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The Human Cost

Written By: - Date published: 5:26 pm, March 23rd, 2013 - 57 comments
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The funeral was a very full house and hard. You may have even seen it on Campbell Live;  The Herald gave it front page this morning.  Now comes the hard part, surviving the aftermath, the years with a hole in your heart, the family with a missing part.

We never really had a cycling culture in this country; for a very long time it was marginalised as a way of getting kids to school or a fringe sport for guys with shaven legs. That’s changed. There are now thousands of people cycling in various forms, but the rest of New Zealand hasn’t caught up to this and as a result we kill about 10 cyclists a year and seriously injure hundreds. This is going to change. That’s why this tragedy for this family has seen so much attention.

I must add that the family is pretty ambivalent about this. It’s not at all comfortable having your grief and pain made public like this. They certainly do not want to be seen to be attention-seeking. That’s an anathema to them.

I spoke with several of Jane’s companions, those who were there at her brutal end.  One of them told me how he spent six weeks in France on roads just as narrow and busy as here … and felt safe the entire time. The difference was simply that in much of Europe drivers and cyclists are understand each other. Drivers stop, and give cyclists space, and share the road with respect.

In France the driver that killed Jane Farrelly would likely have held back, waited 20 or 30 seconds until he had the visibility and space to overtake safely. Instead of squeezing past as he did with no room for anything else to go wrong.

We understand that pedestrians and cars need different spaces, different infrastructures and different rules. But we get it wrong when we pretend that bicycles are just slow cars. They’re not. While of course it’s obvious that cyclists are exquisitely vulnerable to tons of car and truck, their primary defense is their ability to manoeuvre and avoid danger while they are still moving. This means they behave differently to cars on the road.

A stationary bicycle is effectively a pedestrian with shackle on his legs … a sitting target. This is reason why cyclists instinctively avoid stopping wherever possible, it’s simply safer to keep moving. Especially at intersections where they’ll find all manner of devious ways of doing so. Which rather offends motorists who have to stop for a red light.

The other crucial areas of vulnerability are “squeeze points”; places along the road where the shoulder narrows and forces the cyclist into conflict with other traffic. Squeezes can be caused by bridges (one of these came within millimetres of killing me decades ago), roundabouts (which killed a senior police officer at Petone last year) or parked cars (which killed Jane Bishop on the Auckland foreshore three years ago.)

Experienced cyclists deal with this by “owing the road”; they move right out into the traffic lane and force the vehicles behind them to slow down and wait until they’ve passed the squeeze. By doing this they remove the opportunity for other traffic to overtake unsafely. Of course while this is the safe thing to do, New Zealand drivers are infuriated by the inconvenience of being slowed down like this and respond badly.

And of course there is the ever present risk of being ‘doored’. My rule is that if you can see someone in the driver seat you have to assume they’re just waiting for you to get into range before they spring their door into your path. Unfortunately the design of modern cars makes it’s almost impossible to reliably see if there is someone sitting in the driver’s seat; this means that when cycling past a row of parked cars you need to be riding in the traffic lane. More conflict and aggro results.

We need to start sorting these issues out. While the lycra-clad sports crowd are the most visible segment of the cycling community, there are the mountain bikers (who use roads too), and the long-distance touring community who’ve all been either hurt or know someone who has been. And the biggest change in the last few years has been the massive rise in commuter cyclists who are now by far the biggest portion of new sales in the industry. More exciting still is the new wave of efficient and effective electric cycles on the horizon which hugely extend the scope and range ordinary people can use bicycles for.

And you only have to look at the new wave of entirely new high-tech personal vehicles that sit very neatly in the gap between bicycles and cars. All of these have the potential to revolutionise our city traffic problems and substantially reduce fossil fuel consumption.

But when people see how Jane died they’re going to say, “too dangerous for me”. And this is pretty much the point where the self-defeating ‘Remuera tractor’ syndrome kicks in.

Cycling in this country is emerging from the ghetto it’s long inhabited. Many of us want to cycle more often for many reasons. We have many visitors who know New Zealand as a terrific cycling destination, with a rapidly developing network of highly popular cycle trails and tourism related activities. But we’ve got a very dirty reputation for safety that is diminishing and tarnishing this potential.

