By JONATHON HOWE – Manawatu Standard Last updated 12:00 14/01/2010
SAM BAKER/ Manawatu Standard SCEPTICAL: Palmerston North mother Debra Francis says her son was not able to reach speeds of up to 75km while riding his bike, pictured, down the Summerhill Dr hill.
A Palmerston North mother has labelled police claims that her son reached speeds of 75kmh on his bicycle as “bizarre”, saying it was impossible for him to go that fast.
Debra Francis’ 16-year-old son Duncan was riding his Avanti Lightning bicycle down the steep Summerhill Dr hill about 3.30pm on Tuesday, when he was pulled over by a police officer.
The officer told Duncan he was travelling at 75kmh in a 70kmh zone and threatened him with a ticket, before letting him go with a warning.
“He was quite shaken by the experience and quite indignant about the police officer claiming he was doing 75kmh,” Mrs Francis said.
Duncan used his bike regularly but was by no means a strong or competitive cyclist, she said.
“It just seems completely bizarre. There is no way that he could have been going that fast. He values his own skin too much.”
Mrs Francis’ husband took Duncan and his bike to Summerhill Dr to test how fast he could go.
Despite going “hell for leather” down the hill, Duncan could only reach a top speed of 53kmh.
“As far as I’m concerned if you break the law, you suffer the consequences, but there was simply no way he was doing 75kmh,” Mrs Francis said.
“He’s not the type of kid that would stand up to a police officer in the situation, but he was adamant.”
Senior Sergeant Brett Calkin defended the officer’s actions, saying it was perfectly acceptable for him to caution the cyclist.
“I’m sure the officer’s primary concern is the safety of the cyclist,” he said.
“When you get a 15-year-old coming down the hill like that, if he has a blowout, you are looking at serious injury or death.”
The driver of any vehicle using the road, whether it be a bicycle, lawnmower or wheelchair, could be pulled over for speeding, Mr Calkin said.
“You could be coming down Summerhill Dr on roller skates at 75kmh and be issued a ticket.”
There had been reports of cyclists travelling at excessive speeds down Summerhill Dr in the past, he said.
Pedal Pushers retail manager Steve Pedley, an experienced cyclist who rides Summerhill Dr every day, said it was possible to reach speeds in the 70s coming down the hill.
“It would take a determined effort and strong rider to do it.”
He said a more realistic top-end speed down the hill was between 50kmh and 60 kmh, but strong cyclists on bigger hills had been known to reach between 80kmh and 100kmh.