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IN PICTURES: A typically deadly commute

GUEST COMMENT

My partner rides a bicycle to and from work.

Her town bike has a basket on the front and back.

She is small, wears normal street clothes and obeys traffic rules.

This is what a ride home looks like.

She takes the long way home to get exercise.

She’s fast, right?

You might have caught two or three scary moments.

Let's look at the worst one, on what is essentially a random day — today.

Here she is nearing the top of College Hill Road. She is not very big and goes pretty quickly up hills — and enjoys passing the occasional middle aged man in lycra. She sometimes does that when those baskets are full of groceries.

Click any image to zoom.

She is approaching a carpark – and as there are no cars today she had a clear run. This is great as normally the parked cars force her into the often fast moving traffic that is chaotic due to a complex intersection ahead. This, by the way, is on the safest route she has found to get some exercise while riding home.

The cars at the front by the light are stopped, and the closest car, the red one in the car lane to the right, is slowing to a stop. There is lots of traffic so it’s pretty noisy.

With the empty carpark she has a clear run to the head of the intersection and can stay well out of the way of motorised traffic. She could alternatively choose to cross to her right to get behind the red car, but that decision would have killed her, as you will see shortly.

When cycling or motorcycling making decisions about not dying are fairly constant, with the key rule to stay the away from high speed differentials with large vehicles.

From nowhere comes a bus at high speed:

The bus is trying to cut between my partner, who is riding quickly, and the parked red car, and then take the left hand turn at the end of the street.

The green bus has a large amount of momentum and very little room for error on either side. My partner is still riding in the designated car park.

A few seconds later the bus and the bike have braked almost to a stop – but look how far it took the bus to do so.

The bus driver chose not to hit the red car from behind, and instead cut in front of the person on a bicycle, potentially fatally.

Perhaps it would have been safer to graze or hit the car than to risk squashing an unprotected rider – a potential judgement call that should be discussed in an incident investigation, but clearly won’t be because this incident is a sadly regular occurrence for both buses and cyclists, and they are never investigated as far as I can tell.

Luckily my partner, riding the bicycle, braked very hard, and a tragedy was averted. However once again I get to greet a distraught partner when she arrived home.

There really was no room for error if she had continued.

But the bus made it through, the car was untouched and the my partner got to come home physically unscathed tonight — and I am grateful for that. But for the sake of about 3 seconds of time, the bus driver’s dangerous driving was exposing the driver of the red car to an accident and injury, and the cyclist to a potentially fatal accident.

That’s not worth it, and the driver should instead have slowed down to follow the bicycle.

Let’s look at it all in real time speed. What would you have done? Are you confident enough to stop safely? How about if your bike was full of groceries?

This sort of incident is, tragically, quite usual for Auckland roads. While every cycling day is packed with the normal dangers to avoid, most days also see specific dangerous driving actions like this one, and that’s what we have to stop.

Our worst story
One reason my partner gets distraught at these sorts of near misses is that she was knocked off her bike in late 2012 by a woman who works for an insurance company. That person dangerously crossed a busy road by driving her car illegally through a stop sign from one side street to another. My partner was descending and the car hit her, knocking her off her bike and she slid for quite some time, luckily avoiding hitting anything. Even more luckily she had just avoided a perhaps fatal T-bone accident, and escaped “only” with lacerations, bruising, swelling and a couple of trips to the doctor. She was also very shaken up.

Strangely, for someone I discovered to be a communications professional, the driver, provided only her first name (Michelle) and phone number. As a victim my partner wanted as little as possible to do with the driver or her insurer company, but I was glad to  help. Even then, while my Google foo was strong enough to find the driver, I had to ask her quite firmly to formally identify herself so that we could settle accounts. I also actually enjoyed jousting with her insurance company (which was not her employer), who as always are not exactly there to meet your full costs unless you fight. Incidentally — if something like this happens to you there are people out there who really enjoy negotiating with insurance companies — so don’t be afraid to ask around.

We did report the incident to the police, who were wonderful. However we were later disgusted to find that  the end result was not a loss of license or worse for what was clearly careless or dangerous driving, but essentially a traffic ticket. My partner had had enough, and didn’t feel she could handle a court case, and so we let it slide, as victims often do. I’m certain that this is very common, and it’s just sad that dangerous driving against cyclists seems to be treated as irrelevant.

What we did
The first thing we did afterwards was to purchase Go Pro cameras for riding. They provide great evidence of dangerous driving, and I highly recommend riding or driving with a camera to everyone. If in doubt, search for “Russian driving video” or similar.

I did not write about the incident at the time, also because my partner did not feel she could cope with it. Overall I do not feel that there was natural justice, and feel that at the very least the driver should be compelled to go through some sort of remedial course.

However, as with all accidents, it was not all the fault of one person. The real fault is the design of the road where vehicles have to cross a large road with cars traveling at high speeds. The side roads should either be closed, for example, or some sort of traffic control put in place. There should be no surprise to learn that nothing has happened yet, but we did go to the Ponsonby Road Masterplan public hearing.

What can we do?
Do buy a camera and use it to name and shame, but most of all to show other road users that their behaviour will not go unobserved.

Please do respond, and drown out, the vocal minority of selfish commenters on a variety of forums who seem to think it’s okay to mow down people with their car.

Please consider riding a bike yourself – as the more people on bicycles commuting to work, the faster we will change behaviour.

Please ask your local and national politicians what they are doing to stop the killing of cyclists and to make Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and all of New Zealand have vibrant life-filled streets and the best urban and rural cycleways in the world.