There are two political aspects to this we need to be thinking about. One is a review of the road-code to take proper account of the realities of using a bicycle on modern roads.  The other is lifting the priority we place on walking and cycling infrastructure. Even painting green strips on the shoulders and sweeping it clean of debris regularly is a useful starting point; at the least it would lend a symbolic visibility to cyclists, demonstrating to motorists that they have same status and right to be on the road as they do.

57 comments on “The Human Cost”

  1. Ad 1

    I hear that Cycle Action Auckland led by the redoubtable Barbara Cuthbert is making good inroads into the culture of Auckland Transport. The sheer rudeness of drivers in Auckland is something to behold, even for other New Zealander let alone visitors.

    We know now that the school travel plans and cycling pathways and programs, taken together, make a small measurable difference to lowering peak traffic flows.

    And it is also clear that safety is the one issue stopping Auckland from reaching that tipping point into cycling as normal and driver-behaviour-changing.

    Cycling is not only the new Golf, it is stronger competition to oil than electric cars.

    There is a huge task in Auckland, and it seriously must happen. Cycle Auckland’s own website is excellent.

    But safety will increase only somewhat with sound infrastructure. RedLogix is so right that public attitude is where the real breakthroughs will be made.

  2. Raymond a Francis 2

    I agree, education and a law change that makes it clear riders have all the rights of a car user to use the road are required
    I am not sure if with rights there should be tax obligations because after all most riders own cars but that is something that should be given some thought
    The difference between here and France just has to be ridden to be believed, there is more chance of being hit by a bike than by a car

    • Raymond, the right of ordinary use of a public road is a common law right, it is not a right that is conferred by licence. As well as defrauding people of that right, the state also lies about the nature of common law.

    • Ad 2.2

      Rights are less useful than courtesy in any daily vehicle vs bike situation.
      Bicycle riders are about 27 litres of blood in a sac, versus at least half a tonne of steel etc. There’s no point talking rights there, only harm mitigation.
      Rights are what you argue afterwards with the cops, or with the Coroner.

      • rosy 2.2.1

        “Rights are less useful than courtesy in any daily vehicle vs bike situation”

        +1. And understanding leads to courtesy. Where I live, where less than 10 percent of commuters drive their cars to work, a fair number of drivers are cyclists at least some of time – or have family members who are regular cyclists. Therefore, when people do get in their cars they generally have a fair understanding of what it means to be a cyclist – where the choke points are, how a cyclist will react if a car door opens, an understanding of why a cyclist may pull out into the road (especially an inexperienced cyclist). It means they are more aware and more courteous towards cyclists and are ready for unplanned manoeuvers.

        This is aside, of course, from the roading network being set up to accommodate cyclists.

    • lprent 2.3

      The majority of the road user charges are levied for the maintenance of roads. That is why heavy axle trucks are levied more than cars and cars more than motorcycles – because they cause different levels of wear. On that basis the collection costs for the wear and tear that bicycles put on roads would far exceed the revenue.

      Similarly the ACC levy. Virtually all serious accidents for cyclists are caused by cars and trucks moving at speed on unprotected humans. Death is at least as common as injury in accidents. Besides, we’d have to start imposing direct charges on pedestrians who have the same issue of moronic drivers trying to kill them.

      This is all obvious if you bothered to think for a few moments rather than havng the reflexive knee jerk reactions.

  3. karol 3

    Too many car drivers take no notice of others on the road. When I’m driving I have often been amazed at people getting in and out of the driver’s door of their car, without checking if there is any traffic approaching from behind their car.

    When I’m getting in and out of my car, I always check for traffic and try to wait until it’s clear before stepping into the road way.

    A cycling tax might be an option if there were more off-road, dedicated cycleways. Cycles don’t cause so much wear to roads. And most cyclists also have cars.

    PS: I saw the Campbell live segment. It was heartbreaking.

    • McFlock 3.1

      Too many road users in general fail to appreciate what they’re doing. Because it’s routine, it becomes habit. I’m reminded of a driver who was talking about how she got given a ticket for failing to stop at a stop sign just around the corner from work. She ALWAYS stopped at that sign. She popped down to the station to watch the video, and was gobsmacked to see herself swan happily around the corner with barely a tap on the brakes.

