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Safe cycling ads to air on anniversary

The first anniversary of the death of AIS rider Amy Gillett will be marked by a television commercial aiming to promote road harmony between cyclists and motorists.

Gillett and five of her team-mates were hit by a car while training in Germany on July 18th 2005. The 29 year old was killed in the collision while Louise Yaxley, Alexis Rhodes, Katie Brown, Lorian Graham and Kate Nichols all suffered serious injuries.

The accident was caused when an 18 year old driver lost control of her vehicle and veered across the road between the towns of Zeulenroda and Auma. She was herself badly injured and was subsequently fined 1,440 euros and had her driving licence revoked for eight months.

Gillett concentrated on cycling after a strong career as a rower. She was a member of the Australian women's rowing eight which finished fifth at the Atlanta Olympics, and successfully translated that talent into bike racing.

In 2002 she won the national pursuit championship and was a member of the Australian World Cup cycling teams in 2002 and 2003. Amy was ranked among the world’s top 100 female road cyclists and last year took third in both the Australian time trial championships and in the prologue of the Tour de l’Aude. She was aiming to peak for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in this March.

Her husband Simon, parents Denis and Mary Safe and two of her injured teammates will attend a memorial service near Leipzig on Tuesday. This will coincide with the screening of the first television advertisements on Channel Ten in Australia.

The advertisements have been funded from the Amy Gillett Safe Cycling Foundation, set up to honour her memory and to promote road safety awareness.

Funded by the Amy Gillett Safe Cycling Foundation, the 30-second ad begins with a close-up shot of a man and a woman arguing. The camera then pans out to reveal that she is on a bike and he is driving, highlighting the vulnerability of cyclists on the road.

Foundation general manager Melinda Jacobsen was quoted by the Ballarat Courier as saying that the current relationship between cyclists and motorists was at boiling point.

"Currently, an average of 35 bike riders are killed on the nation's roads each year and 2500 seriously injured, with the majority of these collisions involving a motor vehicle," she said.

"Both sides need to understand the perspective of the other so the road can be shared harmoniously.

"Rising petrol prices and an increasing focus on healthy living have seen a dramatic rise in the number of regular cyclists taking to our roads. The Amy Gillett Safe Cycling Foundation is about providing a new perspective to both cyclists and motorists, rather than apportioning blame."

The Foundation was set up last year with three main aims. They are to provide support for the rehabilitation of Amy's five injured team-mates, to fund and administer a scholarship program for young women cyclists in order to support their sporting and academic endeavours, and to support and promote projects aimed at road safety awareness amongst cyclists and motorists.

Her father Denis Safe said he was very happy with the advertisements. "We're very pleased. The foundation is doing a good job with a lot of good work going on behind the scenes.”

Amy Gillett was also commemorated earlier this year with a community ride on Saturday, January 7, in Geelong, Victoria. There was a very strong turnout of almost 3000 people, including AIS members and professional riders

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