Last Saturday morning, sports-loving legal secretary Tanya Roneberg was riding her bicycle on the Cook Highway at Thomatis Creek, on the north side of Cairns. Around 7 o’clock, she was hit by a car and died. She was 37.
Tanya is the sixth bicycle rider to be killed on far north Queensland roads in the past three years. That statistic tells a grim story, but regular riders will tell you many more – chilling accounts of near misses and aggressive driving. It seems our drivers are not all willing, or able, to share the roads safely with bicycles. This constitutes a very real danger to local cyclists, and to the ever increasing number of visitors who want to ride in FNQ.
We have new bike paths and established bicycle lanes in Cairns, but the cycling community identifies danger zones they say need urgent attention. Local police say driver behaviour has to change. “It’s not good enough to say ‘well I’m a car driver, I own the road’. They don’t,” says Sergeant John Fischer, the officer in charge at the Cairns crash investigation unit.
Tanya Roneberg’s close friend, Emma Miller, believes the best way to bring about change is to encourage drivers to experience our roads the way cyclists do. Emma is organising the Ride for Tanya this Saturday morning – a memorial ride for her friend and a road safety campaign. Emma hopes Cairns and FNQ drivers will join the ride – get out of their cars and ride a bicycle from down-town Cairns to Trinity Beach. By experiencing a few hours or a day on a bike, Emma hopes drivers will understand what it’s like for cyclists. She’s not anti-car or anti-driver – Emma wants to get riders and drivers together to learn from each other, and to make the roads a safer place for all of us.
The Ride for Tanya will start at the Cairns hockey grounds on Rutherford Street at 6:30am on Saturday, May 18 and finish at Trinity Beach. Riders will be accompanied by a police escort.