Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Lowering the Stakes

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  • 81stcolumn,

    Some thoughts about SIDSY or SMIDSY:

    Perception is constructive and selective (as repeated in Psychology 101)

    In broad terms we see what we want to see. More accurately put, we extract and make use of those parts of vision that are important or of interest to us. Two well used examples are the Gorilla test and priming effects we experience with the duck/bunny or young/old woman pictures. A controversial interpretation of this is that drivers don’t see cyclists as important and therefore do not see them even when looking at them. As accurately described by Hamish Makie in the Herald today motorists look for gaps and opportunities to get to where they want to go quicker. This assumes that drivers are looking at the correct part of the road at the correct time which is by no means guaranteed: Modern dashboard - Old dashboard.

    When we add additional GPS and of course the mobile hands free kit (still not safe enough) what we get is a bloat of distractions in the car which encourage us not to look where we are going. At the same time the roads have been made safer for drivers. Better positioned lights and signs reduce the amount of actual decision making and risk associated with driving. My favourite is rumble strips which mean you don’t even have to look at the road in order to tell you that you are on it. Needless to say the addition of airbags etc. has also reduced the personal consequences of error. Incentives to look for cyclists have gone down reasons to look elsewhere have gone up.

    More Psychology; Attributional bias

    Humans are more prone to blame other people for their mistakes. This would explain why I was blamed for being run over at a junction where I had the right of way because I was wearing sunglasses (the fact that I was indicating with my arm was apparently irrelevant). More worrying is that people prefer to discuss the mistakes of others rather than their own; consequently they would far rather talk about what the naughty cyclist did. This stretches to assessment of personal behaviour, even when told they are being observed people will still over-report positive behaviour in a manner reflects their beliefs about themselves. They do this unconsciously probably because of the way in which memory works. To cap this problem, there are more motorists than cyclists this sets up a common social belief system of motorist good and cyclist bad. In turn this leads to confirmatory bias people can and do seek evidence that confirms pre-existing beliefs. Quite a nasty cycle if you will excuse the pun - the bigger point here is that this problem pervades society, community services and the justice system.

    On the one hand I am all for making roads and laws safer for cycling but not without some effort to address the two issues outlined above. I do worry at times about giving drivers fewer reasons to acknowledge cyclists or excuses to say that they shouldn’t be on the road. I am growing quite hostile to proposals that cyclists should take more responsibility. It doesn’t matter what sort of measures you use to be visible if drivers do not look where they are driving – a lesson we have recently learned as a familly.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to 81stcolumn,

    quite hostile to proposals that cyclists should take more responsibility

    Rightly so. In NZ we take the attitude that the person with the gun is responsible for not shooting his/her mates while hunting.

    Why then are drivers, who are also in charge of a lethal weapon, not asked to take responsibility.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4450 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Why then are drivers, who are also in charge of a lethal weapon, not asked to take responsibility.

    Because drivers are a very large constituency and they have well-funded advocacy groups.

    Earlier posters noted the difference in attitudes 100 years ago and how the street has been transformed in favour of the motorist. I myself have written about this in the past. The takeover of city roads by motorists started with sustained lobbying by a relatively small, rich group of people (remember cars were much more expensive relative to incomes in the early 20th century).

    For this reason I am quite pleased to see people like Lance Wiggs speaking out. Cycling will begin to get parity with motoring when rich people want to ride bikes in safety.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Richard Stewart,

    I’m allowed to drive in the right hand lane of the motorway at 80k.

    Actually, technically, no you're not. It's not enforced, but it's against the law to use the right-hand lane if you are not travelling at or above the speed of the traffic in the lanes to your left.
    You would also be falling foul of the requirement to move left to avoid posing an impediment to faster-moving traffic behind you if your 80km/h was not faster than other traffic.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    That article is long but a great read for anyone wearing a cycle helmet.

    Bicycling.com article was quite interesting to read. Also expensive, am about to order a couple of new helmets, despite my current helmet being nearly new. I like my brain!