Let’s make it happen.

Entrepreneur Lance Wiggs posts at LanceWiggs.com.

More by Lance Wiggs

Comments and questions
91

People who swim for exercise don't go into shipping lanes. I box for exercise, but I'd never get in the ring with Mike Tyson. Why do you think cyclists belong on the road?

So where do they belong, GrumpyK? A reasonable question, but do you also have any solution?

On the velodrome, riding down mountains, on BMX tracks, on John Key's cycleway - in places where the only hazard to life and limb are themselves.

I'll repeat - if someone suggested that people should be able to swim in the shipping channel and that freighters should keep out of their way they'd be regarded as idiots. If I wanted to fly a microlight around Auckland International Airport getting in the way of passenger jets I'd be regarded as suicidal.

A sanctimonious sense of superiority provides zero protection against other road users. Go play somewhere safe instead.

Frankly it sounds like you're unwittingly agreeing with Lance's proposal that we should have more and better designed cycle-ways. And I'm pleased you agree with that proposal because they cost hardly anything to make and are proving to create a retail resurgence virtually everywhere in the world they've been installed. Good for you on your progressive thinking.

Bassinga!

"A sanctimonious sense of superiority" is exactly what you are exhibiting here, and it's quite sad that you cannot see that.

Light planes operate in the same environment as 747s, yachts operate in the same environment as container ships well, and the size differences are more extreme than bicycles and cars/trucks.

So what is underlying your attitude? Is it ok to kill cyclists? Would it be acceptable to use a gun instead of a car?

Clearly you missed my "play safe" comment. Play (and in the modern world where there are many alternatives to biking, playing is the correct description for it) where you are not endangering yourself and others.

Light planes do **not** operate in the same environment as 747's. Great care is taken to avoid them being within several kilometres of them because the vortexes generated by the passage of a 747 can tear a small aircraft apart. Yachties take great care to avoid tankers and container ships because they know who loses when the two collide. They don't hold yacht races in shipping lanes.

well they do in wellington harbor. one only needs to look out the office window or car window as one drives down the motorway.
and I believe the bicycle was invented before the car, and tracks for horse/cart & bicycles were enlarged for cars.

They use the same airports and sky. And yes a lot if effort goes into separating them physically in time/space, which is the only safe thing to do. ATC is creating virtual bike lanes.
Yachts use all of the sea and yes ships are confined to their own lanes. It's the same again.

Yachts and ships use the same space, however the yacht always has to give way to the ship. It's called maritime law and it saves lives.

When I lived in Christchurch I used to cycle everywhere (about 30km per day) and had only one accident which was my own fault (I hit a parked vehicle). When I moved to Auckland I was astounded by the arrogance of cyclists there. Unfortunately this arrogance isn't specific to NZ either - go to Amsterdam where there is a very high number of cyclists and cycle lanes everywhere. They are just as arrogant as in Auckland a general danger to pedestrians and motorists alike.

The answer in Auckland isn't to build more cycle lanes unless the roads are widened first. I had a cycle lane put in place in my street in Auckland and the result was that the vehicle lane became so narrow that motorists were forced to drive with part of their car on the wrong side of the road.

This cycle lane was never used either and that's why there aren't more in Auckland. Cyclists like to howl and cry during Summer but they all hop back in their cars for the other 9 months of the year. Auckland isn't suited to city cycling for a number of reasons - inclement weather, topology, and distance from home to work (to name just a few).

The only real answer is for cyclists (and motorists) to change their attitudes so that they can co-habitate the same space. Highly biased articles like these by Lance Wiggs don't help the situation either, as shown by the various comments posted.

Ships have the right of way in a shipping lane for good reason. They are big with significant momentum and difficult to manouver quickly. Controlled airspace gives priority to jets and large aircraft for good reason also. Light aircraft cannot enter that airspace without permission from air traffic control. Aircraft are kept separate by detailed and to a layperson perhaps complex rules. None of which apply to our roads. Self preservation surely overcomes a desire to be free to cycle on busy roads and is common sense. Face the fact that our roads are full of terrible drivers who break the rules all the time. Cycling with them is irrational.

@GrumpyKiwi: you do realise some of us cycle as a way of getting to work and to school! As in it's not a sport or a fun outing but a mode of everyday transport which can be reliable and relatively safe. I am a motorist and a cyclist so am constantly on either side of the 'fence' and can see both sides. Yes cyclists are another 'thing' we got to watch out for when driving and when they cycle in two next to each other, you do have to grit your teeth at the sheer ignorance,but as a cyclist I cannot understand why it's that hard to use your rear view mirror, you do it with motorbikes, or should they stick to dirt tracks too and not use the road either.

Why not back on the foot path with a speed limit so as not to hurt walkers.

Vehicle + Cycle = death;

Person + Cycle = injury;

I hate cyclists on the road the same logic that forbids scooters from the motorway should apply to bikes on the road.

Err...so they can get from A to B, which is what roads are for. Roads existed for that purpose long before cars were invented.

What a ridiculous comment.

Pedestrians belong on footpaths. They use common sense and avoid hitting each other to get to safely to their desired destination. Some want to go slow, some go fast, some even run. They take care and avoid hitting each other on the way.

Cars, lorries, buses, motorbikes, scooters and bicycles belong on roads. Some are big, some are small. Some go fast, some go slower. They use common sense and the road rules to avoid hitting each other to get safely to their desired destination. Just because one is bigger or faster than the others doesn't give it any more rights. Some enlightened people might even say the bigger and faster ones should take more responsibility and care because of the damage they can do in an accident.

