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No one should pay for a mistake with their life

No one should pay for a mistake with their life.

That’s the key message being pushed by the NZTA ad that’s gone viral and now has over 5.6 million views (up from 440k when I posted about it last Wednesday). It’s a key part of the way we design many roads, for example it’s why we have barriers between motorway lanes, light poles that are designed to shear off at the base if someone accidentally hits them. It’s also why we spend money to improve our roads through the likes of easing corners and why transport agencies run advertising campaigns.

The sad event last week where a cyclist died after apparently running a red light and crashing into a truck is obviously a horrific situation but instead of asking what can be done to make things better so it doesn’t happen again, most seem to only be focusing on who was at fault. Now just so everyone is clear on my thoughts, I think there is no excuse for anyone using any mode of transport to be barrelling straight through an intersection on a red light – it’s a recipe for disaster.

The reality is people make mistakes or poor judgement calls all of the time yet when a cyclist makes one it seems to bring out an absolute hatred towards them from some in the community. Just like for cars and trucks, the only way to effectively minimise the risk of cycling is through improved infrastructure that reduces the risks. It’s an area that many people think AT have very poor at despite what they have said they are doing. Now this isn’t completely AT’s fault, the government policy statement that spells out the funding bands for each mode and only allows for very small amounts of the total transport budget to be used for cycling and walking projects – despite many projects performing substantially better under standard economic analysis than many of the massive roading projects currently on the agenda.

However in what appears to be a bid to draw attention away from questions of what can be done to improve conditions for everyone using roads, Auckland Transport appear to wanting to play the blame game by suggesting that not just this one cyclist made a mistake but by implying that it is something endemic among all cyclists and therefore implying that cyclists deserve the consequences of whatever happens to them. I think this is an extremely sad development in what is already a sad situation. To do this they released the results of a survey on red light running however the numbers actually raise far more questions than answers.

The headlines were that of the intersections surveyed there were 116 cars, 4 trucks, 3 buses, 1 motorcycle and 217 cyclists that ran red lights – although it appears there are a few counting errors but they don’t fundamentally change the result. Now the results sound really bad but here’s the thing, the survey was only done at four intersections across all of Auckland and three of them (the three that saw the most cyclists running red lights) were along the waterfront (not that this excuses it). When we look at the results by intersection this is what we get.

AT Cycling Survey

A couple of quick thoughts spring to mind about these intersections, on Quay St/Lower Albert is it cyclists travelling through the intersection while the pedestrian phase is running? On Tamaki Dr are the numbers high due to pack cycling? At Tamaki Dr/Paterson Ave there was clear trend of cyclists running red lights towards the city in the mornings and away from the city in the afternoons. On both the Quay St/Lower Albert and Tamaki Dr/Solent St intersections the red light running by cyclists was almost exclusively by those going westbound. Why are westbound cyclists more likely to run reds at the intersections (perhaps at the Solent St intersection it is to do with the cycle lane on the footpath being clogged up with traffic signals?

Solent Ave Intersection

However as I said, there were really just four intersections that were studied and I doubt they give a fair representation about how most cyclists at intersections behave. By releasing the information as it has I wonder if AT have done more harm than just letting the issue blow over. The information and how it has been reported in the Herald and other sites is only helping to create an us vs them attitude between different modes which is exactly the opposite of what needs to be happening.

In saying all of this it’s also useful to understand why cyclists may run red lights. This research from Daniel Newcombe at AT helps to shed some light on the issue. The learnings were that

  • Cyclists make choices about their behaviour on an intersection-by-intersection basis
  • Overall, cyclists’ red light running is a relatively infrequent and safe behaviour
  • Levels of red light running vary but (if use of Barnes Dance phases excluded) it’s the same as jaywalking (3.9%)
  • Higher numbers of vehicles ran red lights than cyclists but the proportion was lower (1.2%)
  • Cyclists want to clear the intersection ahead of other vehicles for safety reasons – not impatience
  • Commonly cyclists run red lights to turn left

And what can be done?

  • Sensor loops in the right place
  • More cycle lanes and boxes
  • Use technology to give cyclists head start
  • Legalise low risk red light running (Barnes Dance, left turn) – make cyclists give way
  • Stop slagging off cyclists for running red lights. Pedestrians are just as bad and neither group kills people like the alarming number of cars running reds

It seems AT need to heed their own advice on all of the recommendations that were made.

Note: Here is Cycle Action Auckland’s response to the survey results and things that  can be done to improve safety.

Lastly let’s stop pretending that only cyclists are the ones breaking road rules. There must be 10’s of thousands of speeding tickets issued each year along with thousands of other traffic offences. This study from the Ministry of Transport suggests that in Auckland 5% of the people they checked were either holding a cellphone to their ear or probably texting while driving

Once again we need to stop blaming people and start building our roads so that they are safe if people make mistakes because people don’t deserve to die because they make them.

166 comments to No one should pay for a mistake with their life

  • Fred

    Good call.

    Shame on Auckland Transport for playing “blame the cyclists”. When was the last time a cyclist killed someone driving a car?

    • Barb Cuthbert

      I agree with your statement about AT’s lack of professionalism and willingness to release a biased and inadequate survey, presumably to win media points. I
      Cycle Action is committed to working with AT for the benefit of all – as Chair, I wish it would realise that playing for media points in this manner simply places more cyclists at risk on the road from ignorant road user behaviour.
      This is a serious and regrettable move by AT. Not what we need to see from Auckland’s premier road safety agency.

  • As I covered in my own “Cycling Accident Leaves Larger Questions To Be Answered” which took five days to write up:

    The Short Term Options:

    Better traffic light phases
    Better plate sensors:
    Enforcement
    Cycle boxes at intersections and cycle lanes

    Medium Term Options:

    Shared Paths or separated cycle paths
    Raised Kerbs
    Bay Parking
    Shared Spaces and 30km/h streets

    Long Term

    Planning
    Cycle-ways
    Eastern Transport Corridor (aka the Eastern Highway) <<<<< I mentioned that one for a good reason in light of the Stanley Street accident.

    I did cover causality in the beginning but moved away (as I want to move the debate away from that) and headed towards mitigation which is where we need to go. The good thing about those options above (although Patrick if you want to have a debate about the ETC may we leave that for when I get a post up on that on its own please) is that they not only benefit cyclists but the wider community and actual City. If one can frame the debate and mitigation techniques around this you can win the debate. Do what AT did and the debate is lost (BTW good job AT……..)

    • TheBigWheel

      The Eastern Corridor IS being developed..

      1. Far more frequent, fast, quieter electric trains
      2. The GI-Tamaki-Hobson cycle highway

      Neither of which will cost $ billions, trash the Hobson Basin, Orakei Basin, Purewa valley and Panmure in the process, induce countless more vehicle movements across the region, or consign any wider sustainable transport options in East Auckland to the dustbin once and for all.

      Unlike the Eastern Highway.. which fortunately, ISN’T being developed, it is just a nightmare.

  • Sadly I think there is a lot of mud-slinging by people on both sides on this issue and this article isn’t helping much (making it all the more ironic that it says “done more harm than just letting the issue blow over” when it is doing the same thing). While I do agree there needs to be a heck of a lot more investment to make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians, there also needs to be acknowledgement that every road user (from cyclists to car drivers) need to do more to reduce their risk especially when they are sharing space with other modes of transport. It seems (but I am not entirely confident that it is definitely the case) that this may not have happened in the recent incident. It is disappointing that when this issue comes up that cyclists tend to be very defensive and emotional. I believe more can be achieved through more focus on lobbying for specific improvements rather than playing the blame game (and I direct that last bit to *both* AT/media/etc and the cyclists).

