Cyclists safer on southern roads

Poll: A raft of safety measures are being credited with no cyclists dying on Southland roads for the past five years.

NZ Transport Agency figures show the last fatalities recorded in Southland were in 2008, when two cyclists were killed in Invercargill.

Cycling stalwart Noel Eade was killed when a car ran a red light at the intersection of Tay and Lindisfarne streets and knocked him off is bike.

In the same year, 17-year-old Hayden Pope died in hospital as a result of head injuries suffered when his bicycle and a Holden Rodeo collided in Liddel St.

In 2008, the number of cycling deaths and injuries in Southland totalled 21; whereas in 2012 just 11 people were injured while cycling in Southland.

Invercargill City Council senior traffic management officer Eddie Cook said keeping cyclists alive had been a high priority for the council and partner agencies including police, the NZ Transport Agency and Road Safety Southland.

Work had been done around the district, with cycling lanes and facilities improving for cyclists and pedestrians.

Mr Cook said the city council's Walking and Cycling Strategy had been in place for three years and safety measures had been introduced at high-risk intersections.

The strategy aimed to encourage people to cycle and walk. But it needed the development of a safe, accessible and integrated network for walking and cycling in Invercargill, he said.

"I think all road users are respecting each other more on our roads and realising cyclists have the same right as motorists."

Southland cycling stalwart Graham Sycamore, who has been riding on the roads for "many years", said the attitudes of motorists had improved, but there was always room for improvement. "It only takes one bump for a cyclist to be badly hurt or worse. They have no protection and definitely come off second best."

Cyclists could continue to help themselves by wearing bright visible clothes and having other safety gear, including flags on their bikes, he said. He supported the introduction of cycle lanes and wanted cyclists to use them.

"A painted white line may not sound like much but it can help."

Last year's Tour of Southland was used to highlight cycling safety and a shared road message.

The Share the Road campaign was ramped up with Road Safety Southland becoming a major sponsor of last year's tour.

Before the race, Road Safety Southland road-user safety adviser Jane Ballantyne said cycling was becoming more popular and more bikes were on the roads, making the safety messages increasingly important.

Tour of Southland director Bruce Ross said last year the unfortunate reality was when motorists and cyclists did not share the road, there could be tragic outcomes.

NZ Transport Agency figures show the most cycling injuries on Southland roads happen on Tuesdays, followed by Mondays and Fridays. The worst times of the day for cyclists are between 3pm and 6pm followed by 6am to 9am and 9am to noon, the figures show.

Poor observation, failure to give way or stop, and being in incorrect lanes or positions on the road were the most common contributors to bicycle crashes, the data shows.

The Southland Times