Outrage over claim cyclist caused own death

By Mathew Dearnaley

Jane Bishop. Photo / Supplied
Jane Bishop. Photo / Supplied

Cyclist Jane Bishop caused her own death when she was killed by a truck on Tamaki Drive in 2010, says a report commissioned by Auckland Transport.

The claim by a former police crash investigator has infuriated cycling advocate Bevan Woodward, who four years earlier asked the Auckland City Council to remove what he says was a traffic pinch-point near where the 27-year-old Englishwoman died.

Auckland Council transport chairman Mike Lee, who is an Auckland Transport board member, said yesterday that he wanted to publicly dissociate himself from "the allegation that Jane Bishop caused her own death".

"I find that repugnant," he told the Weekend Herald.

Mr Lee said Auckland Transport could not represent the report as an independent document as it had been commissioned by the council body.

Two days after the crash, in which Ms Bishop hit the open door of a parked car and fell under the rear wheel of a passing truck, the agency removed parking spaces identified by Mr Woodward in 2006 as a danger to cyclists.

A police charge against the motorist who opened the door, Glenn Becker, was dismissed by an Auckland District Court judge in February.

This week, Auckland Transport chief executive David Warburton told an inquest into Ms Bishop's death that former police crash investigation head Graeme Williams, who is now in private practice, found the road layout was not a contributing factor.

Dr Warburton stopped short of referring in his evidence to the final conclusion of the consultant's report, that "the cause of this tragic crash can be attributed to the actions of Ms Bishop".

The report said the narrowing of the roadway at the point where cars were parked did not cause the crash.

"She chose to pass the truck on the left that was lawfully using the single eastbound lane and ride through the gap between it and the legally parked vehicles," it said.

The crash "would never have occurred if she had been riding more defensively, complied with the land transport road rules, followed the recommendations contained in the land transport code for cyclists, or if she had used the cycleway that was available".

Coroner Gordon Matenga reserved his verdict.

Auckland Transport spokesman Wally Thomas would not comment on whether the organisation stood by the consultant's claim, saying only that Dr Warburton was not questioned about it at the inquest.

But Mr Woodward has sought an urgent meeting with Auckland Transport to discuss what he alleges are "crucial flaws" in the report.

He said Mr Williams was wrong to blame Ms Bishop for not using an off-road cycleway, as a section of footpath around a bend in Tamaki Drive leading to the crash scene was not delineated as such, being just 2.1m wide and separated from the road by a stone wall.

Mr Williams could not be contacted last night.

- NZ Herald

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