    • Starnius

      “I believe more can be achieved through more focus on lobbying for specific improvements”

      You mean on the 7.4 km of cycleways AT built last year, when their target to achieve the Auckladn Cycle Network by 2030 as promised needs to be 50km?

      Funny, but a lot of lobbying has gone into that, yet now there’s a lot of “clean up your own house first before asking for more” calls. Do we ask drivers not to speed before we are willing to install crash barriers?

      I also don’t quite see why putting needed context to a quick and dirty survey is inflaming anything. If anything, it is direly needed.

      • Starnius

        Key stat missing for example is how many cyclists used those intersections during the time vs how many broke the rules during the time. Kinda important statistics 101, isn’t it?

        • TheBigWheel

          Yes, stats 101 rule #1: select your data set. Some of these intersections are exactly where you would expect to see a disproportionate number of cyclists riding through reds.

          Tamaki / Solent west bound is a classic.. though I wonder if many of the “jumpers” didn’t just ride up onto the shared path, and (depending on traffic) ride back down the “off-ramp” further along.
          Not sure I understand Tamaki / Peterson eastbound.. if the light is red, ride through the bus lane.

          In both cases, there is (almost) a segregated cycle lane that (sort of) permits rolling through. From what I can see there’s plenty of lobbying going on (and constructive engagement with AT) to get exactly these types of specific improvements built.

    • Enuf

      Good comments James. People do need to be more realistic and be aware of the different risk profiles of the various transport modes and walk/cycle/drive/sail accordingly.

      • Exactly, if you are in charge of a large dangerous piece of machinary like a motor vehicle, you should be much more cautious and responsible for your actions than someone on a small, relatively harmless piece of machinary like a bicycle. Good point.

        This is enshrined in law in most European countries.

        The vulnerable road users should also be separated from the dangerous machinary. This is what AT promised to and it has not delivered.

    • “…cyclists tend to be very defensive and emotional”
      I don’t recommend using that statement too often, personally, as a motorcyclist, driver and cyclist I find it somewhat insulting. There are areas where I’m at an intersection (on a bicycle) and when it’s clear, I just want to get out of the way and up to speed as fast as possible. The lights at the Fred Taylor Drive, Fernhill Dr intersection is a good example. If I’m going straight from Fred Taylor Drive to Hobsonville Road there is no cycle lane from the lights until about 150m up. If I run the red when the turning traffic from Fernhill Dr clears, I can make the cycle way before the cars behind me have to pass me.
      Now, I’m technically breaking the law, but I’m a lot safer doing so.

    • “It is disappointing that when this issue comes up that cyclists tend to be very defensive and emotional”. Why shouldn’t cyclists be defensive and emotional; they are the people that lose out in any collision!

  • Daighi

    “Cyclists want to clear the intersection ahead of other vehicles for safety reasons – not impatience”

    This is a key point for me. I will frequently run red lights in situations where I know that cars will try to dangerously overtake as soon as the lights turn green (especially when the intersection I’m travelling through is confined/busy/etc). I genuinely believe that there are many scenarios like this where running the red light is safer than waiting to go with the rest of the traffic.

    That said, I will never do it if it’s unsafe to do so or if it will results in me obstructing pedestrians or other vehicles who have the right of way.

    Unfortunately, this means that I’m probably contributing to the negative stereotypes associated with cyclists.. but the reality is that as long as our transport network ignores the safety of cyclists, I will continue to ride in the same manner. My own personal safety will always come first!!

    • Excellent point Daighi. At the intersection of Symonds Street and K Road, heading north, I frequently cross (slowly and carefully) with the pedestrians so I won’t be overtaken by buses in the bus lane. It’s much safer that way.

      • Lianne

        There’s also the problem in that area (and many areas) where the cycle lanes appear and disappear, sometimes spitting you out on the wrong side of the road at an intersection. It makes it very confusing and difficult to actually follow any rules.

      • I think it makes sense for cyclists to cross with the pedestrians as you would be protected by the red light protecting the pedestrian crossing. I think there’s a good argument for making a cycling through a red light exception for that situation (or at least adding a green bike-only light to show it is safe for cyclists to go through but not for cars). When I (and I suspect the majority of the public) disagree with cyclists going through a red light it’s more to do with the situations when the red light is protecting the green light given to a conflicting direction.

        • Lianne

          While I suppose it happens, I’ve never actually seen a cyclist run a red light in that manner. I have, however, seen countless pedestrians do it. Do drivers get just as angry at them?

          • Exactly. As I observe below, cyclists tend not to run red lights where it will result in their crossing the path of vehicles coming from their left. We go ahead of a green, perhaps, when we are about to get it anyway, or we stick to the kerb and turn left or cross the top of a T-intersection, but we don’t go through a cross intersection when there’s a green for traffic from our left, and we don’t turn right across an intersection against a red; doing the latter is begging to be righteously collected. Pedestrians frequently cross wherever they please, often with minimal care about the niceties of jay-walking laws, and cars run red lights with crossing traffic coming from any which way – often when there are pedestrians entering a crossing!

          • conan

            “Pedestrians frequently cross wherever they please, often with minimal care about the niceties of jay-walking laws”.

            There are no such laws. You must use a crossing if provided within 20m of where you are crossing and cross the road at right angles to it. Otherwise you are free to cross wherever you wish.

          • And failing to use said crossing when you are within 20 metres is… jay-walking. Though called something different in NZ law. Don’t be so obtuse.

          • conan

            I’m not being obtuse. There are those who believe pedestrians crossing the road (way) away from a crossing are somehow breaking a law. You comments above lead me to believe you were one of those people.

    • Enuf

      Daighi, running a red light is illegal not to mention risky. Two wrongs don’t make a right. If you are worried enough that the car drivers will behave so badly at a particular intersection why don’t you dismount and use the pedestrian phase. Much safer and you don’t need to break the law. Understand that is inconvenient but surely would be the sensible option.

      I was driving along Tamaki drive yesterday at about 20kph due to some cyclists cycling three wide who were having a great time admiring the view. I would have loved to have floored it and flew past them.

      • Lianne

        Are you serious? While they probably shouldn’t have been riding three wide, this attitude speaks to why it’s so dangerous for cyclists.

        • Enuf

          the inference is that I didn’t floor it and fly past them as it would have been unsafe. However, there was more than a few expletives flying around inside my car.

      • Daighi

        You do make a good point – and I’m willing to concede that an element of selfishness will influence my decision to run a red light.

        However, if AT actually made some effort to consider cyclists as road users, then I wouldn’t feel unsafe waiting for the green phase, nor would there be any need for me to dismount and cross the road as a pedestrian.

        I guess it all comes back to your earlier point that all modes of transport need to be aware of each other and well catered for. As it stands, I feel that most nz motorists are not prepared to share the road with cyclists and AT appears to doing little to seriously consider cycling as a mode of transport… this is something that seriously frustrates me.

      • TheBigWheel

        Moderators please.. Enuf’s comment above “I would have loved to have floored it and flew past them” is hardly treating other members of the community with civility and respect.

  • John Polkinghorne

    Bloody great post Matt.

  • Phil

    For as long as cyclists post on the net that they are justified in running red lights the greater public will have no sympathy for the cycling lobby.

    Laws are not pick and choose – they are rules to be followed or face the consequences. I could well argue that I am safe to drive my car at 160kph but that does not mean I should be allowed too or that it justifies breaking the law.

    There should be number plates on cycles and people that break the law (not wearing helmets, speeding, running red lights) should be prosecuted just like every other road users.

