Bus drivers, cyclists exchange roles in trial

KELSEY FLETCHER
Last updated 12:00 12/03/2014

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Low visibility, difficult street layouts and disrespect for the road rules were among the gripes shared by cyclists and bus drivers in Palmerston North as the two road users swapped seats for a morning.

Tranzit bus drivers were given the opportunity yesterday to try cycling as part of a Horizons Regional Council exercise on sharing the road. Bus drivers pedalled around The Square while cyclists rode alongside in a bus, before the two exchanged modes of transport for a second circuit.

Senior transport planner Wayne Wallace said the swap was an opportunity to think about driving and cycling defensively.

"About four years ago Horizons increased peak hour timetables for bus routes and that had a real increase in conflict for cyclists and pedestrians," he said. "So it's not easy for drivers at those peak times, there's conflict out there that is apparent.

"The drivers have said some cyclists are courteous but others only look out for themselves."

Mr Wallace said the main message was to look after yourself on the road because "at the end of the day you will be the one who ends up in hospital".

Tranzit bus driver Graham Bilton said it would be better to "do away with cycle lanes altogether" as they bring vulnerable road users too close to traffic.

"I have problems every day, the worst is on Tremaine Ave by the train station where there is an island in the middle of the road," he said.

"There is just enough room for a wide vehicle but they've got to be on the cycle lane - it funnels the bikes to the danger spot."

Another driver, Des Clearwater, said avoiding cyclists while pulling in and out of bus stops could be a problem.

"A light on every bike that you can see during the day and night would be a big help," he said.

Police Senior Constable Emily McMellon said educating drivers and cyclists about how to better use the road was important for reducing harm.

"The important thing is that cyclists are really aware they are a road user and have to follow the exact same road roles as a car," she said.

Ms McMellon said cyclists should not be riding more than than two abreast, and should ride single file if the road narrowed.

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- Manawatu Standard

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