WHAT YOU TOLD US
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once used to be triathlete; I call myself this as my injuries have caught up with me and running is no longer viable for my poor old injured foot.
My usual Saturday routine was to have a warm up ride; I usually rode to the fruit market at Faulconbridge, used the truck turning lane to turn and head down to Penrith to join a group from Panthers Triathlon Club waiting at the tennis courts.
On 5th March 2005, I didn’t arrive to join the group. I have no recollection of that day (nor of the six months that followed) but I have pieced the morning together based on my usual habits, speaking to the police and returning to the site.
A short time after making the turnaround, I was riding in an easterly direction, probably 200 metres before the service station on the right-hand side. The road has no shoulder and visibility is interfered with by the untrimmed bushes that darken the area.
I was hit from behind by a station wagon; I went through the windscreen and over the top of the vehicle leaving part of my right calf muscle in the right headlight. Suffice to say I now have a proud scar on the right leg only partially improved by a skin graft.
I would have lost consciousness on impact or perhaps shortly beforehand. I have been reassured that I will never have a clear recollection of the accident as my brain simply hasn’t ‘recorded’ it. I was placed into an induced coma for ten days whilst my broken leg, shoulder, elbow, ribs and facial bones were mending after surgery. Remarkably, I only have a small scar to the face. My reduced cognitive ability is of more lasting impact and my former job as a partner in a law firm was beyond my abilities and I have retrained in the human resources area but would never hope to hold a position higher than an assistant or officer.
I’ve driven over the area several times since. I find it remarkable that despite the extensive road works along the highway, no consideration has been given to widening this area. Although it has been signposted as a ‘black spot’ the strip has no break down lane, no cycling space, no shoulder, poor lighting impacted my unpruned trees and no warning signs to remind drivers as to the presence of riders. Riding to Katoomba used to be one of my favourite rides but now I’m content to take my hill training on the M7 cycleway as I choose not to ride on roads anymore.
Aside from the brain damage, my injuries have left me with osteoarthritis that is creeping up on me (the gift that keeps on giving??) and I am about to have my fifth operation on my right leg/foot. I’ve retired from running but I’m determined to keep riding as long as I can.
I would cycle more if the road is made safer their for cyclists, but I avoided it since April 2, 2016 as I was forced to ride in the east bound traffic lane because there is no shoulder. I was forced off the road and into the ditch by a vehicle avoiding another vehicle that was turning Right over the Triple Solid White line into the Metro Service Station. As a result I now have two bulging discs in my back which still causes pain to this day.
I am a very keen cyclist and have been cycling on the Mountains for 10 years. I cycle over 150km a week and very rarely ride the section past the service station at Faulconbridge, it is just too dangerous!!
I feel vulnerable and exposed on this short section of the highway. I certainly will not ride this section on my own. If there is a bunch of us tackling it together I may consider it but even then the potential for a major incident is just not worth it. As a lower mountains resident I would love nothing more than to be able to ride safely to Katoomba on a regular basis. Instead I am forced to ... load my bike in the car and drive to a location past the pinch point to enjoy what the upper mountains has to offer.
I would definitely ride the road between the Metro Service Station and the Fruit House on a regular basis if it was made safer…
For the past few years I’ve been commuting weekly between Eastern Creek and Hazelbrook. Being very conscious of my own safety and my family's wellbeing, I take a lot of safer variations along the route to get home but the one place I have no choice but to ride is the section at Faulconbridge after the Service Station to the fruit shop. This is the single most dangerous part of my commute and I dread the several hundred metre stretch and there are zero alternatives if riding a road bike. I now hardly commute.