Driver slams cyclists' behaviour on roads

LIBBY WILSON
Last updated 05:00 29/03/2014
cyclists cycling bicycle
NOT SAFE?: A concerned road user took this photo of cyclists riding several abreast but riders say it was probably for safety through an intersection.

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Hamilton cyclists are being criticised for breaking the law and riding several abreast - but they say bunching up can be a matter of safety.

Christine Mackenzie said she had seen "some really stupid things" over the past few years, and she had a camera at hand when she saw an example in the Horsham Downs area last Saturday morning.

Around 8.20am, she took a shot of a group of cyclists riding three to four abreast as they approached the intersection of Henderson and Boyd Rds.

Mrs Mackenzie regularly rides a bicycle, but said she often saw cyclists riding in a way she thought set them up for danger - especially riding several abreast.

"The roads around Hamilton are not a race track," she said.

"They're shared roads out the back and cars travel very fast . . . There's not a lot of safety margin for a cyclist."

In many cases cyclists slipped back into single file when a car approached, she said, but on Saturday the car she was in followed the group for at least 100m without any sign they were planning to move over.

She was also nonplussed to see the group go through the intersection without stopping.

"Just because they've got their click-on shoes and their lycra pants does that say they don't have to do that?"

"People need to take care. We don't want to see people being killed. We don't want people being the perpetrators of those killings because having to live with that afterward would be just so traumatic . . . Both parties get hurt," she said.

The New Zealand Road Code states no more than two riders should cycle alongside each other and the Waikato police reiterated those rules .

"It is an offence to ride three or more next to each other unless in a road race which has traffic management approval from a roading authority," Senior Sergeant Kevin Anderson said.

The infringement for breaking the rule was a $55 fine.

He said cyclists should not ride in a "such a way to present a risk to themselves or other road users".

But closing up the bunch when nearing an intersection is safer than "one great big long snake", according to cycling enthusiasts.

Hamilton City Cycle Club president Steven Pawley said many groups bunched up when they came to an intersection, especially in high-speed areas such as where the photo was taken.

"Especially out on that Boyd Rd-Henderson Rd area where the traffic's going at 100kmh, you don't want to be going through an intersection in dribs and drabs," he said.

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"It's a safety issue, to get through the intersection as quick as they can."

Bunching up also allowed each member of the group to check what was coming, instead of relying on a leader to give the all clear.

Greg Gibb of cycle group No Boring Bits - which does the occasional road ride - agreed. "The sooner they get across, the safer people are," he said.

"It'll give the impression that there are more riding multiple abreast but what it means is they're not one great big long snake."

Cyclist Sean Cosford said bunching at intersections was typical, but he would be concerned if it was happening in other areas. "Riding out in a bunch, taking up the left-hand side of the road on tight, windy roads where people are speeding . . . I wouldn't want to be the cyclist . . . sitting out from the left-hand side of the road.

 

THE RULES

The rules according to the New Zealand Road Code:

Cyclists can ride two abreast if they take the keep left rule into account and don't hold up traffic.

When the road is narrow or vehicles cannot pass, everyone should cycle in single file.

Three or more people cycling next to each other is illegal, except in the case of a road race that has been given traffic management approval from a road controlling authority.

PEDAL POWER SURVEY A HIT

Hundreds of Waikato cyclists have responded within a week to a survey about pedal power on the region's rural roads.

The number of cyclists is predicted to continue increasing, so the Waikato Regional Council is getting in ahead to collect information about them.

The focus is on how cyclists are using rural roads - defined as roads having a speed limit of 80kmh or more - and assessing the risks.

As more and more cyclists got out onto Waikato roads the idea was to "proactively manage the risk around cycling", safety and transport choices team leader Jo Carling said.

"The way I look at it is we know we've got a lot of people out in the network. Let's not wait until a crash happens before we try and work out what the problems are."

The survey went online a week ago and there was "phenomenal interest".

More than 500 cyclists have responded and Ms Carling is still hoping for more.

Cycling Action Waikato secretary Claire Sherrington said the survey had prompted "chatter" among cyclists.

"There are a lot of people that use the roads around here so I think it [the survey] was well received."

She was pleased to see rural road cycling investigated because it was not always at the front of people's minds.

Meanwhile, safer journeys for cyclists are the focus of a $1.2 million nationwide project, and the Waikato/Bay of Plenty region is marked as high risk.

The Road Safety Trust Contract runs until 2016. It targets high-risk areas for cycling to improve safety, with a focus on education and behaviour.

The link to the Waikato Regional Council rural cycling survey is at waikatoregion.govt.nz

- Waikato Times

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