    There is NO scenario where running a red light is the safest option.

    • Starnius

      That assumes that laws and rules are infallible, and therefore we should never, ever change any law. QED.

    • JimboJones

      I think your 160kph example is a poor one – you are probably going to kill someone else doing that, but a cyclist running a red light is probably only putting their own life at risk.

      • Phil

        A cyclist running a red light can easily put lives at risk. Drivers reacting to the idiot on the bike make a sudden manoeuvre and run over a pedestrian or slam on their brakes and get a nose to tail that kills someone. Cyclist gets knocked down – Ambulance dispatched to scene which is unavailable to attend another life threatening incident elsewhere… the list goes on.

        • Lianne

          Are you implying that the cyclist’s life is less valuable than another? Matt speaks directly to this attitude in his post.

          • Phil

            I am implying that the rules are for everyone to follow and if some idiot causes the death or injury to others then they should be done for manslaughter. Saying a cyclist running a red doesnt put anyone else life in danger is simply not true.

          • Max

            I do actually agree with Phil here – bad cyclist behaviour should be enforced against, and punished.

            However, again, we have a very roads-centric system where drivers often don’t even get charged (let alone convicted) when their actions KILL cyclists (they are excused on reasons such as “they didn’t see them” or similar reasons – like here http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10899557)

            How about we fix that first – because while I agree that cyclists CAN endanger others, the statistics show that in the overwhelming number of cases, it is the other way around.

      • Enuf

        If I am driving my car through a green light with traffic and a cyclist runs across me on a red unless I can safely miss the cyclist (swerve, stop etc.) then poor old cyclist will likely be getting squished. Why would that be any other fault than the cyclist?

        If I ran a red light in my car and was hit by a truck going through the intersection on a green then I am sure all of the cyclists would be blaming me and not the truck or the intersection design. Remember that intersections are designed on the basis that people are following the law and obeying the red lights rather than a free for all.

        Jimbo – Your comment “…is probably only putting their own life at risk…” implies to me that you agree that if the cyclist wants to run a red light they are responsible for what happens to themselves?

        • We have absolutely no accurate data on these alleged ‘Red light running’ cyclist numbers from AT. It is unlikely that they are identical to what we understand by ‘running a red light’ when driving, as in the example you give. When ridding we do not have the acceleration to chase after ambers nor the speed to expect to clear the intersection when it’s marginal. These numbers are much more likely to refer to people riding [slowly and safely] through the pedestrian phase, and leading off from the cycle box at the front of the queue in anticipation of the green, or rolling round on a left.

          Until there is real data with actual descriptions of behaviour it is best if we don’t try to simply assume that people on bikes behave exactly like people when driving. remember almost all people who ride on our roads also drive; but the reverse is not true. If you are only a driver [one of the majority] you may be mistaken by simply assuming that the vehicle language ‘running a red’ is at all accurate in describing ridders’ actions.

          We still do not know, and may never know, whether the rider who died suffered a brake failure or lost control in some other way rather than choose to ‘run a red’.

        • JimboJones

          Yes it is the cyclist’s fault if they run a red light, just like its a car drivers fault if they cross the centre line and have a head on crash. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try and prevent these happening.
          Most NZ roads and road rules are clearly designed for cars hence why cyclists feel the need to break the rules.

    • Steve D

      Motorists post on the ‘net all the time about how they are justified in breaking speed limits, and the police are “revenue gathering”, and so on. That hasn’t seemed to harm the fortunes of the car lobby.

    • Tom

      Phil I got halfway through a very long response and gave up, everything I was writing is repeated elsewhere on here. Just stop being an idiot. Just because the laws are black and white does not mean the real world is. Yes its illegal for me to pass through a red light on a crossing phase, but if I do so at slower than my walking speed, well so what, it does not affect anyone, it would be a far greater hazard for me to unclip and walk my bike through. Its also illegal for me to ride on the footpath, but I have also done this numerous times, most frequently at the exact spot where the death occurred last week, due to the lack of shoulder and amount of trucks along there, so I jump up on the footpath and slow down, making it safer for myself, avoiding inconvenience for the trucks and merging back onto the road when there is space to do so. Yep thats illegal, and I don’t care.
      Lastly, if a driver runs a red light, “he is an idiot” If a pedestrian runs across a road “he is an idiot” if a cyclist rolls through a red light “cyclists are idiots”

      • Phil

        The idea that someone on a cycle is in such a hurry they can not wait for a traffic light phase is laughable. If you want to get somewhere fast – take your car.
        Here is a little bit of advice. If you decide the route is dangerous, take an alternative path. You could totally avoid where the accident happened last week by turning left into Carlaw Park Ave. If you dont want to cycle over an intersection either because you are scared or you want to save a few minutes then unclip and walk the pedestrian phase – yes I mean WALK. Cycling shoes that clip in are quick release, if your’s are not it is because you bought a cheap pair or they are not fitted correctly. I suspect you are just too lazy to unclip and feel that you somehow are above a number of (to you) tedious laws so you just run the lights as you please.
        The Police should spend some resources clamping down on cyclists running reds and cycling without helmets. Perhaps confiscating offenders bikes would be a way to change bad habits.
        Lastly – all people that run red lights are idiots, if that includes you Tom – that makes you an idiot.

        • Tom

          You sound like the kind of guy that would turn around and go home if the crossing buzzer was out of order on your way to work.
          Going down Carlaw Park ave would involve me moving across 2 lanes to the far righthand side of Parnell rise, hopping a median kerb and then having to make a right turn across traffic coming the other way, on a slope. Or I could just move out of the way onto the kerb on the odd occasion a truck is near. Real world.

          • Phil

            My apologies Tom, I assumed you were following the same path as the guy last week. You could dismount your bike and walk it along the footpath to the light controlled intersection of Parnell Rise/Stanley Street. This would likely take you no more than 2-3 mins and I am pretty sure you are not that important that a delay of this sort is going to ruin your schedule. Once across the road you could put your bike back on the road – clip in and peddle off on your way. You would have broken no laws, avoided any risk of negotiating a busy intersection, and had almost no inconvenience.
            I would point out that if you choose to ride your bike in the city you are going to have to negotiate roads where there is heavy industrial traffic or make compromises. Ports of Auckland is not going to move just so Tom can breeze through Parnell Rise as if he is out in the country. You have to ride to the conditions.
            You can try and paint what ever picture of me that you like Tom but there is no excuse for anyone running red lights. Cars shouldn’t, cyclists shouldn’t, and pedestrians shouldn’t either. If everyone obeyed the rules the roads would be a lot safer for everyone.

          • Tom

            To be clear I was referring to the narrow part of stanley st after the intersection, not the intersection itself, and talking about briefly riding on the footpath, not running a red, that would be highly unsafe obviously. And I am not complaining about trucks in any way, simply taking action to get out of their way when possible to the benefit of both parties, riding to the conditions as you put it yourself. You have a knack for twisting words I see.

          • Phil

            You may or may not have read that I was proposing some days ago that AT make a cycle path that takes cyclists away from the intersection and then uses the very wide footpath on Stanley Street as a shared cycle/ped pathway. I am grealy in favour of money being spent on providing safe routes around Auckland for cyclists but I believe a lot of this can be achieved by using a mixture of shared paths, re-routing cyclists (with clear signage) and where necessary building dedicated paths and bridges.
            We have to be realistic – like it or not – the overwhelming majority of public spend will be on roads for cars and trucks. A push to get the best for cyclists for the small amount of money that will be available is the only solution. By accepting some small inconveniences (diversion to side roads) cyclists and other road users can all be catered for.
            And as for the red light thing – I suspect we all do it at times – but we shouldn’t. The Govt and NZ Herald are right to highlite this as high risk behaviour.

