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Phang calls for 'mutual respect'
LeVaughn Flynn, Staff Reporter
Vaughn Phang, president of the Jamaica Cycling Federation (JCF), is empha-sising the importance of mutual respect between cyclists and motorists on the road after the death of two cyclists in less than a month.
National cyclist Alden Clunis, 20, and Lawrence Watson, 47, died on April 16 and March 22, respectively, after colliding with motor vehicles.
"We want to bring awareness to riders and motorists to share the road," said Phang yesterday.
Clunis, who represented Jamaica at the Carib Cycling Championships in 2006, suffered head injuries last Thursday after crashing in to an oncoming vehicle in Golden Spring. Phang said Clunis sustained serious head injuries and was admitted to the Kingston Public Hospital in intensive care before his body failed him on Wednesday.
Watson, who is affiliated with Pacers Cycling Club and is a member of the JCF, was among a group of six cyclists on the Port Royal Road, a frequent practice route, who were mowed down by a motorist. Watson died on the spot while the others received injuries.
Phang said both cyclists were wearing their protective gear but the impact of the accident was too much.
Phang added that the JCF will be going on a road safety educational campaign.
"We will be going into the high schools and educating children on road safety. We will be educating cyclists, not just the pros, about the road code. We will be sending out releases through the press and we will be working with the National Works Agency in setting up road signs indicating practice routes," Phang highlighted.
"Safety gear (helmets, gloves, eyewear) is also important. In the case of Lawrence Watson, unfortunately he died but the others survived because they had on safety gear."
Before this yearm the last JCF cyclist to be killed in a motor vehicle accident was Christopher Ian McConnell on August 12, 1994 on the Mandela Highway. Since the start of the year there has been 94 motor vehicle-related deaths.
May is recognised inter-nationally as Cycling Awareness Month and Phang stated that on May 21 there will be a 'Ride of Silence' simultaneously in 175 countries.
"This ride is to remember those cyclists who have died or been injured on the road," said Phang. "It will be a 10-mile ride on the Port Royal Road. There will be no talking just riding and it is open to all members of the cycling community - casual and professional."
Meanwhile, Phang is urging all cyclists participating in this Sunday's bikathon at the Fairview Shopping Centre in Montego Bay to practice all safety measures. The bikathon will cater to children as well as adults. Children will compete in the parking lot of the Fairview Shopping Centre while the adults will ride from Montego Bay to Lucea and back. Proceeds from the bikathon will go to a scholarship fund for needy children, said Phang.