Any one who has been reading this blog on a regular basis knows that for a long time we’ve often highlighted New Zealand’s shameful road death and injury record, one of the worst in the OECD.
One of the most vulnerable group of road users in New Zealand are cyclists and the rate at which they are being killed and injured is disgusting. What’s worse, New Zealand is often promoted as a safe cycling destination even though many tourists and visitors to the country continue to be killed by careless / drunken drivers. Many of those drivers escape with light sentences that are often slammed as not being proportionate to their crime and not acting as a deterrent to others.
The cyclist killed on Tamaki Drive, Auckland yesterday afternoon has just been named as 27 year old British citizen Jane Mary Bishop. She died when she was hit by a truck whilst cycling along Auckland’s waterfront outside of Kelly Tarlton’s (see the stretch of road in the Google streetview above) Police said she had swerved to avoid a car door. Our deepest condolences go out to her family and friends for their loss.
Her death came hours after three cyclists, travelling in a group of ten, were killed by a car in the Waikato that crossed the centre line whilst taking a corner. Mark Andrew Ferguson, 46, and Wilhelm Muller, 71, died at the scene and Kay Heather Wolfe, 45, died this morning. Our thoughts are with their families.
Condolences too to the family of Patricia Anne Veronica Fraser, 34, who was killed in the Manawatu on Saturday while training for the Lake Taupo cycle race; and our very best wishes go to 12 year old Jacqueline Wyatt, a pupil at Riverlands School, whom was run over by a truck this morning as she cycled to school on Main Street, Blenheim. She is critically ill in hospital.
The following day (19 Nov) a 15 year old boy was knocked off his bike in Hastings and is in a critical condition in hospital. It was also announced that the chief coroner, Judge Neil MacLean, will be holding an inquiry into cycling safety in New Zealand. link
Tamaki Drive Carnage
The road where Jane Mary Bishop lost her life was also the scene of the infamous ‘Tamaki Drive Carnage”.
A female student lost her licence for 6 months and was ordered to pay $1,000 to each of her victims after she ploughed into a pack of cyclists travelling along Tamaki Drive. The cyclists, one of whom suffered long term brain injuries and may never be able to work again, said that the sentence handed out was far too lenient.
A report in today’s NZ Herald said
Ellerslie man John McLaren was also involved in a crash on Tamaki Drive last week.
He was in shock and suffering from a broken shoulder blade and collarbone when the motorist who forced him off the road confronted him with an angry lecture. Ms Bishop’s death on the same stretch of road had him counting his blessings his accident was not worse.
“It’s a sad event. All our thoughts should be with the family of the deceased.”
He called for increased tolerance and awareness from motorists in the wake of the cyclist deaths. “The woman that died yesterday – if that person who opened their car door had just looked around things could have been different. If the guy had waited just 10 seconds for me to go over the bridge, everything would have been fine.
“It’s awareness. That one bit of impatience could mean someone getting hurt or killed.” Read the full report here, including a call for cycle lane
Lacks of awareness, education, consideration, understanding and/or substance abuse are common themes in these incidents. New Zealand, quite simply, isn’t as safe as you’d like to think it is, cyclists risk their lives every time they venture onto a road. New Zealand drivers take no prisoners.
These are some of the cyclists we’ve blogged about in the past.
Stephan Stoermer, a German tourist, had been on a cycling world tour since 2006, he had been safely winding his way through 26 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia since early 2006 before arriving in New Zealand. He died a week before his tour was scheduled to end when he was hit by a logging truck near Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty on March 12, 2009. The driver fell asleep behind the wheel.
Jenns Richardon had been living in NZ for a few years was killed by a hit and run driver. His body was eventually discovered by a passing motorist. The killer pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol causing death and failing to stop for an injury accident. He had drunk around 10 pints of beer at a bar in Rolleston from around 2.30pm that day. He told police he knew he had hit a cyclist but panicked because he had been drinking. The judge took pity on him a gave him a sentence of home detention.