The exercise is incidental, and you know it.
People who sail go through shipping lanes - and as explained before the motorised vehicle has to give way to the sailboats..

Sigh, go ask the Coast Guard what they think of people who fish in the shipping lanes.

Note once again that I said that yachts don't go racing in them either. Despite my previous experiences, am I meant to credit yachties with more sense than cyclists?

The cycle lobby is noisy and has an overlarge sense of worth and privilege demanding considerably more effort and expense than the small number of road cyclists are worth. Let me make my view clear - the effort and expense so that a few privileged people (there is not 1 cyclist for every 100 cars on the road in Auckland) can safely cycle on the main roads of NZ is not worth it when there are so many better alternative modes of transport (for if you want to get from place to place) or exercising (if that's your preferred method of doing so).

Better? How about I define cars as the worst form of transport, and make everyone choose a "better" alternative?
Neither is reasonable, and like other cyclists I use lots of modes, varying according to the trip type and conditions. Mostly I walk.

Not quite. Read rules of the sea.

As a matter of fact, small sailing craft are advised NOT to get in the way of large vessels in shipping lanes, thus amending the rule "Steam gives way to Sail".
Vide
Small vessels or sailing vessels must not impede (larger) vessels which can navigate only within a narrow channel.
Ships must not cross a channel if to do so would impede another vessel which can navigate only within that channel.

If we're going to continue the comparison perhaps it would pay to think of the very large ships as being more like trains than cars, buses, or trucks. They can't give way to anyone because the stopping distance is so huge, so everyone had better watch out for them. Doesn't change the fact that everyone is sharing the same water and has to watch out for each other. Our boat is only a touch over 6 metres, and we slow the hell down when we're around other boats, because OF COURSE we do.

Hi Lance, I must disagree with you. I have cycled all my life, 30 plus years. I navigate a busy city every working day - about 12 ks each way. I detest taking the car for a number of reasons - it is an exercise in frustration where one spends most of the time stuck in traffic, it is dead time with no physical or mental benefit, it is costly and a last, but not least, a completely selfish way of using oil. I find most car drivers are pretty good - but I appreciate that they must be completley out of their minds to be driving when they could cycle, so expect little from such messed up thinkers..

Take a challenge and bike to work for a month....you'll be amazed at what happends to your attitude (naa thought not..easier to slag off from the couch eh boy)!

Am comfortable that commuting cyclists have a place on the road. However your comment is spot in regrad to those who treat the road as a playground. I am a Tamaki drive commuter and have little sympathy for the lycra brigades of wannabes. Discussion of cycle lanes is pointless if they are intended to be used as race tracks, rather than commuting lanes.
We have "boy racer" laws how about some "cycle racer" laws for those who want to treat the road like thier own personal race track?

Yes, where else should cyclists ride? A stunning piece of illogic come hate speech.

'People who swim for exercise don't go into shipping lanes'......great analogy

People who ride for excercise dont go on the motorways,

Many of the comments on NBR say something like "motorists pay for roads and cyclists don't". This is not true:

1. Cars are net receivers of subsidies

2. Motorists don’t pay anything for the land that roads occupy. People may say “but the public already owns that land”, but there is still an opportunity cost in that the city or government is losing money in not turning that land over to a use that could generate income.

3. Most of the levies motorists do pay go towards building and maintaining the state highway network, which is used almost exclusively by motorists.

4. Local roads are paid for from a combination of rates (paid by everyone who rents or owns a home), and road levies. Most of the money spent on local roads goes towards maintenance, and the amount of wear a vehicle puts on the road is exponentially related to its weight. An average car puts about 9600 times as much wear on the road as a bike. Put another way – 9600 cyclists generate the need to spend as much money on road repair as one car does.

5. Motorists don’t pay for the negative externalities they generate – noise, congestion, air pollution, pollution of waterways through road runoff, and carbon emissions.

6. ACC – Motorists contribute towards ACC by paying a petrol levy. However, these funds are ring fenced for use in accidents involving motor vehicles. Motor vehicles cause considerable injury so it is fair that they pay a contribution towards that damage. Everyone, including cyclists, contribute to ACC through income taxes.

7. And finally - registration fees and petrol taxes are just that – taxes, to be used as the government sees fit. When you pay them you are not purchasing rights over the road. I don’t expect the tax I pay on alcohol to be spent dollar for dollar on making it easier for me to get drunk.

Some people argue in defence of cyclists that most of them also own cars and so pay their share through that. While this is partly true I think it is beside the point. If you own a car you are imposing greater costs on the public than you are paying through petrol tax or registration, and that is before taking externalities into account. Cyclists are imposing less costs on the public than motorists, both real costs and external ones.

Hey Lance again.

Well thanks for this attention, I am happy to say I have really tried to bike in Auckland and do enjoy bike riding.

I personally will not use my bike in the city maybe for another 20 years.

I agree with your recommendation about using a Go Pro as driver actions should be exposed. I ride to work each day in Melbourne, in a city that has dedicated cycle ways, and it is a very pleasent way to start the day. Auckland could learne a lot from Melbourne in this area.

If the commute is that dangerous and deadly - take the bus. Leave the cycling to after or before work, or on the weekends, where they can take a different route and enjoy their ride rather than dice with death.

It's not a perfect world - cities are busy places built around millions of people getting to and from work in vehicles. This isn't some utopia where everybody politely drifts along on bicycles waving at each other. There are plenty of places to ride your bike in this city where your life is going to be far less at risk.

