A rough ride: run-ins en route to Middlemore

A rough ride: run-ins en route to MiddlemoreRounding out our series of guest posts by Middlemore medics who bike to work is Renate Koops, a consultant in General Medicine and Diabetes. Like her colleagues Rob Burrell and Craig Birch, Renate rides because it comes naturally – she’s Dutch! – and because it’s a refreshing and healthy way to travel. Or rather, it should be. Like Rob and Craig, Renate has more than once felt the unhappy consequences of traveling on roads dominated by cars and designed and used with little thought for people on bikes. Read on for a harrowing account of her run-ins en route to work – and her observations about what needs to change. …
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Cycling to Middlemore – a health hazard?

Cycling to Middlemore - a health hazard?A recent guest post by Dr Rob Burrell struck a real chord. It was about the irony of how dangerous it is to bike to one of Auckland’s biggest hospitals – despite cycling being one of the healthiest commutes there is. Now, Rob’s anaesthetist colleague Dr Craig Birch follows up with his own story of how difficult it is to bike safely to Middlemore. Content warning: two grisly crashes, resulting in what would officially qualify as merely ‘minor’ injuries.  I have cycled to Middlemore Hospital, where I work as an anaesthetist, for many years – since 2001. Unfortunately, safety issues have meant that I’ve had to resort to getting in my car …
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Common courtesy: why I wave at motorists who let me cross

Common courtesy: why I wave at motorists who let me crossI’ve long had a habit, like many others, of giving a cheery wave to motorists who slow down to let me cross when I approach a zebra crossing on my bike. Even if sometimes it’s just a quick raise of the hand – sorry, I need that hand back on my handlebar, there’s a tight turn just on the other side of the crossing!* A few months back, I saw a conversation on Twitter about this. I can’t find it now, and am loath to put words in people’s mouths in case I’ve remembered wrong, but the gist of it was this: Why should people on bikes wave and smile …
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Speaking the same language on safety

Speaking the same language on safetyWe welcome Auckland Transport’s recent media release last week, acknowledging the horrific increase since 2014 in deaths and serious injuries for people using AT’s road network (as laid out in the independent safety report commissioned by the AT board). It’s painful but necessary to have this out in the open, and Greater Auckland covered the topic well in a recent blog post.  We especially welcome the proposed response, which is that AT will massively ramp up its spending to create safer roads, joining Minister Genter’s commitment to Vision Zero. I’m keen to hear from you how the extra cycling safety dollars could be used most effectively. While you think about it, I’d like …
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Putting the brakes on business biking? 3 reasons for Beca and Aurecon to reconsider

Putting the brakes on business biking? 3 reasons for Beca and Aurecon to reconsiderThe first days of spring are a great time to be on a bike – and it’s a pretty good time to be in the business of building cycle infrastructure too, with plenty of great projects on the go, and (hopefully!) more to come as the cycle boom attracts support locally and nationally. So we’ve been taken aback to read that engineering consultancies Beca and Aurecon, both involved in major cycleway builds in Christchurch, have been reported as forbidding staff from cycling during work hours – even when they’re visiting their own bike-related projects: Some staff working on Christchurch’s new cycleways are not allowed to cycle during work hours because …
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Ngapipi Drive / Tamaki Drive – The New Look?

Ngapipi Drive / Tamaki Drive - The New Look?The new design for Ngapipi / Tamaki Drive is now much better than the original signals design. Here’s hoping it did well in the consent hearing this week! With the safety issues for people on bikes at Ngapipi Drive known for so long, it was good to finally see AT’s proposed new layout proceeding to consultation & hearing. But it is fair to say that there is still a lot of controversy about changing this intersection. First off, there are some who (still) argue that nothing needs to be done at all; or at most, that the intersection only needs minor changes. The broken bones of many victims disagree, and we say …
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Great North Road / Bullock Track – a difficult, slow beast

Great North Road / Bullock Track - a difficult, slow beastUnsafe conditions on New Zealand roads are often left untreated for long periods, because we do not yet prioritise and fund road safety with Vision Zero-style dedication. But at some point – like when an intersection is officially listed as one of the “Top 10 Most Dangerous Intersections in New Zealand” and “Third worst in Auckland” – you have to hope that something will finally get done. That’s the case for the intersection of Great North Road / Bullock Track, west of Grey Lynn, which has a very long rap sheet: over fifty known crashes (including one fatality) over the last 10 years, among them one of our own close associates, who had a potentially very …
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‘First do no harm’: why it’s time for Vision Zero NZ

'First do no harm': why it's time for Vision Zero NZSobering news: in August, New Zealand’s road fatality toll stands at 214 people killed on our roads so far this year, including 3 people who were just out riding their bikes, 15 pedestrians,10 children; 50 in Auckland alone… any way you slice the data, it’s still too many. And that’s not accounting for life-changing injury. What is an acceptable fatality rate, in a country our size? Think of a number – and then watch this. Vision Zero, an approach that began in Sweden and is being adopted around the world, flips the script. Instead of assuming a certain number of road deaths are inevitable, we could insist on none. We could refuse to accept the ‘road toll’ as some sort of fixed tax – or indeed, ‘toll’ – in exchange …
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The kids are all right… cycling on the footpath?

