Hi-vis clothes a must for cyclists - Coroner

Last updated 16:11 14/02/2013

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A coroner is calling for high-visibility clothing to be compulsory for cyclists after a top road safety cop was struck while cycling in Petone.

Superintendent Steve Fitzgerald - who served for five years as New Zealand's top traffic officer - was killed in the Lower Hutt suburb while cycling home from work in Wellington to Eastbourne on June 19, 2008.

The truck driver who hit him, Desmond Wilson, was found guilty of careless driving causing death, ordered to pay $2000 reparations, and disqualified for nine months. 

Now, Wellington Regional Coroner Ian Smith is calling for high-visibility clothing to be as compulsory as helmets for cyclists, enhanced cyclist education, a one-metre gap between motorist and cyclist be added to the road code, and clear rules about when a cyclist must use designated lanes only.

After investigating the 57-year-old's death, Smith also found that despite council efforts made to improve the crash site at the Hutt Road and Petone Esplanade intersection, they ''still fall short of making the road safe for cyclists''.

''The intersection is in my view a most dangerous area for cyclists to use, no matter how experienced the riders are.

''Cyclists using this cycle/traffic lane area are literally taking their lives in their hands and a complete rethink and design of this area is required.''

There was also confusion and extreme complexity in deciphering the land transport rules.

''The legislation is complex and is a behemoth and in my view needs a more simplistic revamp.''

''Turning to the issue of hi-vis clothing it is in my view a no-brainer. It should be complulsory for cyclists to wear at all times when riding in public.''

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- The Dominion Post

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