Frank van Kampen was killed by drunk driver, 71 year old Alison Downer, who received a lenient two year sentence for her 4th conviction after she hit and killed Frank as he was cycling along State Highway 1 in Te Horo. Mr van Kampen’s partner wept through the hearing at Palmerston North District Court and said that she was disgusted by the sentence. Can you believe that Downer’s defence lawyer was alleged to have told the judge that “this was not the worst type of offending because there was only one victim.”
Graham Robinson, a North Shore doctor, was struck and killed whilst cycling outside of Helensville. The driver of a white Toyota Hillux sped off after hitting him and police have yet to track him down, despite having an excellent description of the vehicle.
Pia Pusch, a 19 year old German tourist, also died when hit by a logging truck as she cycled through New Zealand, she had previously blogged about the aggressive and intimidating driving habits of truck drivers. The driver pleaded guilty and was asked to pay $5,000 to her family.
Mia’s death sparked calls for mandatory minimum passing distances for vehicles overtaking cyclists – from between 1 to 1.5 metres, but all of them have been ignored.
Jane Bishop’s death is a reminder that auckland, and New Zealand, still has a very a long way to go in improving road safety for all the users of its roads.
Cycling dangers in New Zealand – see posts tagged Cycling
New Zealand Herald’s Road Accidents Archive
NZ’s roads described as ‘killing fields’ after 14 fatalities over ANZAC weekend
Earlier today in our blog about the recent deaths on New Zealand’s ski fields we mentioned that an Australian had been killed and another seriously injured when their car rolled on black ice just hours after arriving in the country. The men were to do training work for River Coal.
Our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to their families at this difficult time.
In the last 24 hours there have been numerous crashes in New Zealand associated with icy roads, including one that occurred after a truck allegedly ran out of grit.
The Australian has published the following:
An Australian injured in a crash in New Zealand, which also killed a NSW man, is now in a serious condition, a spokeswoman for the Canterbury District Health Board says.
Barry Pearson, a 56-year-old NSW man was killed on Monday after the Holden Rodeo ute he was driving left an icy road and tumbled down a steep bank, near Greymouth, on the west coast of the South Island about 6am (0400 AEST).
Mr Pearson died at the scene and his male passenger, who is also Australian but yet to be named, was taken to Christchurch hospital in a stable condition with serious spinal injuries. On Tuesday morning, the passenger’s condition was updated to serious, a Canterbury District Health Board spokeswoman told AAP.
Police said frost and icy conditions were major contributors to the crash, however the exact cause was not yet known, Constable Dayna Wallace of Greymouth police told AAP.
The Australian men had just arrived in New Zealand to deliver training at a local mining company, she said. The vehicle came to rest on its roof and was later moved by police, who will continue investigations later this week.
Police will also interview the driver of a truck that had been laying grit on the icy road about the time of the crash.”
(scroll to bottom of page for update)
Despite the two recent deaths and the call for the wearing of helmets to be made compulsory (see our blog yesterday) the manager of the Mount Hutt skiifield has said there will be no changes to the off piste policy on Mount Hutt.
Skiiers are basically out there on their own if they stray off piste but one has to wonder what precautions are being taken to protect the more naive and less proficient skiiers who may not be aware of the risks they are taking.
The Herald today carries a report saying
“…Mt Hutt Ski Area manager Dave Wilson said today that it would not stop skiing out of bounds but reiterated advice that skiers should assess conditions and their own ability before skiing off trail. “We try and encourage people if they are going to go out in the back country to check in with the ski patrol,” Mr Wilson said. The out of bounds area was too big to patrol and it was up to the individual to look after their own safety.
Mr Wilson said the two deaths this season was unheard of and ski-field staff had found it hard to deal with. “I’ve been here for 10 years and having one [death] is unusual,” he said. Before this season the last death at the ski-field was in 2005 when an Australian man, Harry Brian Wylie, fell to his death while skiing off the main trails.