  • JimboJones

    Did anyone see the herald poll where over 1/3 of respondents chose the option something like ‘roads are for cars and cyclists should be banned’. Of course a herald web site poll is hardly statistically relevant, but it goes to show the attitudes of a lot of NZ drivers.

  • Phil

    Goes to show why no Govt is rushing to spend on cycling. The public (voters) want to drive cars not ride bikes.

    • Lianne

      I know plenty of people who want to ride bikes but don’t so much because the infrastructure is so terrible here, and it’s very dangerous for cyclists.

    • V Lee

      The “people only want to drive cars” argument always crops up whenever investment in other modes is considered. Yet whenever a convenient high quality option in built e.g. Northern busway, Britomart etc people flock to it in droves. It is a complete failure of reason to assume that the majority of people drive because the are not interested in using other modes. Rather it is the lack of safe and convenient options that “forces” people to drive when the would prefer other means of travel.

  • This is a shoddy piece of work by Auckland Transport compounded by them releasing it into the debate just after the tragic death of a road user. Incredible.

    Why is it Shoddy? Because it uses one descriptor for many different kinds of actions. And that descriptor is, of course, like our road rules and road design, is the one that matches the behaviour of a person when driving a vehicle: ‘Running a Red’.

    One example:

    As is mentioned above a person on a bike who leads off from a standing start at an intersection in anticipation of the green when it is safe to do so [in their extremely vulnerable evaluation] in order to get out of the way of the traffic behind them [for their own safety and the motorists' convenience] is not ‘Running a Red’ like a driver speeding up to sneak through at the end of a light cycle. And it has absolutely no comparison in terms of threat to other road users.

    And in general, because Auckland’s road design and our road rules do not take into account the particular condition of people on bikes, their vulnerability in particular, anyone ridding is completely insane to not make their own judgement as what to do to stay alive rather than to slavishly follow the letter of the law at all times. And no I do not advocate the same approach for people when driving powered vehicles because the rules are designed for their protection and to help prevent them harming other with their extremely dangerous machines. And should be followed. The rules and the road conditions make people when riding into fugitives.

    AT should be ashamed of themselves for this press release… it has fired up the already aggressive and dangerous drivers and given them some sort of twisted justification for behaving even worse on the roads. And these are roads for which AT have responsibility for safety. This action is wholly regrettable and very difficult to understand. And will almost certainly lead to further tragedy.

    Fuel on Flames. Shame on you AT.

    • Frank McRae

      Well summed up Patrick. The term “running the red” is misleading in that it almost never involves a cyclists going straight through a four way intersection while the conflicting traffic has the green light.

      I suspect one of the reasons there is so much “red light running” on Tamaki drive is that it is done at interesections where the cyclists are at the top of the T and can move through on the left without conflicting with turning traffic, or can filter through after giving way.

  • Enuf

    Patrick, the photographer in you makes for some very creative responses but all it boils down to is your trying to justify cyclists running red lights. It is illegal full stop.

    Your whinging and commentary is exactly, as Phil posted above, one of the main reasons that cyclists get the scorn that they do because they think they are above the law. This rhetoric creates more bad will and fuel on flames for the cyclists than anything.

    • Lianne

      I think you forget that almost all (if not all) cyclists are drivers as well. Most of them, contrary to popular belief, actually do understand the rules of the road and what constitutes being safe. In my personal experience, I have been afraid of other drivers/felt in danger because of them many many times, and not once because of a cyclist.

      • Daighi

        Agreed, Lianne.

        I may not be a representative sample but in 10 years of driving and about 15 years of regular cycling I have never caused an accident. I have however, been hit by cars several times while cycling (never my own fault) and have had countless near misses due to inattentive motorists. And on top of that I’ve been the occasional victim of road rage – one such ‘road rager’ is the managing director of a new zealand bus company, whose name i won’t mention here (still haven’t worked out if this is ironic or not…).

        I personally believe that being a cyclist has made me a far better motorist than I would have been otherwise. Being frequently placed in situations of extreme vulnerability does wonders to my awareness of other road users.

    • conan

      Yep you were happy to think about wanting to ‘floor it’ to pass a group of cyclists. No fuel there?

    • Yeah I am not a cyclist but a human who sometimes uses a bike and sometimes drives and sometimes walks.

      A lot of experts out there who only every experience cycling by viewing it through their windscreens.

      • Enuf

        I have been a long time cycle commuter and also a car driver and have been knocked off my bike twice by cars so please don’t patronise me (or anybody) that doesn’t pull this blogs line as being somebody who doesn’t or hasn’t ever ridden a bike on the road.

        • So as a cyclist, you believe you are above the law? Or does that only apply to other cyclists? Or is a cyclist something different from “a person riding a bike”?

          A big problem I see is that in Auckland “cyclist” only captures MAMILs (Middle Aged Man in Lycra) as they are the only group we really see on our roads. Mostly because they are the last survivors of the cycling appocalypse that occurred in NZ in the late 80s/early90s. It doesnt include a 10 year old cycling to school or an older lady cycling down to the shops for some bread.

          Even those people sometimes choose to break laws. The child rides on the footpath – illegal. The lady chooses to ride her bike across on the pedestrian phase – illegal. Do they feel they are “above the law”? No, they are making a decision to increase their safety.

          No-one (and I say that as an active member of CAA) is excusing people who break laws or blaming the driver of the truck. But people do break laws on the road and the discussion needs to be about how we stop it happening again. Also, why the promises made by AT about cycle infrastructure havent been delivered.

          • TheBigWheel

            Well put goosoid.

            As any of us who are some days “a person on a bike” and other days “a person driver of a car” can attest, the behaviour of other people driving cars towards us is, at times, very, very different.

            It is because of the relative vulnerability of a person on a bike to a person in a car that this behaviour changes.

            Therefore, as Patrick put it frankly, it amounts to “cowardly bullying”.

            As, for example, demonstrated by Enuf’s extraordinary admission that he “would have loved to have floored it and flew past [the people on bikes]”

            This is the problem that needs to be addressed.

            That is not to say that cyclists don’t also need to consider their actions.

            Why is this so hard?

          • Enuf

            Goosoid, no I don’t believe I am above the law. If I am in an unsafe situation whilst cycling I often dismount. I never run red lights. When I am in my car I am conscious of cyclists and pedestrians. I am not sure what your comment is meant to incite?

            Get over yourself BigWheel…. Why do you have such a problem with me explaining that I would love to floor it and fly past some cyclists who are holding me up but didn’t as I could have created an unsafe and potentially worse situation. I would say that this means that I was being considerate of other road users more so than the cyclists were of me. The problem that needs to be addressed, in my eyes, is that cyclists should obey the rules of the road and in the instance yesterday should have pulled over into the left so that I could safely pass and continue on their sight seeing tour. If they had done that a number of posts and emotive responses would not have been made today.

          • conan

            “who are holding me up”

            Seriously? Anyone not travelling at the speed you wish to travel must pull over and get out of your way?

            “and continue on their sight seeing tour”

            On Tamaki Drive? On Sunday? What are the chances? No doubt you were on your way to continue your search for the cure for cancer or some other important outing.

          • Counterpoint

            Enuf, I think the quote “It is because of the relative vulnerability of a person on a bike to a person in a car that this behavior changes.” sums up the antipathy to your anecdote. I would note that you telling us a story about when you were furious at some cyclists follows the recent tragic death of a cyclist, and that this may account for the heightened tension around this issue.

