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