There's plenty of advantages to living in the city (close proximity to shops, restaurants, entertainment etc), but you make sacrifices living in a heavily congested urban area and this is one of them.

Take the bus - why don't we instead force all the motorists to take the bus? How would you feel about being told how to get to work?

Dicing with death sadly doesn't change with the hour of the day, but my partner does avoid rush hour in general by going much later - it's just that there is no rush our at the moment.

"There are plenty of places to ride your bike in this city where your life is going to be far less at risk."
Actually there are not - and that's the point.

" you make sacrifices living in a heavily congested urban area and this is one of them."
Sacrificing cyclist's lives is not acceptable, an if we want a vibrant awesome city then it's been proven time and again that multi-mode is the way to go.

The problem is that it's not possible to "separate them" - it's pie in the sky and it will never happen. Maybe if we were designing a new city from scratch then yes.. but we are stuck with what we've got. Sure, we can go so far to improve the roads, create larger cycle lanes etc and everything else, but there are plenty of other conversations that also need to be had that I never see being talked about.. and that's what irks me. I do my best to treat cyclists with respect.. I think they've got balls of steel to get on some of our roads and I am always cautious when i approach and pass them.. but aside from balls of steel, some of them also have rocks in their head. Far too often, those same cyclists I give space too, roar past me at an intersection push on through the red light, take that sneaky turn against the green etc.

It's a two way street (pun intended) - everyone has got to do their bit because we're never going to be able to completely separate the two. What is required is better education and awareness on BOTH sides of the fence.

Only an idiot would place themselves in danger to prove a point for a media article. I love cycling but have enough sense not to do it on central city roads. No point in getting righteous about how things 'should' be. Assess them as they are and use your brains and leave the bike in the shed. No sympathy for fools who get injured if they don't possess even basic common-sense.

If I wanted to get press through being an idiot there are plenty of safer options. As it happens I write when I feel the need and this article is about someone else's daily commute.
I live in the central city - and most tourists base themselves here. Cycling is not just recreation for us.

You are absolutely right - we shouldn't be tub-thumping about the possibility of a better future its better to simply throw our hands up in the air and say "that is the way it is always has been always will be" and be resigned to no further human progress.

Proven by who? And where? Cycling is a purely private good. Trying to elevate it to the status of NZ's newest religion just reinforces negative prejudices about cyclists.

Grumpy Kiwi, where else do you think cyclists should bike? What a ridiculous statement. Motorists don't own the road, just check your Road Code for who you need to share it with and what the rules are around it. I have daily close incidents in Christchurch biking to and from work. Mostly drivers who just don't seem to see me despite flashing lights, fluorescent yellow, and refecto-strips. The cycle lanes turn into car parks or just disappear and since a recent accident I'm very well aware of my own mortality.

"Do buy a camera and use it to name and shame, but most of all to show other road users that their behaviour will not go unobserved."

Lance - does this go for cyclists too that blatantly flaunt the law, running red lights and the like? What you've put up in your video are motorists making on the line judgment calls.. what I see on a weekly basis with my own eyes are cyclists making deliberate decisions to break the law. It would seem to me that those people should have their bikes taken off them.. but with no registration, no way to identity them, how are we supposed to do that?

I think you mean "flout", not "flaunt". Important difference. There's another important difference between the transgressions you're whining about, and the sort of thing Lance is complaining about: the cyclist's transgressions rarely hurt anyone (and only the cyclist in those rare cases). The motorists' trangressions frequently kill or seriously injure other people.

Another important point - if a cyclist breaks the law, runs a red light, and gets hit by a car the vocal minority within the cycling community will still shout that the motorist was in the wrong. Double standards much?

The truck driver in the case which started this debate had the right of way.

The truck driver in this weeks traffic accident did have the right of way , but it took him 70m (or to be correct:other motorists hooting to get him to stop) to realise he had hit a cyclist. How's that for being aware of what is going on around you while driving. A green light does mean you have the right to drive through an intersection but does it mean you stop paying attention to what's happening around you too?

"Lance - does this go for cyclists too that blatantly flaunt the law"

Yes it does - they don't help the cycling safety cause by winding up the more selfish motorists. But be fair - crossing slowly with pedestrians is fine, whizzing through a red light is not even close to reasonable. The right answer is to physically separate the cyclists and cars so that we don't even have this conversation.

I see them as having given up on any sense of fairness from the traffic laws, and are prioritising what they see traffic doing rather than the formal systems. It's an approach I take when motorcycling - I aggressively obey orange and red lights and yet never assume that a green light means "safe".

Drivers need to recognise that their "line judgement calls" can potentially kill or injure motorbike riders, cyclists and pedestrians and need to take the appropriate level of care when making them.

No-one should be breaking the law, but it needs to be recognised that it is the drivers' mistakes that tend to have the catastrophic and deadly consequences.

I would not cycle in Auckland as it is too dangerous. What worries me is that car drivers want to blame cyclists for the problem rather than looking at themselves. Nothing will improve until that attitude changes.

Lance, in the midst of your personal passion for this (which I share) can you not also see how one-sided it is and how much this sort of campaign actually increases the antagonism toward bicycles by motorists. Yes, true, many motorists are inconsiderate and careless and I whole-heartedly agree with carrying a small camera to identify and expose them...