            Having said that, I suppose if we are to criticize you in this instance, it should be for things you actually did, rather than things you say you wish you had done at the time but didn’t. Might be worth keeping in mind though that telling any minority group “oh, I would have treated you like shit – but then I thought better of it” is not going to win you an especially favorable response in any situation

          • Hopefully this will be in the right place this time.

            Enuf – just to clarify, the point I was making was that you said: “cyclists get the scorn that THEY do because THEY think they are above the law”. You then said you were a cyclist. Ipso facto, you must be “they” as well and deserving of the scorn and also you must think you are above the law. But obviously you dont think that you are “they” but something else.

            The more obvious point is that cyclists are not a big, homogenous “they”, anymore than motorists are. What SOME people on bikes choose to do SOME of the time is not an issue for all people riding bikes at any given time – including you and Phil.

            All your comments do is show that Auckland has become a mono-modal city where other modes such as cycling and PT have become so marginalised that people who choose those modes are seen as some kind of deviant – undeserving of the protection and understanding society extends to other groups that make mistakes or choose not to follow the law – like motorists.

            Is that a road we want to go down?

    • JimboJones

      Unfortunately you are not guaranteed to be safe as long as you obey the law, you are still at the mercy of others. If getting a head start at the lights when you can see no one is coming is going to be safer than waiting for the green when you are going to be competing against a whole lot of cars, I would personally do whatever I felt was safer, screw what the law says. And if the law says I need to stop for 3 minutes at a set of lights when I’m turning left and I can plainly see there is no way I am putting anyone’s life at risk by going, I wouldn’t wait.

    • One of the things that really got me was drivers insisting that if cyclists was to be respected as road users they must obey the law. How hypocritical, coming from a group that, clearly, is not fully law-abiding and, in overall numbers, breaks the law far more frequently than do the cyclists they scorn.
      Drivers are in absolutely no position to insist on legal compliance from cyclists as a precondition to treating cyclists with courtesy and respect, but I have seen that articulated by people who I would consider to be somewhat moderate in their overall position on the right of cyclists to use the roads (as opposed to Phil’s position).

      • Phil

        What do you suppose my position is Matt? Given I cycle about 160kms on average a week. I believe I have a very good understanding of the cyclists perspective. Bikes have as much right to use the roads as the next person (it could be argued they should be taxed) but just like every other road user they have to obey all the rules. There is no excuse for running red lights and peoples attempts to suggest otherwise just show how stupid and selfish they actually are.

  • I would be really interested to see what the figures look like if cyclists who were not crossing paths with traffic coming from their left are excluded. That is, cyclists who are ducking a turn left or following the top of a T-intersection. Would also exclude cyclists who cross through a pedestrian phase, since there’s no crossing traffic.
    The real dangers, from any form of vehicle, are when there is an intersection of perpendicular paths, and my observation is that it is more frequently motor vehicles that run red lights straight through an intersection or for a turn right.

    • Frank McRae

      Given that three of the four intersections in AT’s study were T intersections, and two were Barnes dances I’m sure the figures would be very different.

  • Another option is to legitimise some of the more common red-light running by bikes using simple bypass treatments. There are a couple of examples in Christchurch; see http://cyclingchristchurch.co.nz/2014/01/12/clever-cycling-stuff-cycle-bypasses/
    As someone who has investigated the past 90-odd cycle fatalities, I probably have more interest than most in what actually happened in the recent Akld cycle tragedy. Nevertheless, I am somewhat intrigued by the media storm that has been been whipped up by one crash. One unintended outcome of all this attention is that yet again the general public get the impression that it’s a jungle out there and you would be mad to risk your life on a bike. Yet this was the first cycling fatality in NZ in six months (during which we probably saw ~150 other road users lose their lives – I don’t see the angst about that) and comes after a year in which cycle crashes specifically in Auckland dropped dramatically. Sure, things could be safer (and road user behaviour on both sides could be better), but a bit more context would be useful to the discussion too.

    • Thanks Glen, always good to have the benefit of your knowledge and insight here.

    • Max

      Beautiful picture, Glen – thanks.

      Sadly, here in Auckland this would be seen as “pandering”, especially now. I have tried to get AT to consider such treatments at various locations over the years, and never any interest.

      • David T

        No any more so than “pandering” to car drivers by providing free left turn lanes at traffic lights – but you’re right, getting AT to see it would probably be an uphill struggle.

      • TheBigWheel

        The treatment in that wonderful picture from CH would work perfectly well in at least two of the intersections in the AT survey.. On Tamaki / Solent city bound (in the photo in the post) the solution is 90% there..

    • Phil

      By your data Glen it makes no sense for AT to spend any more money on cycle paths until the other road users are made safe. That means more motorways and foopaths long before any more cycle paths. Why spend on cyclists when the casualty rate is 150-1.

      • And last year the road toll was the lowest in 60 years. Will the government be cancelling all motorway and road upgrades that have a safety focus? Somehow I think not (and I hope not).

      • Max

        Phil, our politicians already do what you are proposing…

        But the per-time-spent-in-traffic crash rates show that cycling is a lot less safe than driving or walking, and that NZ cycling is particularly bad, compared with good-practice countries (whereas our car driving safety is worse than good practice countries, but not nearly by the same degree) so this clearly shows that a greater cycling emphasis makes sense from a systems perspective and from a cost-benefit-perspective.

        The other key aspect is whether the existing low cycle VOLUMES are desirable (even the roads-centric politicians state publicly that they would love to see more people cycling, so the answer is no) – and since studies and interview surveys have shown again and again that SAFETY issues are what is holding back widespread cycling (or at least massively more widespread cycling than what we have now), investing in cycle safety also profits society and the transport system overall.

        It is, quite literallty, a matter of balance, and ensuring we don’t keep putting all our eggs in one place (cars, cars, and then some more cars), and then show surprise when such a system creates not only car-specific issues (traffic jams to Africa during peak hours, massive emissions, parking taking over half our city), but creates them in particular hefty amounts – while at the same time prevented any alternatives from functioning.

        In other words, if all you eat is beef, you will die as surely as if 100% of your diet is made of green salad.

  • It seems that all this red light running is actually just cyclists using the pedestrian phase, presumably to avoid tricky turns or getting squeezed by drivers off the line. Change the law and this red light running problem dissapears (for cyclists at least).

    • Ah-ha… just as I suspected. This is not what is understood by the phrase ‘red light running’.

      Could this have been handled any worse by AT? They had more nuanced data but didn’t release it!?

      What are they doing?

    • AC

      I knew there was something wrong with that statistic. I spend a lot of time paying close attention to intersections as a cyclist, ped and motorist. There is no way that 60% of cyclists “run red lights”. Not in the same way as cars. Going across on a Green man sure, not speeding up to get through a red at the last second.
      AT have really screwed this one up.

    • Phil

      Are cars allowed to use the pedestrian phase? It is still illegal and still no justification for your moaning.

      • Bryce P

        The Dutch, who have some knowledge of such things, give bikes their own phase. I suggest that a quick fix would be to paint a green bike lane next to the ped strip, put sensors next to the lights and allow bikes to use the ped phase. Pretty easy, not expensive, and already has a proven track record. This will however require bikes to only use this phase i expect. You cant have everything.

        • Bryce P

          And use the opportunity to get rid of advance stop boxes.

        • OrangeKiwi

          Starting with T intersections, put in green bike lanes along the top of the T and exempt cyclists, using similar signs as in the linked article. I guess this requires a law change though: bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/cycling-past-red-lights-its-legal-in-the-netherlands/

          Phil, laws are man-made and therefore not infallible – it sounds like you would have made an outstandingly obedient servant meekly complying with the laws of the time in a certain nation back in ’35.

