An interesting article in an Australian newspaper covered the pain and expense endured by Emily Greenwood after being run down by a cyclist.
‘As the pedestrian light turned green on the corner of Addison and Enmore roads in Marrickville, Ms Greenwood took one step out onto the road. Just as her foot hit the bitumen, a cyclist ran a red light and collided with her, leaving Ms Greenwood unconscious, fracturing her collarbone and knocking out several front teeth.’
Running red lights has been fair game for many cyclists, in fact weaving through pedestrians both on and off the footpath has become fair game. So what gives a cyclist the right to ignore the rules of the road and behave in a manner endangering both themselves and others?
Emily Greenwood, awoke in a hospital bed. She required stitches to her face and a massive dental bill as well as the resetting of her collarbone.
Meanwhile the 32 year old ‘student’ was likely to be charged with negligent driving. Should he be found guilty he could face a fine of $67 and court costs. Big deal!
It is time cyclists were treated like other road users and were registered. This would enable ACC charges to be levied to cover our ‘no fault’ system in New Zealand. This as we know is a requirement for all cars, motor cycles, vans, trucks and buses. If the rest of us have to pay every year via the ACC Levy, why the exception for cyclists?
The Greenwood case is not an isolated one and in Australia there is no ACC. Over there the only recourse is via the courts and a civil case for damages. In the case of Maria Galliano, she was run down on a shared pedestrian/cycle way and suffered serious brain damage. She required full time care for the rest of her life but there was no assistance via compulsory third party insurance.
There are several levels of cyclists from school children through to the lycra set pounding the beat along Tamaki Drive. A road designed for horse and carts that struggles to cope with peak hour traffic and the lycra boys and girls who prefer the road to the more basic cycleway on the footpath. Sometimes a group one abreast in line but regularly up to 3 deep and impeding traffic.
In the CBD there is a tendency for commuters and couriers to use bikes. That’s all very well but the desire to break lights, move to the front of the queue, cut corners and use parts of the footpath is becoming more common.
There have been a number of cycling accidents on Tamaki Drive, including fatalities. Some of these cyclists are travelling at 40 or more kilometres per hour. Mixing it with cars and trucks requires skill and attention to the traffic around you. If you want the buzz of the group you had best go to the velodrome for your training run, a public road is not a sensible choice.
The modern cycle, particularly the racing type, has woefully narrow tires with the potential to slip in adverse road conditions. Protective systems on bicycles appear to be non-existent. There are also the relative weights of bicycles versus cars and trucks, the latter being at least 400 times heavier and consequently much slower to stop. Under our antiquated road structures both are competing for the same piece of bitumen. Two trucks passing in opposite directions don’t leave much space for cyclists
There is pressure on Waiheke to extend the cycle-ways. By observation this is not a massive island group. Our roads are often narrow and have gravel patches that destabilise riders. Recently on the run down to Matiatia I clocked a cyclist at over 55 kph, actually exceeding the car speed limit. A tumble at that speed would be very expensive in hospital bills.
While I accept the relatively clean, green and exercise benefits of cycling, it’s not economic to build special cycle-ways for a smallish group. Every day you will see cyclists breaking the road rules or taking unnecessary risks. Accidents are happening. Registration of cyclists and the ACC levy are overdue. If you disagree, give me a better argument to protect the Ms Greenwoods in our community.
However, before you do that you had best watch the following video which is of quite Teutonic proportions. Vimeo.com/36287895 (Note from Jo: unfortunately my website does not support this video format but I urge you to follow the link. It's hilarious).