MP wants an update on bike safety

WILMA MCCORKINDALE IN DUNEDIN
Last updated 12:53 14/02/2013
Southland Times photo
WILMA MCCORKINDALE/Fairfax NZ
MP David Clark wants to legislate for cycle safety in New Zealand.

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As Bike Wise month 2013 continues this month, Dunedin North MP, David Clark is contemplating putting wheels in motion for cycle safety legislation.

An experienced cyclist himself, Clark is investigating a possible Members Bill before Parliament that would attempt to solve New Zealand's poor cycle safety record.

Any law would probably have to focus on changes in town planning as well as education, Clark said.

"I really want to talk to the experts because I actually want to see some real change. I think nationally we need to be having more of a discussion about it."

Clark was already having the conversations, but would not be drawn into a time line.

"People working in the area say punitive measures or threats don't achieve much. Overseas evidence suggests road planning be done in the best possible way.

"In Europe the road planning seems to be a lot better and there are dedicated cycle ways that are much more ubiquitous. So, cars don't come near cyclists. One of the proposals is to put the cycle lanes on the other side of the parking. If you swerve to miss a car door you land on the pavement, not in the way of an oncoming stock truck.

"Some of these ideas won't cost a lot of money. It's about updating our thinking."

Clark said the cycle safety issue came across his desk after Dunedin cyclist Dr Li Hong died while cycling on the state highway through the city late last year. The MP had heard from many who had had near-death experiences, he said.

Clark is to meet University of Otago Injury Prevention Research Unit Director Professor Hank Weiss.

Weiss has developed a searchable online map showing where in New Zealand cyclists have been injured as a result of car doors opening.

The map shows the location of 245 such injuries over this period and indicates their seriousness and the direction the cyclist was travelling.

It was hoped the device would help city planners and traffic engineers identify streets and connected routes that had high numbers of injuries resulting from "dooring" type collisions, Weiss said.

About 20 per cent of the 245 incidents cyclists were seriously injured, and two died. Twice as many males as females were reported to have been in a door crash.

Clark said he was pleased the Dunedin City Council had pledged to confront the issue.

An extraordinary meeting of the council in November resolved to demand safety issues for cyclists on the state highway system through Dunedin be addressed by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).

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Mayor Dave Cull said the council was seeking to urgently explore the solutions available to it, with NZTA.

The meeting wanted a list of temporary interventions to improve the safety of cyclists from the NZTA as well as an NZTA plan to improve cyclist and pedestrian safety on state highways.

- D Scene

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