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Son of late cyclist blames killer roads

Byron Shire resident Colin Hadwell was fatally injured in a cycling crash on Monday.
Byron Shire resident Colin Hadwell was fatally injured in a cycling crash on Monday. Facebook

UPDATE 12.50pm: UNSAFE road conditions are being blamed for the death of a former Byron Shire employee whose job involved reporting on road conditions.

Aidan Hadwell, son of Byron Bay cyclist Col Hadwell, 70, who died after crashing his bicycle last week, blamed the council 's claiming it operated in a reactive rather than a proactive and responsible manner.

While police are still investigating Mr Hadwell's accident on Bangalow Rd on July 4 and calling for any witnesses to come forward, Mr Hadwell said it is a sad irony his father had worked for the Byron Council as a town planner and had reported on its road network.

His family who erected a large roadside sign suggesting potholes in the area were only fixed after the tragedy, was quickly removed by council who then said they would repair the pothole, fuelling suggestions on social media their response was too little too late.

Mr Hadwell said the Byron Shire had a duty of care to inform and protect the public if roads were not safe.

He said if council is aware of unsafe conditions, then their duty of care is to inform the public and moderate the capacity of the road.

"If the road is no longer suitable for pedestrians, bikes or heavy traffic, then there is need for its use to be modified," he said.

"With the government looking to attract more and more visitors to the region, they have not kept up with the roads to ensure people's safety.

Meanwhile, Col's good friend and fellow rider, Jeffrey Garratt, 66, also worked for Byron Shire.

"I worked with Col from Christmas 1989 until he retired," he said.

"I was a road designer with council and we never had the funds to build adequate roads with shoulders. "

Mr Garratt said the death of his friend means he'd lost a much loved cycling mate.

"After he retired he rode often from Byron Bay to Mullumbimby to visit us at council," he said.

"Soon we were going to do the first ride of bicycle rail trail."

He said Col had solid experience riding for five weeks across Germany, the challenging 150km Ortgo Central Rail Trail in New Zealand and they rode together in Europe.

"He was a very good rider, always talked to everyone and gentleman - he waited for me at the top of hills when we did the a time trail event."

According to Cycling NSW chief executive, Phil Ayres, the NSW government is falling behind other states when it comes to respecting cyclists.

"Respect amongst all road users is essential for everybody safety," he said.

"Governments of all levels and other cyclists must work together to make sure the roads are maintained in good condition and safe for its most vulnerable users who are the cyclists."

Mr Hadwell be farewelled on Friday morning at the Byron Bay Surf Club where he was an active member for many years.

 

WEDNESDAY 6am: WHEN a champion cyclist like Australian BMC rider Ritchie Porte crashes in the Tour de France, there's an immediate debate and response from race organisers, participants and teams about probable causes.

Whether it was human error as Porte admits or due to an infrastructure issue such as a pothole, hard questions are asked and a speedy and transparent response by those in charge of the course is expected to provide accurate answers and help avoid similar incidents in the future.

But when it comes down to an ordinary person hitting the tarmac, such as Byron Shire resident, Colin James Hadwell who was tragically killed last week in a cycling crash east on Bangalow Rd, Byron Bay, there are no speedy answers or quick fixes 

Mr Hadwell's son Aidan, 37, said his father taught him compassion and he is simply grateful for medical personnel who attended the accident who kept Col alive allowing extra time for the family were able to spend with him.

"The first responders gave the family a beautiful gift in keeping him alive and we were able to be with him and let him go (at the hospital)," he said.

"Dad wan an experienced rider, he was riding behind his mate Robert Woollcot just the two of them out for the pleasure of riding a bike, it's only just up the road from our house and dad knew the roads around here better than anyone."

Repair not revenge

However, rather than seeking revenge, Aidan said he simply wanted to ensure no other family had to face what his had gone through over the past few days.

"I personally would like to see come out of this no heads rolling in council, it's everyone's fault who lives in this place who had allowed the shire of shirking their prime responsibility of maintaining their services," he said.

Aidan said he felt perhaps a vehicle may have passed too close, forcing his father into a pothole which then cause him to hit the road.

"This was an avoidable incident, so no two ways about it, Col would never have found the pothole on his own, ask any cyclist around here, they spend a good deal of time on the roads avoiding potholes," he said.

"Byron Shire's job is not to make the town look pretty but to maintain the necessary services, there are shires all around us who have plans around to manage their resources adequately, so my hope lies in getting the public to stop putting their heads in the sand and make these people accountable to make good decisions."

Witnesses asked to contact police

Officers from Richmond Crash Investigation Unit attended the accident scene and are investigating the circumstances.

On Tuesday a police spokesman said at this stage police are still investigating why Mr Hadwell crashed when he was about 650m from the intersection with Coopers Shoot Rd.

The spokesman said police are still keen to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the incident and ask them to call the Ballina Police Station.

Local riders call Byron's roads a disgrace

However, according to local riders, the state of the Byron Shire's roads are a disgrace and could well be a significant factor in Mr Hadwell's untimely death.

Ballina Masters Cycling Club secretary, Andrew Downey, said members regularly cycle on roads all around the region and more maintenance and repair work must be done to ensure people's safety.

"Of the three local shires, Byron's roads are in the poorest condition," he said.

"I know they are working on Ewingsdale Rd, but it's not where cyclists doing training tend to ride as they don't have much shoulder and the bike paths are not conducive for other than leisure of recreational cycling."

To the man who serviced his bicycles, Mr Hadwell was a true gentleman of the road.

True Wheels bike shop owner David Martin, said while he was not a competitive rider, Mr Hadwell was a keen recreation cyclist and had undertaken many events in this country and overseas with his great mate Jeff Garrett.

"I've been preparing and working on his bicycles for 15 or so years," Mr Martin said.

"Col was always happy, was always a total old-fashioned gentleman with old-school chivalry, his passing has left a big hole in everyone's heart."

Shire unable to comment

A spokesperson for Byron Shire said they could not comment as the matter is the subject of a police investigation.

However, the spokesperson said the allocation of $146,000 for Bangalow Road in the Byron Shire Council 2017-2018 Operational Plan is for a project on Bangalow Road/Broken Head Road, south of St. Finbarr's Catholic Primary School.

"Council has in fact allocated $650,000 in the Capital Works Schedule for road reconstruction of Bangalow Road at Hayters Hill where we will be widening and reconstructing the road pavement, installing new safety road signage and providing some drainage upgrades," she said.

"This work will be undertaken in 2017/18 (and) the project design is currently being reviewed and Council hopes to commence construction later this year."

Byron Council has been working to improve roads with significant increases to annual roads expenditure from $4M in 2012 to $16M in 2016.

In its 2017/18 budget Council allocated $37,388,200 for capital works on local roads, an increase of $25million from what was spent in 2016/17. 

According to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) In the 12 months to May 2017, five cyclists lost their life on NSW roads, including Hans Battaerd last November.

Topics:  cycling cyclist editors picks northern rivers community northern rivers roads



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