Helmet issues most common cyclist offence

LIBBY WILSON
Last updated 05:00 22/05/2014

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Helmet issues make up most of the cycle-related problems around the Waikato, and riding more than two abreast is way down the list.

Last year "helmet offences" covered almost 90 per cent of the cycle infringements handed out in the Waikato, according to figures released to the Waikato Times.

Yet not a notice was in sight for riding more than two abreast and only five have been handed out across New Zealand since 2011.

Around the Waikato police district there were 1129 infringements last year and 1000 of them were related to helmets or lack thereof.

But the other categories include quirkier offences, such as using a bike without a brake on both wheels, allowing the bike to be towed by another vehicle, riding on a lawn garden, or sharing a path "without care or consideration or hazardously".

For the Waikato's 1000 helmet offences, just over half were within Hamilton city, around 380 in Waikato East, and just over 100 in Waikato West.

Infringements can include not wearing a helmet, not having it fastened securely, and not producing it for inspection.

Many people did comply and those who didn't were easy to detect, Waikato road policing manager inspector Freda Grace said.

"It's directly related to people's safety . . . If you do crash, then you are at risk of significant injuries if you're not wearing a helmet," she said.

"We've only got one roading network and everybody is using it. And we want everyone to be safe on that network."

Hamilton City Cycling Club president Stephen Pawley said "you'd be silly not to" wear a helmet, but he wasn't surprised at the high percentage of related infringements.

"I would say the majority of them would be casual people who were using their bikes to commute from A to B," he said.

But Cycling Advocates Network spokesperson Patrick Morgan said New Zealand was "out of step" with its helmet law.

It hadn't proven effective as the rate of head injuries had remained the same, he said.

"There's different types of cycling. If, for example, you're racing a mountain bike you might choose to wear a helmet. But if you're just popping down to the dairy to pick up the paper, then the level of risk is quite different."

Nationally cycle offences made up less than one per cent of all traffic offences, he said.

And throughout New Zealand, cyclists caught riding two abreast were few and far between.

The Waikato handed out one infringement notice in 2011 and hasn't had any since then.

"I'd like to think that the cycling community are exercising as much caution as they are able to," Grace said.

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These cyclists were also likely to be on rural roads which had less traffic and possibly fewer passing police vehicles, she said.

Pawley said cyclists on club rides stayed in single file or rode two abreast, except when trying to get through an intersection safely.

Riding more than two abreast falls into the cycle-specific behaviour category, which saw only 25 infringements in the Waikato issued in 2013.

 

CYCLINST INFRINGEMENTS IN THE WAIKATO POLICE DISTRICT 

Offence type 2013 Jan & Feb 2014

Cycle equipment 95 21

Cycle-specific behaviour 25 15

Duties & obligations (road rules) 9 4

Helmet offences 1000 345

Total 1129 385

- Waikato Times

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