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Tragic accident turns spotlight on cyclist vulnerability

Following the tragic death of a 13-year-old cyclist in Nicosia, the Traffic Police on Thursday called on all road users to take more care.

The child was on Thursday named as Damianos Pachis from Anayia.

Speaking to state radio on Thursday, the deputy head of Police Headquarters’ Traffic Department, Harris Evripides noted that even hardened policemen found it hard to deal with the death of a young person.

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Revealing more information about the accident, which saw Pachis hit by a car while riding his bicycle along the Episkopeio to Arediou road at 6.30pm on Wednesday, Evripides said the collision had been violent.

“The little boy was thrown off his bicycle and hit the windscreen,” the officer said, adding that there were indications the car had been attempting to overtake the bicycle at the time. Evripides said the child was seriously injured and rushed to hospital where doctors pronounced him dead. “An autopsy will be carried out on Thursday to determine his exact cause of death,” Evripides said.

He added the car’s driver, a 63-year-old non-Cypriot man, had undergone an Alcotest at the scene which found no alcohol in his system. He was taken into custody and, along with other witnesses to the accident, is expected to provide the police with a statement on Thursday morning.

This was the second road fatality involving a cyclist in just a few days. Panagiotis Hadjinikolas, 33, from Zakaki died on September 7 after a crash on the Kantou-Platres road.

“Wider use of bicycles is something of a new phenomenon in Cyprus,” Evripides said, noting there was only so much the police could do to protect vulnerable road users including cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians.

While noting he was not commenting on the specific accident, Evripides said that young cyclists may not have the experience and judgement to be able to adequately protect themselves on the open road. He suggested that parents allow their children, including young teens, to ride their bikes only within parks or, if at least confine them to quieter neighbourhood roads.

“There are still issues even when we are talking about adults who likely have better judgement,” he said, adding that cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists  should do everything in their power to protect themselves.

“There are helmets to be worn, even mirrors that allow you to view the traffic behind you,” he said, also advising cyclists to travel in small groups when possible, two by two and side by side when the road was wide enough.

Evripides also underlined how important it was for all road users to keep their eyes, ears and attention on the road, including avoiding headphones, using their phones, listening to music loud enough to drown out the other cars, and eating and drinking at the wheel.

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