Driver 'did all he could' - judge

By Phil Taylor, Edward Gay, Newstalk ZB

The scene of an accident where Jane Bishop was killed after an accident on Tamaki Drive in November 2010. Photo / Sarah Ivey
The scene of an accident where Jane Bishop was killed after an accident on Tamaki Drive in November 2010. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Glenn Becker did everything he could to get out of his car safely in rush hour traffic short of climbing out the passenger door, a judge has said.

He wept and hugged his partner at Auckland District Court today, moments after Judge Phil Gittos dismissed the charge of careless use of a motor vehicle causing death, on the third day of Mr Becker's trial

The charge was laid after Jane Bishop, a 27-year-old British nurse, died while cycling home from work in the city along Tamaki Drive between slow-moving traffic and parked cars on November 7, 2010.

The police said the death was caused by Mr Becker opening his car door before Ms Bishop hit him and his car door and fell under a tip truck.

Ms Bishop died at the scene.

But Judge Gittos said the police had failed to prove that Mr Becker was at fault when he parked and got out of his car to go fishing.

"He did all he could do in the circumstances, short of getting out on the passenger side.''

Judge Gittos said Mr Becker took the "proper steps'' of looking behind him and Ms Bishop could have been hidden by other parked cars or the the large tip truck which eventually ran over her.

He said Ms Bishop may also have not seen Mr Becker.

"Essentially, her action of applying the brakes suddenly caused her to lose control and fall with such tragic consequences.''

He said cyclists were subject to the same road rules as cars and should not overtake cars on the left, although it was common.

"The practice presents hazards to cyclists and persons getting in and out of vehicles.''

He said Mr Becker was aware of potential hazards and that could be seen by the way he opened his door only part of the way and slid out of his car.

Becker's lawyer Kevin Brosnahan said outside court that his client and his family were relieved with the decision.

"His thoughts and feelings go out to Ms Bishop's friends and family.''

Cycle Action Auckland spokeswoman Barbara Cuthbert said one of the cause of the accident was parking on Tamaki Drive and those spaces should never been there.

But Mrs Cuthbert said her organisation had been commissioned by the then Auckland City Council to do an audit of Tamaki Drive in 2006 - four years before the accident - and had concluded that the carparking created a "highly hazardous pinchpoint''.

She said the parking spaces were not removed by the council until two days after the crash that claimed Ms Bishop's life.

Mrs Cuthbert said she hoped that the council would learn lessons from the crash and that there were other cycling "pinchpoints'' on Auckland's roading network that could cause fatal crashes and needed urgent action.

Auckland Transport Committee chairman Mike Lee said he could not comment on the parking spaces being removed.

He said he had ridden around Auckland on a bicyle.

"You do take your life in your hands. What we need in Auckland is quite separate cycle lanes.''

He said the council had put up signs around the busy intersection of Tamaki Drive and Ngapipi Rd, installed more cycle lanes and started an "education campaign''.

A spokesman for Auckland Transport said the organisation was also looking at widening the footpath by building a boardwalk for cyclists and pedestrians.

- APNZ

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