Making Cycling Safer


The Cycling Advocates Network is calling for urgent action following the deaths of three cyclists this weekend - two near Morrinsville, one near Palmerston North.

Police say the cyclist killed in a road crash at the weekend near Palmerston North  was training for the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge.

Patricia Anne Veronica Fraser, aged 34, from Longburn, near Palmerston North, was out training with her best friend for the event which takes place on 27 November and sees riders endure 160km around Taupo Lake.

The pair were riding single file along SH3 near Mount Stewart when Patricia was hit by a car travelling in the same direction.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Patricia was married and had three daughters and one son. Her youngest is aged 5 and her eldest is aged 13.

Two cyclists,  a 71-year-old man and a middle aged man, were killed near Morrinsville after a car hit their cycling group. Another cyclist is in a critical condition, The driver, a 23-year-old woman, has moderate injuries.

CAN spokesperson Patrick Morgan says news of the deaths has highlighted the need for New Zealand’s roads to be made safer for people cycling and those wanting to take it up.

“There are Government strategies and programmes to promote cycling and cycle safety, but we haven’t seen enough changes on the street yet.”
Urgent action is needed. This will require a lot more resources and leadership to make changes.”

In 2008 CAN presented a 3,500-signature petition and 9-point plan to the Government calling for action on improving safety for people on bikes.

“Cycling is a healthy sport and a convenient way to get from A to B, but these crashes highlight that we’re not doing nearly enough to make our roads, drivers and vehicles safer,” says Mr Morgan.

“We renew our call for national and local government do the following things in the next two years:”
He suggests these action points:

  • Run a national Share the Road promotional campaign telling motorists and cyclists how to co-exist safely on the roads.
  • Change transport planning and funding processes to make sure key problem areas or gaps for cyclists (e.g. Auckland Harbour Bridge, Petone to Wellington cycleway) get fixed - no more delays or buck-passing between various organisations.
  • Spend less on road building and more on encouraging alternatives to driving. More motor vehicles on our roads only make things less safe and attractive for cycling.
  • Promote the use of lower speed zones, particularly 30km/h in residential and shopping streets.
  • Change the tolerance for motor vehicle speed limit enforcement from 10km/h to a maximum of ten per cent of the posted speed limit.
  • Increase the cycling budget in the National Land Transport Programme by a factor of five.
  • Change funding and audit processes to make sure that all roading projects improve the environment for cycling.
  • Change the driver licensing system and driver instruction so motorists are educated about how to take care around cyclists.
  • Fund and promote nationwide roll-out of cycle skills training for children and adults.

Mr Morgan says the Government and many local authorities have cycling strategies and programmes, but actual changes are taking far too long to put in place.

These require much greater resources and the will to act on existing commitments.

The Ministry of Transport’s Household Travel Survey 2003 - 2006 shows there are about 1.3 million cyclists in New Zealand (about 30% of the population) making it one of the country’s most popular sporting and leisure pursuits.




  1. William M says:

    Change transport planning and funding processes to make sure key problem areas or gaps for cyclists (e.g. Auckland Harbour Bridge, Petone to Wellington cycleway) get fixed – no more delays or buck-passing between various organisations.

    I have to laugh when I see people make that statement. You’ll have to vote Joyce out of the MOT role before you can stop the buck-passing.

  2. max says:

    Twelve people died on the roads this weekend - we need a lot of work in all areas. Safer roads benefit all, and as do slower speeds and better driver behaviour.

    Instead, we get a government which thinks that drunk driving isn’t really a problem, it’s just a few repeat drunk drivers that we need to target (an argument that is barely better in my view than the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” apologists). The same government also refused to put cyclist and pedestrian safety on the top tier of programs for the next 10 year road safety program.

  3. max says:

    Jon, it would be great if you could highlight that the last weekend had a horrible road toll in general. In a way, highlighting the cyclist cases as the Herald does almost detracts from the real gravity, because too many people still feel no connection - they don’t cycle, so they don’t really feel the issues apply to them.

  4. Jon C says:

    @Max I think it’s also been widely reported 13 died in a horror weekend but the cyclists’ deaths bring the situation home to someone like me/you who cycle on the roads and see near misses regularly.

  5. max says:

    I guess I am focussing it too much from an advocacy side - publicising safety risks has a counterintuitive effect: it puts people off cycling, thus making cycling less common, and thus more dangerous, because drivers assume cyclists are either a) nonexistant or b) some strange breed which is barely allowed on the road anyway, and if so, should be happy if it survives, and not complain otherwise.