But what about the other side. Cyclists go through red lights across the top of T intersections and to turn left at other intersections frequently. I am on the road a lot and see it regularly. One of my team had a drive to work recently that included having to slow and wait for the same cyclist three times because the cyclist had gone through two red lights and ended up in front of the motorist again each time. A dash-cam would have been good... but of course, no way of identifying the offender. And no, he didn't cause an accident or really very much inconvenience, but he put himself at risk AND at the same time did his bit for increasing the intolerance of at least one motorist toward cyclists.

I wholeheartedly support the need for more cycle-ways and safe cycle lanes... but start with cyclist education and then, when you have achieved better behaviour there I think you will find more support from the general public. Starting off the back of a tragedy where the cyclist had apparently gone through a red light is NOT a good place!

See comments above - red light runners are not helping the cause, but that does not mean every cyclist is bad.
Meanwhile on my blog someone noted that more cars than cycles crashed a read light they observed.

People on bicycles get a really rapid education on how to ride in Auckland - or they get injured and quit. Your driver should be frustrated, but hopefully also respects that one person breaking the law does not make it acceptable for him or her to break law as well. Other motorists are not so patient, and they should realise that car versus bike is like bringing an AK47 to an arm-wrestling match.

I use both forms of transport regularly and but comment regarding more cars go through red lights and cyclist is wrong.

Just been out in the car. Saw 6 cyclists in the space of 15 minutes only one of them followed the road rules at the time

What I saw
1. Cycling while talking on the phone
2. Cycling with no hands on the bars
3. 2 cyclist at the same time ignoring a red light
4. Cyclists riding the wrong way up the road

Only one cyclist used hand signals to give some indication on where they were heading (which I gratefully acknowledged).

When teaching my kids to ride I have drummed into them the importance of defensive riding - expect the unexpected. I have come down hard on them when they don't follow the rules.

Lance - As a biker I would like to see opinion pieces like yours pushing harder on the errors of bikers as well as car drivers. As both a biker and car driver from what I see on both sides of the fence - I'm on the side of the drivers.

The blame game is too easy though

I ride and cycle incredibly defensively, and assertively when required. I generally enjoy it as I see things happen very early and deal. Experience in bike handling and road sense is critical, I agree, but The level of skill to stay upright in Auckland shouldn't need a background in motorcycling around the world. Think of all the tourists, school kids and grannies popping out to the store.
The answer is physical separation.

Red light runners are only a small part of the problem, and a transgression that usually ends up hurting only themselves. Far worse are those who ride on footpaths or walking trails, or 2- and 3-abreast when there's no room to do so.

As for your statement in another post that most cyclists obey the laws and most motorists do not, all I can say is that things must certainly be different in Auckland. Here in bike-friendly Chch, most motorists and most cyclists are pretty good round each other. But for every dangerous manoeuvre I see undertaken by motorists, I see 10 dumb or inconsiderate acts by cyclists.

What car drivers see differs from what cyclists and motorcyclists see.

Cars see the other cars but can't/don't generally look inside to see texting and so on.
Riders see what's going on inside the cars and are also acutely aware of their maneuvers. Bikes also move at a different speed relative to cars so see a lot more cars than drivers do. That speed delta means that one idiot on a bike jumping lights will be seen by many drivers. Take their photo.

Almost all car drivers are safe almost all of the time. But riding a bike means exposing yourself to a large number of cars and drivers, and "almost all" is not good enough.

It's the same on a worksite - I will spot a lot more hazards than the average person who has not worked on safe sites.

Following link from NZTA shows rules for cyclists

http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/roadcode/cyclist-code/docs/cyclist-code-2013-low.pdf

I would say most ignore these rules, like keep left, don't ride in the door zone, use hand signals, Obey road rules, signs and signals

Whereas I would say most do, and that most cars don't obey the traffic laws.
Do you obey the traffic laws?
Can you turn a corner, evade cars and signal at the same time on a bicycle?
Can you "not ride in the door zone" and also not end up getting swiped by traffic in the main lane?

But more impotently throwing around this sort of un-backed up anecdata dies not help with either one of our cases. The key is that killing cyclists is never acceptable.

Its not un-backed up - all of this

"like keep left, don't ride in the door zone, use hand signals, Obey road rules, signs and signals"

is in the road RULES for cyclists.

Do better research, the rules exist for cyclists safety & are practical in realising that most movement on roads is by cars, trucks and buses both in NZ and cities like Copenhagen (and yes I have been there)

Lance, I can't believe your comment... "Whereas I would say most do, and that most cars don't obey the traffic laws." Practice what you preach please "But more impotently throwing around this sort of un-backed up anecdata " See my post above as an example of how wrong you are.

And yes as a cyclist, I can turn a corner, evade cars, and give sufficient signaling to drivers when I am turning. if you can't then you either shouldn't be on the road or you were going to fast (same applies to cars). But if I make a mistake (I am human) I acknowledge it if pointed out by a driver. I don't get agro!

As for the "not ride in the door zone" - I do agree that isn't practical. But I am constantly checking cars to see if someone is in a road side seat, I always have my fingers ready on the brake, and I don't go fast in built up areas - as a cyclist even I find it hard to judge the speed of a cyclist - something I think cyclists tend to forget.

As many people have suggested to you - providing a more balanced opinion would be more helpful to us cyclists than the blinkered view you are pushing.