          • Phil

            lol – so now anyone that stops for red lights is akin to Germans not opposing the rise of national socialism – you’re too funny.

  • nonsense

    I would like to know name and surname of the person at AT that decided to release this report now. This is wrong. This is speculating on a person’s life.

    • Max

      I know the name and person, but if is something we need most here is to dial back on the mutual recriminations and get more constructive, rather than more personal.

  • Enuf

    the by-pass approach is definitely a good idea when done right.

  • Ian Auld

    While I am in the camp of never supporting red-light “running”, that AT study does look pretty ridiculous and the NZ Herald’s coverage of this whole episode has been (as always) biased and sensationalist. How were these intersections chosen for the study? What was the criteria? Why is it that 3 out of 4 are on Tamaki Drive / Quay St? The “red light running” at Mission Bay and Lower Albert Street intersections is almost defeinitely people jumping the gun across the pedestrian phase in order to get out ahead of traffic. While (again) I don’t condone this behaviour, it doesn’t endager anyone (including the cyclists and pedestrians), as opposed to cars flying through the end of an amber light. I personally don’t jump the gun at intersections, but I can definitely see the attraction from a safety point of view. Surely a better ansdwer, particularly on streets with heavy cyclist use (like Tamaki Drive) would be to add a green cycle light to the phase (just as they do for buses at some other intersections). This would surely cost very little and greatly improve cyclist safety.

  • Daighi

    For those convinced that running a red light is NEVER safer than waiting for the green, here is an instance where I would disagree: http://goo.gl/maps/pBAHb

    At the intersection of Wellesley St and SH16 off ramp, if I am cycling toward the south east and encounter a red light, I have two options:

    1) Wait for the green light and have a queue of cars that are tempted to dangerously overtake me in order to turn left onto Grafton Road.

    2) Run the red light (if i deem it safe to do so!) and avoid having a queue of cars wanting to overtake me.

    Note that in this scenario there is no footpath, no pedestrian phase and no shoulder!! I will run the red light every time.

    If AT could stop designing roads like this, then I shouldn’t ever have any need to ever run a red light.

    • Steve D

      Fortunately for you, the government has solved this problem: it’s illegal to cycle along Wellesley Street there! If you look closely, there’s “no cycles” signs between Princes Street and Grafton Road.

      (Dripping sarcasm ends).

  • An entire article devoted to makeing excuses, including the line “Overall, cyclists’ red light running is a relatively infrequent and safe behaviour”.

    The message just won’t get though those helmets, and thus, the problem will never go away.

    • Max

      Next time someone abuses me 200m after my last road-code compliant red light stop I will ask him to discuss this with you, instead of with me. You seem to have all the answers, even for those of us who don’t run red lights. You also seem to believe things will improve if we all say “mea culpa, we will behave better now (even those 90% of us who didn’t misbehave before)”. #Nothowthingshappen.

    • Max

      In short, if the media and authorities put out material that is apt to increase hostility to cyclists, we have the right to answer it. End of story.

      • Red means stop, period. The reply you should give is “yes, we must stop at the red”, not “red means stop, but here’s a list of reasons why we refuse to do it…”.

        When the denial is so wide-spread, so ingrained, and so open, I think enforcement is the only remaining option. Time for a police crackdown, issuing of fines, and ideally, fitting of license plates to bikes so that unsafe riders can be reported.

        People used to make excuses for not wearing seatbelts as well, but enforcement eventually worked. The same needs to be done here.

        • He got abuse for stopping. How do you manage to drive safely with those blinkers on?

          • Max

            To clarify, in that particular case in Takapuna I got abused for claiming the lane in a narrow section (i.e. where riding to the kerb would have encouraged an unsafe overtaking manoeuvre). Standard road-code recommended stuff. The fact that I had just before that stopped correctly at the red light some short distance ahed of that did not prevent the driver from hassling me.

            Similarly, I some month ago got abused by a driver in Grafton because another cyclist ran the red light (and took off ahead of us both). I had stopped at the red light. Again, it did not prevent the other driver from taking out his frustrations on me.

        • I agree but when the Police try and enforce speed limits on motorists (the breaking of which is the main cause of traffic deaths in NZ) they are accused of revenue gathering.

          So “30/50/60/100km/h is the speed limit, but here’s a list of reasons why we refuse to follow it…”

          What is the difference?

        • Molly Woppy

          Yes, red does mean stop. Perhaps you could explain that that to the driver who ran the red light while I was waiting at the pedestrian crossing to walk my bike over just now (because I am not suicidal enough to attempt to navigate the intersection on the road). Or the other two drivers who ran the orange (late enough that the light was red by the time they reached the middle of the intersection).

          There are many inconsiderate people on the roads, some are in cars, some bike, some even walk. Generalising behaviour from one or two personal experiences is hardly likely to get us very far. For example, I have only ever been nearly run down as a pedestrian crossing legally on the green man by cars (this has happened multiple times) but I cannot therefore say that all or even most cars run red lights. That would clearly be silly. Nor do I expect law abiding motorists to accept blame for others’ behaviour. Laws should be clear and enforced and if they need to be changed to make the roads safer, then that should be done. We changed the give way rule recently and the world continued to turn.

          /rant

    • Geoff that line comes from a formal AT study into the issue (unlike the basic counts they released).

      Considering that police can and do fine cyclists for illegal behaviour when they see it, what further action do you think should be taken against the 1.6 million other infringements that are issued each year by the police to vehicle drivers.

  • Dave B

    Here’s how I go through a red light on a bicycle when nothing is coming, when it is obviously safe to do so, and when continuing to sit just there will involve a long wait while more and more traffic builds up around me. I stop, hop off, walk across or around the intersection (wheeling my bike), then hop on again on the other side. Same end achieved as riding through the red (maybe a little slower), but it sure looks less arrogant and as far as I know it is legal.
    Of course this is made more difficult for cyclists who have their feet clipped into their pedals and who cannot so easily dismount.

    Problem is, the whole traffic-light concept is there for the primary purpose of regulating motor traffic. Very few traffic lights would be needed if it were just cyclists, and so cyclists unnecessarily get caught up in the regime imposed around them for motor vehicles. There ought to be scope for exempting cyclists from red lights under certain safe conditions, and examples of this can be found overseas.

  • NCD

    Matt has well highlighted the disparity between action and result.
    Imagine if the fine for up to 10km/hr over the limit was put up to $10,000…
    Would we get a defence of the policy from Joe Public saying “well, they are breaking the law” ?
    One cyclist and his family just paid a much higher price.

    Words like “grace” and “compassion” could be part of our conversation.
    We could design a city that allows for error by all road users.
    We choose not to.

  • Interesting that that same woeful AT press release contained news about the relentless rise in cycling numbers. For context here’s what’s happening in the US [and we do tend to copy them, don't we]:

    http://www.salon.com/2014/01/12/the_unstoppable_rise_of_bikes/

    “In five years, bicycling will be so common that it’s boring”

  • Dave B

    Interesting cycle-crash facts:
    64% of cyclist injuries/fatalities were not the fault of the cyclist at all
    14% were partly the cyclists’ responsibility
    23% were primarily the cyclists’ responsibility

    http://www.transport.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/Research/Documents/cycling-crashfacts-2013.pdf

  • wtl

    I wonder how many of those saying that cyclists should never ever break the law make sure that they ALWAYS drive under or at the speed limit. Even though the police give a 4-10km/h tolerance before ticketing drivers. driving at any speed over the speed limit is breaking that law.

