THERE was never going to be a sentence that adequately reflected the pain and suffering endured by the family of cyclist Jason Lowndes, following his untimely death in December 2017.
A talented professional cyclist seemingly destined for better things, Lowndes was riding his bike home from yet another training ride through the undulating countryside south-east of Bendigo when he was struck from behind by a vehicle driven by young Bendigo woman Billie Rodda.
Jason had probably ridden this windy road as often as any other local rider, and was only minutes from home when the crash occurred.
As someone employed in the horse racing industry, Ms Rodda was also well used to the twisting narrow strip of bitumen that winds its way past her place of work.
I remember seeing Jason at the coffee ship a few days earlier after a ride. His trademark grin and easy going manner were at odds to the mental toughness and steely determination that had seen him achieve a top six finish at world championship level in 2016 at Doha, and secured him a contract riding overseas in one of the toughest and most demanding sports of them all.
Jason always gave you a nod, even if he barely knew you, when he saw you out on the road or at a coffee shop, just as a lot of cyclists do.
That day he did exactly that, got on his bike and rode away... probably to do even more training.
A few days later, December 22, 2017 was to prove a day that irrevocably and so suddenly changed the lives of not just one family, but also the broader cycling community.
When I heard the news that a local rider had been struck and critically injured by a car, I was travelling with my family back to northern New South Wales for Christmas.
My mind immediately started to race, frantically trying to work out who, where, how and why.
By the time we got off a plane and picked up our hire car, the news had filtered through that tragically, Jason had passed away.
The shock, sadness and anger that I and many other cyclists felt back then, would have been nothing compared to Jason's family and friends.
How could someone so young, with so much potential and so much to offer, be taken so suddenly and needlessly?
In the days that unfolded, one family's loss became that of an entire community.
Riders flew in from around the world to grieve and pay their respect to Jason and his family.
The Australian Road Race championships in Buninyong a few weeks later became a very public outpouring of grief as riders participated in a tribute ride for one of their own.
When Billie Rodda was charged in relation to Jason's death, the Lowndes family were entitled to think that should the young woman be found guilty, then justice would see their son's life somehow avenged.
But justice was never going to place a value on Jason's life and what had been lost.
Nothing ever could.
The Lowndes family pain and anguish was always going to outlast any sentence imposed by the courts, but they are probably entitled to think a three-year community corrections order, unpaid community work and $2000 fine does not reflect what they have endured, or more importantly, lost.
None of us ever want to be in a situation such as the one that cost Jason his life, through no fault of his own.
And that extends to being the driver placed in a situation where she now carries truth as perhaps the harshest part of her sentence, for the rest of her life.
The laws that protect Victorian cyclists on the road are manifestly inadequate and inferior to those in other states.
Surely, a rider's life is worth the same respect and protections in any postcode and in any and all situations.
There's so much more that needs to be done to improve safety on our roads, and yes, cyclists can and need to do some of the heavy lifting, but that was never Jason's situation.
We need harsher penalties to act as a deterrent, and to demonstrate the intent to provide equal protection for all.
We need to better educate all road users of the dangers of texting, and even talking on your phone while driving.
We need all road users - cyclists and drivers alike, to demonstrate more respect for others and for the law when on the road.
We need police and other authorities to enact the law.
We need better, and safer roads.
Because people, and their safety, must always come first.