Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: When "common sense" isn't

426 Responses

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  • BenWilson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    It's funny how people feel they ought to vigorously recommend helmet usage despite the contra statistics about the compulsory laws and their correlation to greater cycling injury. There's a necessary level of hypocrisy in saying both of those things. If the mandatory helmet laws stopped people cycling, and that is detrimental to social health generally, then why is is such an outrage to say "yeah, actually that goes for me, too. I hate the fucking things and they stopped me cycling a bit"? That should be sayable without being accused of being a fool. If not wearing a helmet gets me on the bike that could actually be an overall win for my health, on the balance, too. I don't have to shift it onto irresponsible kids or vain women.

    ETA: Same comment, for Hi-viz.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Stemson,

    I've not read every response here, so this may have been said already. The overwhelming barrier to cycling in NZ and (of more relevance to me) Auckland, is the way the roading is set up (not) for cycling. I spent three weeks in Munich about 18 months ago and could travel the entire city easily on a push-bike. Yes - I know its flat there but the main reason it so good is because there are cycle lanes on both sides of every main road. These lanes are on the road-side of the pedstrian footpaths, and are made possible by the fact that all services are underground (no power-polls in the way). Whenever a side street meets the main road, both cyclists and pedestrians on the main road have right of way across the side street. Motorists are also required to give way to cyclists undertaking them when they (motorist) wants to turn right (equivalent of left turn here). Almost no-one wears a helmet or has to dress up in lycra and its not uncommon for women to ride in high heels :). People just get on their bike and go anywhere, whether its work, the pub, a restaurant or a movie etc etc. Everyone respects the cyclist (and the pedestrian).

    Auckland • Since Oct 2007 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Lilith __,

    And yet hitting cyclists is already against the law. Why is everyone angry with cyclists for getting injured and killed?

    No it isn't. At least not on its own.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2988 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    illegal to SELL a bike without a helmet

    What about all the people that already have a helmet, or are buying a second bike, or intend to securely fix the bike to the rack on their SUV as a lifestyle totem and not ride it, ever?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4361 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    The recommendation that’s got very little reportage, mandating use of cycle infrastructure where provided, is interesting. It suggests a fundamental ignorance on this coroner’s part as to just what constitutes cycle infrastructure. Tamaki Drive would qualify, one assumes, and not just the painted section to landward but also the shared path to seaward. The inadequacy of that as a cycle space has been done to death, but I guess a Wellington coroner is only going to be aware of the moderately good infrastructure that exists within his area.

    With the current regime steadily gutting funding to everything that’s not a new state highway, cycling infrastructure ain’t going anywhere in a hurry despite the strong public sentiment in support of transport funding being a little more, well, balanced.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3889 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    And yet hitting cyclists is already against the law. Why is everyone angry with cyclists for getting injured and killed?

    No it isn’t. At least not on its own.

    Would you like to outline the relevant laws for us Graeme?

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3411 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Lilith __,

    No it isn’t. At least not on its own.

    Would you like to outline the relevant laws for us Graeme?

    I think what Graeme means is that there's no specific offence of being in control of a motor vehicle that collides with a cyclist. Rather there're a handful of generic laws covering poor driving of all forms that also cover poor driving that results in a collision with a cyclist.

    ETA: Which laws are careless or dangerous driving causing death or injury or, if the driving is spectacularly and intentionally deliberate, murder or attempted murder.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3889 posts Report Reply

  • Sharon McIver,

    Having recently taken up cycling again after 25 years absence what I've discovered on my one-speed upright is that when riding in a frock and heels, I seem to be more 'visible' to many motorists than I am when wearing jeans and a swanndri - they seem to give me more space and will wait behind me at intersections while I take off. This may all be in my mind, but I'm a commuter cyclist who is not riding for speed, and who rides as defensively as I drive - I never run red lights or cut across lanes in front of cars, just the same as I wouldn't when driving my van.

