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Cycle safe: Call for less talk, more action on cycle safety

The death of cyclist John Tangiia has increased calls for change. Photo / Richard Robinson
The death of cyclist John Tangiia has increased calls for change. Photo / Richard Robinson

Cycling deaths on Auckland's roads reinforce a need for faster action on critical transport projects, says the city's chamber of commerce.

Chamber chief Michael Barnett says an Auckland Transport survey showing many cyclists running red lights does not excuse a lack of action on projects to protect them and other road users - especially large trucks - from each other.

The death of rider John Tangiia, 37, at the foot of Parnell Rise last week reinforced the "undeniable fact" that work on many of such projects should have been speeded up, he said yesterday.

"Part of Auckland being an international city is how efficiently and safely we move people, goods and services around the city," Mr Barnett said.

"Over the past five years there have been too many cycle deaths, showing a need for a change of attitudes and behaviour by cyclists and other road users and reinforcing the case for faster progress to build a safe and efficient transport network - a network that is safe for cyclists and protects other road users."

He said the Grafton Gully corridor, where last week's incident occurred and where the Transport Agency is investigating access improvements between the port and the city's motorways, was critical to Auckland's commerce.

"For 30 years Auckland has talked of a project to separate the 4000 freight vehicles that daily head to and from the Ports of Auckland and nearby businesses from other traffic.

"An investigation to look at route options has been under way for the past three years during which time we have not only had the latest death but other incidents reinforcing the urgency of the project.

"We can't just keep talking about solving our core transport projects - we need action," said Mr Barnett.

His comments come more than three years after Mayor Len Brown promised to investigate safer cycling for CBD streets.

Interactive graphic: NZ cycling crashes 2008-2012

But it took new councillor Chris Darby to persuade the council last month to add a request for greater priority for pedestrians and cyclists to a letter of expectation sent last month to Auckland Transport chairman Lester Levy.

Mr Darby, a cyclist, told the Herald after last week's fatality that the council transport body's $10.3 million walking and cycling budget for this financial year was "petty cash compared to what is required".

"It pales against the investments going into a very car-centric transportation plan," he said.

An Auckland Transport survey done at four intersections nine months ago over 12 hours recorded 360 red light breaches, with cyclists responsible for 60 per cent.

But during a one-hour Herald survey on Friday of the intersection where Mr Tangiia died, the only cyclist who crossed it did so on a green light, and all 24 red-light runners were drivers - including three truckies and a bus driver - some of whom appeared to be travelling faster than the speed limit.

Auckland City police investigating Mr Tangiia's death want to hear from any witnesses they haven't already spoken to. They especially want to talk to motorists or pedestrians who were behind the novice cyclist as he travelled down Parnell Rise, or any who were stopped at the traffic lights just before the accident. The crash occurred about 2.15pm on Tuesday. Contact Constable Mark Rodgers on (09) 359 3116 or email mark.rodgers@police.govt.nz.

- Additional reporting Mathew Dearnaley


Read more stories in our Cycle Safe series here.

- APNZ

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