Responding to calls to make helmets mandatory for all skiers, Mr Wilson said it was definitely an option but there needed to be a lot of discussion and research before a decision was made. The woman who died yesterday was wearing a helmet but the American woman was not, he said. It was impossible to tell if a helmet would have saved her life, Mr Wilson said.
Yesterday’s death was being investigated by the ski-field staff in conjunction with police, he said The woman’s daughter had been spoken to but the family would be given time to mourn before she was interviewed again as part of investigations, Mr Wilson said. Her name would be released once relatives had been informed.”
As far as we know the Dept of Labour hasn’t investigated this latest incident.
A while ago the Coroner urged that Coronet Peak enhance its avalanche hazard signage and fencing in the upper Greengates area. The Coroner’s recommendation followed the death of Queenstown snowboarder, Ryan Manu Campbell, in an avalanche outside the ski area boundary almost a year ago.
In September of last year Stan Siejka, a highly regarded neurologist from the Australian state of Tasmania died from his injuries after a fall at the Porters Ski area. His death
came as a major blow to medical services in his home state where he almost singlehandedly provided the neurology services. He was a highly regarded professional and his loss was keenly felt by his colleagues, patients, family and friends.
An experienced heli-skiing guide with Alpine Guides was killed in an avalanche in Methven on 14August. Almost a month earlier on 24 July an Australian tourist, Llynden Riethmuller, died in an avalanche whilst skiing with the same company, in the same area.
Rosemary Berry, a semi retired Australian tourist broke an arm and shoulder whilst skiing and sustained other injuries after she fell over an metal track left in the snow at the Cardrona Ski Resort. The company subsequently tried to appeal against its conviction of fines and costs totalling almost $60,000.
According to information released as part of the Dept of Labour’s investigation into adventure tourism the highest activity area for serious harm accident notifications in New Zealand is ski fields, followed by luge, horse trekking and ATV tour accidents link.
The final report has yet to be released to the public.
An Australian national has been killed and his colleague seriously injured after their car rolled on black ice near Taylorville, about 10 kilometres from Greymouth, at 6am. The men had only been in the country for a matter of hours on their first day of contracting for River Coal. (See Police name Australian for an update)
“Icy roads played a role in other South Island car crashes yesterday. In North Canterbury, a woman was airlifted to hospital after a car skidded off the road in Scargill yesterday morning. Amberley Senior Constable Arnold Hooykaas said the icy road was a factor in the crash. “The ice truck was out on the road, but it had run out of grit,” he said. “She came around the last iced bend and slid off the road.”
Icy roads were also believed to be responsible for a crash on the Old West Coast Rd near Darfield yesterday. A van flipped in the accident, but no-one was injured.”
Avalanche Update 10 August 2010
An avalanche on Mount Hutt hit “two or three” skiiers on the mountain today. Almost 2000 people had been out on the mountain enjoying the snow at the time. Today’s avalanche risk was assessed as considerable by the Mountain Safety Council of New Zealand’s avalanche.net website. ‘Considerable’ being the mid point of five stages, ranging from low to extreme.
The SMH also spoke of another fatality on the mountain on 6 August, that of Nello Donaggio, aged 30, who died after a he slid approximately 100 metres, sustaining multiple fractures and a major head injury. His funeral was on 11 August.
Another skiier has died on Mount Hutt.
A 54 year old woman is thought to be the third person to be killed on the mountain this season. One News reported that the woman was seriously injured when she fell 700 metres on to rocks and ice at 3.15 pm today. She was airlifted off by helicopter but later died in hospital. Later news reports named her as Dimity Anne Tomkin from Christchurch.
Our thoughts are with her family and friends for their tragic loss.
Three weeks ago a 21 year old American woman was killed under similar circumstances and an investigation was launched into her death. Immediately afterward a leading neurosurgeon called for helmets to be made compulsory on all NZ ski fields:
“I want people to be protected by whatever means necessary,” says Dr Martin Macfarlane, head neurosurgeon at Christchurch Hospital.
“Some people don’t understand the risk and therefore they need help to understand what reduces the risk. “If that means a law, then that is the way to go.”
