We see the results of car accidents every day, some are minor but others are tragedies for those involved and for their families & fiends. Few are worse than those involving a car versus a cyclist. This image is real. It’s at the extreme end of ‘car V. bicycle’ but not unique, and a number of recent NZ examples have high-lighted the growing problem. One example involved the five top members of a school-girl cycle team and their coach, who were hit near Taupiri while training for a major competition. All sustained serious injuries and were hospitalised. THE CAR WAS AT FAULT.
Cyclists have a number of risk factors that do not affect car drivers. The main ones are decreased stability and a much lower level of protection than is given by a car. In addition, a cycle is less visible to other road users than a motor vehicle. These factors, combined with the condition of the road environment, give cyclists a high level of risk per time unit travelled, although surprisingly this risk is significantly lower than that for motorcyclists.
Cycle use is increasing in NZ, and the problem of ‘car V. cycle’ is significant and growing. Currently around 1.2million kiwis own a bicycle, 750,000 are regular users and around 38,00 commute during rush-hour. Not surprisingly, this is the peak period for ‘car V. cycle’ incidents, and last year over a thousand accidents were reported including many fatalities.
Though there could be fault on both sides, it is clear that some aggressive kiwi driver behaviours put cyclists at increased risk. Please remember that cyclists have as much right to use our roads as you do (yes, we’ve heard the “but they don’t pay road-tax argument” – bicycles take up a tiny space, cause no congestion and no pollution so get over it). All parties need to keep their eyes open, and maintain at least 1.5 meters between car and bike, a cyclists life may depend on it.