      Hell, I’ve noticed myself zoning out once or twice on the evening commute, and I’m on a wee scooter!

    • Steve (North Shore) 3.2

      How come only cyclists only hit those doors, how many car doors get smashed off by other cars/vehicles?

      • McFlock 3.2.1

        because the cycle lanes are directly adjacent to the carpark, then the road.

        Not staying in the road is stupid driving, but swerving a cycle-lane’s length further out is a relatively uncommon level of stupid.

        One idea floated here in Dunedin is to have the cars park on the side of a road, THEN the cycle lane, then the footpath. Idea being drivers are more likely to look before opening if the traffic has a higher likelihood of squishing them, and the passenger who opens the door without looking puts the cyclist into the footpath, not under a truck.

        Still an intermediate solution, though – Dn has shite design, with a state highway going straight through the city centre and no truck bypass. Pedestrians walking around town missing with 50/60kph log trucks. In 50 years time it’ll be like that 1930s photo of the skyscraper construction workers having lunch on an I-beam xxx storeys up, ne’er a harness or rope in sight.

        • Daveosaurus 3.2.1.1

          The problem in Dunedin isn’t the town design, it’s the topography. To get trucks out of the main arterials, you’d need to either send them along the harbour reclamation (which would necessitate them winding their way through the student area to get back on to the northern motorway) or build a new motorway through Wakari from the top of Kaikorai Valley (which would necessitate the bowling of hundreds of houses and construction of a prohibitively expensive 500m or so of viaduct over the Leith Valley so it can join up with the northern motorway).

          In any case pedestrians not wanting to mix with log trucks should use the traffic lights. That’s what they’re for.

  4. Pascal's bookie 4

    Good post Red, thanks.

  5. Benjamin B. 5

    Couple of years ago I was living in Kelburn. As the car was off for repairs I cycled up to the Karori MTB park. Pretty weird concept, I know, driving to go cycling, but I had watched drivers from the safety of the driver’s seat before, and I knew it was better.

    Those twelve KM were just plain *horrifying*.

    Nobody at all, it seemed, knew how to deal with a cyclist. Taxi drivers squeezing me. 1983 Pajero drivers acting like they owned the road, for $1500 or so. One middle aged driver didn’t see me until I screamed… at least he apologised.

    I haven’t cycled here on the road since. Actually I haven’t cycled at all last year, or this year. And I’ve pretty much grown up on the bike… in central Europe.

    Sad, ain’t it.

  6. In Holland the law is simple. You hurt a cyclist or a person on foot you’re fucked. No matter how it happened or if the cyclist was “at fault”, you’re screwed because you where the one wielding a deadly weapon.

    And while accidents still happen it is a rare thing and considering that just about everyone in Holland has a bike and in Amsterdam center you have to drive at almost bike speeds that is pretty awesome.

    Not a lot of drivers will use violence or use their car as a weapon when even an accidental tap with a car is already considered and assault. The banker who broke this poor guy’s legs with his car in Auckland would have gone to jail for attempted premeditated first degree murder with a deadly weapon.

    • QoT 6.1

      I’m rather comfortable with this approach.

      • RedLogix 6.1.1

        Yes I was going to mention this as well. One of the cyclists I was talking with brought this European legal model to my attention as well.

        My first reaction was similar to yours; it’s quite different to our rule driven model and replaces it with a privilege driven model. In other words the most vulnerable road users, pedestrians and cyclists are the most privileged, while those who want to use larger and more dangerous vehicles are the least privileged.

        It’s a different mode of thinking … but arguably it works.

  7. Colonial Weka 7

    “One is a review of the road-code to take proper account of the realities of using a bicycle on modern roads. The other is lifting the priority we place on walking and cycling infrastructure.”

    Completely agree, and would add that NZTA should be doing major advertising campaigns to change the culture. re the infrastructure, it amazes me that so much road works is being done now with virtually no thought for the increasing numbers of people riding bikes.

