Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: When "common sense" isn't

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  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Maz,

    Compulsory helmet use halved the number of cyclists in New Zealand

    Debunked that claim already. Keep up.
    There is zero evidence that mandatory helmets was anything other than one ingredient in a huge soup of social changes that occurred at about the same time. People still had to get around if they gave up using bicycles, and goodness knows our public transport usage didn't increase to absorb the displaced multitudes of cyclists who were supposedly giving up because they had to wear a helmet.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ben Gracewood,

    Good to hear. I've seen people flouting those lanes without consequence elsewhere.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey, in reply to Zach Bagnall,

    Didn’t Auckland boost roll out of optic fibre by requiring it to be laid whenever the road was dug up, for any reason? Perhaps cycle lanes could be built out in a similar manner. At least NZ city roads still have enough room to do it.. get started early rather than later.

    Not sure about the optic fibre, but the current regulatory design of our streets in terms of network utilities means that companies operating such utilities as fibre optic aren't required to co-ordinate road digging with anyone else, and can, with some notice, simply dig. Wearing my elected rep hat, I can tell you that council officers have lost hair trying to persuade utility companies to co-ordinate their capital activities, with increasing sucess.

    But yes, we, that is, some elected reps (notably Pippa Coom) have asked for cycle infrastructure to be 'built into' road designs (at the design stage) so that we can build in such infrastructure as we renew various spots around town. Increasingly this is starting to happen, but we have some way to go yet, but we do face resistance from some officers at the implications this holds - essentially we are asking for a redistribution of road space away from cars. They naturally will defer to the cultural idea that drivers should expect to be able to 'flow' to their destination, in town.

    The redistribution is difficult to achieve in the city centre and surrounding areas as the road are narrow for historical reasons, but much easier in suburbs developed during the 60s and 70s i.e. places south and north of Auckland, as these roads are very wide.

    Doffing said hat.

    Speaking personally, I agree that wearing bobparkers singles me out, and creates an us/them situation which is not helpful. Commuting around town I only ever wear normal clothes i.e. clothes I wear to work, so I just look like a normal person who is cycling, rather than a marked person.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey, in reply to Ben Gracewood,

    What camera set up do you use?

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Part of being a cyclist is not abusing the privilege.

    See, here’s the thing: When I’m a cyclist, I’m safer when I’m moving. While moving, my choices are dodge, stop, slow down, maybe speed up, and if all else fails I can take my chances on bailing off the bike. When I’m stationary my choices are fall over or get collected, unless I’m really on the ball and might have a chance of beginning to accelerate out of danger. As a consequence I much, much prefer to keep moving whenever possible. If I can blow a red light across the top of a T without interfering with traffic, I will. Likewise a left turn or any other traffic control where I’ve not got traffic crossing from my left.
    If that makes me a bad person, so be it. All I care about is being as safe as possible, and as with an aircraft motion is life to a cyclist.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart, in reply to Maz,

    Maz, I was only referring to how the authorities should phrase it. 'Recommend' rather than 'Compel' the wearing. People don't like being compelled, and with the debatable results of research into wearing helmets/hi-viz I feel compulsion would be wrong on more than 1 level.

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Stewart,

    People don't like being compelled

    That's the standard neoliberal wisdom, yes. I wouldn't rely on it where there's a decent explanation of a regulation's benefits - like staying on your side of that painted line down the middle of the road. Only the most self-centred teens are likely to feel disgruntled about being compelled to observe that.

    However in this case, the coroner is not a transport safety expert and it shows. Compelling people to do something not especially beneficial is a harder ask.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Johnny Canuck,

    This point has already been hinted at, but if high-vis clothing should be compulsory for cyclists, why not for pedestrians?

    NZ road toll over the last 12 months incl. 30 pedestrians and 8 "pedal cyclists". In the 12 months before that it was 37 pedestrians and 7 cyclists.

    If basically the point is that people who are vulnerable to being maimed and killed by vehicles need to be compelled to be more visible, then what's good for the cyclist is probably also good for the pedestrian.

    On per capita and per KM travelled bases, I suspect cyclists are more vulnerable (since almost everyone is a pedestrian at some point, yet relatively few people clock up much time on their bikes). But overall, 3-5x more pedestrians die than cyclists on NZ roads.