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1193 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    This is good: the Herald’s new(ish) data journalist Harkanwal Singh has mapped recorded NZ cycling crashes 2008-2012.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Gaz Tayler, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    There are currently a couple of options for MIPS helmets in NZ, the TSG Kraken+ from $189 or the POC Trabec MIPS from $340. Scott-Bikes have announced the Stego, which uses MIPS and they also have the Lin from last year, though I can't find any record if they are available in NZ.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2012 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Submitted these two today:

    ACC
    PO Box 242
    Wellington 6140

    Attn: Claims information, OIA request

    To whom it may concern:

    I am writing to request information held by ACC on collisions involving pedestrians and/or bicycles for the most recent five-year period for which records are available.

    Specifically, please advise for each year in the requested period:
    1) Total number of claims for collisions where any party was a pedestrian or bicyclist, sub-totalled by combination of parties (if available). i.e.: motor vehicle vs pedestrian, motor vehicle vs bicycle, bicycle vs pedestrian. Please exclude claims involving only the claimant
    2) Total number of incidents within 1 where hospitalisation occurred, sub-totalling any collisions where there was no motor vehicle involved (if available)
    3) Total number of incidents within 1 where a fatality occurred, sub-totalling any collisions where there was no motor vehicle involved (if available)

    and

    Police National Headquarters
    PO Box 3017
    Wellington 6140

    Attn: Traffic policing, OIA request

    To whom it may concern:

    I am writing to request information held by the Police on collisions involving pedestrians and/or bicycles for the most recent five-year period for which records are available.

    Specifically, please advise for each year in the requested period:
    1) Total number of incidents reported to the police for collisions where any party was a pedestrian or bicyclist, sub-totalled by combination of parties. i.e.: motor vehicle vs pedestrian, motor vehicle vs bicycle, bicycle vs pedestrian
    2) Total number of incidents within 1 where a serious crash investigation was conducted, sub-totalling any collisions where there was no motor vehicle involved
    3) Total number of incidents within 1 where a fatality occurred, sub-totalling any collisions where there was no motor vehicle involved
    4) A breakdown of 1 by attribution of fault based on type of at-fault party. i.e.: Fault entirely attributed to pedestrian, entirely attributed to bicyclist, entirely attributed to motorist, or shared
    5) A breakdown of 2 by attribution of fault based on type of at-fault party
    6) A breakdown of enforcement actions and outcomes for 1, 2 and 3, grouped according to type of party. e.g.: Motorists warned/diverted, motorists prosecuted and convicted, motorists unsuccessfully prosecuted

    These were prompted by an unwavering assertion on FB by someone who I'd consider fairly moderate that cyclists are so much of a hazard to pedestrians that it makes sense to legally lump us with motor vehicles, and also a clear general vibe that cyclists are to blame for our own strife on the roads so deserve no sympathy for engaging in illegal behaviour in order to try and rebalance the odds.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    This is good: the Herald’s new(ish) data journalist Harkanwal Hothi has mapped recorded NZ cycling crashes 2008-2012.

    One thing obvious from that map, and no real surprise, is that like most car accidents, it's mostly about intersections.

    To some degree bike lanes along roads have little impact on the safety of intersections for bikes. Only when you separate bikes from cars at intersections can you improve the safety.

    The obvious way to separate bikes is to have a physically separate bike path.

    But bikes could be separated temporally fairly easily by giving bikes a time of their own to cross the intersection. Much the same way we allow pedestrians to cross intersections at a different time from cars.

    A bike button at the intersection that gave bikes a 10 second "lead" on the green light would do it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4450 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    But bikes could be separated temporally fairly easily by giving bikes a time of their own to cross the intersection. Much the same way we allow pedestrians to cross intersections at a different time from cars.

    A bike button at the intersection that gave bikes a 10 second “lead” on the green light would do it.

    However, many of the crashes occur at intersections which are not controlled by lights, often when the cyclist has a legal right-of-way.

    As one example, there was a serious crash (mapped) at the Kalmia St/Main Highway intersection which I encountered on my way to work one morning in 2011. The sun comes right across the top of the bridge in the morning, and an unfortunate lady was cycling down the bridge with the sun right behind her when a car turned right into Kalmia, directly across her path.

