Police must target unlit night riders

By Sam Hurley

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The greatest hazard on the road late at night and early morning is a poorly lit cyclist, according to a local delivery man.

David Edlin, an early morning delivery driver, said he had experienced a number of problems with cyclists failing to make themselves visible to other road users.

"I counted 23 bicycles on the road in Hastings one morning, noting that 16 of these were either inadequately lit, either just one light at the front, or at the rear, with 10 of them having no lights at all."

Hawke's Bay road policing manager Senior Sergeant Fred Van Duuren said that with the change in seasons, people should be more aware of cycle safety and take extra precautions. "It's more about both cyclists and drivers staying aware of each other on the road."

He said police had not noticed an increase in cycle vehicle accidents during dark hours.

Mr Edlin believed that the consequences for cyclists, if caught with improper safety equipment, should be tougher.

"I should imagine the consequences would be severe if I were stopped and found to be deliberately driving my van without lights," he said.

The nocturnal truckie said the nature of early morning deliveries, turning into and reversing out of driveways on a regular basis, means cyclists are always at risk, especially from large vehicles.

"No matter how big our mirrors are and how vigilant we try to be, an unlit bike simply doesn't register on the radar until it's too late," he said.

"Some of us are in light vehicles, while others are manoeuvering bread trucks around. The larger the vehicle, the less clear visibility we have."

Hawke's Bay cycle advocate Bernie Kelly said those who are serious about cycling do the best they can to make sure they are seen by other vehicles in poor light conditions. "There are some really bright light options for cyclists these days," he said.

"What I'm seeing more and more are the riders on the fringe of society, the ones who may not be working or don't have a licence or simply can't afford a car. That group doesn't really care if they don't have lights for night riding, or helmets for that matter."

Mr Edlin said riders should be aware of other road users regardless of how experienced they are. "Cyclists so often criticise motorists for not being considerate towards them, yet so many of them don't take basic principles of road safety seriously," he said.

"None of us wants the death of a cyclist on our conscience, along with the lifetime of stress and guilt that might accompany such an incident and the possible loss of livelihood that might also arise. It's high time the police mounted an early morning campaign targeting unlit cyclists, and come down hard on them."

According to the latest Ministry of Transport figures,, more than 25 Hawke's Bay cyclists have been injured in accidents involving cars in the past year.

The Hastings District Council was allocated more than $3 million by the New Zealand Transport Agency to create a "model" environment for cyclists in 2010.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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