Coroner queries mandatory use of cycle lanes

By Edward Gay

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

A coroner has asked if cyclists should legally have to use cycle lanes where they are provided.

Senior Constable Brian Hensley, a crash investigator, is giving evidence at the Auckland inquest into the death of British nurse Jane Bishop on Tamaki Drive.

The 27-year-old was cycling home from work last November between slow moving traffic and parked cars when she hit the open door of a car and went under a truck.

She died at the scene.

At the inquest at Auckland District Court today, Coroner Gordon Matenga said he understood the death would have been avoided had Ms Bishop used the cycle lane painted on the footpath.

Under questioning from Mr Matenga, Mr Hensley said he understood the cycle road code said cyclists should use the cycle lane if available but there was no legal obligation.

He said the cycle lane on Tamaki Drive was on the footpath and was big enough if a cyclist was going at a "jogging pace''.

"But for anyone going at a racing type pace or a training pace, the cycle lane is not up to carrying people at that pace.''

He said that because the cycle lane was on the road side of the footpath, it meant that the cyclist was travelling in the "door zone'' of someone sitting in the passenger seat of a parked car.

Mr Hensley was also asked by the coroner if the road layout had anything to do with the death.

He said it would contribute to "visibility'' but did not contribute to her death.

Constable Hensley said that speaking generally, he had seen cyclists do "a lot of stupid things'' including going through red lights and weaving in and out of traffic.

"Although it is often the car driver who bears the brunt of the crash - so to speak - a lot of time cyclists don't help themselves by the manner of their driving.''

He said cyclists were governed by the same road rules as motorists but some seem to disregard them.

The inquest before Coroner Matenga is part of a series of inquiries into the deaths of cyclists on roads around the country.

CYCLING FATALITIES

The deaths of eight cyclists killed on roads between November and April are the subject of four coroner's inquests starting on July 21.

Palmerston North

* Patricia Fraser: died November 13 near Sanson.

* Rex Dalzell: died January 7, 10km northeast of Palmerston North.

Waikato

* Mark Ferguson: died November 14, 12km south of Morrinsville.

* Wilhelm Muller: died November 14, as above.

* Kay Wolfe: died November 18 from injuries in the same accident.

Auckland

* Antony Chapman: died April 5, Whitford-Maraetai Rd.

* Jane Bishop: died November 17, Tamaki Drive.

Wellington

* Benjamin Lawless: died January 22, Karori, Wellington.

- APNZ

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