Tamaki Drive Bike Crash Prompts Auck.City Council Action
The nasty cycle crash on the waterfront last weekend has prompted some positive action. The Auckland City Council has decided to stage an invitation-only talkfest about the situation following that unfortunate bikes versus car incident.
It’s to invite representatives from organisations representing cyclists, private and public transport, residents and the police to discuss it and see how everyone can get along better.
This is quite a big step when you think how authorities have acted in the past over such transport issues. One has only to shudder at the old-style dig-your-toes-in confrontation the transport agency engaged in over cycling on the harbour bridge, leading to that awesome Sunday morning cycle and walk protest in defiance of police and transport authorities back in May (left and right).
All that would have been avoided if authorities had recognised that there was a growing call for cycle facilities and a reasoned public debate and discussion with interested parties was deserved rather than a dogmatic dismissal that nothing was possible for many years if ever.
It’s about respect. And the council has got it right here.
The council is making it clear it wants to go beyond the kind of cars versus bikes argument that has raged in some areas of the media and online since the accident. There has been far too hysteria and too many irrelevant sideshows about men wearing lycra and bunch of cyclists riding too many abreast. There can be fault found on both sides but we need to discuss how the city can better encourage safer cycling and walking within the law and that’s what the council is obviously aiming to do.
The growth of recreational cycling and the use of cycles for personal transportation mean that some traditional transport rights that weigh in favour of cars need to be revisited. Credit to council transport committee chairman Ken Baguley as he presumably is the person behind this.
Good to see public transport interests invited along too.
The council also says it’s initiating a road safety campaign educating cyclists and motorists about the road rules and appropriate behaviour along limited road space on busy urban streets. Fair enough, but let’s be reasonable, not draconian. The Road Code says I can’t ride on the footpath unless I’m delivering mail or papers and sometimes it is a matter of life or death so long as I don’t be silly and bowl over any old ladies.
It’s also good to see the council having the foresight to do some research on how popular cycling is these days. Such figures always have to treated with some reservation as they are usually someone doing a little counting and multiplying it by the days of the month.
But the estimate they’ve arrived at is promising. The council estimates more than 200,000 cycle trips have been taken along Tamaki Drive in the past 11 months – making it by far the busiest cycling route for Aucklanders.
Saturday is the most popular day for cyclists to ride along Tamaki Drive, with more than 800 riders on some summer Saturdays. But, as many of us can painfully confirm, it also rates as one of the most dangerous.
By coincidence, the council completed a “safety analysis” of Tamaki Drive last month and it confirmed five of Auckland’s nine cycle blackspots in Auckland are intersections along Tamaki Drive.
The Tamaki / Ngapipi intersection has the highest rate of crashes along the drive and the council says a safety upgrade will be in place by next February.
An electronic trigger and sign system will be installed to highlight the presence of cyclists obscured by cars, to alert turning traffic. Last year,the council made safety improvements to the problematic Tamaki Drive / Patterson intersection and says there have been no reported crashes since.
I hope the council also examines the ridiculous so-called cycle lane along the waterfront, which has an interesting background. Decades ago, pressure from cyclists forced the lane to be established as one of the first such intiatives. It was a mixed victory as the cycle lane is not practical as you compete with lamp posts and other people using the path. It’s also not well signposted so people, especially tourists gathering in groups to take photos against the backdrop of Rangitoto, have no idea you might be tearing towards them.
One curious factor is that media reports this week had suggested the car involved in the Tamaki Drive accident had gone through a stop sign. We don’t want a scapegoat but let’s hope, if such a traffic infringement occurred, we see some legal action eventually result as one of the cyclists was seriously hurt and I know it’s discouraged others from going back and cycling there- or anywhere.