Cyclist queries worth of high-visibility clothing

MICHAEL FORBES
Last updated 05:00 27/07/2011
Ryan Crossman
CRAIG SIMCOX/The Dominion Post
STILL INVISIBLE: Ryan Crossman, 16, has been hit twice while riding his bike and wearing high-visibility gear.

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A Wellington teenager who has twice been hit by a car while biking to school in high-visibility clothing says the gear does little to keep cyclists safe.

Ryan Crossman, 16, said he did not think high-visibility gear was "dorky" but doubted many of his Wellington High School classmates would wear it even if it was mandatory.

His comments come as coroner Gordon Matenga travels around New Zealand to hear evidence on the deaths of eight cyclists – five of whom died within days of each other.

On the first day of the inquest last week, Cycling Advocates Network spokesman Patrick Morgan told Mr Matenga that making high-visibility gear mandatory could put people off cycling altogether because of a perception that the gear looked "dorky".

He said drivers had to look out for other cars, pedestrians and obstructions, which are not fluorescent, and making cyclists wear high-visibility clothing shifted the onus for avoiding a crash on to them.

Ryan said wearing high-visibility cycle clothing was no guarantee you would avoid an accident – as he found out first hand.

According to his mother, Beverly Crossman, he was "off school for a couple of days because he could hardly walk" on his badly bruised knee, after a car turned into him at the intersection of Riddiford and Mein streets in February last year.

Mrs Crossman said the driver did not see Ryan – who was wearing a large, yellow reflective vest – because of sunstrike.

Ryan was knocked off his bike again two weeks ago by a driver who opened the door of a parked van into his path, Mrs Crossman said.

"If you wear the high-vis, it doesn't necessarily mean you're safe because the driver has to look to see you. If they don't look, you're going to get hit anyway," Mrs Crossman said.

"Drivers seem to think they own the road. My son and my partner go out cycling all the time and it's amazing the times they come home and say they almost got hit, and they both wear high-vis all the time."

Mrs Crossman said driver attitudes towards cyclists needed to change. Ryan said more education about cycle safety at high-school level could help because the only time he had been taught how to stay safe on a bike was at primary school.

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- The Dominion Post

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