    However, because much of my reason for cycling is my belief that it needs to be an 'everyday' activity, I would baulk at wearing a Hi-Vis for every trip, and considering I'm in Chch where they've become standard work wear, I'm not convinced I'd stand out more from the crowd than if I was wearing a floral frock. Any law change needs to take into account that there are many different types of bikes and cyclists on our roads, and I'd prefer if they spent the money rebuilding my ridiculously cycle friendly city with decent cycle lanes.

    chch • Since Aug 2009 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Richard Stemson,

    Everyone respects the cyclist (and the pedestrian).

    That's the key here. And affects drivers as much as cyclists. Amber light - speed up it will turn red ... gap not really big enough ... push in and give the other driver the finger if they complain ... cyclist slowing you down just push past them ... missed your turn, just do a U-turn where ever you like...

    In the end these choices are what make our roads unsafe. It's not whether the cyclist is wearing fluoro or a helmet, it's how we drive.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3221 posts Report Reply

  • headasunder, in reply to Richard Wain,

    IMHO: helmets don't stop death. You hit the road or a car with your head, you're fucked. Making cyclists wear helmets is a bandaid... cycle lanes is the answer, and decent penalties for the drivers who atually infringe

    With you on that one Richard, the bike has been my happy place for the last 10 or so years, 2 years ago I got rid of the car so I had to ride rain, hail or whatever. I always wear a hi-vis vest. 1 to stop the easterly, 2 on the off chance someone will spot me., Roundabouts are death waiting to happen for cyclists check out the curbs on roundabout exits, always flattened and tyre marked by the truck trailers. Where there is no alternative I always get out into the middle of the lane and pedal like a mad man. On helmets; her indoors won't ride because of "helmet hair" so no tandem until there's a law or fashion change

    christchurch • Since Apr 2012 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Alice Ronald, in reply to Sharon McIver,

    Yep, a researcher in the UK a couple of years ago found that car drivers gave him more room if he wore a long wig & skirt.

    I have the same opinion as you - cycling's an everyday activity for me, to get to work & shops etc. I do it in my work clothes, with a raincoat & maybe a change of shoes (some of my heels have pretty slippery soles that don't work well with my plastic pedals). I'll probably put on a hi vis vest in the winter, along with lights, but at the moment I'm happy commuting in civvy clothes. Funnily enough, when I was biking to uni about 10 years ago, I was one of very few people with a reflective jacket most days. Now, of the 2 dozen commuting cyclists on my route in the mornings, there's only 2-3 of us not wearing orange/yellow/silver.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 48 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Kah Chan of bikeeverywhere.co.nz has pointed out to me their video showing the ride into the CBD and back out to Petone, which takes in the roundabout in question. To be honest, the idea of riding the shoulder of a motorway with cars passing at 100km/h gives me the shits. There should be something better than that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    I posted this on 'Cycling in Auckland".

    But see below for further bits on the Petone Roundabout.

    **********************

    There is an insidious “requirement” that traffic engineers have insisted to put in the design of roundabouts that “hides” an awful lot of accidents. That is the approach to a roundabout. The engineers insist on getting the vehicles to approach the roundabout with a lead to the left. In other words, vehicles are sterred to the left as they approach. The insidiousness occurs in two places. The first is that as a vehicle approaches the roundabout and slows down, A cyclist – or other vehicle – on a collison course, remains hidden by the act of the vehicle turning left as it slows. Any cyclist or vehicle hidden by the car pillar will stay there as the car slows.

    The second is that moving the vehicle to the left means that the left hand side of the road gets pinched. The roundabout in question in Petone has this “steer to the left” that is quite abrupt. it is still there even after the accident. My suggestion is to shave off the left hand bump and shave off the roundabout to a smaller radius. This will give trucks the opportunity to steer more towards the Esplanade (and keep right) rather than be forced to follow the track down the Hutt Rd and then have to turn off on the esplanade.

    ****************************

    I went down at afternoon tea this afternoon and recorded just a few minutes of traffic entering the roundabout. It is obvious that vehicles move into the cycle lane at the pinch point. You can see the drain that Steve Fitzgerald was supposed to move to the right to avoid right at the pinch point. Watching vehicles enter the roundabout it is obvious that the natural tendency is to chop the apex. Note the big Owens truck avoids the pinch area very well. I was obvious standing in the middle grass verge and suspect he may have been keen to give the kerb a big miss.

