Cyclists call for better road safety

Cyclist Robin Olbrich said he was lucky to survive a hit-and-run incident in Camps Bay earlier this month.

Cyclist Robin Olbrich is calling for better safety regulations after he was almost killed in a hit-and-run incident in Camps Bay on July 12.

Mr Olbrich, who has been cycling for over 30 years, was on one of his regular cycles from Camps Bay to Hout Bay and back when he was hit from behind and flung in the air; his bike crushed and dragged off under another car.

“It was a beautiful afternoon and as I regularly do, I go for my training rides from here to Hout Bay and back. I probably do those trips maybe three times a week so I’m very familiar with the route.”

He was hit shortly after passing the 12 Apostles Hotel, heading back to Camps Bay, at 5.45pm. He said the road made a gentle turn to the right and was still quite wide.

Mr Olbrich, from Fresnaye, said at the time of the incident he was riding at about 35km an hour.

“I remember being hit from behind, flung in the air and landing on the tarmac. I remained conscious, just after the impact I heard those noise of a bike being crushed. I started feeling excruciating pain.”

He ended up lying on his back on the shoulder of the road.

“The only thing that I could do was lie there and keep still. I started feeling blood poor into my eyes from the wounds.”

He said that within seconds a woman approached him, took down his wife’s details and called the emergency services.

“She kept talking to me for a while and was telling me what was happening,” said Mr Olbrich.

He said when the paramedics arrived they administered a drip. All that could be found of the bicycle following the accident was the front wheel. “I was lying on the tarmac with my helmet on and they couldn’t take it off because they were worried that the fracture could be severe. People driving by gave me a blanket and I just lay there.”

He said after the paramedics administered the medication he was transferred to the trauma unit at the Cape Town Medi Clinic.

Some of the injuries included three fractured vertebrae and he also had to get stitches in his back.

His bicycle was later found underneath a car and given back to Mr Olbrich.

Mr Olbrich said the incident has infuriated other cyclists.

“There was a lot of shock and anger from the cycling community that I’m quite involved in and there were many questions as to how is it possible people could behave in such a way, without taking any accountability.

“I am very conscious of where I ride because I know about these risks. My ultimate mission is to raise awareness of cyclists and to create a much better tolerance between cyclists and motorists. That is my personal reason for taking it further. It’s about making people more aware of their behaviour. Everyone seems to be in a hell of a rush, very aggressive on the road. My view is just take 10 or 15 seconds out of your time and rather slow down, allow yourself the time to pass a cyclist when it is safe. You do have accidents in life but at least take action to rectify it.

“Cyclists are also bad but I’ve ridden in Europe and at least there’s a degree of tolerance. That property (the road) belongs to both users.”

Mr Olbrich said the incident had also affected his work as an executive at a public company and he has been booked off his work for about six weeks.

He said that he would like to see more permanent signage on the route warning road users of cyclists. He also said he’d like to see the council give the Pedal Power Association (PPA) a greater platform to promote safe cycling.

“It is an extremely popular cycling route. People come to South Africa from all around the world to ride this route that I got hit on.”

His wife, Liz, arrived on the scene shortly after the accident. “It’s unacceptable. It’s about being responsible. Too many people get away with causing injuries to pedestrians, it’s a huge problem.”

Captain Keith Chandler, station commander of the Camps Bay police station, confirmed that the incident was under investigation. They would be reviewing footage and compiling witness statements.

He said that there had been several incidents in the same area over the last few months. “We’ve had five incidents in the last two months where cyclists have been knocked over and two of the people died.”

He said that there needs to be more awareness from both drivers and cyclists. “The visibility on the coastal roads have been poor in the last few months because of fog,” said Captain Chandler.

Robert Vogel, CEO of the PPA, said drivers needed to be more aware and take more responsibility on the road. He also said good behaviour on the road needed to be ingrained into children from a young age.

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