Greg Johnstone raises awareness of safe passing laws for motorists and cyclists after mother struck while riding on Oxley Highway, Tamworth

For two weeks, the Johnstone family in Tamworth has been keeping a vigil at the hospital bedside of their mother.

Keen triathlete: Judy Johnstone was training for the world championships before the accident where she suffered serious injuries. Photo: Supplied

Keen triathlete: Judy Johnstone was training for the world championships before the accident where she suffered serious injuries. Photo: Supplied

Seventy-three-year-old Judy Johnstone was training for the world masters but now has a long road to recovery in hospital after the collision between a prime mover and her pushbike, in Tamworth.

“Seven breaks and a brain injury but considering she’s been hit by a prime mover, she’s doing remarkably well,” son, Greg Johnstone told The Leader.

Seven breaks and a brain injury but considering she’s been hit by a prime mover, she’s doing remarkably well. - Son Greg Johnstone

 “She went out for a 20km bike ride and only made it to 13km.”

Police are investigating whether the trailer of the truck clipped the pushbike in the crash on the Oxley Highway, near Westdale, on August 29. No charges have been laid and investigations continue.

Since Mrs Johnstone was rushed to hospital, there has been an outpouring of support for the triathlete – who just finished 10th in her age group in the City 2 Surf and was training to wear the green and gold for her age group in the Triathlon World Championships.

Personal push: Mr Johnstone, pictured with mum, Judy, is hoping to raise awareness of the safe passing rules around cyclists, so that motorists and riders know.

Personal push: Mr Johnstone, pictured with mum, Judy, is hoping to raise awareness of the safe passing rules around cyclists, so that motorists and riders know.

“And she was on track,” Mr Johnstone said.

“Since the accident we’ve had hundreds of people, from all around the world, contact us offering support.

“The triathlete community is very tight and they have offered mum support.”

Mrs Johnstone remains in hospital and will be moved to Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital in the coming days for specialist surgery.

Now, Mr Johnstone is on a mission to bring the good out of something bad and is hoping his family’s experience can help others.

“Cyclists are people too, we run businesses, we work in our town, we have children, we’re involved in our community and sometimes we’re cyclists, so the metre matters,” Mr Johnstone said.

Cyclists are people too, we run businesses, we work in our town, we have children, we’re involved in our community and sometimes we’re cyclists, so the metre matters. - Son Greg Johnstone

In 2016, new laws made it mandatory for drivers to give cyclists one metre of space when passing, if the speed limit is under 60km per hour. Drivers must leave 1.5m if the speed limit is above 60.

Motorists are allowed to cross an unbroken centreline to give cyclists a metre, when passing them, if it is safe to do.

“The metre matters, Mr Johnstone said.

“It can mean the difference between life and death. A cyclist will always come off second best in a crash.

“If it’s not safe to do so, then slow down and pass when it is safe.”

Mr Johnstone has already been in contact with all three levels of government in a bid to also boost infrastructure in Tamworth – something that is being backed by groups like Bicycle NSW.

Police probe: The crash scene on the Oxley Highway at Westdale on August 29. The incident is still under investigation. Photo: Gareth Gardner

Police probe: The crash scene on the Oxley Highway at Westdale on August 29. The incident is still under investigation. Photo: Gareth Gardner

“I believe that Tamworth has very poor cycling infrastructure … there needs to be a coordinated plan for linking cycleways and cycling plans in Tamworth,” he said.

He’s pushing for cycleways to be constructed out to the new Sporting Centre of Excellence, near the Sports Dome in Tamworth, along with lanes out to William Cowper, Farrer, and other spots like the Tamworth Mountain Bike Park  all frequented by kids and pushbike riders.

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