  • Zed

    Why has the big green box where cyclists get to stop in front of stationary traffic, had the cycle icon blurred out in the photo?

  • Sacha

    Registering cycles is the answer says bus drivers leader:
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11185830

    “Auckland Tramways Union president Gary Froggatt says bikes should be identifiable.

    “I really think there should be some identification on a bike – a bike should be registered because some of these irresponsible guys are getting away with blue murder,” he told Herald.

    “It really worries me with cyclists going through red lights and pedestrian crossings,” he said.

    “I followed a cyclist once who nearly knocked over a little girl on a crossing right outside my office and he wasn’t repentant at all.”

    So there. If cyclists just obey the road rules, motorists won’t keep running them over. Genius.

  • Sacha

    And the Herald’s editorial reckons cyclists should be more tolerant of drivers (having whipped up a frenzy with its biased coverage lately):
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11185763

  • nonsense

    we really shouldn’t be surprised of the Herald bias towards cars. It gets huge amounts of advertisement from car manufacturers. For the 150 year party at the art gallery there were 2 Mercedes parked in front of the entrance as sponsors, not 2 bikes.
    And by the way this is not journalism, for that in New Zealand I trust more Women’s weekly.

  • Ari

    Bah, these reply boxes never seem to work. My LOL was in response to the comment of AT censoring the cycle marking in the image.

    Anyway.

    I never cycle because I think you have to be stupid to do it on Auckland roads. But Ive never had a problem with cyclists running red lights. Ive never had a problem with them using the Barnes Dance phases either as long as they aren’t a hazard to pedestrians. But it is still illegal unless they dismount. I doubt there has ever been a driver injured when a cyclist has hit their car. The only risk is to the cyclists making the choice to get ahead of traffic or move when they think it is safe to do so.

    However I do agree with the point that as long as this behaviour continues, drivers will retain their animosity towards cyclists. A law change is needed, but it is a tricky issue. If I am in a car and the cyclist filters through a red light legally(because of a law change) and I hit him, surely he would still be at fault?

    I would just point out that Daniel Newcombe’s study is not an AT study. It is a study by an AT employee which is a different thing altogether. I agree with his interpretation of the data though.

    Just some quick comments on action suggestions:

    Law for cyclists: Yes I think cyclists should be able to filter through red lights if they think it is safe and no need to dismount when using a pedestrian phase, but again it causes issues with laying fault on someone in the case of accidents.

    Bike only phases: Won’t happen unless there is significant cycle numbers.

    Better trafic light phases: ?

    Enforcement: Need to triple police numbers. red light running is rampant, there arent enough police.

    Cycle boxes: Nice for the main road, but if there arent sensors that can detect cyclists properly, then it can put cyclists at risk at right turn boxes or on side roads.

    Cycle symbol lights for pree-mption: Not generally used because NZ doesnt currently use sensors that can differentiate cyclists from vehicles, so the lights won’t know when to use the symbols. The only current option is a push-button, but its hard putting them with easy access to cyclists. The lights can also get confusing for drivers who may just see a ‘green’ and go. There are also issues with the use of cycle pre-emption lights with right turning cyclists.

    • Max

      “I would just point out that Daniel Newcombe’s study is not an AT study. It is a study by an AT employee which is a different thing altogether.”

      Yes, but AT was willing to lend their name to it when he presented it at the New Zealand Transport Conference. Several other AT staff were also present when he presented it to CAA’s public gathering too. Note that the preentation slides have the AT logo on them, and various high-ranking AT staff (higher than Daniel, who isn’t exactly entry level himself) were there, and at the conference.

    • Max

      “Bike only phases: Won’t happen unless there is significant cycle numbers.”

      We already have (at least 2) cycle signals (on the Northwestern Cycleway). Those allow legal riding across on a ped crossing. Not sure whether there’s any in NZ that allow on-road riding.

      • Steve D

        Bikes can now go on a “B” light if they’re in a bus lane, at least.

        • Max

          They have always been able to do so, I believe – or at least since regulation was introduced / clarified that they are legal in shared bus lanes.

          • Steve D

            No, they haven’t, it was only allowed from 1 October 2011: http://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2011/0307/latest/whole.html

            Whereas bikes have been allowed in bus lanes for considerably longer, and AFAIK since bus lanes were first introduced.

          • Max

            I was aware that that came in only recently. However, I presume (maybe optimistically) that this was simply a clarification instead of a reversal. After all, the opposite situation would mean that a cyclist would block a bus because he can’t legally go across. That’s the kind of stuff I would like to see Tramways union work against, for better cyclist/bus sharing, and ask for more enforcement of the existing rules – instead of coming up with registration schemes (how well THAT works we can see by how few motorists drive and park in bus lanes… NOT).

          • Steve D

            Yes, I don’t think it was enforced, but people were (and still are) a bit confused about whether they were supposed to go. At least this way, the rules can be put in the Road Code for people to look up.

  • We don’t need to reinvent the wheel with regards to bikes, just follow the well-established leads of countries that know how to do it. Separate lanes for cycling, green cycle boxes at every traffic light intersection, cycle green lights that go off before main car green light goes, and for heavens sake, let cyclists cross with pedestrians if they want to. Every year there are cyclists killed by cars – but there are never cases of pedestrians killed by cyclists. I don’t think there has ever been a single case in NZ. It’s a simple case of mass and velocity.

  • Ari

    Max, given that I was at the IPENZ Transport Conference where he first presented his findings, I know that he stated explicitly that he did the study of his own initiative and that his views may or may not have been endorsed by AT. Perhaps since then AT has endorsed those findings or at least permitted him to present those findings using AT branding.

    Regarding the Bike only phases, I was not talking about cycle crossings. These will happen more and more. I was meaning actual phases for just cyclists (like a barnes dance for cyclists). Cannot be done unless there are sufficient numbers.

    I think there is a good case for cycle symbols being used like bus “B” symbols, but there are some safety concerns that need to be addressed before these can be implemented. Also no one wants to be the first to try it here I think.

    • Max

      Fair point, but I know Daniel is a careful man, so I doubt he would have added the AT logos to his presentation on a whim. Where they on the preso when he gave it at the conference? But never mind, not a biggie either way.

      Regarding signal phases for cyclists, yeah I agree it would only make sense with higher cycle volumes (such as at Tamaki Drive!) or with very good (camera?) detection of cyclists. I also agree that (obviously), they would have to be well-designed to not create new hazards by sending off cyclists at the wrong point of the traffic phase. However, another easier option would be to put the cycle aspects I mentioned on more intersections. Especially Barne’s Dances. Plus allocate a few policemen/women to occasionally ticket the small number of cycle ***holes who don’t take sufficient care around pedestrians, and much of the problem would be solved.

  • JohnP

    When I was an engineering student I got my lesson in road safety on a wet Thursday afternoon on Broadway when I was riding my bike to a workshop course held at Penrose High School (it was 1984 so not called One Tree Hill yet). A bus pulled out of the long bus stop on Broadway and knocked me onto the ground in the next lane. Lucky for me the car driver in that lane stopped short of my body. (Thank God for traffic congestion and slow speeds) The lesson is fault doesn’t matter, only cause and effect matters in the physics of a crash. The bus driver didn’t see me and he was shaken up, I saw him and did everything right but I was left sore, the car driver saw both of us and offered to take me first to the hospital then to Penrose. In the recent tragedy the outcome would not be different regardless of whether the cyclist ran the light if it had been the truck driver who had. Crashes happen because people are involved and we make mistakes. The engineering choice is separate cyclists from vehicles or share the space in some manner. I don’t see how a cycle lane might have mitigated this one but it might prevent the next which will have different causes and effects. My advice is leave fault for lawyers to worry about and try not to fall into the trap of using fault as an excuse to do nothing. Most crashes are someone’s fault, lets not use it as justification for no safety improvements anywhere.