    The concentrating on the negatives has brought us things like the helmet law, which was like a death’s kiss for cycling - reducing cycling safety further, in consequence, at least in my opinion. Sell the positives to the public, while working hard behind the scenes to reduce the negatives.

  6. Jon C says:

    @Max You can’t hide the fact cyclists are dying on the roads and we need to use that tragedy to press for solutions and driver education.

  7. max says:

    Jon - fair enough, my comment was that sometimes the proposed solutions are crap (like helmet laws, or harsh segregation of modes in many places where things like shared space or slower speeds might work wonders) and that the press often is more about sensationalism than about capturing what is going wrong.

  8. Jon C says:

    @Max Every day, the morning newspaper is about finding some tragic story of someone who has died and exploiting it with comment from the family about what a sad loss it is in the hope the emotive tale sells the paper.
    They won’t give a toss about cyclists’ rights or analyse what needs to be done.
    I have stopped reading it but glance occasionally in a cafe to see which dead person it is splashing across the front page that day after doorknocking the poor family for comment.

  9. max says:

    I know what you mean. That’s not something one can easily change. It’s like asking people why they feel less safe when crime has been falling for years - because of the constant crime stuff splattered over the news feeds (not an NZ-specific example, more a world-wide observation).

    Similarly, I actually strongly believe we ARE getting better in terms of cycle safety. Programs like the NZ cycleway, road and bridge upgrades these days catering for cyclists when before they would just ignore them, all that is happening. Not quickly enough, and there’s lots of lost ground to make up, but it is happening.

    Which is why in public, I just don’t spend much time on the safety issue altogether. I certainly press hard on it when I talk to Council staff or engineers about a project.

  10. Richard says:

    The learning process for driver education needs to change. At 15yrs an individual should be allowed to ride a low powered motor sccoter. It used to be we progressed from foot to cycle to car and i believe to start a car licence one should demonstrate road skills on a bicycle or motor scooter. There is a better understanding of road conditions when on two wheels.

    The novice licence should be obtained at 17yrs. (No Passengers etc.) Only qualified instructors should teach and at 18yrs after demonstrating the ability to drive including emergency stops and skid pad a licence could be obtained.

    Our irrational requirements for lower speed limits should be abolished and lower limits applied when the road conditions warrant. The general open road limit for two lane roads should be lowered to 80kph and perhaps motorways could be increased to 110kph, but lane use rules enforced rigidly, particularly to bullyboy heavy haulage trucks which should like Europe be banned from Lane3

    The penalty according to victim vulnerability idea is a good one too


  11. max says:


    All good ideas there. Damn, I would LOVE to make something like a “cycling experience course” (i.e. having to sit on a cycle and go through traffic) part of the mandatory training for a motor vehicle!!!

    Unrealistic - but maybe it could become at least part of the requirement for professional licensing such as for bus drivers?

    Qualified instructors - I understand that would run strongly against the NZ tradition as I understand it, but yes, that would help.

    Penality acording to victim vulnerability - it will be a long time before we introduce rules like some European countries have where in any crash with a pedestrian or cyclist, the car driver is automatically assumed to bear half or even all the blame, unless he can PROVE otherwise. It would just create a shitstorm of argument that it is unfairly favouring and encouraging “walking morons” and “cycling idiots”, so I don’t think that one is a goer for the time being.

  12. Carl H says:

    @Richard - Fantastic idea there. I understand rural communities concerns regarding the raising of the driving age from 15, however rediculously low by world standards it currently is.

    It would surely be a good comprimise allowing 15 year olds to drive low powered scooters on public roads so they can get around, while raising the age to 18 for other vehicles. On a scooter they’re likely to injure only themselves if they do something stupid.

  13. Chris says:

    I know that mopeds are good for city use, but very inconvenient for rural and semi-rural use. I turn onto a busy 100km road. Murder on two wheels. That’s why I bought a 250cc road bike when I was 14.

  14. max says:

    Chris, from a personal point of view, I can sort of understand you. From a societal point of view, you are saying: “Going slow is a death sentence on our roads - so lets speed everyone up”. That can’t be right either.

    Further, being on a fast motorcycle or in a fast car will not exactly help you if some moron comes around a blind bend on the wrong side of the road. It will just add to the impact energy.

  15. Chris says:

    Road changes are a very touchy subject. It’s hard to please all road users. A decision that seems good for some can have serious effects on other groups of people.
    I personally think, we should concentrate things that benefit all road users before we do something drastic like changing the driver age e.g. introductory classes to build awareness for other uses, decent bike lanes for mopeds and bicycles where possible, etc.


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