Cycling crash drop 'may be just luck'

By Jordyn O'Shea

Photo / Natalie Slade
Photo / Natalie Slade

Cycling in Auckland is getting safer, accident statistics show, but experts say a fall in the number of accidents may simply be down to luck.

Police records show Auckland's cyclist fatalities and serious-injury rates dropped dramatically this year.

Statistics from the national hospital database show minor-injury and non-injury cycling crashes in Auckland have increased by at least 10 per cent in the past two years.

The injuries include broken bones, concussions and skin abrasions.

The total number of Auckland cycling accidents is also on the rise.

Canterbury University transportation engineering lecturer Glen Koorey, said it was lucky there had not been more fatalities. He said deaths were "random events" in any accident.

For this reason, Dr Koorey believed a drop in cycling fatalities should not stop efforts to improve cycle safety.

Lobby group Cycle Action Auckland has teamed with Auckland Transport and police to encourage safer cycling behaviour on Tamaki Drive - a hotspot for cycling accidents..

The plan is to turn Tamaki Drive, a road used by nearly 1100 cyclists every day, into a modern cycling route.

Experienced road cyclists have volunteered to help manage the growing numbers of people on the road.

They will work with local bike shops to address the issue of dangerous bunch riding and to ensure riding etiquette is observed.

Other ideas include establishing a hot line to report hazards on the road, and an online survey to record injuries.

Cycle Action spokeswoman Barbara Cuthbert said the initiative was a chance to address public concern about how cyclists used the road.

"We are aware that motorists find the high volume of cyclists on Tamaki Drive intimidating. This is a way to make better relationships."

Cycling Auckland - a group of "regular people who ride bicycles" - is also working on ways of changing New Zealand's cycling culture.

Member Tim Gummer said the group was meeting MPs as it would like to see the Government take responsibility for promoting cycling as a transport alternative.

He believed the key to reducing risk was to encourage more people to use cycling as a mode of transport, as this would lead to "safety in numbers".

Research from successful cycling cities in Europe - such as Seville in Spain - suggests the risk is reduced dramatically when at least 3 per cent of all road users are cyclists.

Auckland has 1 per cent.

- NZ Herald

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