    I do think that changes need to happen within the cycling communities as well. I used to live in a town with lots of cyclists – sports, recreational and commuting. The sports cyclists in particular were known for upping the ante, by riding in large groups and often ignoring car drivers, and then responding aggressively when the issue was raised in the community (not all sports cyclists, but there was an increasing culture of this). Understandable in some ways – it was a response to the lack of awareness of car drivers, but it was hardly helpful. It was also about reclaiming the roads in a screw you kind of way.

    I had cyclists wave me to pass them when on narrow windy roads, sometimes in situations I considered dangerous (I don’t ever take directions from cyclists now on what I should be doing with my car). And while many cyclists in groups would make an effort to let cars pass, I also saw groups basically not give a shit and create potentially dangerous situations as a way of staking their claim to the road. The cyclist community was very aware of this because you would also see the cyclists that went out of their way to let car drivers know they were trying to do the right thing.

    Off-road, conflict between recreational cyclists and walkers was also on the rise, because cyclists were treating tracks as fast lanes not walking ones with elderly, children and other slow people on them. Point being, I suppose, is that NZ has a very macho culture and it’s probably not surprising to see that arising within parts of cycling communities too. Perhaps it’s as much about that macho culture as it is about car driving. And maybe we’re just not very good at sharing.

    • RedLogix 7.1

      I also saw groups basically not give a shit and create potentially dangerous situations as a way of staking their claim to the road.

      It helps to bear in mind that a large group of cyclists is not necessarily ‘organised’ like an creature with a central nervous system. It’s just a bunch of individuals attempting to keep a place in the formation. This means that changing the shape of the formation is not an instantaneous process; it takes anything up to a minute for a bunch of 20 to move from two-abreast to single file.

      While on a winding, narrow or hilly road the dynamics of road width, the speed of each cyclist, on-coming and following traffic can be changing every few seconds.It’s not easy to keep everyone happy.

      For the most part large groups are not very common and other road users really haven’t got too much to grumble about. After all when did you last read of a cyclist knocking a car over and killing the occupants.

      • Colonial Weka 7.1.1

        They were pretty common where I was living and it was a well known issue in the community, alot of people were talking about it and what the possible solutions were, cyclists and motorists alike.

        I take your point about large groups and flow. I think it was more the groups that thought that it was ok to take up the whole lane as a matter of course (presumably because they wanted to talk to each other when biking), which force a reduction in the speed of any traffic that came up behind and expected them to wait while the cyclists thinned out to let the cars past. Only to find another group a bit further ahead doing the same thing, because the cyclists had split into two groups naturally.

        One of the problems there is that the cars were using the road to move from A to B, whereas the cyclists were using the road as a socially fun way to train. Those two things aren’t particularly compatible, and I don’t know what the solution is.

        “and other road users really haven’t got too much to grumble about”

        I’m not so much having a grumble as another road user, as pointing out some of the problems that are arising beyond the ‘motorists are ignorant bullies’ meme. It’s going to take quite alot to change the cultural attitudes in NZ IMO. Looking at the complexities and bringing different road users together to find solutions seems important.

  8. Nick K 8

    I cycle regularly, and go out for 2-4 hours on some weekends. Your summation about “owning” the road is correct. That’s what I do in certain circumstances.

    But what most cyclists have to do is stop running red lights, and generally obey the road rules. Nothing pisses off motorists more than that and the last thing cyclists need is pissed off motorists.

    • RedLogix 8.1

      But what most cyclists have to do is stop running red lights, and generally obey the road rules.

      But why obey a rule that inherently makes you less safe? You try standing in the middle of an intersection with a large metal chair shackled between your legs.

      I’m not advocating the wholesale ignoring of the road code, but I do believe they could be revised to work better for both cyclists and motorists.

      • Colonial Weka 8.1.1

        Do you have specific suggestions RL? eg the waiting at the red lights thing, how could that change for the better?

        • RedLogix 8.1.1.1

          I think that the Road Code needs to recognise that bicycles will behave differently to cars. The critical instinct is NOT to stop, to keep moving and maintain defensive manoeuvrability.

          Traffic lights serve cars well because it is in the interests of both the moving and the stopped queue to take turns at using the conflict space in the intersection. When two or more cars collide at speed the energy involved always ensures a dangerous or lethal outcome. By contrast the amount of stored energy in a moving bicycle is much lower; the consequence of a collision would normally be quite modest.

