The former Auckland City Council's failure to remove car parks on Tamaki Dr contributed to the death of cyclist Jane Bishop, a transport planner has told an inquest into her death.
Bishop, 27, died in November 2010 while cycling on the waterfront drive after she collided with Glenn Becker and the open door of his parked car and then fell beneath the wheels of a truck. She died at the scene from her injuries.
Becker was accused of careless use of a motor vehicle causing the death of Bishop, but the charge was thrown out mid-trial in February this year.
Coroner Gordon Matenga is to decide whether the layout of Tamaki Dr was a major factor in her death. The inquest is the first in a series around the country on cyclist deaths and how they could be prevented.
Yesterday at the inquest, held in the Auckland District Court, Matenga heard from Bevan Woodward, the former chairman of Auckland Cycle Action, who is qualified in transport planning.
Woodward said he approached Auckland City Council in April 2006 asking it to remove parking near Kelly Tarlton's on Tamaki Dr and widen the lanes so cyclists could use the road safely.
He said the council failed to act on his recommendations and this contributed to Bishop's death, which occurred next to the car parks.
Woodward said the road was less than 4m wide, and anything that narrow was not large enough for cyclists to share the space with cars.
The council removed the car parks two days after Bishop's death, a move that Woodward said had made the street a "much safer environment in that context".
However, lawyer for Auckland Transport Grant Illingworth questioned Woodward as to whether Bishop's own actions were in fact more responsible for her death than the road layout of Tamaki Dr - including the fact she did not ride down the shared pedestrian cycleway.
Woodward's evidence also contradicted that of Senior Constable Brian Hensley, the policeman who investigated Bishop's accident.
He told Matenga the situation of a reduced space for cyclists to ride past parked cars in the "door zone" was a common factor in roads all over the country.
"I don't think it was particular to this actual stretch of road."
Illingworth submitted that Matenga should disregard Woodward's evidence, because he was not as informed about the case as Hensley.
Auckland Transport chief executive David Warburton presented the coroner with provisional plans to make Tamaki Dr safer for all road users.
The plan is to put in a new cycle lane on the road, staring near Kelly Tarlton's corner.
Warburton said the plan is so far just a proposal. It was unlikely the road would be widened beyond the current sea wall because of expense.
Hensley testified that more cycle lanes would only prevent accidents if they were laid out in a way cyclists would want to use.
Barbara Cuthbert from Cycle Action Auckland agreed with this assessment, saying obstacles along the shared cycleway made it impractical for anyone commuting by bicycle.
Matenga asked if there was any chance parking along Tamaki Dr could be removed completely.
Warburton replied that thought had been given to that solution but motorists and cyclists had to share the road and Tamaki Dr was a "resort area" as well as a main arterial road.
Matenga reserved his decision until later in the year, when he will have completed a series of inquests around the country on cyclist deaths and how they could be prevented.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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