Road user culture and cognitive awareness were to blame for the death of a Wellington cyclist, a Coroner's Inquest has heard.
Benjamin Lawless was hit and killed by a car driven by Wellington academic Yvonne van Roy as he cycled home from a birthday dinner at his sister's Karori home about 11pm on January 22 last year.
He died of head injuries at the scene.
The inquest is one of eight inquests into the death of cyclists across New Zealand ordered by Chief Coroner, Judge Neil MacLean.
Judge MacLean was concerned to see if there were any identifiable trends in the crashes and if there was anything that could be done to reduce the occurrence of deaths in similar circumstances in future.
Waikato Coroner Gordon Matenga has travelled to four regions in New Zealand since July last year, hearing evidence relating to the deaths.
More than eight witnesses gave evidence at today's inquest, ranging from family members to road safety advocates.
Ben's mother Susan Lawless said contributing factors into the devastating loss of her son included the poor road design of the Makara and Allington Rd intersection.
She told the inquest the road was poorly designed and lacked a controlled traffic system such as a roundabout or speed bumps.
"You just need to stand at the corner and see drivers cut up the corner to save cutting down a gear," she said.
The intersection was known as a dangerous one by locals, said Ms Lawless, "nine out of ten drivers cut the corner".
Ms Lawless spoke of an influx of baby boomers entering their twilight years whose eye scanning and cognitive awareness skills as they enter old age become considerably impaired, "due to all sorts of physical changes which perhaps in New Zealand we are not as careful about checking on."
Ms Lawless also questioned why disqualified drivers are automatically given their licence back when their suspension period ends without the need for any testing.
"How do we know that convicted drivers are safe and competent drivers? By definition of being convicted we have to think that maybe they are not.
"Should such drivers be automatically allowed their licence back?"
Patrick Morgan, Program Manager from Cycling Advocates Network (CAN) said with an average of around 10 cycling deaths each year, the deaths are "not an epidemic" compared to car associated deaths.
"I don't want to deter anyone from buying a bike," said Mr Morgan.
He said he wanted to see more funding from central government into cycle safety programmes, especially for schools.
Ben's sister Jennifer gave evidence with Green Party MP Kevin Hague, who she works for as an executive assistant.
She said her brother believed, for health and environmental reasons, that people should cycle more often.
Mr Hague said drivers have a lack of empathy for cyclists, and recommended that a way of combating that could be to involve bike riding in driver training.
Van Roy, 62, an associate professor in the school of accounting and commercial law at Victoria University, was found guilty of careless use of a vehicle causing Mr Lawless' death last November, and was convicted in the Wellington District Court in February this year.
Judge Tom Broadmore ordered van Roy to pay $37,000 in reparations - $25,000 to her victim's mother and $12,000 to his sister - a figure agreed by both parties.
At the time van Roy said she had always felt terrible about the incident and said she would meet the family if they wanted to.
"I feel desperately sorry for the family ... there are no winners in this. I'm always going to feel terrible about it," she said.
Judge Broadmore said the incident was a case of momentary carelessness, and Mr Lawless, who was illuminated only by a weak amber light at the time, also had to "bear responsibility for what occurred".
In sentencing van Roy, Judge Broadmore said everyone was subject to sanctions if they failed to follow the law.
The family had sought just over $37,000 in reparation and van Roy had offered to pay that in full.
Judge Broadmore said the payment was "far in excess of any sum the court might have ordered to repay", and compared the case with a similar historic one in which reparation of $8000 was ordered.