    • Max

      Hi John – a cycle lane or shared path MIGHT have prevented it (not saying it WOULD, still too little known) because the cyclist was turning left from Parnell Rise, as far as we know. If he had gone into a receiving cycle lane, he would have been outside of the space of a truck. Lack of infrastructure doesn’t change culpability, but as you say, culpability should be separate from infrastructure response – we don’t refuse to put median barriers on dangerous roads just because the drivers crossing in the opposing lane broke the law while doing so…

  • JohnP

    Hi Max. We can never know. Your example of the median barriers is a good one but getting them in on the harbour bridge and Newmarket viaduct took years due to National Roads Board reluctance. (raised pavement markers was even worse) But both cases were actually assisted by the ‘fault’ moralists, lets call them, as it was perceived to be the innocent drivers who were getting killed. In my view its best we don’t go down the path value judgments in road safety. We will all wrong someone at some point and we will all be wronged if we live long enough.

  • Enuf – just to clarify, the point I was making was that you said: “cyclists get the scorn that THEY do because THEY think they are above the law”. You then said you were a cyclist. Ipso facto, you must be “they” as well and deserving of the scorn and also you must think you are above the law. But obviously you dont think that you are “they” but something else.

    The more obvious point is that cyclists are not a big, homogenous “they”, anymore than motorists are. What SOME people on bikes choose to do SOME of the time is not an issue for all people riding bikes at any given time – including you and Phil.

    All your comments do is show that Auckland has become a mono-modal city where other modes such as cycling and PT have become so marginalised that people who choose those modes are seen as some kind of deviant – undeserving of the protection and understanding society extends to other groups that make mistakes or choose not to follow the law – like motorists.

    Is that a road we want to go down?

    • Good call, Goosoid.

      Can’t understand how so many can be blind to the fact they lump a massive and diverse group of people into one mass for the purposes of venting spleen, even to the point of maintaining some kind of imaginary separation between themselves and the rest of said mass. Cognitive dissonance.

  • And last year the road toll was the lowest in 60 years. Will the government be cancelling all motorway and road upgrades that have a safety focus? Somehow I think not (and I hope not).

  • nzdn

    Cyclist Safety as a public issue is shaping up to the be the Gun Control of NZ – an obviously urgent problem that barely gets addressed because of a vocal, combative opposition and decision makers who pander to them. The huge blind spot isn’t on the road, it’s in our minds.

  • Phil

    Interestingly I fell off my bike yesterday at an intersection (some of you may be rejoicing). A cyclist riding past just looked and kept peddling down the road, as I lay flat on my face moaning quite loudly ‘feck that hurt’. As I picked myself and my bike up a driver got out of her car to ask if I was ok and offered to take me to the hospital. After she drove off having been assured all was ok, a second driver stopped to ask “Did that car hit you”.
    So two car drivers stopped to check all was all right with me while a fellow cyclist just steamed on by….

    • …in the Oxfordshire countryside, Phil?

    • Bryce P

      Have you stopped to think that if the person on the bike had been in a car they also would not have stopped?

    • Max

      Which is why we don’t use anecodtes for policy (or shouldn’t). Whenever I have a stop on the Northwestern Cycleway to rest or have something to eat, I have to keep fending off concerned cyclists going “Are you alright?” or “Everything’s alright with your bike?”. Mileage of people varies with the day, with the people, with the situation. Lets not make judgements on a single incident – if we need to judge, at least get a sample size large enough to have some statistical validity (and no, Phil, I am not encouraging you to fall off more – hope you are doing fine).

  • Phil

    I just posted that as an example of a random (if topical) incident that happened yesterday. The only conclusion I draw is that most motorists dont wish any harm to cyclists and are quick to stop and offer assistance. If we all looked out for each other on the roads there would be less accidents. I guess we all just get carried away with our own self perspective – regardless of mode of transport – and forget to be courteous. And thanks Max, I actually fell off 3 times yesterday (only once on the road) so I’m getting good value out of my helmet but otherwise fine.

  • This tragic incident happened in Sydney:
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11187136

    “Police said she was travelling down a “very steep” hill when she lost control and swerved into the path of an oncoming vehicle.”

    I wonder if something similar happened to John Tangiia? By the sounds of it Casey Kinnaird was a very experienced road cyclist on a high performance bike while it appears John was perhaps a relative newcomer to cycling in Auckland and on an ordinary commuter bike.

    I really like the attitude of the family to contact the driver and offer condolences. I can only imagine how terrible that driver and the truck driver involved in the crash with John Tangiia must be feeling.

    Again (and I think Matt L’s basic point in this post has been lost in finger pointing), the issue to focus on is not whether John Tangiia (or any victim of a crash) was at fault but how we can design a roading system that forgives those mistakes and would mean John was still with his family. The rest is just politics.

  • Phil

    I know you guys like to compare Auckland to the Nederlands and suggest we should follow the Dutch cycling story.There could be something in this where everyone is required to sit and pass a basic proficiency test. It might sound like a pain to do but to be truthful, I bet it would encourage a lot of parents to allow their kids to bike to school if they thought they were being taught how to do it more safely. Also, if everyone sat this test it would make all road users more bike aware.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16AO0_08r3o

    • Tests like that are done in NZ schools as part of the Travel Wise programme. Some schools wont let students cycle to school unless they have completed the course, which I think is great. Riding a bike on city streets isnt intuitive and a few safety tips can really help and give confidence.

      I think the main problem is that a whole generation of NZers (mostly those born in the 80s/90s) have just had cycling removed as an option from their lives. So, completely opposite to the Netherlands, motorists dont sympathise or understand cyclists (or PT users) as few of them do it themselves. Any improvements from those education programmes wont be felt until the current school children are driving.

      That is what happens when you design a transport system for 60 years for only one mode.

  • Phil

    I doubt that is the problem or else you would see it repeated elsewhere. I suspect Auckland has a pretty low cycling population because petrol has been and cars continue to be super cheap in NZ. In Auckland, and until very recently, you could buy a cheap Jap import at 15 and be on the road pooling money for petrol. Lets face it – for teenagers it has been the case that a car was an extension of their social life. I dont know too many kiwi kids that cycle with their mates to parties and none that lost their virginity on a bike.
    Promoting cycling is good as part of promoting improved fitness for our growing nation of lard arse fatties but it is never going to overtake driving and it is never even going to get as popular as cycling in the Nederlands. Why would it? Car v Bike, overall the car wins out as the peoples choice.

    • “it is never going to overtake driving” – No it wont – just as cycling hasnt overtaken driving in the Netherlands – a note very well understood fact. More kms are still made by car than bike, though biking just overtook PT in total kms.

      “it is never even going to get as popular as cycling in the Nederlands” – Not in the short to medium term, no (as you say depending on petrol prices and, from my point of view, a culture change and infrastructure – the main barriers right now). But it may get as popular as cycling in Portland (6% – best in N America) or even some German cities like Munich (10%). That would still make a huge impact financially, health wise and congestion wise to NZ.

      “I dont know too many kiwi kids that cycle with their mates to parties and none that lost their virginity on a bike.” – I am 38 and we used to cycle to parties in the 90s. But I doubt many people born in the 80s/90s would even entertain that idea. We Gen X at least used to bike to school, sports practise and lots of other stuff. Gen Y had that option taken away from them and are only now slowly rediscovering what used to be a huge part of life in NZ.

      Virginity no – I doubt many Dutch people have either!

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