    Many of the serious crashes on Tamaki Drive occur in places where cars are trying to join Tamaki Drive and collide with cyclists who are travelling straight through. We can't put traffic lights at every intersection just to give cyclists priority.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    But bikes could be separated temporally fairly easily by giving bikes a time of their own to cross the intersection. Much the same way we allow pedestrians to cross intersections at a different time from cars.

    A bike button at the intersection that gave bikes a 10 second “lead” on the green light would do it.

    This pretty much is the state of affairs at some lights in Wellington, notably around the Basin and on Karo Drive. It’s good.

    Christchurch has a neat feature on its railway bike path where there are sensors just before the path intersects with the road, and they trigger a red light for cars so cyclists can cross. Very nice.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    We can’t put traffic lights at every intersection just to give cyclists priority.

    No we can't.

    But because we can't fix ALL the intersections is not a reason to not fix the ones we can and fix the ones with the most problems.

    And I'd probably say that it wouldn't need to be all intersections with lights - just those where bicycle traffic is higher frequency.

    It does seem Tamaki drive is a special case and needs a radical solution, given it is now a major bicycle commuter route perhaps a physically separated (by raised kerb) cycle lane is needed and not the shared Sunday rider lane on the footpath.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4450 posts Report Reply

  • Su Yin Khoo, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I am glad that my crash has been logged by NZTA (I am the Williamson Ave/Mackelvie St marker). Photos of crash aftermath – nothing gory but ouchies.

    I see that there's another one further down from me which suggests that drivers aren't stopping at the stop signs. I hate cycling downhill where there are lots of side streets that feed into them exactly due to this reason. >:(

    Auckland • Since Aug 2011 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I go that way all the time as well – when leaving the NWC my preferred approach is either to cross the offramp and sneak down the footpath on the western side and cross Great North Road at the lights (as a pedestrian generally), or more conveniently to cross St Lukes Road on the green cycle light as a hook turn and wait for a regular green light to take me over the bridge.

    The pedestrian islands on both sides of St Lukes Road are becoming seriously crowded with bikes these days – they’ll need to sort it out soon (yeah, I know) but in the meantime not complaining, I like the imagined camaraderie of moving with a big group.

    Have been much more conscious in the last few days of increased attention on my road movements on bike, especially in the central city – that said while I will never blow a red in the accepted motorist style, the prohibition against crossing on Barnes Dances (however slowly and carefully) is ridiculous and I will gladly sacrifice some PR points to do so if it adds to my safety. I remember when a round of cycle law changes last came through allowing hook turns etc (2009?) I found it hard to believe that Barnes Dance crossings weren’t included, and am still working on the assumption that they should have been,

    After eight years safe cycle commuting in Auckland I go through phases now when I think the odds are no longer in my favour (touch wood), but generally those pass. The only major prang I have had was self-inflicted, a couple of years ago in bad weather. I know pretty reliably when I’m safe to proceed as usual and when I need to make a considered decision to avoid unsafe areas at certain times.

    That said it should simply not be the case that we have to consider any area in Auckland (apart from motorways) a no go for safety reasons on bikes. All power to CAA (must renew my sub) in their efforts gingering up AT/NZTA et al to make some genuine progress.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Not surprisingly, the Oily One takes an unreconstructed Social Darwinist view on cyclists, as reported by the editor of the Dog & Lemon Guide. Neither is it surprising that Oily's favourite vehicle is the late and unlamented Hummer.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5416 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    (ooops)

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1193 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Stewart, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Probably a good thing - can you imagine the awful wheezing sound that would emanate from said blubberhole after even the least arduous ascent?

    Pt Chev • Since Feb 2012 • 70 posts Report Reply

  • Sol K, in reply to Gaz Tayler,

    Hi Gaz, care to give a supplier some free publicity? my googleness failed me on finding any NZ suppliers.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2010 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Sol K,

    give a supplier some free publicity

    I couldn't find anything either - I failed at intertubes

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4450 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Sol K,

    The only place in NZ I can find that's carrying any MIPS helmets is Burke's Cycles, and they only have a single POC model. Looks like people get them in the from the US.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    I suspect the Oily one's antipathy cycling has something to do with this.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Ray Gilbert,

    I assume the Waterview extension will also include more cycle lanes beside the motorway onwards towards Helensville.

