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Series 2, Episode 1 Thirsty Bird 01 Sep 14 00:53:52

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Sinister turn in hit and run

Published: 6:37PM Sunday October 25, 2009 Source: ONE News

Police investigating the hit and run death of a cyclist west of Auckland are looking into reports of similar incidents in the area.

Some of the reports involved an almost identical vehicle to the one that killed Graham Robinson and the possibility that a motorist is repeat targeting cyclists has the cycling community up in arms.

Sunday rides will never be quite the same for Gervase and Debbie Barnes who have had close calls with a white ute twice in two weeks.

"I think we're all feeling like we've got targets on our backs at the moment," says Debbie.

Gervase told ONE News the vehicle came in very close at high speed with the horn going.

One of the near-misses happened on Peak Road, north-west of Auckland where Robinson, 62, was killed by a white ute a few days ago.

The impact sent Robinson over his handlebars and caused fatal head injuries.

The driver never stopped and police say it doesn't look like an innocent accident.

"There's several hundred metres of open road downhill that the motorist had to take to easily overtake the cyclist, and that hasn't occurred...in fact he's merged towards him," says Detective Mark Palma.

Police have taken statements from several cyclists who have had similar experiences in the area, some also involving a white ute.

"Certainly we would consider the incidents all being connected," says Palma.

And the scenario has the cycling community up in arms.

"That is absolutely terrifying. To me that means we've got a serial murderer on the roads," says Barbara Cuthbert from Cycle Action, Auckland.

Currently there are guidelines about how much room motorists should give cyclists but cycling groups now want it written into road legislation.

"1.5 [metres] should be the required dimension when you pass a cyclist...it's in the road code, so we're not asking for something unreasonable," says Cuthbert.

The cyclists are shaken but determined not to be forced off the road. They say they will be as careful as they can, follow the road rules, and hope that motorists will do the same.

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