Some cycling safety statistics for Auckland

NZTA are offering a new safety (i.e. crash) analysis feature that will be understandable even for most laypeople – you can have a play around with it here if you are interested.

Just chose your selections in the drop-down menus to get what you are interested in, and you get a report of the last 5 years. Of course professional crash analysts have access to much more detail.

As an example, I tested “Cyclists – Auckland Urban Central” (would have preferred “all Auckland”, but that wasn’t available as a report).

Some key facts, from the one-page report and my musings on them:

  • In the last five years, Urban Central Auckland had 3 cycling fatalities. 2 of them were in 2010. 2011 we had none. This shows how random serious crashes actually are, sometimes they all happen closely spaced, sometimes there’s none for quite a while – longer term trends are easier to see from ‘serious injury’ and ‘minor injury’ stats – there’s more of them, and thus they are more statistically valid (statistics 101, really – but important to remember when we talk about emotional issues like dead cyclists)
  • But wait – there’s no clear trend in serious and minor injuries either. Serious injuries dipped in 2009 and 2010, then rose again. At the same time, minor injuries had a slight 2010 peak, then dipped a bit again. It seems that the numbers are still too small to correctly correlate. I’m not cynical enough to wish for more cycle injuries just so the numbers make sense, though, so…
  • …onward to causes of crashes. The three causes most commonly found are “poor observation”, “failed to give way / stop” and “crossing / turning”. Sounds like most near misses you had in the last years? Sadly, the breakdown does not clarify who was at fault – cyclist or other person involved (or how many of the crashes did not involve other parties)
  • As an interesting aside, alcohol was found in only 1% of the crashes (it doesn’t say whether alcohol on the part of the driver or the cyclist). That sounds almost too low to be true – for both motorists and drivers (did you know that one city in Germany cracked down on drunken cyclists after it found that 50% of all their cycle fatalities involved riders who had had a few too many? See here for a (bad) Google translation). I guess cyclists in Auckland know they need their wits and aren’t as casual about drunk riding as Germans…
  • The two worst crash locations (weighted by both number and seriousness of injury) were Williamson Avenue/ Mackelvie Street and Great North Road / Bullock Track. Good gosh, I knew the latter was dodgy, but not that it was THAT dodgy. And Williamson… didn’t even think of that one either…

At the top, I have added a map showing the crash locations. Click through twice to enlarge.

One thing that doesn’t appear above is a comparison with the three other Auckland “urban” areas (West, North and South). Interestingly, there was only one further fatality in the last 5 years, a crash on Pakuranga Road. Does that represent a good trend? I hope so.

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