Editorial: Ditch the death wish

PETER O'NEILL
Last updated 05:00 08/02/2013

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OPINION: Share the road. Yea, right.

The fundamental flaw between cyclists and motorists sharing the road isn't the conflict between bike and car, but the attitude of the people controlling each.

And New Zealand road users seem to lose their reason out there.

Perfectly pleasant people turn slightly nuts when they get on the road.

Ask Billy Connolly, who in one of his standup comedy gigs here relayed how irate New Zealand motorists get when passed on the highway. "Honestly, it's not personal," he quipped.

Yet that's how we seem to behave, and there's no better example than the conflict between cyclists and motorists.

Our story yesterday on the abuse and danger cyclists encounter made for some harrowing reading and a wonder that there haven't been more deaths, and then through the day the phone kept ringing as motorists called to speak of ignorant cyclists.

There is some truth in both camps.

Motorists can be dangerously inconsiderate, drawing, it seems, extra doses of testosterone from the steering wheel. There's delight for some in getting as close as possible to cyclists they perceive to be taking "their" space, but surely it can only end in tears if actual contact is made. For the cyclist and the motorist.

And if it's a matter of slowing down and waiting for a safe time to pass, why not simply do that. How much time, really, does it cost?

But some cyclists defy belief in their apparent ownership of the road, especially given their vulnerability. Legally they can ride two abreast, but I had a running argument once with a cyclist who to this day considers he was in the right in riding two abreast, even if the gap between him and the other rider was so wide he was riding almost on the centre line.

That was in the country, but in town it doesn't make sense either for cyclists to ride in a cycling lane when there are no parked cars and plenty of room to the left.

Why wouldn't you want to put as much room between yourself and a tonne of metal as possible?

The bottom line, though, is that we do need to be more considerate on the road, because more people are cycling.

And that goes for both parties.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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