          More importantly cyclists are inherently defensive drivers. When approaching an intersection they are usually moving at around 5-15 km/hr. They have excellent visibility and hearing in all directions and with experience can sense what other vehicles are going to do. It’s hard to convey this road-sense without actually having learnt it yourself.

          Essentially if there is a safe space for a cyclist to use without stopping, then they should be allowed to take it regardless of the phase of the light. No sane cyclist is going to ‘run a red light’ across the path of an oncoming truck. That’s just suicide.

          Therefore if there is no oncoming traffic, or there is a pedestrian phase with plenty of space, or there is a left hand turn with no traffic conflict … then it is safer and more efficient to allow cyclists to proceed with care.

          That’s the difficulty here. The Road Code is formalised into a set of rigid rules designed for cars and trucks in order to manage the dangerous relationships between them. Cycling is a much more fluid activity where self-responsibility and self-management is the dominant theme. This is a scenario where ‘writing rules’ does not work well.

          I’m specifically NOT suggesting that bicycles be given the right to ignore traffic lights and cross intersections willy-nilly regardless of the traffic. That’s utterly dangerous and unfair to motorists. But there is scope to introduce some flexibility to allow cyclists to proceed against a light phase as long as they do so with care and in a safe manner.

          Start small and allow cyclists to do left-hand turns or utilise a pedestrian phase. Get people used to the idea for a decade or so and see where it leads.

          • Colonial Weka 8.1.1.1.1

            “More importantly cyclists are inherently defensive drivers. When approaching an intersection they are usually moving at around 5-15 km/hr. They have excellent visibility and hearing in all directions and with experience can sense what other vehicles are going to do. It’s hard to convey this road-sense without actually having learnt it yourself.”

            That’s too broad a generalisation. I think some experienced cyclists have that, but I also see cyclists who are largely unaware of what is behind them until I am very close.

            Skateboarders are the most aware road users I see.

            The defensive driving one is important. I did a defensive driving course at high school, within a year of getting my licence. I still remember things drummed into me from then (eg being aware of people getting out of stationary cars and of being in a stationary car and opening a door into bike or other traffic). It’s gobsmacking to me that most people don’t drive defensively now. Do they even teach that now?

            • Colonial Viper 8.1.1.1.1.1

              That’s too broad a generalisation. I think some experienced cyclists have that, but I also see cyclists who are largely unaware of what is behind them until I am very close.

              Skateboarders are the most aware road users I see.

              There are some cyclists around who are unpredictable, never acknowledging traffic around them, possibly quite oblivious situationally. Mind you…a lot of drivers are like this too (but they are in a far less vulnerable situation).

              I have no problem with skateboarders etc sailing down roads in front of my vehicle or behind my vehicle…as you say they pay a hell of a lot of attention to what is going on around them.

    • NickS 8.2

      Red light + left hand turn + bike + enough space to safely insert = take it for me.

      And with the traffic light set ups in CHCH, at night you often have to go through red lights if there’s no detector in the bike lane. Although at a low enough speed you can trick the detectors in the car lane.

      But otherwise, main threats on the road where I am are drivers straying into the bike lane, opening doors and roadworks. Bealey Ave being the worst of the lot. Cyclist wise, it’s usually idiots riding 2 or more abreast (I have to resist the urge to kamikaze them on my bike…) or flying through yellow lights, along with the usual “free spirits” not wearing helmets (relative risk reduction – it isn’t quantum mechanics kids….).

      Then there’s plain old bad road design, where cycle lanes are either absent or badly placed, along with homicidal road workers who put signs right in the bike lane despite the presence of large footpaths…

      • Colonial Weka 8.2.1

        Most roads I’ve driven on don’t have cycle lanes.

        “Red light + left hand turn + bike + enough space to safely insert = take it for me.”

        What does that mean?

  9. Excellent post RedLogix.

    There is also a ‘knock-on’ effect for pedestrians. I walk about 15 minutes to the bus each day and same again coming home. I live close to the centre of Christchurch which means I walk along and cross busy streets.

