Riskiest intersection for cyclists revealed

Christchurch's cycling danger zones revealed

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 05:00 13/04/2013
cycling landscape
Don Scott

RISKY BUSINESS: The intersection of Blenheim Rd and Hansons Ln is one of the most dangerous intersections for cyclists.

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It may have a special set of traffic lights just for bikes, but a busy junction in west Christchurch could be one of the most dangerous for cyclists in the city, a Press investigation has revealed.

In the wake of two cycling deaths in Christchurch last month and city councillors considering $70m of new bike routes, The Press has analysed 23 years of traffic data to find the busiest, safest and most dangerous junctions and routes.

See the findings in our interactive graphic below

The findings show the intersection of Blenheim Rd and Hansons Ln in west Christchurch could be the riskiest in the city.

''I go through here every day and I find it a bit dodgy,'' said Christchurch cyclist Spencer Travers at the junction this week as trucks thundered past.

''Sometimes you get a green light on the crossing, but cars don't give way. They think they can cut in front of you.''

The data shows that in Christchurch and parts of Canterbury over the last 23 years there have been 41 fatalities, nearly 800 severe injuries and just over 2800 minor injuries in cycling collisions.

This compares to 301 fatalities nationwide, nearly 4,000 severe injuries and nearly 16,000 minor injuries over the same period.

The Press took every reported cycling collision on the main routes into town from 1990 to 2013 and combined it with figures compiled by the Christchurch City Council counting the number of bikes that pass through certain intersections.

There were 1080 collisions on the main routes, including eight fatalities, 183 severe injuries and 719 minor injuries.

Each junction and route was given a score based on the ratio between the number of collisions and the number of cyclists that used an intersection. Fatalities were weighted more than severe and minor injuries in the calculations.

Only certain junctions could be analysed as the council does not collect traffic data for every intersection.

The ten most dangerous junctions analysed were spread across the city.

The most dangerous was the junction of Bleinhem Rd and Hansons Ln, which had two severe and four minor collisions over the 23 year period.

Council asset network and planning manager Terry Howes said cycle collision data was analysed by council staff to see which junctions needed work.

''We monitor all information so we can update junctions, but the cycling routes will be a big leap forward,'' he said.

''They will be dedicated and separate cycling lanes. We have dedicated some funding and design effort to make these routes much safer by taking out the clashes with vehicles.''

Consultation on the proposed cycling routes will close on April 19.

The second and third most dangerous junctions were on the northwestern corridor into town along Harewood and Papanui Rd.

Glen Koorey, a member of cycling advocacy group Spokes, said the the junction of Harewood, Johns and Russley roads was avoided by cyclists.

''There are places that cyclists avoid like the plague. Multi-lane roundabouts like the one at the junction of Harewood and Johns Rd are quite dangerous,'' he said.

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Four of the ten most dangerous junctions are on the eastern arterial route along Pages Rd, Buckleys Rd and Hereford St, near where two cyclists died last month.

Cyclist Carl Taylor was killed at the junction of Breezes and Pages Rd on March 24 and just four days later Joanne Marjorie Drummond was killed at Breezes and Wainoni Rd.

The collision data shows Taylor is not the first cyclist to be killed at the junction of Breezes and Pages Rd.

A 15-year-old was killed there in 1995 when they were sideswiped by a truck.

There have also been nine minor collisions at the junction over the last 23 years, more than many other junctions.

It appears to be a dangerous junction, but could not be analysed as council does not count traffic at that intersection.

The collision data was also used to find the most dangerous routes into the city. Major arterial routes were analysed, along with routes proposed by council for new cycle paths.

The findings show the Yaldhurst and Riccarton roads route was the most dangerous, closely followed by the eastern route along Pages Rd.

The analysis may indicate where council could prioritise spending on proposed new cycling routes.

Two proposed cycling routes would redirect cyclists from the most dangerous routes - the Avon river route in the east and a backstreet route from the university to Hagley Park in the west.

Omega Technology director Tracy Clark is a regular cyclist and provided the collision data, which was then analysed by The Press.

Clark said many cyclists avoided busy routes.

''I always look for roads that are quieter, because I think the busier roads are more dangerous.''

The Press analysis found the busiest cycling route into town was along Antigua St. Six of the ten busiest junction for cyclists were on Antigua St, which appears to be a main route into town for cyclists coming from the south.

The route also appears to be one of the safest, with a very low ratio between collisions and the number of bikes using the road.

The interactive graphic above includes every reported cycling collision on the main routes into town from 1990 to 2013. 

Each junction and route was given a score based on the ratio between the number of collisions and the number of cyclists that used an intersection.

Fatalities were weighted more than severe and minor injuries in the calculations. The map includes collision totals and a risk score relative to the city's main routes and junctions.

The safer the junction the lower the score, with the most dangerous junction scoring 100.

- The Press

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