Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre Woodham: Crayfish get better protection

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You could understand the frustration of Auckland's cyclists when a 20-year-old woman who ploughed into a bunch of riders on Tamaki Drive was sentenced this week.

Four grand and six months' disqualification for leaving three men with broken bones, cuts and bruising and one man with skull fractures, brain injury and paralysis.

The judge accepted the young woman had not been under the influence of drink or drugs and she hadn't been careless - it was a moment of inattention that had disastrous results.

Judge Eddie Paul said although the damage done had been significant, the court was limited to what it could do, given that there were no aggravating circumstances.

In the wake of the court's decision, a caller to my show said cyclists appeared to be less important under the law than crayfish or paua - and comparing some recent sentences, that seems to be true.

A 21-year-old who helped out in a black market paua poaching raid on Banks Peninsula last year got 200 hours community service and had his car seized.

For the next few years he'll be paying back a finance company $100 a week for a Ford Mondeo he'll never see again.

Far tougher penalty than the 20-year-old woman driver got for her lapse of judgment.

Black market paua dealer Saravuthy Mao was sentenced to three years' jail in Wellington last year.

Recidivist drink driver Alison Downer got two years in jail after killing a husband and father who was cycling home from work. What sort of message does that send?

Maybe it's different in other parts of the country, but the aggression that makes it difficult to be a motorist in Auckland would make it damn nigh impossible to be a cyclist.

Perhaps one day when I'm diagnosed with a terminal illness, I'll take up cycling because then it won't matter if I'm ploughed into by an enraged commuter who's been forced to sit behind me for minutes.

That's not to say cyclists are angels: the weekend wobblers in particular seem to believe the road is theirs to use at will and their fluoro lycra and $10,000 bikes give them right of way.

Some of them have scant regard for their fellow road users, pedestrians and car drivers alike.

However, as many a cyclist has found to his and her cost, cars are Krypton for cycling supermen and, in a fight between a car and a bike, there'll only be one loser.

I don't know what the answer is because attitudes are so entrenched.

What I do know is this latest reminder of how one moment's carelessness can have such disastrous repercussions will make me go to my happy place next time I'm stuck behind a bunch of riders.

Better to have a group of live cyclists in front of me than a dead cyclist on my conscience for life.

- Herald on Sunday

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