A cyclist still recovering from an accident in May says our justice system protects motorists from the true cost of hitting and maiming cyclists.

Auckland man Owen Stobert was cycling along Shakespeare Rd in the North Shore suburb of Milford on May 13 when he was hit by a car.

He described it as a "head on, high energy" crash, and said he was left lying on the road in a "bloody mess, unable to breathe".

The crash left in Stobert with a crushed spine, fractured leg, damaged shoulder, concussion and injuries to his right hand, wrist and fingers.


"From what the ambulance staff told me I'm quite lucky to be alive," he said.

The process for the case to go through the courts took three or four months, Stobert said.

During this period there was confusion from the court-appointed mediators around the extent of his injuries and he felt he was failed by the police who were meant to be representing him.

Stobert said he suffered lack of sleep, lack of ability to work and "endless pain".

The Ministry of Transport's Manager of Safety and Mobility Brent Johnston said the ministry was currently working with the Transport Agency to consider a "range of interventions" to improve cyclists' safety.

"The NZ Transport Agency is also leading a national integrated behaviour change programme to help change attitudes and perceptions towards cycling, so people can better understand the benefits of a 'bike-friendly' country, and the positive impacts of more people riding bikes," he said.

The offences and penalties structure was generally the same whether it related to a crash involving two cars, or a crash involving a car and any other road user like a cyclist.

Johnston said while offences sat under the land transport law, responsibility for determining if and what offences someone was charged with, rested with police.

Police confirmed the driver was disqualified from driving for six months and she had to pay a fine which Stobert said was around $1300.

Stobert, 49, said a contributing factor to how often Kiwis killed and maimed cyclists because that they were protected from the cost of their actions.

"ACC and the Justice system work for the law breaker... also the justice system has minor penalties for killing and maiming cyclists," he said.

Other tales of near misses

Stobert was one of many cyclists who contacted the Herald about their near misses whilst cycling on New Zealand's roads, following a report that 18 cyclists had been killed on our roads this year more than three times the number of fatalities in 2016.

Scene at Te Atatu Road where cyclist John Bonner was killed by a car last week. Photo / Doug Sherring.
Scene at Te Atatu Road where cyclist John Bonner was killed by a car last week. Photo / Doug Sherring.

Last year five cyclists were killed and six in 2015. The overall road toll stands at 359, compared to 304 this time last year.

Hundreds more cyclists are injured each year, and even more have told the Herald about being threatened or run off the road by other vehicles.

One Aucklander said he was threatened by a motorist wielding a hammer after a near miss.

Another cyclist told the Herald of a recent incident in which he was almost run off a one-way bridge by a truck driver, despite having engaged the bridge first.

"From almost the middle of the bridge, I could see a large truck and trailer approaching the opposite side. I kept going, now riding the bike in the middle of the road to make clear that I did not want to share the bridge with this vehicle," he said.

"Next thing, he accelerates, going through the gears, heading straight for me."

The cyclist said the incident made him question how safe cyclists were on the road and had prompted him to buy an action camera to wear while riding.

A pedestrian got in touch with the Herald about an incident he witnessed from a bus in Auckland earlier this week.

He described watching a bus driver cut a cyclist off and when the cyclist banged on the side of the bus to let him know he was there, the driver "intentionally" swerved into him, almost knocking him off.

Auckland Transport spokesman James Ireland confirmed Auckland Transport was investigating the incident. If true, he said the driver's behaviour was "completely unacceptable".

"The buses have CCTV and computers which monitor how the bus is being driven allowing the company to monitor how the driver is performing."

What can we do to cut down cyclists' deaths and injuries

The spate of incident reports come just days after Auckland Transport's cycle counters recorded the busiest Friday so far this year.

Kathryn King, Auckland Transport's walking, cycling and road safety manager said cyclists were making the most of great weather.

"On Friday 8 December, 8787 cycle trips were recorded across cycle counters in the city centre and fringe, the highest count ever for a Friday," she said.

In a statement, the New Zealand Transport Agency said it was committed to improving safety for people who cycle.

Road safety director Harry Wilson said the organisation was adopting a "safe system approach" across the whole of the national cycling programme.

This would ensure the cycling network took human error and vulnerability into account, he said.

NZTA's tips for motorists and cyclists

Tips for people driving:

• Driving behind someone cycling? Leave plenty of space.
• People cycling ride further out from the kerb and parked cars because it's safer.
• When you pass someone cycling, leave a buffer of space between you and them.

Tips for people cycling:

• Keep control of your bike and the situation.
• Ride to be seen and be predictable.
• Choose safe routes.