The kids are all right... cycling on the footpath?With voting very much in the news at the moment, an article caught our eye over the weekend… not about Brexit – about those who aren’t old enough to vote yet, but who have strong opinions and equally important rights. According to a new study by Erica Hinckson of  AUT, reported in the Sunday Star-Times, kids much prefer getting to school under their own steam: 96% of the kids Erica spoke to in focus groups were adamant on this point. Biking, walking, scootering – they really really want to be out in the fresh air, doing their thing independently, traveling actively with friends or with family. Instead, 55% are delivered to school …
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Running the gauntlet: Tamaki Drive & Ngapipi Rd

Running the gauntlet: Tamaki Drive & Ngapipi RdTamaki Drive is not just a jewel in the city’s crown for weekend excursions – it’s also the busiest commuting cycling route in Auckland. It’s absolutely teeming with bikes on weekdays and weekends, both on the shared paths and the on-road cycle lanes. In 2015, there were on average 1395 bike trips per day along this stretch. And that number continues to climb, as you’ll see from the graphs at the bottom of this post. But on the way to town, cyclists using the on-road bike lanes travel through one of New Zealand’s top ten most dangerous intersections: where Tamaki Drive meets Ngapipi Road. Every morning rush hour here is like Russian roulette. Don’t just take our word for it – watch this …
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Ride, Interrupted – the Stop-Start Bugbear

Ride, Interrupted - the Stop-Start BugbearEveryone thinks cycling in Dutch and Danish cities is so good because it’s flat. But perhaps it’s because you don’t have to stop and start so often? After 10 years in New Zealand there’s one thing I still can’t get used to: having to stop and start to cross side streets while I’m out for a run. Where I used to live, England, this scenario is barely cause for a second thought: a casual glance over your shoulder maybe, but your reasonable expectation is that you can keep going at the same pace. Which is incredibly helpful for running after dark, when main roads are often your best bet for …
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Take care in Cornwall Park: a four month surge of traffic is on the way

Take care in Cornwall Park: a four month surge of traffic is on the wayIf you walk or bike through Cornwall Park, as of Wednesday 20 April you’ll notice a lot more vehicle traffic through the park roads. This is because of major water-main works on Campbell Road, scheduled to last through to the end of August. Obviously this will have an impact on walking and cycling along the through-roads, and general quiet enjoyment of the park. We hope that drivers will respond to the special context and drive with extra care. Note that: The speed limit in the park is 40kph, with a 30kph zone around the gate that has been opened to allow through-access. Traffic will revert to the main roads when the park is closed, i.e. from 7pm to …
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Permeability is a two-way street… for bikes!

Permeability is a two-way street... for bikes!In an exciting development, Auckland Transport has announced a proposal to allow two-way cycling on half a dozen quiet one-way streets in the city centre. We’ve pushed for this for quite a while, as an essential part of a permeable network for travel by bike, so we are more than thrilled to see it happening. The idea is, these streets already have a calmed traffic flow and are pedestrian-and-bike-friendly; allowing people on bikes to legally travel in both directions on these quiet streets will enhance the cycle-friendly grid. The six initial trial streets are all in the central city – but obviously the wider potential of this design for enhancing bike travel across Auckland is pretty huge. AT says: “If well received, …
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Ask A Lawyer On a Bike – “Can I wear my compulsory bike helmet on my elbow?”

Ask A Lawyer On a Bike - "Can I wear my compulsory bike helmet on my elbow?"Our two-wheeled lawyer Jonathan Wood is back, to consider legal answers to some highly tricky questions about the perennial subject of compulsory helmet wearing… Q. I know it’s mandatory to wear a helmet – but is it mandatory to wear it on your head? Can I wear it on my elbow? The NZ Government fact sheet for cycling (the dehydrated concentration of the NZ cycling road code) simply mentions that it is compulsory for you to wear a helmet and it should be securely fastened. The road code is not law; it is an interpretation of the law that attempts to put things in plain language. The line between advice and law in the code …
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Thanks for your Grafton Bridge taxi trial feedback

Thanks for your Grafton Bridge taxi trial feedbackA quick thank you for all your feedback on our request for experiences on Grafton Bridge during the taxi trial. We’ve sent it through to AT, who will shortly be considering Traffic Operations Manager Rob Douglas-Jones’s recommendation that the trial be ended early. Here’s the gist of what you told us: While a couple of hardy correspondents weren’t too bothered, the bulk of the replies expressed concerns about taxis passing at speeds that did not feel safe. Some noted that the lack of safety is exacerbated by the narrow width of the single vehicle lanes on the bridge. Responses also referred to tail-gating by taxis and buses. Buses were seen as particularly threatening because …
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