Three deaths on Hawke's Bay roads already this year and all of them on two wheels – one bicyclist, two motorcyclists - to go with record cyclist deaths nationwide last year makes one think there is something askew with motorist performance.

Is it that Bay motorists are too slapdash in their approach to road rules? Constant debate over the correct way to indicate at roundabouts suggests they are, else people would look up the law and know.

Are HB roads too demanding for average drivers to handle safely? Then expect a raft of reductions in speed limits of the sort already proposed by Hastings council for seven roads near town.

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Perhaps modern vehicles are too effortlessly powerful, so learners and aged folk in particular get inadvertently compromised beyond their ability to react safely.

A 50 per cent surge in fatalities since 2013 certainly hints some such factor is at work.
Or do far too many people think, when they get behind the wheel, they somehow own the road and can treat other users with disdain? Especially those not enclosed in a passenger car.

On balance, going by what one sees daily in town and country, I'm drawn to think this last the major cause.

Witness how many cars pull across in front of a cyclist at a roundabout, heedless of their right-of-way; or oncoming up behind cyclists won't slow down and wait for clear road space to pass safely.

The why of it is the conundrum. The frenetic pace of modern life; the stress of making ends meet; the dictatorship of time compelling us to be wherever "there" is as quickly as possible are all likely suspects.

Unfortunately a cyclist – or even motorcyclist - is easy prey for someone who lets their rage best their reason in thinking another road user must "pay" for daring to impede their own regal progress.

Worse is to come, given the increasing number and complexity of road users forecast; for example, some 80 per cent more trucks on Bay roads by 2050.

Statistics show any growth in vehicle numbers is disproportionately outstripped by an increase in accidents.

There's a significant increase in mobility scooters amongst "other" road users. But shouldn't a mostly-enclosed "scooter" that can do 38km/h be classed as a vehicle and forced to use the road?

Add in relaxed laws around cycle use on footpaths and pedestrians – as valid a group of "road users" as any other – have no exclusive place to walk or run.

Perhaps it's time "the road" was redefined, with purpose-built carriageways for each class of vehicle added – as is happening, though sparsely, with dedicated cycle lanes.

If that seems absurd, then maybe we should stop being such inconsiderate, impatient, and downright dangerous drivers and learn to "share the road" as we are supposed to.

On Waiheke Island there are signs at the ferry terminals to remind folk to take care. They say simply: "Slow down. You're here."

That's a slogan that should as easily apply in Hawke's Bay.

* Apology to Craggy Range Winery
In a column about the disputed track on the eastern face of Te Mata Peak on Friday 19 January I said I believed there was "collusion" between Craggy Range Winery and Hastings District Council to enable the track to go ahead.
I did not mean to imply that this involved corruption of any sort on the part of the applicant, and I apologise to Craggy Range Winery if my statement may have led readers to draw such an inference.
To the best of my knowledge, all the company's dealings with Council were transparent and above board.