    As a pedestrian I frequently (four to five times a week) have the experience of a cyclist, completely unheralded (and unheard), coming from behind and passing me on the footpath. I have been hit on the arm twice and numerous times have been within inches of a serious collision (the cyclists make the gamble that I won’t be unpredictably swaying half a foot left or right as I walk along at pace loaded with my work bag, bag with my good shoes in, etc.). Some of the cyclists are schoolchildren.

    But, I used to be a cyclist until the age of 30 when I got my first car (I no longer have one though my partner does). I fully understand why cyclists use the footpaths – as you said, it’s a survival thing. It’s safer for them to use the footpath on the roads that I walk along. That makes it more dangerous for me but I don’t begrudge them their decision one bit. After all, there are very few pedestrians on the footpaths I tread.

    When my family first arrived in New Zealand from the UK (via Australia) Mum and Dad were always saying that they couldn’t understand why New Zealanders would get in their car just to go down to the corner dairy.

    In New Zealand, there’s something about the ‘right to drive a car anywhere’ without considering others that seems engrained, presumably for socio-historical reasons. Urban areas have always been built with the car as a priority, like the US.

    • NickS 9.1

      I support the “clothesline” method for dealing with suicidal, high speed footpath riders :3

      Just flow with the impact and you’ll be right, while they might just learn something 👿

      • Ad 9.1.1

        While lecturing, my wife used to row for Cambridge University and in her time doing ergs and pumping iron was built like a truck.

        While walking to lectures on those Cambridge footpaths were plenty of bikers and skateboarders whistling by, some far too close. So on occasion, watching closely how closely they were coming and at speed, she would brace and slightly lean into them.

        Boosh.

        Shoulder unharmed. Weeping fop on the grass mewing and kvetching on justice and rights.
        Another daily victory for footpath socialism.

        Little stories she lives off, a decade later.

  10. Kevin Welsh 10

    My two cents worth.

    I cycle for fitness, because I enjoy the New Zealand countryside and because I love to race my bike. I am courteous to other road users and go out of my way to be as unobtrusive as possible so as not to incur the wrath of motorists.

    But, in the main, New Zealand drivers are morons. It’s that simple.

    I bike to and from work regularly (about 25km each way) and not a trip goes by without seeing what I can only call ‘acts of God’ where someone in a car or truck has not gone home in a box. And for the most part they are oblivious to it.

    I look at the way motorists treat other people in cars to know that it is not a question of ‘bloody cyclists’ but really a case of ‘I don’t care who you are, just get the fuck out of my way’.

    Tailgating, speeding, u-turns, impatience, speeding up on passing lanes to prevent other traffic from overtaking, running red lights, dangerous overtaking. It’s an attitude thing and it needs to change.

    Now that the daylight hours are getting shorter I am thankful that I can ride between Havelock North and Napier on off-road trails where the only obstacle is the occasional grazing cow.

    I think that being a cyclist has made me a better driver. I don’t see other road users as impediments to my journey and by travelling slower I get to enjoy the fantastic countryside.

    • ghostrider888 10.1

      This is a great (local) comment Kevin; there are “paragraphs” of self-evident truths contained within, imo; Furthermore, having been a dedicated motor-cyclist and /or cyclist all my life, I too believe that these experiences made me a better driver, yet I have let my license lapse now; Years of observations of the “general” New Zealand driver, within and without the vehicles concerned, has me agreeing strongly with para. 2.

      I just ride the wind now (true Bikers always view cars as cages).

  11. Matthew 11

    I would like to play devils advocate… if i may….
    You talk about the amount of ‘new commuter cyclists’ on the roads. This is a fair call & is similar to the amount of people who hit their 40s & go out & buy a motorcycle. Both are over-represented in accident stats. My question on this area is this…. is there anyone out there running basic safety courses for cyclists in the inner-city/high traffic areas? The fact is, the reason both groups mentioned before are over-represented in accident stats is because neither group has a clue how to react in a pressure or difficult and dangerous situation. If NZ, through either the NZTA, AA, or various sector interest groups, is not providing basic safety training to new cyclists then we are condemning them from the word go.
    Secondly, as a truckie, i would like to bring up the ‘mob mentality’ prevalent in many cycling clubs, whereby 100 lycra-clad sunday morning velodrome wannabees his the streets. I have had situations where I would come up behind groups like this around Hastings. Often times they do not make any effort to make room for other road users, & i know im going to cop a serve for this, having to go down to a crawl & back up to speed in a large truck is a damn nuisance. While i have never felt the desire to drive straight through, I used to get highly pissed off. The thing i always wondered was what was going through the heads of the cyclists. Was it ‘im saving the environment so ill go slow’ or ‘i have just as much right to be here as you’ or even ‘so what if im breaking the law, im a cyclist’. If i came up behind a car doing 20kms & taking up the whole road, i would be entilted to *555 it & report him. But I cant do that with cyclists. I have to be patient, and understanding. Well I am, I havent hit a cyclist in a million kms, but damn it some of them are their own worst enemies.

