Australian Formula One driver Mark Webber has urged motorists to look out for cyclists when driving. Speaking at the launch of the Amy Gillett Foundation in Melbourne on Sunday, Webber revealed he accepted the position as a Patron of the Foundation after being profoundly affected by Amy Gillett's death in Germany last year.
"Like many Australians, I was affected by the death of Amy and injuries to her five teammates, so the chance to support the aims of the Amy Gillett Foundation means a lot to me," Webber said.
A professional driver and enthusiastic cyclist, Webber said he was committed to the Foundation's message that the road belongs to everyone. "If we are to reduce the number of accidents involving cyclists on our roads, then all road users must respect each other's rights, whether they have two wheels or four," he added.
Lorian Graham, one of Amy's injured teammates attending the launch said, "It's not such a big ask for everyone to be more considerate. Cyclists should obey the rules and drivers should be aware of cyclists and exercise caution. What's more important - a couple minutes of your time or someone's life?"
Webber is joined by Australian Tour de France legend Phil Anderson as co-patron of the Foundation. Melinda Jacobsen was announced as the first General Manager of the Foundation.
Former world junior pursuit champion, Jessie MacLean, was announced as the first recipient of the Amy Gillett Scholarship, The Amy Gillett Scholarship, a joint partnership between The Amy Gillett Foundation and Cycling Australia‘s AIS High Performance Program, helps talented female cyclists achieve their sporting and academic goals.
"The ability to pursue my cycling and academic career and help people to remember Amy is a special privilege for me," said MacLean.
Simon Gillett was very happy with the selection of Jessie for the inaugural scholarship. "Jessie shows many of the qualities that made Amy such a great competitor," Simon said. "She is very aggressive on the bike and she has wonderful nature off the bike. She is also studying for her degree which is very important."
Senator, the Hon Rod Kemp, the Minister for Arts and Sport, commented that cycling was not only "one of Australia's truly great high performance sports...but it's a very popular sport and a growing sport amongst Australians in the wider community. Every day, every morning you will see increasing numbers of cyclists out on our roads and this is a good thing. The Amy Gillett Foundation, I think, is playing a very important role in highlighting these reports of various aspects of this behaviour and promoting safety consciousness amongst cyclists and drivers.
"The Australian Institute of Sport and the Australian Sports Commission has provided strong support for our athletes and of course to their families who were affected by this tragedy.
"I must say I was very pleased to hear that Kate Nichols and Alexis Rhodes have returned to competition and I wish the other girls well in their recovery. I had the privilege of seeing Alexis Rhodes ride in the Commonwealth Games and I was asked on the radio to recount some of the things that impressed me most and to think back to last July and to see Alexis riding is quite remarkable," Senator Kemp finished.
The Amy Gillett Foundation has been established to promote safe relationships between cyclists and motorists. With bike sales outnumbering cars - Australians have bought over 1.1 million bikes each year for the last five years - and 35 deaths and 2,500 serious injuries involving cyclists each year, the majority involving a motor vehicle, this road safety message is becoming increasingly important.
Established in memory of Amy Gillett, the Foundation aims to:
- Promote a safe and harmonious relationship between cyclists and motorists
- Provide an annual scholarship for emerging female cyclists
- Assist the five women injured in the crash in Germany
The Foundation will achieve its cyclist/motorist safety objective by conducting marketing awareness campaigns and ultimately education campaigns and research. For more information, visit: www.amygillett.org.au.