Russell Blackstock

Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Cameras to watch bikers

Auckland Transport hopes the markings will aid road safety.
Auckland Transport hopes the markings will aid road safety.

Distinctive new road markings are being rolled out in an attempt to prevent cycling deaths - and video cameras will be watching how people react to them.

The year-long pilot scheme will begin this week at five residential areas around Auckland. Motorists and cyclists will also be under video surveillance for the 12-month period.

If the initiative is as successful as it has been in Australia, the United States and Europe, it will be rolled out nationally in 2015, said Matthew Rednall, Auckland Council's community transport manager.

"At the moment we only have cycling lanes on busy routes and we need a facility that encourages cyclists to be more confident on quieter streets and use them more for family-related activities."

The stencil-style markings - called sharrows - indicate a shared lane environment for cyclists and motorists. They help to position cyclists on the street for better visibility and stay clear of hazards such as car doors, and also to mark routes for cyclists to use.

Cyclist Jane Bishop's death three years ago on Tamaki Drive was blamed by a coroner on factors including her actions and the road layout.

The 27-year-old British nurse hit a car door and was run over by a truck on her way home from work on November 17, 2010. Coroner Gordon Matenga listed the road as well as Ms Bishop's actions and those of the man whose car door she hit as causes.

Recent coronial findings revealed an average of 15 cyclists a year have been killed on New Zealand roads since mid-2007. Victims ranged in age from six to 93.

"This is a cheap and effective way of significantly improving safety on our cycle networks," Rednall said. "The markings are to raise awareness among motorists that cyclists are about and impact on the speeds they are travelling at on residential roads."

The trials are in Belmont, Glendowie, Pt Chevalier, Pt England and Glen Innes. The scheme was welcomed by Cycle Action Auckland chair Barbara Cuthbert, who thought it was a long time coming.

"I first saw this in action three years ago in Australia and immediately pushed for it to be introduced in New Zealand," Cuthbert said. "A lot of people are frightened to ride residential streets because of the speed of motorists. It will also encourage more kids to ride to school.

"This is Auckland playing catch-up with the rest of the world."

Motoring advocacy group Dog and Lemon, however, believed the project would not be effective and also had issues with drivers being filmed over such a long period.

"Cyclists and cars are simply incompatible and we should be looking at what goes on in cities like Amsterdam in Holland where vehicles and cycles are separated, instead of wasting money on this," said spokesman Clive Matthew-Wilson.

"Motorists are also already offended at the amount they are being videoed by authorities, even when they have nothing to hide."

Jena Western likes to ride locally with daughter Elliot-Rose. Photo / Doug Sherring
Jena Western likes to ride locally with daughter Elliot-Rose. Photo / Doug Sherring

Sharing roads the way to go

Jena Western believes new road markings will make her neighbourhood safer for cyclists and families.

The mum-of-one likes to take spin around the streets of Belmont on Auckland's North Shore with husband Ben and their daughter Elliot-Rose, 2.

She has already had a few close shaves with cars and worries about speeding motorists on residential roads.

"We have had Elliot-Rose out on our bikes in a carrier since she was eight months but we stick to shared paths," she said.

"These markings would make motorists a lot more aware we are around."

Western believed the scheme would encourage communities to see cycling not just as a form of exercise but as practical everyday transport.

"It would be great seeing more people using cycles to go to the shops and for kids to get to school on. The more of a culture of sharing the roads we have, the better it will be for all of us."

- Herald on Sunday

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