Image 03It has been announced by Michael Woodhouse, Associate Minister of Transport, that the government will not adopt the coroner’s recent recommendations on cycling safety. The proposals came out of the coroner’s “inquest into the death of former national road policing manager Superintendent Steve Fitzgerald, 57, who was hit by a truck and trailer unit while cycling on the Petone foreshore in June 2008”.

Now at first glance this doesn’t look great. The coroner, Ian Smith, has made some recommendations that he thinks will increase the safety of cycling and the National government has rejected it. However, the recommendations by the coroner were:

  1. all cyclists should have to wear high-visibility clothing at all times (which is particularly ironic, seeing that Fitzgerald DID wear high-viz, yet it did not save him from being hit);
  2. there should be a mandatory one-metre gap between vehicles and cyclists;
  3. forcing cyclists to use cycle lanes; and
  4. more cycle safety education for those seeking their driver licence.
This is what would make cycling safe
This is what would make cycling safe

Now personally, I think no.1 would be detrimental to cycling and would increase the already prevalent view that cycling is unsafe. Forcing cyclists to use cycle lanes would also be detrimental, although of course that actually assumes there will be cycle lanes – something AT is not changing in any hurry.

The other two recommendations probably wouldn’t do any harm but I can’t see any great return from them either. Driver education would be nice but Northern Europe has shown that the best education is when the motorist is also a cyclist / when there’s many cyclists around.

The good news here is Michael Woodhouse’s justification for not implementing the hi-vis recommendation:

But in a letter to the coroner a few months later, Woodhouse said making hi-vis vests compulsory could discourage people from cycling by over-emphasising the risk and adding extra cost.

So it at least appears that Michael Woodhouse is adhering to the old physicians code of “first, do no harm”. Well done him.

And yes, this is the Michael Woodhouse who stated that what some see as auto dependence he sees as an example of freedom (or maybe for nothing left to lose – thanks Janis). Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Also check out Transport Blog’s take on this issue.

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9 responses to “Cycle safety proposals rejected

  1. Regarding Hi Viz. This has become so over used today due to the safety police and danger mongering that it has become just a normal background colour and of less value for those who really need it such as road workers, police etc.

    I am a great believer in wearing visible colours such as yellow, orange, white, reds etc and mixtures of same and certainly would not cycle in black or green for example. This to me is common sense. The same applies to cars I would not own another green one after being cut up so much or grey which blends with the tar seal……but hi viz all the time ?? over the top

    If a driver is not looking or has blocked vision how is hi viz going to help? Well done Minister. Please now analyse the real benefits/ disadvantages of the plastic hats we have to wear.

    Modern cars have diabolical vision for viewing at intersections and roundabouts with the angle and greater width (to house an airbag) of the A pillar. Drivers should be made aware of this serious hazard. I have a latest model car and have driven a couple of other makes and they all seem to suffer the same problem which also makes pedestrians hard to see when about to use a crossing.

    Our eye sight test is not good enough for driving according to my optician and should be another level on the chart.

    So, we have many half blind driver out there to watch out for as well !!

  2. Here I will make 4 suggestions of my own that will make cycling safer.

    1) On ‘test day’ make learner divers complete the same (or shorter version) of the course on a bike that they have to do in a car.

    2) Ditch the helmet law.

    3) 1 Meter gap won’ be effective – make it 2 and motorists might actually give cyclists 1 – while were at it why not suggest that overtaking speeds should be limited to 20kph bellow that of the road on which both are travelling.

    4) Put points on peoples licenses for dangerous driving such as dodgy overtaking manoeuvres.

    5) An extra one for fun and more of a suggestion than a recommendation- road user permit. Why not test cyclists the same as we test drivers?

  3. I have a good safety suggestion – spend $600 million on cycle lanes rather than land purchases to build more mega motorways as National did in the past year.

    1. And exactly how are John Key and his mates supposed to get to their Omaha baches in summer in a decent time?

      Obviously a higher priority than supplying a safe cycling environment for Aucklanders including children. We do have the third worst child road death numbers in the OECD but hey, Omaha beach in the summer baby!

  4. Regarding compulsory use of cycle lanes where present:

    What do you do when you want to turn right? If you aren’t allowed out of your lane, will cycle lane on-ramps be provided throughout the road network?

    How far out of your preferred route must you go to use a cycling facility? Pedestrians are required to use a formal crossing if within 20m of one, so would 100m diversion be reasonable for a rider? Why not 500m or 1 km? While we’re at it, should we be requiring drivers to take the motorway for all but the most local hops?

    1. It is pretty unworkable – though even some more advanced cycle countries have it, like Germany. The issue of course is that they have much better cycle networks – even in rural areas, the paths between villages are usually good, so even the sports riders (the very few that there are) aren’t really too put out by being made to use them).

    2. And then there is the instance of Thursday morning, where a NZ Couriers van used the bike lane (including dotted yellow line) as a parking lane.

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