    • Colonial Weka 11.1

      It’s the rights issue (I mentioned it above too). In time that will change as the road use culture changes, but there is clearly a problem developing in the cycling communities too. I’ve heard this is a problem in a number of large cities too.

      Rather than the macho “we’ve got as much right” attitude, I think the one being talked about at comment 6.x above is better: the most vulnerable are given the most privilege. But until authorities get behind that, some cyclists are going to be upping the ante.

    • Sosoo 11.2

      That’s not being a devil’s advocate.

      When I went for instruction for my motorcycle licence, the first thing the instructor told is is that we were idiots for wanting to ride motorcycles. He said that we could be the best riders in the world, but sooner or later we’d get cut off by some car that didnt see us. He was right.

      Bicycles aren’t much different. You take your life in your hands riding one in heavy traffic. Moan about cars and drivers all you like. It won’t change a thing. I stopped when I got swiped by a land rover. Wasn’t badly hurt, but that was enough. It’s a fool’s mode of transport.

      • BigRigRogue 11.2.1

        Hehe … you miserable little car driver tootling about in your flimsy, tiny tin can. Wait until my 40 ton of 18-wheeler B-rig comes through at 120k crushing your precious carcass into a bloody pulp.

        Moan about us truckies all you like. It won’t change a thing.

        • Sosoo 11.2.1.1

          Yep.

          Mostly true, except for the fact that there is some leverage (but not much) with truckies via their employers. Don’t have that with regular car drivers.

  12. Harriet 12

    But cars were invented so that we no longer had to push-bike!

    If you are going to change driving laws and road design to accomodate a return to push-biking, then there is of course no reason that people should not be allowed to communte via horse back!

    But let me guess – bike riders have ‘special rights’ !

    Horse riders – the new polygamists! 😎

    • RedLogix 12.1

      Polyamorists please.

    • Colonial Viper 12.2

      If you are going to change driving laws and road design to accomodate a return to push-biking,

      And not just bicycles, but also to prioritise pedestrians.

      Are you sure you’re in the right country?

    • fender 12.3

      You should just stick with your chariot Harriet, you have displayed enough stupidity this weekend.

    • Colonial Weka 12.4

      Is there any reason that people shouldn’t commute on horseback?

      • Harriet 12.4.1

        Of course there isn’t – horses are as unpredictable as child cyclists. Some adult ones too!

        Horses would take just as much time – if not less – to travel up hills. Therefor being less ‘obstructive’ than cyclists.

        ‘Sulkys’ ‘buggys’ and the like are more in proportion to the size of cars, so would then be better equiped at the likes of corners and roundabouts to ‘gain’ command of the road space when turning. As they ‘corner’ at the same speed as a car they can then join the queue at these places, unlike cyclists ‘weaving’ in and about traffic at intersections and creating more ‘distractions’ for drivers than is warranted in the action of ‘commuting’! Horses can then use the cycle lane after turning.

        The speed that horses travel at in the cycle lane is inconsequental, as if speed to ‘commute’ was an issue, then ‘push-bikers’ would use a car or motorcycle!

        Push-biker ‘rights’ is like exercising the rights to burn coal – or whaleoil!

        • ghostrider888 12.4.1.1

          “If you gave more thought to your death and less to the years you still have left, you would certainly show more enthusiasm in putting right your faults.”

  13. tc 13

    Excellent post RL. I gave my bike away after using it for many years overseas as the drivers here made it far too risky. I’ve a mate who keeps at it but he was a cycle courier in London with many broken bones and injuries that make him far more alert to the dangers with the skill to avoid most trouble.