There is no way you will catch me on a road bike, it's just too dangerous. I will ride giant horses in ODEs (cross country etc) and play roller derby - full contact; but won't risk cycling on the roads of Canterbury.
After being knocked off my bike several times as a teen just heading to school down John's Rd and seeing multiple fatalities of cyclists in the same place, I learned early on that cyclists are just not seen until its too late - even more so on the open road.
IMHO - Councils and Transit should focus on more Southern Motorway style tracks - allowing safe and more importantly separate travel across Christchurch. Then in town, double width paths with a speed-limited cycle lane (speed freaks can play at the velodrome).

Noticed that the footpaths are mostly empty. So - you can insist on your legal rights and risk your life for a faster ride on the roads - or take a pragmatic approach and share the footpath with pedestrians, where it is dangerous on the road.

Its illegal to ride a standard bike on the footpath unless you are delivering mail or newspapers

A lot of things are illegal. Some laws do not make sense or are out of date. What is better - legal and possibly dead or alive and illegal. I suggest the cycling advocates should focus on changing the law re cycling on footpaths where there are no real cycling lanes.

Long may it be that cycling is illlegal on footpaths. What part of the word "footpath" do you not understand?

While I understand you’ve had an awful experience this week it does seem to have left you a bit blinkered. No-one is saying every cyclist is bad, and yet here are you saying most cars don’t obey traffic laws, which (aside from being demonstrably incorrect) is just serving to polarise more motorists against you and brand you as an extremist. Is this the use to which you want to put the platform that your position in the media has given you?

The comment about more cars going through red lights may be correct, but you need to stop and think about the different WAY that happens. Cars will go through the amber and into the red because the driver thinks he can get across before opposing traffic moves. A cyclist will ride up the left of a line of cars already stationary at a red light because he thinks he can go through and turn left without getting in anyone’s way. The end result is that the motorist turns in front of traffic not yet moving, where the cyclist exposes himself to traffic which is up to speed.

And saying that cyclists get a rapid education on how to ride in Auckland seems to condone sending them into the traffic to learn! Is that what you meant? No other road user is allowed out there without some training and a test and without being in a clearly marked vehicle so they can be identified if they transgress. I didn’t used to think cyclist registration and licensing was a good idea, but the events and discussions of the past few days are sure giving me that opinion. Seeing cyclists start to self-regulate and work toward the harmony they desire would be a lovely start, rather than blaming everyone around them.

No, killing cyclists is never acceptable, and most motorists don’t do it, no matter how the weaving, diving, red light running person on the road in front seems to be asking you to. There might be some antagonism, but I think you’ll find everyone behind the wheel would like a solution, too, and that a compromise should be what you’re trying to achieve – training both parties, lanes that are only for bikes and some roads where bikes are not allowed, licenses and registration for all road users – all worth discussing, don’t you think?

Just wanted to make one comment on your post. You say cars go through amber lights as the other traffic hasn't yet moved. You describe it as a choice. Legally, if they can stop safely, they should. In your example, they're breaking the law, the same as the cyclist.....

When you arrive at an intersection estimate the % of motorists who will indicate to signal their intended direction of travel. I go for about 50% when I play this game and in Auckland it very seldom seems to get above 50%.

The standard of driving (and in general all road users) in New Zealand is just atrocious...

Good job on bringing more attention to the issue of cycle safety, Lance. However, you seem to be focusing on only one side of the coin, the attitude of drivers to cyclists. I believe you're encountering resistance because you're making a common mistake: you're ignoring the other side, the attitude of cyclists to drivers.

As some of the commentors above have demonstrated, it vexs drivers to see cyclists disobey our traffic laws, such as by running red lights. I argue this contributes to them being less respectful of cyclists generally. Cycle safety suffers because drivers end up being less carefully around cyclists.

Like I said at the start, it's good you want to draw more attention to cycle safety. However, I think you'd be more effective by focusing on both sides of the coin, the attitudes of drivers and cyclists towards each other. When you call for drivers to stop cutting cyclists off, how about also calling for cyclists to stop running red lights?

Cheers,
Mike

“As some of the commentors above have demonstrated, it vexs drivers to see cyclists disobey our traffic laws, such as by running red lights. I argue this contributes to them being less respectful of cyclists generally. Cycle safety suffers because drivers end up being less carefully around cyclists.”

So because some motorists are unreasonably upset at behaviour that doesn’t actually endanger or inconvenience them (probably out of a sense of injustice that cyclists aren’t stuck in congestion along with them), they feel they have a right to disregard their duty to use their motor vehicles responsibly and instead have a right to threaten cyclists’ lives.

Calm down, Francis. I'm a rider too - I know how easy and tempting it is for cyclists to run red lights. I don't suggest that seeing that is any justification for drivers to behave irresponsibly. However, I do suggest it might contribute to some drivers behaving less responsibly around cyclists. For example, many cyclists have heard the claim, I just didn't see you mate - doesn't this show a lack of appreciation of cyclists?

I think it's time for everyone - cyclists and drivers - to get down off their high horses. Do our actions help or hinder the general relationship between cyclists and drivers on our roads?

Cheers,
Mike

when i went to Bali in the ealry 1980's the road rules were really simple to understand. He who is biggest has right of way - not because that was the road code or anything, but that is the reality, based on the potential outcome of a collision.

Yes everyone needs to be more careful, but unfortunatley if you ride a bike the margin of error (yours and other people's) is very small, and you have all the downside risk.

According to this morning's NZ Herald, eight cyclists have died on Auckland's roads since 2008. One had an accident after suffering a heart attack. Two were killed by motorists. One was killed when a car door was opened and she was riding too fast to stop (according to the Coroner). Four were killed as result of their own failure to ride sensibly or obey the road rules.