    There is a bicycle "no mans land" just behind the bush near the pinch point for cyclists to cross onto the roundabout.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1479 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Alice Ronald,

    wore a long wig & skirt

    It was just a wig.

    Also the same study showed that contrary to what most cyclists believe - the further you are from the edge of the road the closer cars will be when they pass you. In other words, riding well out into the middle of the lane means cars will get closer to you more often.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3221 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Russell Brown,

    To be honest, the idea of riding the shoulder of a motorway with cars passing at 100km/h gives me the shits. There should be something better than that.

    I do the airport circuit on a regular basis. I actually feel safer on the shoulders of George Bolt (100km/h in places, for the unfamiliar) than I do on some of the suburban 50km/h streets that I take to get there. I understand that the consequences of an incident will probably not be something I survive to describe, but I've been clipped (as in physical contact) by a car while riding up to a red light on GSR Otahuhu when there was plenty of space.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3889 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    In other words, riding well out into the middle of the lane means cars will get closer to you more often.

    Depends. If there's a physical barrier to cars crossing the centre line and no shoulder, I ride offensively just so that they won't think they might have an opportunity to pass. Otherwise, IME some fuckhead will try and pass you just because there's a millimetre of space that suggests they can.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3889 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    I do the airport circuit on a regular basis. I actually feel safer on the shoulders of George Bolt (100km/h in places, for the unfamiliar) than I do on some of the suburban 50km/h streets that I take to get there.

    Fair enough -- but the harbour motorway is something else. I feel uncomfortable passing cyclists on that road.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Also the same study showed that contrary to what most cyclists believe – the further you are from the edge of the road the closer cars will be when they pass you. In other words, riding well out into the middle of the lane means cars will get closer to you more often.

    I'm with Matthew. The idea is that they don't pass you.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    My 2c worth:

    a) Helmets. Having participated in the Pride Parade on my bike (in the Green's 'float') without wearing my helmet and being castigated by my brother in law for not wearing it, all I can say is that after 6 years of cycling in all sorts of weather and conditions in this city is that it depends. Sometimes I ride slow, and in that case, I don't think a helmet is particularly necessary - I can stop very quickly (i.e. within a few metres) and I'm very likely to remain upright.

    However, if I ride fast, then I definitely wear a helmet. Some protection is better than none. Most of my rides involve a mix of slow and fast riding, so on balance, I just wear my helmet, except for particular situations like the Pride Parade where the risk is very minimal. And very hot days where I sometimes 'forget' to wear the helmet for short periods of time.

    b) Bobparkers aka hi-viz: When I bought a bike, 6 years ago, I bought a bobparker at the same time for 'safety' reasons. Over time though, I gradually wore my bobparker less and less as I observed that really, it made little difference to how drivers treated me. Besides, they are butt ugly.

    What I have found is how I ride, and lights seem to help make drivers aware of me. I am what some would term an 'aggressive' cyclist.

    - I take the whole lane, for the length of Ponsonby and K'rds. But I do it in a particular way, that is, I never try to get to the head of a queue of cars at the lights. I just stay in the middle of my lane, and line up behind the cars already in the lane. This way, drivers know that all they have to do is simply move into the next lane, drive past me, then move back over if they want (many surprisingly don't, thankfully). Doing this means a MUCH less stressful trip down these roads.

    - I take the lane where I feel that my safety is enhanced by doing so and move back left. I am consistent about being 1.5m away from parked cars. I take the entire lane at roundabouts (having had the unfortunate experience of a driver trying to 'squeeze' past me on a roundabout). I take the lane at those annoying pedestrian build outs, having discovered that a car and I going through those gaps is no fun for me.

    And I take the lane entirely if a driver drives dangerously past me - I immediately move out left, do violent gesticulations with my hands, and stay that way for a short distance. This way I hope forlornly that the drivers behind learn that it's better to give me some room, but it's more of an outlet of frustration than anything.

    - I use hand signals a lot. It's surprising how many drivers respond to hand signals to move left, or to be wary.

