Call for real cycle lanes on all key commuter routes

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.

Councils need to build real cycle lanes on key commuter routes, says a doctor's lobby group.

In late 2010, British nurse Jane Bishop was cycling home from work between slow moving traffic and parked cars on Auckland's Tamaki Drive when she collided with the open door of a car.

The 27-year-old British nurse fell under a slow-moving truck and died at the scene.

An inquest into the cause of her death was held at the Auckland District Court yesterday.

Dr Alex Macmillan said members of OraTaiao - a group of medical professionals concerned about climate change impacts on health - are calling on councils to act, regardless of what the coroner finds.

Dr Macmillan said Ms Bishop's inquest highlighted dangerous infrastructure in cities across the country.

"Jane Bishop's tragic death was not an accident brought on by unfortunate circumstances, as argued at the hearing. Nor was it confined to a case of personal error, as was also argued. Her death was preventable, like all the deaths being investigated in this inquiry."

She said significant investment in safe road design and cycle facilities was needed now.

The inquest into the death of Ms Bishop heard how the council's transport arm had drawn up new plans for Tamaki Drive.

Auckland Transport spokesman Wally Thomas said plans for the $960,000 project show on-road cycle lanes heading in both directions and carparks being moved. The work is currently underway.

He said Auckland Transport also has a $150,000 emergency fund to do easy fixes identified by cycling lobby group Cycle Action Auckland.

The inquest also heard that Auckland Transport had commissioned an investigation into Ms Bishop's death which concluded that the road layout was not the cause.

APNZ has asked for a copy of the report which was tabled at the inquest, but Mr Thomas said Auckland Transport had been advised by their lawyer not to release it.

The inquest also heard from the past chairman of Cycle Action Auckland Bevan Woodward who said he had 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 said he 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 four 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."

Coroner Gordon Matenga has reserved his decision.

He has been travelling around the country holding inquests into the death of cyclists.

Yesterday Mr Matenga also heard evidence about the death of Antony Chapman, known as Tony, who was riding with a friend early in April last year on Whitford-Maraetai Rd when he hit a rock and went over his handlebars.

The 48-year-old suffered severe head injuries, despite wearing a helmet, and died at the scene.

- NZ Herald

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