‘This guy hasn’t seen me, he’s not going to stop’: Young cyclist describes crash

‘This guy hasn’t seen me, he’s not going to stop’: Young cyclist describes crash

Nick White in Buninyong on Wednesday, and the ute that hit him. Photo: Lachlan BenceCyclist Nick White was doing 50km/h andhad no time to move whenaute suddenly cut in front of him on the MidlandHighway.

“He got halfway across the road and then I started to think, this guy hasn’t seen me, he’s not going to stop,” Nick said.

Seconds later, Nick smashed into the ute with a sickening thud, shattering the vehicle’s windscreen and bouncing overthe bonnet onto hard bitumen along Buninyong’s main drag.

Pictures of the damaged ute that emerged after the collision on the morning of December 7 show the force of the impact when the 20-year-old’sbody struck the glass.

The ute after the collision.

Nick was able to walk away from the smash with only a grazed knee, but his family said it could have been much worse, pointing to the death of another young cyclist, Jason Lowndes, 23, who was killed in a crash while training near Bendigo last Friday.

Jason Lowndes.

Gerard White, Nick’s father, is callingfor tougher penalties to be introduced for drivers who recklessly injurecyclists, saying a minimum passing distance of one-metre needsto be enforced.

Police told Nick that the driver of the ute would be issued with a fine, meaning he would not have to front court, according to Gerard.

“Not all cyclists are angels and it’s everybody’s responsibility on the road to do the right thing,” Gerard said near Nick’s crash site in Buninyong.

“But the penalties for drivers who do not do the right thing are not strong enough.

“As a parent, when you get that phone call after a crash, it’s not a good feeling.”

The White family, who live in Millbrook,knew Mr Lowndes and said his death had sent shock waves through the tight-knit cycling community across the Central Highlands.

Nick’s older brother, Liam, 23, competed against Mr Lowndes only weeks ago.

Liam White (far left).

“He was the same age as me, his deathhits home pretty fiercely, because you’re racing with him week in, week out,” Liam said.

“Only 10 days ago he did his last race at Shimano Super Crit in Melbourne and got third place.

“You don’t think about the things that can happen in such a short period of time.

“He was a wonderful guy, and always smiling.”

A police officer inspects a damaged car that hit cyclist Jason Lowndes, killing the 23-year-old on Sedgwick Road near Bendigo last Friday. Picture: Glenn Daniels

In response to Nick’s crash, his father Gerard contacted Ballarat City Council and asked if more safety signs could be set up around Buninyong ahead of next week’sRoadNational Championships, which manyriders have been training for in the area, including the White brothers.

Councilinstalled two temporary electronic signs this week, warning motorists to look out for riders along the Midland Highway.

Gerard praised council for the move but hoped permanent signs would be erected as cycliststrain in the area year round.

The latest TAC numbers revealed 11 cyclists werekilled on Victoria’s roads this year, representing an increase of 38 per cent on the year before.

Meanwhile, the number of drivers killed in crashes haddropped by 15 per cent, according to the data.

A series of high profile collisions thrust the issue of cycling safety back under the spotlight in Ballarat recently.

In April, Rebekah Stewart, 24,was jailed for six years after she hit a cyclist while driving to buy drugs along Wendouree Parade on Good Friday last year.

Rebekah Stewart.

The victim, father Christian Ashby, was left to die on the road and now has permanent disabilities.

In May, well-known building designer Luke Taylor suffered critical injuries in a collision with a ute at the intersection of Cuthberts and Whites roadson Ballarat’s western outskirts.

A man driving the ute stopped to help Nick following the collision two weeks ago.

“There’sjust too many collisions,” Nick said.

The Courier, Ballarat