Dangerous roads prompt bike flags

By Kaysha Brownlie

14 comments
From left, John Malin standing next to Wade Burrell who has attached a rod to his bike to stop vehicles driving too closely. Both attended a free breakfast at Napier MP Stuart Nash's office, as part of a Hawke's Bay Commuter Challenge for Go by Bike Month. Photo / Duncan Brown
From left, John Malin standing next to Wade Burrell who has attached a rod to his bike to stop vehicles driving too closely. Both attended a free breakfast at Napier MP Stuart Nash's office, as part of a Hawke's Bay Commuter Challenge for Go by Bike Month. Photo / Duncan Brown

A Hawke's Bay cyclist is taking extra measures to keep himself safe on the roads, which he says are some of the most dangerous he's cycled on.

Wade Burrell has attached a 75cm rod to the back of his bike which extends horizontally towards traffic.

There is a New Zealand flag attached to it as well as a fluorescent orange flag at the tip closest to cars. He attached it so vehicles would not travel too closely, and because he doesn't wear a helmet due to a medical exemption.

Mr Burrell said since not wearing a helmet and adopting the extension the majority of motorists had stayed further away.

New Zealand Land Transport Agency states loads carried on bikes must not touch the ground or extend greater than one metre in front or behind the wheels, or more than half a metre on either side. Cars should drive at least 1.5 metres away from cyclists.

Mr Burrell had been stopped by Dunedin police before, but it was due to his lack of helmet and there was no dispute over his rod-extension. He said the officer did look at him "quizzically", but there was no issue.

The 53-year-old said cycling was in his DNA and he had been doing it for the past 33 years.

He had been leading a transient lifestyle for the past few years and had cycled up and down New Zealand non-stop.

Having cycled throughout Europe and United Kingdom, he said in his experience New Zealand roads were the most dangerous because many drivers seemed to relax, especially on the open roads. But he felt safer with the homemade extension.

"I have had a few strange looks, but mostly people are really positive."

He was spotted yesterday with his modified bike outside Napier MP Stuart Nash's office after a free breakfast as part of a Hawke's Bay Commuter Challenge, part of Go by Bike Month.

Ramblers Cycling Club chairman Gavin Bush said he had not come across such extensions before.

"This man may have hit upon a new way of keeping separation between cars and bikes, but it doesn't sound fool-proof to me."

Road Policing Inspector Matt Roderick said there were regulations which both motorists and cyclists had to exercise when it came to what they could extend from their vehicles and bikes.

He suggested a shorter length may be safer.

Mr Roderick said cyclists were encouraged to use a number of safety measures, the extensions could be purchased and were encouraged as well as flags which were designed to stand upright on the back of the bike. With head injuries the most frequent cycling injury, he urged riders to always wear helmets, fluorescent clothing and reflectors.

Safe cycling:

* Helmets must be worn
* Bikes must have brakes and reflectors

Cyclists:

* Ride close to the left
* Allow traffic to pass a soon as possible
* Cycle two abreast, no more
* Use hand signals
* Loads must not extend more than one metre in front or behind the wheels, or more than half a metre on either side.

Cars:

* Drive at least 1.5 metres away from cyclists

Source: https://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/roadcode/cyclist-code/about-cycling/rules/

- Hawkes Bay Today

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