Sam Boyer

Sam Boyer is a police reporter for the NZ Herald.

Cycle safe: Trading places - Day two

Cyclist Martin Johnston gets behind the wheel while car-driving Herald staff try biking to work.

Should pedestrians be required to wear registration stickers? Photo / Richard Robinson
Should pedestrians be required to wear registration stickers? Photo / Richard Robinson

Diary of a driver - Martin Johnston

Day two at the wheel and I've had my first minor incident - with a pedestrian, not a cyclist.

As I was lining up my right turn from Nelson St into Wyndham St, I wondered if the pedestrian, who was walking in the same direction as I was driving, would wait for me. Without a glance over his shoulder he strode out across Wyndham St.

I stopped, of course, to let him cross, slowing down my trip to work by all of three seconds.

No horn-honking required.

Should pedestrians be required to wear registration stickers so they can be more easily held to account when they jaywalk, cross against red lights and step on to roads unsafely?

The majority of bike riders I've watched this week have been cycling safely and legally and quite a few are wearing high-visibility gear.

But a helmeted BMX-bike rider on Monday evening decided red traffic lights at the corner of Karangahape Rd and Ponsonby Rd weren't for him so he nipped over into the gutter on the right-hand side of Ponsonby Rd and pushed slowly along against the line of cars less than a metre to his left.

I lost sight of him soon after that as I got the green light so I'm not sure what happened, but he may have ridden across Ponsonby Rd.

A sizeable minority in my daily observations - 5 to 10 per cent - aren't wearing a helmet.

And around the same proportions ride on the footpath or ride across signal-controlled intersections on the pedestrian crossing.

None of this affects me as a driver and I haven't seen any cyclists putting pedestrians at risk so far.

Most of the footpath riders I've seen have also not been wearing a helmet.

I guess some of this law-breaking arises from cyclists not feeling safe riding on the roads.

The footpath riders are no Lance Armstrongs - they potter along fairly slowly. And some of the non-standard behaviour at intersections - riding on pedestrian crossings and cycling on the wrong side of the road - will be from thinking as a pedestrian, and feeling vulnerable waiting on the road with cars banked up on all sides.

Interactive graphic: NZ cycling crashes 2008-2012


'Cycling is not for me', says Sam Boyer.
'Cycling is not for me', says Sam Boyer.

Diary of a cyclist - Sam Boyer

I don't like cycling. I'm a car kind of guy. And riding to work yesterday did nothing to change that.

I hadn't ridden a bike for probably a decade before mounting up in Ponsonby for the short trip into our Albert St office.

The cycling itself was largely uneventful on my brisk 3.5km journey, which I put down in large part to my apprehension and road sheepishness.

In terms of safety, however, I feel my cowardice worked in my favour.

I have often criticised cyclists' apparent disregard for their own mortality, as they hurtle down the inside of stationary cars, weave in and out of lanes, cut corners and jump red lights.

I did none of those things. I had neither the inclination nor, probably, the ability.

My vulnerability was foremost in my mind for the entirety of the ride.

Every double-parked delivery truck I had to round, every car waiting to pull out of a driveway or side road, every vehicle hooning past on my right posed a potential threat.

Everything on the road was faster and bigger and stronger than me.

And my rented polystyrene helmet didn't fill me with any great confidence.

As I pedalled, I vividly recalled all the horrific cycling accidents I have read about and covered for the paper. But my concerns were unfounded.

The ride was easy enough and the drivers I shared the road with were courteous and considerate.

No one clipped me or even drove too close.

There was no honking or abuse. I even got a wave from a truckie.

Still, though, I won't be doing it again.

Cycling is not for me.

- NZ Herald

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