    Considering the money going into that intersection, I bloody hope the cycleway gets some look in. Ideally, since they're remodeling the entire thing, the cycleway would continue beside the motorway all the way past Pt Chev without having to go up the hill (but that should still be possible), and then cross Carrington Rd, weave through a suburban street, before reconnecting at Chamberlain Park Golf Course. Currently, if I'm trying to keep pace, I end up riding along a footpath, waiting for the ideal moment to jump the berm and kerb, before crossing the road diagonally between traffic. If the traffic is heavy, I'll drive past the entrance street and use the pedestrian crossing. Coming in the other direction, one has to pull a right hand turn across busy Carrington Rd, then ride past the entrance to the cycleway because it is blocked by metal bars, and then execute a 180 degree turn up the very narrow footpath, followed immediately by a sharp 90 with a metal bar in the middle of it, all on a heavily loaded pedestrian footpath into Unitec. That part ain't a cycleway, it's a bad footpath.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to George Darroch,

    You can’t sell a car without working lights, but you can sell a bike in that condition.

    Can I put this “must have a helmet at sale” idea to bed by saying that statement is utterly false. You can sell a car in any condition whatsoever. You can sell it as a smashed up pile of junk if you like, and many people do this every day. A WOF is not compulsory for a sale. It is only compulsory if the vehicle is being driven on a public road, and is required before you can get the vehicle re-registered.

    Furthermore, if you’ve done any research into helmets at all you’ll know that the number one piece of advice is to never, never, never buy a second hand helmet. It’s the most important safety equipment you will wear and you want to know that it is in good condition. Quite aside from the fact that head sizes vary a lot, as do style and comfort preferences, and budgets, I sure don’t want to have to pay extra for an old bike because the seller has to give me a shitty old helmet in the deal.

    I can see the point of the idea, but I don’t think it’s a good one.

    The idea of a WOF for bicycles is interesting, but I don’t think it would fly. It would make cycling considerably more costly, and they’d be giving tickets to children all the time. Way to kill cycling off.

    Better education on safe cycling is a good idea though, to encourage more people to keep their bikes in good nick. Not sure what form that would take.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    I am not sure about much safer you are.

    Completely anecdotally I can say that since I got much brighter lights, both front and rear, I’ve noticed vehicles giving me a wider berth and drivers noticing me from greater distances (when they are ahead and possibly going to pull out in front). I think that from behind they really just don’t want to be too close because it is a bit dazzling.

    If you have ever navigated a boat at night, you would realise how confusing lights can be when you have no spatial clues.

    Which is why they give you a wider berth, just as you would at sea if you saw a bunch of lights on a possibly intersecting path. You turn to make your adjustment early, so that both vessels know which side they will pass on. But that’s something anyone with boat management qualifications would know. Unfortunately in NZ there is nothing mandatory about that for small (but powerful) vessels.

    By being a mobile disco, all they can see is a pile of flashing lights that give no spatial information.

    If the lights are white, they’re coming toward you, and red if they’re going the same way. It’s the same as for motor vehicles (conveniently). Some people break this pattern, adorning their bike with color around the frame and lights on the wheels, but I’m yet to see evidence that it made them less safe. The most common excuse for hitting a cyclist was that they were not seen, rather than that they were confused by the color of the lights emanating from the Christmas tree that they smashed into.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to BenWilson,

    The idea of a WOF for bicycles is interesting, but I don’t think it would fly. It would make cycling considerably more costly, and they’d be giving tickets to children all the time. Way to kill cycling off.

    There's at least one bike shop in Wellington that runs bike-maintenance courses. I'm not sure if they're free or not (I've yet to try one, since I've only just started biking again) but I think that's a better way to get people on safer bikes - teach them how to tell what their bike needs.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

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