Shivanand Jadhav was an experienced and passionate cyclist when he set out to train for a charity ride, a few hundred kilometres south of Perth.
His widow Archana said he had honed his skills in their home city of Pune, in India, riding 20 kilometres a day to and from work.
So when he took up his favourite sport after their family moved to Perth for Mr Jadhav’s work as an IT consultant in 2017, Mrs Jadhav did not worry.
“Honestly, never,” she said, speaking from India.
When he used to cycle in India I was worried very, very much. The road conditions are not good, there are people who are driving dangerously. The road conditions. [There] I was worried.
“Once he was in Australia I was not even once worried that something like this could have happened.
They have separate cycling lanes here. These are all the things he used to tell me and he used to say ‘okay, I think we should settle here’.”
Driver adjusting sun visor
But on June 3, 2018, what Mrs Jadhav feared worst was realised.
At 11:30am, Mr Jadhav was heading north from Bunbury on the Forrest Highway, wearing reflective gear, and riding in the cycling and emergency lane.
A truck driver, his attention diverted for just a few seconds as he adjusted his sun visor, drifted out of his lane and hit the back of Mr Jadhav’s bike.
The driver was not speeding, nor affected by drugs or alcohol, nor using his phone. He stopped to help, but it was too late.
Last month, the 38-year-old pleaded guilty to careless driving causing death in the Bunbury Magistrates Court.
The defence lawyer told the court the truck driver might not have heard the noise of the rumble strip as he drifted out of his lane.
He said his client had been stricken with remorse and now suffered depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The man received a 2.5-year suspended jail sentence.
Future in Australia gone
Within weeks of Mr Jadhav’s death, Archana and their eight-year-old son were back in India to be with family, but also because their immigration status was dependent on Mr Jadhav.
The family was looking at applying for permanent residency, aware Australia could provide their son with more opportunity.
But that dream ended with the road crash.
Cyclist death numbers of concern
Sarah Dalton from the Amy Gillett Foundation said 34 cyclists had died on Australian roads so far this year, and 44 died last year.
Fatalities Australia WA
2019 34 1
2018 44 5
2017 38 7
2016 35 3
2015 30 4
She said it was difficult to assess accurately whether the nation’s cycling deaths were increasing or decreasing in real terms.
“We know the only acceptable number is zero,” she said.
“Cycling deaths have been an issue for a number of years and it’s concerning to us that it is as high as it is this year.”
She said the safety association had worked with transport associations, also lobbying for uniform safe passing distance laws across Australia.
A year on from the accident, Mrs Jadhav said she felt no anger about the sentence handed to the driver.
Sometimes it has happened to me and my car has gone on a rumble strip. Something like that genuinely may have happened.”
But she urged drivers to realise a few seconds of inattention could be devastating.
“The SMS or the phone rings and we think ‘it’s just a glance’, and you think I can take a look, but in that fraction of a second a life or maybe lives can be affected,” she said.
“Even for the person who is driving, it’s an impact for his or her whole life.