In California law requires children under the age of 18 to wear a helmet if they dn’t want their parents to receive an instant fine.
“There are too many people who think they are bullet proof. Helmets should be compulsory,” says ski injury victim John Liddell.
Previously this season, a 60 year Arthur Richardson perished when his car left the Mount Hutt access road as he was travelling home after a days’ skiing. His body and the wreckage of his car were found by a search party sent out to look for him after he failed to return home.
Thinking about skiing on Mount Hutt? read visitor reviews on Snow Forecast.com link
“Angela, UK. Aug 2009 from United Kingdom
I’ve only ever skied in Austria so the runs available at Mount Hutt seemed limited but ok for a day. The drive up in the ski bus was scary to say the least – that alone would put me off coming again. The pistes were well groomed but one that opened later in the day was very icy. I don’t think it got any sun at all. I felt like a beginner again. There was a lively band playing which gave a slight apres-ski feel but arriving back in Methven, it was very quiet. Not exactly St Anton. Sorry about the negative comments but two people were killed off-piste while we were in NZ – if the area to ski was more extensive, maybe people wouldn’t feel this need? What a blast to ski in August though.”
Video of driving down the Mount Hutt Access Road
Our regular readers will know that we often write about New Zealand’s appalling road death toll and of the people who are killed on the roads, especially tourists and other visitors.
A while ago we blogged about the tragic death of Stephan Stoermer, one of many cyclists killed every year in New Zealand. Stephan, like many others, had cycled safely in many different countries without incident but met his death in New Zealand.
Stephan Stoermer had been on a cycling world tour since 2006, he had been safely winding his way through 26 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia since early 2006 before arriving in New Zealand. He died a week before his tour was scheduled to end when he was hit by a logging truck near Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty on March 12, 2009
At the sentencing of the man who drove the logging truck that killed Stephan we were given an indication of the factors which came together on that fateful day. Our feeling is that these go a long way toward explaining why New Zealand’s roads are so hazardous, unfortunately the light sentence given to the truck driver is not going to act as enough of a deterrent to other drivers (or trucking companies) to make any difference at all to the road toll, life comes cheap in New Zealand.
The company Mr Robert worked for appears to not to have been prosecuted or censured in any way for his driving practices whilst in their employ.
Here’s what the Bay of Plenty Times said about the trial
A driver who fell asleep at the wheel of his heavily laden logging truck shortly before killing a German cyclist in a horror crash near Te Puke has been jailed for two years and three months. Stephan Stoermer, 38, of Frankfurt, was on the last leg of a 26-country cycling journey when he was hit and killed by Troy Roberts’ truck and trailer near Te Matai Rd on State Highway Two on March 12 last year.
In May Roberts, 35, appeared in Tauranga District Court and pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless driving causing death, one of falsifying his log book and several breaches of Land Transport Act regulations, relating to exceeding his restricted driving hours. Police inquiries revealed Roberts had exceeded his restricted driving hours and did not have enough rest breaks in the days leading up to the crash.
On the day of the crash he had driven for seven hours and 15 minutes before stopping, although he was required to have a 30-minute break after five hours. He had also falsely entered his start time as 4am instead of 2.30am. About 5.45pm on March 12, Roberts had begun to fall asleep as he drove along SH2 on his way to the Port of Tauranga, where he had intended to unload his logs before travelling home to Rotorua. He had already worked 14 hours and 48 minutes.
Near the Te Matai Rd turnoff, Roberts’ vehicle hit Mr Stoermer, who had also been heading to Tauranga, at a speed of 80-85km/h. Mr Stoermer and his bike had been catapulted into a ditch. Despite the efforts of two nurses and a doctor, he had died at the scene.
Roberts admitted his log book was not in order. He claimed he saw the cyclist and moved to pass him, but heard a bang and knew he’d hit him instead. Roberts said he believed Mr Stoermer may have suddenly veered on to the road in front of him, but a police crash investigation cleared Mr Stoermer of contributing to the crash.