    - Bright lights seem to help quite a bit even during the day.

    c) Drivers in Auckland: Generally are pretty good and tolerant. However, the odd nasty one (like the one on Saturday, in car with wife in front, two kids in back, attempted to over take me but was frustrated as I was taking the lane, who pull up to yell obscenities through the window; the kids and wife were very embarrassed) can spoil it and I've yet to learn to let them go. Boy racers surprisingly are very good at pulling out around you, and often they wave hands out the window and give a few shouts of encouragement. At least I think it is.

    I tend to let buses go first i.e. I stop and wave them on. I just can't be fagged having to cycle with a bus right on my back wheel. Better to pull over and let them zoom on.

    Overall, in the past 6 years, there has been an increase in the numbers of people cycling around, which is great to see, and ultimately it will be sheer numbers of cyclists that will force drivers to slow down and be careful.

    But I do think we ought to change the law to a proportionality law (I think Germany has something like this). If a cyclist hits a pedestrian, the cyclist is automatically at fault. If a driver hits a cyclist or pedestrian, the driver is automatically at fault. If a truck driver hits a car, cyclist or pedestrian, the truck driver is automatically at fault (and I should point out that there are obvious exceptions here i.e. where deliberate carelessness on the part of any party can be proved).

    This is linked to the the power and weight of the moving object; the greater the power and weight, the more damage that it can cause, therefore the greater care placed on the heavier vehicle to operate in a safe manner.

    I have also advocated for a law change that means drivers who are convicted of hitting cyclists are required to ride a bike for a 6 month period, in all weathers and times of the day, over all kinds of distances, and through all traffic conditions and on different roads (urban, semi-urban, rural, State Highways, non-state highways etc). This would be an exercise that is intensively supervised. That way, they will learn how cyclists are vulnerable to bad drivers.

    Just my 2c worth...

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 639 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Richard Stemson,

    he overwhelming barrier to cycling in NZ and (of more relevance to me) Auckland, is the way the roading is set up (not) for cycling

    In an earlier reguarding cyclists & other road users, this was my main point.

    West Coast roads are not designed with cyclists in mind and they are, consequently, NATURALLY HAZARDOUS.

    Nobody has, it seems, pointed this out to various cycle tour operators & their vanloads of happy punters here.

    It used to be that -if there were groups of cyclists on the road between, say,
    between the Okarito turnoff & Big O, or going between Harihari & Whataroa via Mount Herc*, the organisers would put out warning signs.

    This is no longer done.

    This is stupid.

    *There is a beach route. It is not recommended for cyclists….

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Great videos. But not impressed with the cycleway. It's better than not having one, but there are so many ways it could be improved.

    Jeez it must be nice to have a flat commute. There's bugger all like that in Auckland, except for people who actually live on Tamaki Drive.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    But I do it in a particular way, that is, I never try to get to the head of a queue of cars at the lights. I just stay in the middle of my lane, and line up behind the cars already in the lane.

    Interesting. My way of staying safe usually involves getting to the front at the lights and getting away quickly when the lights change. That way, everyone can see me and I'm clear of the traffic. It suits the bike I ride and the roads I ride on -- although Ponsonby Road is a bit of a special case. I'm much much more likely to take the lane there.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The stress of negotiating my way to the front, and the 'requirement' to put on speed when the lights change became just a tad too much for me. This way I just pootle on...

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 639 posts Report Reply

  • steviant,

    That bit of metal above your head when you drive a car is utterly insufficient to prevent head injuries in the relatively common occurrence of roll-over accidents, yet I don't see anyone advocating the compulsory fitment of roll-cages, nor the compulsory wearing of helmets in cars, not even ones with a higher chance of roll-over (SUVs and vans).

    There are no calls for fluorescent coloured cars, despite the fact that visibility issues feature massively in car accident statistics as well as cycle and motorcycle accidents.

    It's a simple case of picking on those who have made themselves vulnerable to legislators by electing to become part of a minority group, follow the herd and you'll be fine, stick your head out and it will be bitten off.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2011 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Owen Watson,

    I have vague memories of an informal UK study of cycling/motorbike safety that found the most visible clothing was that of a policeman's uniform. Says it all. . .

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 3 posts Report Reply

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