64% of reported crashes are not the cyclist's fault
transport .govt.nz/assets/Uploads/Research/Documents/cycling-crashfacts-2013.pdf

Given the signifcantly higher number of motorists (50 times (?)) then this tends to show that cyclists are in fact creating more issues relative to the numbers using the road. NZ Herald reporting that of people runningred lights 60% were cyclists, again very high relative to the number of cyclists verses other motorists.

Interesting comments. I would hope that in 10 years this conversation is redundant. Cycle ways must be a priority going forward. I agree though for the meantime it's an attitude problem on both sides of the coin (Cyclist vs Motorist).

I would suggest BAD HABITS and the complacency that derives from them are the cause for the majority of fatal accidents on our road, irrespective of the vehicles involved.

EVERYONE must realise that once they leave their drive way they have a responsibility to keep themselves and others SHARING the road free from harm.

PUT SIMPLY allow enough time to get to your destination, if your late you are LATE. Act within the road rules. Alternate your route to prevent complacency and the forming of a HABIT.

Mr. Wiggs nauseating, pontificating and pie-in-the-sky thinking and his vigilante approach to errant motorists, will only antagonise the motorist brigades’ attitude to cyclists further (errant or otherwise)

Before espousing his ideas of cycling utopia in a fast paced, modern city and where the automobile is king, perhaps Mr. Wiggs should first cost out his vision and then tell us who is going to pay for it?? Mr Wiggs should also know that there is a finite, economic cost to a human life which is a factor when costing road construction/improvement projects (use to be circa $3M but don’t know what it is now)

If the road rules were abided by, no one should ever get injured or killed, but us human beings make mistakes and someone pays. Worse, we now live in a society that lacks the respect for one another (and for the law), we once had. That is never going to change and for that, you can blame the politicians who have created it.

$8.1 million for New York City. This is not expensive stuff.

Does this inlcude the economic impact of slowing traffice generally as a result or is this the $ spent on constructing cycle lanes. Also is the cost the same in NZ, might be harder, who knows.

Is that first right turn in your video out of Lorne St onto Wellesley St even legal? Cars can't do it. Isn't that into a bus/taxi only lane?

There isn't a 'No Right Turn' sign as seen on Streetview. https://www.google.com/maps/preview#!data=!1m8!1m3!1d3!2d174.765345!3d-36.851004!2m2!1f195.29!2f72.44!4f75!2m9!1e1!2m4!1spjCaIsgMETLrbcwtU5Nejg!2e0!9m1!6sLorne+Street!5m2!1spjCaIsgMETLrbcwtU5Nejg!2e0&fid=5

It's legal.

All car drivers have a duty of care to all other road users (including pedestrians and cyclists).

The bus driver in these pictures would have failed their Driving Test if they had done this during the test.

I am tired of reading bullies excusing their incompetence by trying to blame cyclist's rights to be on the road.

The last time I looked the laws of the land state that cyclists are perfectly allowed to use the road. They are not however allowed to use the pavement, Andrew.

Its obvious that even a conscietious driver can miss a cyclist, cut them off, open a door in their way etc etc. If cyclists want to cycle safely it needs to be on a cycle route - google map Amsterdam for ideas. much better

The unfortunate thing with Amsterdam is that although they have the cycle lanes they haven't changed the attitudes of cyclists who still run red lights etc and are a danger to pedestrians (and motorists who need to take evasive action to avoid them).

I found the motorists and even tram drivers to be much more courteous than cyclists.

Tongue in cheek solution- a flat bed truck, electric powered. Mounted on the flat bed are a dozen high tech exercycles. Cyclists can pedal away atop the truck and power the electric alternators for the truck batteries. No one gets hurt or upset. QED

I wonder with so many of our children riding their bikes to school what the percentile of accidents are amongst this group as a comparison to the road cyclist using the sport as recreation, my argument being that generally speaking the kids biking to school would do so at a slow and steady pace, stopping at intersections and giving themselves ample time to gauge the traffic flow, the speed of the recreational cyclist is of concern as witnessed by myself on several occasions, i believe reaction times would be increased and damage decreased if cyclist had a speed limit of 20 km per hour

Sensible idea !
Wouldn't suit the wannabe tour de france set of recreational bicyclers who want to ponce around in all their gear. I am waiting for the wake up when folk realise parents are doing all possible to stop their kids becoming donors and encouraging them to use the footpaths rather than play in the traffic.

Sydney facing the same issues. Calls for road rule changes:

http://m.smh.com.au/national/call-for-national-law-on-overtaking-distance-as-cyclist-deaths-double-20140112-30oqp.html

It is ridiculous and even obscene to try to make your point by using the dramatic death of a cyclist in Stanley Street last week.

You have consistently ignored the fact that the poor guy made a fatal error while running a red light. Then this morning, NZ Herald reveals that a traffic survey has shone that a vast majority of red light runners at four major Auckland intersections were cyclists. Having been missed by very small margins by cyclists hurtling (I use the word accurately) through pedestrian phases at the foot of Nelson Street, I am of the opinion that many cyclists need to behave themselves first. At the top of Parnell Road every morning groups of sporting cyclists run the red lights, sometimes over twenty in one bunch.

Something about people in glass houses!!! And I have no time for careless and/or arrogant motorists, either.

The report states that the vast amount of people on bikes that ran the lights did so during the pedestrian phase, crossing safely without the cars.

I'm not at all condoning cyclists running lights at speed, and groups of cyclists should be setting a standard for others.

