Safety in numbers biking

16:00, Feb 04 2014
Chris Collins
SILENT RIDE: Ryno Botha, right, with top New Zealand cyclist Gordon McCauley of Gulf Harbour at the Orewa Ride of Silence, reckons drivers are generally very good to cyclists.

Like them or loathe them, cyclists are growing in numbers. It's national Bike Wise Month and February 12 is Go By Bike Day.

Ryno Botha says there's still some work to be done before cyclists feel safe on their bikes.

He introduced the annual Ride of Silence to north Auckland after a friend was killed on a training ride.

About eight cyclists die in New Zealand road crashes nearly every year, and Mario Heynes of Red Beach was one of them.

He was training around Gulf Harbour in 2006 for the annual round Lake Taupo ride and collided with a vehicle coming out a driveway.

The Ride of Silence, held in Orewa for seven years in May, is an international day of remembrance for cyclists killed or injured.


Ryno hopes the Orewa ride, supported by Auckland Transport, will continue as he left Stanmore Bay on January 22 for Nelson. He started cycling after arriving from South Africa nine years ago and was involved with the Hibiscus Coast Bunch Riders group of cyclists.

So is the Rodney/Hibiscus Coast area a safe place to ride?

"Yes," Ryno says. "But a lot can be done to make it safer."

He and fellow bunch riders say motorists are generally very good around cyclists.

Other drivers see them but don't appear to moderate their habits accordingly.

Narrow road shoulders also make the 1.5 metre gap suggested between cars and bikes difficult to follow, he says.

"Sometimes a cyclist will do silly things - which give us all a bad name," Ryno says. "But we pull up our own if they do wrong and don't obey the rules."

Ryno says drivers can misjudge a cyclist's speed, often up around 30kmh.

He's on the roads a lot, wears fluoro clothing and usually has his bike lights going too.

Once a month he might have a near miss, but in his years of riding Ryno has had few major crashes.

He recalls being knocked off his bike at Hilltop in Silverdale while training for the Taupo ride.

"The driver didn't see me. I came down the hill from the traffic lights in a line of cars. A driver turning right saw a gap in the traffic between two cars, but I was in that gap."

Ryno suffered a fractured pelvis and his bike frame had to be replaced. He finds bunch riding is safer than solo riding as he says a group is more visible to motorists.

"We ride no more than two abreast and usually single file for safety." Riders call "car back" to warn other cyclists of approaching traffic and the ride leader often checks ahead at likely problem spots and waves the rest through when it's safe.

Rodney Times