Claims for cycling injures set to hit top gear
Claims for cycling injuries are on track for the highest levels in five years, costing the taxpayer millions of dollars.
Figures provided by ACC reveal 22,886 claims for cycling injuries had been lodged by October 31 last year, totalling $35,787,826.
In 2012 just over 25,000 claims were lodged and almost $40 million paid out, but this year the end-of-year figures are likely to be even higher.
While only 6.6 per cent of claims related to injuries in a collision with a vehicle, they amounted to $11.6m - a third of all money paid out. The bulk of claims related to other cycling injuries, while payouts for mountainbiking injuries increased for the fifth successive year.
Cycling Advocates Network spokesman Patrick Morgan said a huge spike in the popularity of cycling was probably to blame for increased claims. Many people with high incomes had also embraced road cycling and mountainbiking. They would be paid more by ACC if injured and unable to work.
New Zealand's cycling safety record was poor when compared with other countries and more needed to be done to reduce crashes, he said.
"We've got a long way to go. Our crash rate twice the UK's and four times higher than the Netherlands, so basically we have to go Dutch."
One cyclist who claimed ACC last year was Wellingtonian Jill Ford, who was knocked off her bike after a motorist ran a red light near the Basin Reserve in February.
Crossing at a pedestrian signal at the time, she suffered a cracked pelvis, broken leg, broken foot and a broken hand.
Having just started a new job, she tried to get back to work as soon as possible, but ACC provided a safety net until then and also covered her taxis to and from work when she was unable to cycle.
"The biggest issue I find with ACC is actually getting hold of the right person, it's bloody hopeless," she said.
Better infrastructure, such as bike lanes, was meeded, she said.
"How many people would walk on the streets if there were no pavements?
"There would be a lot of good outcomes with a few changes; it's about the infrastructure, it's not about us versus them."
New Zealand Transport Agency road safety director Ernst Zollner said a range of work was going on to improve cycle safety, such as reducing speeds in urban areas and education programmes such as BikeWise.
The probability of death for pedestrians or cyclists struck by a vehicle increased rapidly with higher speeds, with someone struck by a vehicle at 45kmh given a 50 per cent chance of survival, while someone hit at 55kmh had only a 15 per cent chance.
"The two most important things you can do as a driver to help avoid summer cycling tragedies are to slow down and to keep your focus on driving.
Cycling (motor vehicle related) – 1890/$14.75m
Mountain biking – 3220/$5.93m
Recreational – 17,627/$16.97m 2010
Cycling (motor vehicle related) – 1798/$13.09m
Mountain biking – 3019/$5.45m
Recreational – 19,290/$16.13m 2011
Cycling (motor vehicle related) – 1687/$12.87m
Mountain biking – 3057/$5.34m
Recreational – 18,080/$15.77m 2012
Cycling (motor vehicle related) – 1681/$15.81m
Mountain biking – 4254/$6.28m
Recreational – 19,103/$17.91m
Cycling (motor vehicle related) – 1521/$11.63m
Mountain biking – 4489/$6.58m
Recreational – 16,876/$17.58m
* January 1 to October 31
The Dominion Post