    Vancouver BC • Since Feb 2013 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • Maz, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Hmm, I (possibly :o) stand corrected on NZ figures. Aussie stats cite a 30% reduction in mode share there, and most publications I've read cite 20-40% reduction.
    So while it might not be 50% in NZ, I think you'd be wrong to completely disregard the effects of our helmet law.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 30 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    You should all come and live in Palmerston North, where there are cycle lanes everywhere, and a physically separate lane for the busiest route out to the university where the speed limit is 70k, and lots of cyclists, so there's good awareness.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    So... the road code doesn't apply to cyclists?

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Deborah,

    So… the road code doesn’t apply to cyclists?

    Of course it does, and I freely admit that I am not obeying the law. However, the law is an ass. It requires cyclists to ride as far left as possible, then declares them lawbreakers if they pass on the left. It requires a 100W (at best) motor to become completely stationary and then try to safely pull away while sharing with other vehicles that have engine outputs that are hundreds of times greater, with no regard for the possibility that the cyclist could have safely slowed down and then proceeded through a clear intersection; or even continued through and shared the space with other vehicles in a way that's impossible in a car.

    It's hard work getting a bicycle going again from a full stop, and it's my work not the un-work of a tank full of petroleum pixies.

    When I'm a driver I obey the law to the letter. I indicate everything, I observe following distances, I follow the speed limit (even those annoying 30km/h signs that should've been taken down weeks ago)... But in a car I've got the protection of a steel cage and I've got dozens of kilowatts of dinosaur juice awaiting my merest beckoning foot movement. As a cyclist I have neither of those things, and my attitude to the law changes accordingly.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    the introduction of helmets corresponded to a massive decline in cycle usage here and in many other places, and that low numbers cycling is a major risk factor, it’s really silly to make mandatory yet another thing that will stop people getting on bikes.

    If we're going to rightly put responsibility for drivers hitting cyclists on the drivers, then surely we also need to push responsibility for reducing numbers of cyclists and resultant changes in our public health on (now) non-cyclists. The idea that having to wear a helmet has led to people not riding their bikes is nuts. People's concern for their hair has affected their health and the safety of other cyclists.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Moths to a flame.

    In my defensive driving course in the US they pointed out that because people tend to steer towards lights ... then flashing your lights at an oncoming driver may not be the smartest thing to do. Perhaps especially if they don't have their lights on because they are also drunk.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4450 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Brief animated gratitude for brave Auckalofa cyclists, via Jolisa.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    people would go out of their way not to buckle them up

    My father did that ... gah! It used to frustrate the hell out of me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4450 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    dinosaur juice

    like

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Deborah,

    You should all come and live in Palmerston North

    steady on

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    as with an aircraft motion is life to a cyclist.

    I had friends who insisted that having a really powerful motorcycle made them safer because they could accelerate out of danger ... they died.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4450 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Debunked that claim already. Keep up.

    No you didn't. You simplyu offered annecdotal evidence and supposition to support your assertion.

    Not that the original claim is proven either, but it is still remains as plausible as your correlative data.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4450 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Maz,

    Not convinced, at all. It's pretty much impossible to isolate a single factor and say "Ah ha, that's it" when you're talking about social change. In NZ's case it's absolutely impossible because the helmet law came into effect at the same time as other huge changes to the availability of affordability of private motor vehicles. Did it have no effect? Of course not. It is, however, complete bullshit to put the entirety of the blame onto helmets.

    I note that the Australian research quoted on Wikipedia did nothing in attempting to control for school children being driven to school due to the pervasive "stranger danger" terror that was doing the rounds in English-speaking countries at the time.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Stewart,

    people have to cycle for a period

    How on earth would you enforce that? Would there be patrols logging who was cycling and you'd have to have so many stamps to qualify to move up to a motorbike, with the same thing before you moved on to a car?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I had friends who insisted that having a really powerful motorcycle made them safer because they could accelerate out of danger … they died.

    Can also accelerate into danger. And a motorcycle is not a bicycle, in any case. The piddliest ICE moped is vastly more powerful than even Lance Armstrong.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    How on earth would you enforce that? Would there be patrols logging who was cycling and you’d have to have so many stamps to qualify to move up to a motorbike, with the same thing before you moved on to a car?

    Decide the principle is worth investigating, then figure out the details and if it's possible. Can do amazing things with GPS tracking these days.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey, in reply to Deborah,

    So… the road code doesn’t apply to cyclists?

    It's a fluid situation. Where my safety is compromised, the road code goes out the window. Having said that, I very rarely break the code, however, on a few occasions, I will act to protect me regardless.

    Being on a bike in Auckland requires abilities to be fluid and open to all possibilities at any time. We don't have dedicated separate cycle lanes yet so for the most part we are mixing with general traffic.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

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