Every accident is preventable, and there are multiple factors begone them. We could argue that the Auckland Harbour Bridge fatalities were the "fault" of drivers, but when the concrete barricade stopped them completely it became obvious that traffic engineers were the solution. It's the same in this case., where we need to design the possibility of fatalities out by separating motor vehicles and bikes, bikes and pedestrians, add calming features to slow traffic and take personal responsibility to identify and remove hazards.

Lance: Several years ago i receive a ticket for failing to stop at a stop sign. Country roads, great sight lines, cop told me I had to be stationary, at the yellow lines for "2 seconds" rather than slow almost (but not quite to a stop) yards back from the inteersection to view the roads as I did.

In your video your cyclist commits at least four offenses that cost me $150 and 20 demerit points. There is no way that your partner followed the road rules for a stop sign. Clear example of a cyclist believing that the only rules that should apply to them are the ones that suit or the ones that affect powered vehicles.

10 s in is the first example. Stop sign, no sign of even slowing down as your partner turns right in to a busy street. This is the turn where you say your partner made a legal turn. Wrong. 3m27s in your cyclist turns left at a stop sign controlled intersection without even slowing down. 7s later she turns right at another stop controlled intersection without stopping. Again at 3m56s another breeze through a stop sign without even slowing. If she'd been knockeed off her bike there you'd be the first to bleat about out of control drivers.

Before being so sanctimonious about road user behaviour you should start in your own backyard. I suggest you send your partner on a road rules refresher course - you may be aware that just recently a cyclist died ignoring the same road rule..........

Duplicate comment with below.

Lance: Several years ago i receive a ticket for failing to stop at a stop sign. Country roads, great sight lines, cop told me I had to be stationary, at the yellow lines for "2 seconds" rather than slow almost (but not quite to a stop) yards back from the inteersection to view the roads as I did.

In your video your cyclist commits at least four offenses that cost me $150 and 20 demerit points. There is no way that your partner followed the road rules for a stop sign. Clear example of a cyclist believing that the only rules that should apply to them are the ones that suit or the ones that affect powered vehicles.

10 s in is the first example. Stop sign, no sign of even slowing down as your partner turns right in to a busy street. This is the turn where you say your partner made a legal turn. Wrong. 3m27s in your cyclist turns left at a stop sign controlled intersection without even slowing down. 7s later she turns right at another stop controlled intersection without stopping. Again at 3m56s another breeze through a stop sign without even slowing. If she'd been knockeed off her bike there you'd be the first to bleat about out of control drivers.

Before being so sanctimonious about road user behaviour you should start in your own backyard. I suggest you send your partner on a road rules refresher course - you may be aware that just recently a cyclist died ignoring the same road rule..........

She definitely stopped at all the stop signs - the sped up video makes it look otherwise I know, but the normal speed version makes it clear. As if I would post a video showing otherwise.

And yes - stop means come to a complete halt. In the US (at Sturgis) one interpretation for motorcyclists was "one foot down".

That said, the report by Auckland Transport last year makes it very clear that cyclists run red lights for safety reasons.

I was at the immediate aftermath of the recent fatality, directing traffic until police arrived and trying not to look at the body. So yes- I am very much aware of the accident, and that's one reason why we are engaging in this conversation now. Despite that a very similar incident (two cars this time) happened to my partner on the following day in the same location. That's not even close to being acceptable.

Lance, your wife did not come to a halt at numerous Stop signs. Separate cycle lanes/protected barriers won't stop fools like her from carrying out risky moves. Please have a word with her about road safety.

Lance - quite frankly I don't believe you, I think you are telling porkies. There are other stop signs and events where she does stop and that is extremely different to the 4 stop signs she runs through without stopping. You can see the difference at the stop sign where she stops to let a motorcycle go past. She didn't stop at the other 4, all are very obvious especially when you see other moving vehicles in shot.

You sound like you are relying on a sympatheetic interpretation of "stop". "Officer, as I went through the intersection I used my left foot to touch the road therefore stopping as per the legal requirements in Sturgis, but not according to the laws of physics......."

In NZ, stop means

(a) stop his or her vehicle before entering the path of any possible vehicle flow at such a position as to be able to ascertain whether the way is clear for the driver to proceed; and
(b) give way to any vehicles approaching or crossing the intersection from a roadway not controlled by a stop sign.

Go on, post the normal speed bits.

I'm with you on general respect by all road users for other users - my kids cycle so I have a vested interest in that, but cyclists continuously put themselves in fully legal positions that are unbelievably stupid as they are relying on complete strangers in control of a deadly weapon to not make a mistake. A corollary is that it is perfectly legal for me to go to Kenya and hand feed raw zebra to a lion, but it is deeply stupid. Likewise for a cyclist to run stop signs or red lights or to cycle 3 abreast on the narrow country road with blind corners outside my house is perfectly legal but deeply stupid.

I think it's just good form when you come across all sanctimonious about other peoples behaviour it's good to have your own house in order. Here clearly you don't. The word starts with H.

Some tips from 30 + years of successful big city cycling -

Ride an up-right type bike - not the racing style.

Don't were lycra - wear your old beach shorts.

Use the rules as a guide - in some cases they are dangerous if followed
.
Always expect a driver to come at you - eyeball at every intersection.

Don't get agro - it's easy to not see a cyclist- it's not usually deliberate.

What seems to annoy car drivers the most is cyclists going through red lights. Radical solution - make it legal for cyclists to go through red lights if they want to. There will not be any more accidents if this is allowed as cyclists are very aware that if they make a mistake it is likely to hurt.