Cyclists plead for respect on roads

By Hayden Donnell, Paul Harper

File photo / The Aucklander
File photo / The Aucklander

Cyclists are pleading for motorists to show them respect after seeing five of their number die in five days after crashes, with an Auckland group calling for continuous cycle lanes in the city.

Kay Heather Wolfe, 45, Mark Andrew Ferguson, 46, and Wilhelm Muller, 71, died after being hit by a car that crossed the centre line near Morrinsville on Sunday.

Patricia Anne Veronica Fraser, 34, was killed in the Manawatu on Saturday while training for the Lake Taupo cycle race.

Last night, 27-year-old United Kingdom citizen Jane Mary Bishop, died after her cycle was hit by a truck on Tamaki Drive along Auckland's waterfront. Police said she had swerved to avoid a car door.

Ellerslie man John McLaren was also involved in a crash on Tamaki Drive last week.

He was in shock and suffering from a broken shoulder blade and collarbone when the motorist who forced him off the road confronted him with an angry lecture.

Ms Bishop's death on the same stretch of road had him counting his blessings his accident was not worse.

"It's a sad event. All our thoughts should be with the family of the deceased."

He called for increased tolerance and awareness from motorists in the wake of the cyclist deaths.

"The woman that died yesterday - if that person who opened their car door had just looked around things could have been different. If the guy had waited just 10 seconds for me to go over the bridge, everything would have been fine.

"It's awareness. That one bit of impatience could mean someone getting hurt or killed."

Call for cycle lanes

Cycle Action Auckland said continuous cycle lanes were needed around Auckland to prevent crashes such as the one last night.

Spokesperson Barb Cuthbert described the crash as "every cyclist's nightmare".

Ms Cuthbert said Cycle Action Auckland approached the Auckland City Council in 2006 with concerns about the exact location of last night's fatal accident, saying the bus and car parks should be moved further up the road.

"We told the council it was a hazard. It is a real choke point there," she said. "The council did nothing."

Ms Cuthbert said there many areas of concern for Auckland, particularly those roads without cycle lanes. Cycling alongside parked cars was a major concern for cyclists, she said.

"We make a trade off as a community between providing convenient parking for drivers and bike safety. It is a trade off we can no longer stand for."

Ms Cuthbert, believed the "huge boom" in the popularity of cyclists had made the road safer for those on bikes as motorists learned to expect them.

But she said many people simply did not see cyclists on the road.

"The community needs to grow up and take care of these people," she said. "We are not just a fringe group - it's mainstream."

'Apparently we cyclists don't belong'

Cyclist Andy Wilton recently rode the majority of the 2007 Tour de France route.

He said the respect shown to him by the French motorists was "scarcely believable", with only two "frights" in over 2500km of riding.

That was a stark contrast from his experiences cycling in Auckland.

"In six months of training for an event when in Auckland I was clipped by car wing mirrors twice, had some kids drive beside me and slap my backside, and had a bottle thrown at me.

"Most NZ drivers are OK but a few have got a lot to learn about sharing the road."

Cyclist Michael Haliday said he did not ride his collection of $10,000 bicycles in New Zealand.

Many drivers in the country were aggressive and intolerant towards cyclists, he said.

"It's safer to ride the streets of San Fran, or anywhere in France or Holland. It's so incredibly unsafe here. I listen to people bragging about squeezing cyclists, or giving them a lesson.

"Apparently we cyclists don't belong on the road because we don't pay road users - but I have a car and motorcycle which are charged."

Green Party cycling spokesperson Kevin Hague implored motorists to drive more slowly.

"Those using a car have a particular responsibility to look out for vulnerable road users because of their deadly potential," he said.

"But an even greater share of the responsibility lies with local and central government, as they have the ability to provide infrastructure in a way that makes it safer, more convenient and pleasant for New Zealanders to cycle for transport and recreation."

Mr Hague said he backed Cycle Action Auckland's recommendations on improving cycle safety in the city.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce has also called for more understanding between motorists and cyclists.

He released a statement last night saying he is "very concerned" about the recent spate of fatal accidents involving cyclists.

It urged people to use the road carefully and be mindful of other road users.

Your views

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf01 at 26 Dec 2014 03:20:04 Processing Time: 429ms