into him within a matter of seconds.

Owen received a gash to the forehead and a swollen black eye from the collision.

"It was really challenging — it’s a shared cycleway and it was 11 o’clock on a Saturday morning. You have to expect that there might be families and elderly people using the track, people with prams and babies, you know?"

Owen spent several hours in the Dunedin Hospital emergency department on Saturday, and his mother was relieved it was not worse.

The cyclist was travelling very fast and did not have time to swerve out of the way when she spotted Owen.

"It could have ended up so bad. In incidents like that someone could come out of it with a serious head injury. If he was smaller, it could have been a death."

Ms Leckie said the crash highlighted the need for cyclists to slow down and for better signs to be installed.

Owen’s accident was not the first incident; he had almost been hit a few times before.

"For my son, there has been a lot of anxiety around cyclists passing him on that track because some just don’t slow down, they zoom right past. You get caught off guard a lot."

When you see your child hurt and that kind of crash, you feel sick and your stomach hurts, Ms Leckie said.

"The cyclist was really apologetic and in a bit of shock, she just burst into tears and said there was nothing she could have done."

Ms Leckie would like safety measures such as markers indicating where paths enter the cycleway, coloured paint on the ground around entrances so cyclists with their heads down knew when to keep an eye out for children. and signs asking cyclists to slow down to be installed.

She said if cyclists wanted to speed along the path, they should do so at times when children and families were not likely to be using the cycleway, such as evenings or early mornings.

"I don’t want to see someone seriously injured for changes to come about.

"Changes should be made to keep everyone safe before something horrible happens."