    I lasted 5 rides in akl, the motorists just made it too dangerous.

  14. ghostrider888 14

    Prayer was offered up following your earlier OM announcement Red; deepest empathy; appeared to be a beautiful family that you are part of.

    14:10 Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no-one can share its joy.

    “Your way must lead through fire and water before you are granted relief…So we must hold on in patience, and wait for God’s mercy, until the storms pass by and our mortal nature is swallowed up in life.”
    -A Kempis.

    -Stds of driving in NZ are just garbage (ask any professional truck-driver, or visitor from overseas).
    -“sharing” noticeably absent
    -“rights to use the road” do not equate to any “license” regime.
    -concerning the “deviousness” of cyclists in being able to “move through”; i would suggest envy by “cagers” is involved!

  15. karol 15

    Having spent a considerable amount of time over the years cycling, motorcycling, walking and driving in more than one country, I think the problems are as much with the inconsiderate person as the means of travel.

    Pedestrians also can show lack of consideration for cyclist. The North Western Cycleway in Auckland has been promoted as a cycleway. The first time I cycled on it, I was surprised to discover pedestrians could use it too. In spite of the frequent signs telling people to keep left, I came across several pedestrians walking in the middle of the cycleway, making cycling past them a little tricky, as well as a few groups of people sauntering along and totally blocking the cycleway. They always seemed oblivious as I cycled slowly up behind them. When I then resorted to saying “excuse me, please”, they would turn and glare at me as if I had no right to be there.

    Since then, I’ve tended to keep left when walking on footpaths. Easier for cyclists, pram pushers and fast walkers or runners to get past. I really haven’t had any problem with footpath cyclists when I’ve been walking.

    Groups of young boys skateboarding together on the footpath make me nervous. They seem to be all over the place. One losing control could take my legs out from under me.

    • prism 15.1

      karol
      I agree about the value of pedestrians etc keeping left. Then there’s a direct line that you negotiate. And many places have limits on where skateboards can be used. But careless youth often ignores. No concept of thinking of other’s or indeed their own, safety. It’s their right they consider to get out and do it. Too prevalent in thinking these days about many things.

    • Sosoo 15.2

      Yep. That’s New Zealand. We are a feral people. If there a sign saying dogs must be kept on leash, you’ll no doubt see an unleashed dog peeing on it. If there’s a sign that says keep off the grass, there will be some family picnicking on it, etc. Such behavior transcends social class. About half the population seems to think that rules are for suckers. You can’t really live here unless you can put up with a lot of anti social behavior. I never really noticed it until I’d lived in a non Anglo country. We’re really a pack of bastards.

    • Matthew 15.3

      Doesnt it suck when you come up behind a group of people that are supposed to be ‘sharing’ the space you are on, are going vastly slower than you, & then get all righteously indignant when you want them to move over so you can get past….. doesnt it drive you up the wall?

  16. prism 16

    Courtesy on the road. Courtesy expected and instructed to drivers so that we pay courtesy to everybody including other drivers, and understanding and tolerance of cyclists. That would require a step change for drivers. We all want to be wherever 30 seconds faster. That can be all the time we save when we are rushing. We are not nice friendly people at all, we have a lot of aggression that is pushed out of sight most of the time.

  17. xtasy 17

    RedLogix:

    It is sad and depressing to read this story.

    Quote from above:
    “I spoke with several of Jane’s companions, those who were there at her brutal end. One of them told me how he spent six weeks in France on roads just as narrow and busy as here … and felt safe the entire time. The difference was simply that in much of Europe drivers and cyclists are understand each other. Drivers stop, and give cyclists space, and share the road with respect.”

    Yes, cycling in New Zealand is high risk, I have experienced it many times, having had many close shaves with buses, trucks and station wagons. I was hit by a bus many years ago, and “luckily” only needed a few stitches to the skin on my head. But the shock and that inconvenience were enough for me to quit cycling in Auckland at least.

    A true culture change on the road, and lifestyle changes in cities and towns is needed, to make for safer conditions to cycle. I am afraid it will take a long time to achieve that.

  18. Saccharomyces 18

    I see in the herald another one goone today….http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10873512

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