As a commercial truck driver employed by Kahurangi Logging of Murupara, Roberts’ driving hours were restricted by law and the maximum permitted, including two 30-minute rests, was 14 hours a day. Drivers are required to have a minimum of 10 hours’ rest between working days. Between January 12 and the day of the crash, Roberts breached those regulations 13 times.
In Tauranga District Court yesterday, Roberts’ lawyer Rebekah Webby argued for a sentence of home detention. She said Roberts was extremely remorseful and continued to struggle to come to terms with Mr Stoermer’s death. The incident had impacted on him and his family.
Roberts, who lost his job as a result of the incident, had whanau ties to the logging company and had felt under pressure to drive to meet their commitments.
Judge Paul Geoghegan said the summary of facts made tragic reading. On the day of the crash, Roberts had been a “ticking time bomb” and the fact that he had been driving a fully laden logging truck and trailer made his offence more serious. While he was prepared to take into account a $400 offer of reparation by Roberts, the judge said he was not going to order reparation, as it was likely to open the wounds for Mr Stoermer’s family rather than close them. He disqualified Roberts from driving for two years.”
By way of a comparison the truck driver who killed another German cyclist, Mia Pusch, had his licence suspended for a year and was ordered to pay just $5,000 in reparation.
Another German cyclist died on 6 August 2009 in a hit an run at Leeston, 45 km south west of Christchurch. 34 year old Jens Richardon had been living in NZ for a few years. He must have been quite familiar with the peculiarities of the roads and the local driving habits. His body was eventually discovered by a passing motorist at 7.30pm and police located the offender’s car, a dark blue BMW 3251, 20km away.
The motorist responsible for Jens’ death was seen slumped over a bar shortly before the crash. Phillip Kirkwood Hamilton, 40, of Southbridge, pleaded guilty on 6 November 2009 to driving under the influence of alcohol causing death and failing to stop for an injury accident. He had drunk around 10 pints of beer at a bar in Rolleston from around 2.30pm that day. He told police he knew he had hit a cyclist but panicked because he had been drinking. The judge took pity on him a gave him a sentence of home detention.
But soft sentences are the norm in crashes involving cyclists.
Drunk driver, 71 year old Alison Downer, bagged a lenient two year sentence for her 4th conviction after she hit and killed Frank van Kampen as he was cycling along State Highway 1 in Te Horo on September 18 2009. Mr van Kampen’s partner wept through the hearing at Palmerston North District Court and said that she was disgusted by the sentence. Can you believe that Downer’s defence lawyer was alleged to have told the judge that “this was not the worst type of offending because there was only one victim.”
And in the ‘Tamaki Drive Carnage’ a female student lost her licence for 6 months and was ordered to pay $1,000 to each of her victims after she ploughed into a pack of cyclists travelling along Tamaki Drive, Auckland. The cyclists, one of whom suffered long term brain injuries and may never be able to work again, said that the sentence was far too lenient.
North Shore doctor Graham Robinson was struck and killed whilst cycling outside of Helensville. The driver of a white Toyota Hillux sped off after hitting him and police have yet to track him down, despite having an excellent description of the vehicle.
12 July 2010
Two cyclists were abused and assaulted by two women whilst cycling on a training ride on the Taieri on Saturday:
…Their story began when they heard a car approaching about 1pm. Its horn was tooted and someone leaned out of the passenger door and abused them for riding two abreast, he said.
“It came up pretty quickly and tried to collect us with the front door,” Mr Edgar, a University of Otago commerce student, said.
The car passed them and slammed on its brakes, forcing Mr Melrose into gravel on the wrong side of the road.
Mr Logan was caught behind the open car door, when a woman got out and began slapping and punching him. She then threw a bottle at him, he said.
“The woman was going nuts. They dragged my bike into the front passenger seat and took off dragging the bike…”
Police knew the women involved and were going to ‘have a word’ with them. We’ll be keeping an eye out to see if the women are charged or let off.