This morning hundreds from the Canberra community gathered to pay tribute to British endurance athlete Mike Hall, who died in the ACT last Friday.
Hall was participating in the Indian Pacific Wheel Race, cycling from Fremantle to Sydney, when he was hit and killed by a car on the Monaro Highway on Friday 31 March. He died at 6.22am at the scene of the accident.
“Nobody goes out to inflict harm on anybody when they hop in their car or on their bike,” said Pedal Power ACT’s John Armstrong.
“There is a driver out there who is also grieving as a result of this tragedy.”
Hundreds came together in the spirit of support and solidarity to pay tribute to Mike Hall at dawn on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. There were cyclists and dot watchers, people who knew Mike Hall and many who had never met him. Most who were there to pay their respects knew Mike Hall as a dot on a computer screen, moving from left to right across the map of Australia.
“I know to you he was a hero, but to me, he was just my baby,” said Mike Hall’s mother in a message read by British Deputy High Commissioner Ingrid Southward at the remembrance event. “He would not have liked all of this fuss, because all he was doing was ‘his thing’. The thing he enjoyed the most was riding his bike.”
The cycling community worldwide has expressed grief at the loss of such a well-respected endurance athlete, and we in the ACT cycling community were particularly affected by the proximity of the tragedy. It was important to gather together and share our communal sorrow.
“For many of us who came across it almost by chance, and followed those dots, we are very saddened by his death, and today was very important for us to get together and mark his passing,” said Stephen Hodge of the Cycling Promotion Fund.
“He represents in his tragic death something we all feel very acutely, and that is our vulnerability on the roads.”
We like to think of ourselves as a bike-friendly place, so what happened last Friday morning made a lot of people step back and consider just what riding on Australian roads means now – to us and to the rest of the world.
“It really is a reminder of how even the most experienced person is vulnerable on a bike,” said Jane Seaborn of cycling safety organisation the Amy Gillett Foundation.
“The importance of sharing the road, leaving sufficient space when overtaking and obeying the road rules cannot be stressed enough,” said John Armstrong.
“Everybody should expect the right to get home safely, irrespective of which mode of transport they choose.”
Mike Hall’s partner sent a statement to the gathering from Britian:
“The best tribute we can pay to Mike is to ride our bikes as often as possible, be respectful and responsible on the road and strive for the day when our roads are safe places for everyone to share.”