Code of behaviour an olive branch to motorists on Tamaki Drive
Cyclists are using a voluntary code of behaviour to try to improve their volatile relationship with motorists on one of New Zealand's most notorious stretches of road.
The programme, dubbed Good Bunch, was created by the Tamaki Drive Working Group - a collaboration of road cyclists, Auckland Transport, Auckland Police, the Orakei Local Board and Cycle Action Auckland, which was set up 18 months ago in response to hostility between cyclists and motorists.
As part of the initiative, cyclists pledge to limit bunch sizes to below 20, to ride no more than two abreast, fall back to allow motorists to pass and observe red traffic lights.
A website and cards with the key points of the code have been distributed to bike shops and cycle groups.
British nurse Jane Bishop was killed while cycling after hitting an open car door and being run over by a truck in 2010.
Spokeswoman Barbara Cuthbert said a recent survey showed cyclists were obeying the new code and she wanted the Good Bunch scheme rolled out across Auckland.
"The number of road cyclists training for big summer events like the Taupo Challenge will increase on the region's rural roads," she said.
"We also need to offer bunch-riding training to new road cyclists, as there is a tendency for them to take to the roads without the necessary skills to ride safely in bunches.
"My hope is that this will reduce the intimidation that some motorists feel when approaching a bunch of road cyclists, and lead to more courteous road sharing."
She said 83 per cent of injuries to cyclists on Tamaki Drive were caused by motorists not seeing the cyclist.
Tamaki Drive resident Kim Sinclair - who won an Oscar for art direction on the film Avatar - said he had been knocked off his bike and injured by car doors opening on Tamaki Drive more than once.
He wondered how many cyclists used Tamaki Drive, so he went out between 6.30 and 9am every morning for a week in July. He counted 2517 cyclists in the week, but also noticed an improvement in cyclists' behaviour, which he believed was down to the Good Bunch.
Mt Eden Cycles owner Mark Taylor takes road cyclists for fitness and camaraderie rides on Tamaki Drive three mornings a week. He was concerned the size of the bunches was intimidating to motorists and creating hostility between the road-user groups. "Previously we would have between 40 and 100 cyclists turn up and we would split it up, but now we never go out in bunches of more than 20," he said.
Drivers have their say
Motorists spoken to by the Herald on Sunday on Tamaki Drive this week had widely varying views on cyclists.
* Mary Brooke from Remuera said she drove on Tamaki Drive every day.
"Cyclists seem to be better behaved but at the weekend they do cycle more than two abreast. It is marvellous for them to be getting exercise but not for drivers," she said.
* Karl Smart from Hillsborough said cyclists did not bother him at all.
"They don't annoy me. They have a right to be there," he said.
* Angie Humphreys, of St Heliers, said she was annoyed when cyclists did not use cycle lanes.
"At rush hour they are in the car lane ... Tamaki Drive is so skinny we can't have two lanes of traffic so it's impossible to move over for them. It's great they are making an effort but I won't cycle my bike on Tamaki Drive, I'm too scared," she said.
* Peter Dee said he was against cyclists.
"You will find people are either for them or against them and I'm against them. I'm a believer in size matters. I don't believe they have the right to be on the road at all. I'm all for cycle lanes but I'm also for user pays. They say you have to give them 1.5m, but on Tamaki Drive that's impossible. If they want to cycle go to a velodrome."By Joanne Carroll Email Joanne