Cycle death claimed health care champion

EXCLUSIVE Tayissa Barone
Cyclist Paola Ferroni died when collided with a car in West Perth. Picture: Supplied

The partner of a cyclist killed in West Perth last week says she is horrified at the war between cyc-lists and drivers on Perth's roads.

Associate Professor Paola Ferroni was riding her bike along Kings Park Road on November 5 when allegedly hit from behind by a Toyota Rav 4.

She was taken to Royal Perth Hospital with critical injuries and died on Saturday night.

A celebrated academic, Professor Ferroni was dedicated to improving health care in developing nations.

In 1999, then Curtin University vice-chancellor Professor Lance Twomey invited her to establish its Centre for International Health.

She was director of the centre until 2008 when she retired.

Her partner Associate Professor Rosemary Coates said Professor Ferroni "built it from nothing into a vibrant centre".

Professor Coates said her partner of 34 years was the "quintessential academic, intelligent, contemplative and secure enough in her own place to be generous with others".

She did her PhD in epidemiology at the Australian National University and was always proud of the fact her supervisor was "the father of Medicare" John Deeble.

An avid cyclist, Professor Ferroni was known for riding at any opportunity, including while overseas.

Professor Coates said the couple cycled extensively in Italy on much busier roads than in Perth and were confident riding in the Italian traffic.

"I am horrified at the attitude of Perth drivers," she said.

"There seems to be a war between drivers and cyclists in this city.

"I am also horrified at the behaviour of many cyclists, who do not seem to respect the road rules and are careless of other cyclists and pedestrians and don't seem to value their own life."

Emeritus Professor Jeanette Hacket paid tribute to both Professor Ferroni's academic achievements and her inspirational take on life. Professor Hacket said Prof- essor Ferroni brought an innovative and real-world approach to her work and helped forge international links with other educational institutions that continue to benefit students.

"She looked like a 40-year-old because she was so physically active, a splendid example of someone who kept herself very fit and worked very hard," Professor Hacket said.

"She was a ball of energy and a real motivator."

Three weeks ago, Professor Ferroni finished a 200km walk on Spain's Camino de Santiago despite painful blisters.

Associate Professors Sue Gillieatt and Sue Jones said Professor Ferroni was a wonderful mentor to her students and left them feeling captivated by the "most wonderful educator".