Cycling watchdog had alerted council to Tamaki Drive

By Edward Gay

Jane BishopJane Bishop was knocked off her bike and run over by a truck after she collided with an opening car door. Photo / Supplied.
Jane BishopJane Bishop was knocked off her bike and run over by a truck after she collided with an opening car door. Photo / Supplied.

The council was told of a dangerous "pinch point" on Tamaki Drive and did not respond to safety concerns until a cyclist was killed, a coroner's inquest has heard.

British nurse Jane Bishop was cycling home from work between slow moving traffic and parked cars when she collided with the open door of a car.

She went under a moving truck and died at the scene.

At an inquest into the 27-year-old's death, at the Auckland District Court yesterday, Bevan Woodward said he hand delivered a letter to the general manager of the council's transport team in 2006, warning him about hazards on Tamaki Drive.

Mr Woodward - who was then chairman of Cycle Action Auckland - was concerned about the raised concrete median barrier and the carparking close to a tight bend.

But the council did not listen, and he said he received no formal response.

"Approximately 4 years later, on November 17, 2010, Jane Bishop was killed at that specific location when having cycled into the pinch point [and] was left with insufficient room between a motorist exiting his vehicle and a slow moving truck ..."

Mr Woodward said two days after Ms Bishop's death, the council removed the parking spaces that he had identified in 2006 as being a danger to cyclists.

"In my opinion, Auckland City Council's actions were a significant contributory cause of the death of Jane Mary Bishop."

The inquest also heard from Auckland Transport chief executive Dr David Warburton who said an independent crash report found the road layout played no part in Ms Bishop's death.

That finding was corroborated by police crash investigator Senior Constable Brian Hensley.

Under questioning from coroner Gordon 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 a shared space on the footpath, and was big enough only if a cyclist was going at "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."

The inquest also heard from Glenn Becker, the motorist who opened his door and was charged with careless use of a motor vehicle causing death.

The judge dismissed the charge against Mr Becker at his defended hearing at the Auckland District Court in February.

Mr Becker said he never saw Ms Bishop and got only his legs out of his car door before she collided with him.

"I heard a sound, I looked up and I was being hit ..."

Mr Matenga asked Mr Becker if he had cycled in the area himself.

Mr Becker said he was into freestyle BMX riding and he would be more likely to be riding his bike on the seawall.

Lawyer for the Auckland Transport, Grant Illingworth, QC, said the issue around the road layout was the only matter in contention.

He said removing carparks would only shift the problem further down Tamaki Drive.

The coroner has reserved his decision. He has now heard inquests into cycling deaths in Palmerston North and Wellington.

He plans to go to Christchurch next.

- APNZ

- NZ Herald

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