Level-headed responses

In the wake of the decision to throw out the charge against the driver accused – and now acquitted of – having caused Jane Bishop’s death on Tamaki Drive in 2010, an editorial in the Herald on Sunday today has offered one of the most reasonable ways forward. The key message is already contained in the succinct title, and in some of the exceprts below:

Lets take cycleways seriously

…What emerges clearly from this sorry affair is that the “pinch-point” piece of road where Jane Bishop died was an accident waiting to happen… …there was no margin for the error that, in this case, proved fatal.

…The idea that an audit of such danger spots on popular cycling routes (followed by their immediate improvement) should be simply the first step in setting up a comprehensive system of cycle paths around the isthmus may seem radical to many Aucklanders.

…Cyclists, in particular those who commute, are not obscure oddball hobbyists; they are the trailblazers of a transport future whom we should applaud and accommodate.

…the cycle culture that grew up in the early 20th century, when bikes hugely outnumbered cars, was swept away by a wave of increased car ownership in the prosperous postwar years. It was only furious public pressure after many cyclist deaths, and then the 70s spikes in oil prices, that forced the wholesale building of wide, isolated cycleways [in countries like the Netherlands].

It is well past time that we followed the Dutch example. It does not require great capital investment, just the appropriation of some existing carriageway, making dual-lane roads single-lane and cutting back roadside parking.

Cycle Action has long called for this kind of attitude. We are working hard to encourage Council to push forward with creating a Tamaki Drive – and a Regional Cycle Network – that is safe, consistent and high-quality. In short, a transport environment for cyclists that provides the ‘margin of error’ preventing mistakes from becoming tragedies.

The environment in which we interact is as important as the attitudes of motorists and cyclists. No one involved in the Jane Bishop crash – neither herself, the driver who opened the door, or the truck driver under whose wheels she fell – was on any rampart in any cycle culture war. A better cycle network could have prevented it all, and a better cycle network will yet prevent many future tragedies, if we get together and make it happen.

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