JAG wants to see you all in lycra!

JAG: Furious, or just bewildered?

She may look bewildered, but Julie Ann Genter must be furious.

The official road toll seems to be continuing it’s steadily upward rise and as we all know, when in opposition, JAG was continually blaming the National government for every road death.

So now that the weird clip-in cycling clog is on the other foot, she must be eating herself alive with that gnawing self-doubt.

We all know that when you’re full up with baby, it can be pretty hard to sleep, but combine that with the self-imposed knowledge that you alone are the person responsible for hundreds of people dying every year, well that’s just got to make you think about your life choices in the middle of the night. She’s going to need every day of her upcoming maternity leave just to catch up.

Road deaths as a result of crashes have increased in recent times from a low of 253 in 2013 to 378 in 2017. Of course, Ms Genter would likely lay the blame for this on the previous nine years of neglect, but?this year looks likely to be worse and by her own reasoning, she has no-one to blame but herself.

Over the last couple of days, I have been thinking about her favourite hobby horse, cycling. How will it affect the road toll if she manages to eventually reach her nirvana of no cars and two wheels for everyone?

A quick look at today’s (7th Aug 2018) news sites would lead us to believe the answer might be, ‘catastrophically’.

It’s ok, the lycra force-field should protect them all.

From Facebook today I learnt that there was a truck versus cyclist crash on Wainui Rd a little north of Auckland. I have no knowledge of the outcome but I suspect it may favour the truck.

From the ODT?this morning, a woman was knocked from her bike by a car. She was taken to Dunedin hospital with moderate injuries.

And from Stuff?we find that yesterday, we had a veritable perfect storm of crashes when we had a cyclist, clobbered by a bus, outside the train station!

A Wellington bus’ windscreen is broken after the bus collided with a cyclist near the train station. Photo credit: Ian Rainford.

Again, the unfortunate cyclist was also transported to the hospital with moderate injuries.

So within just two days, we see our future. I sincerely hope that none of these people suffers from long-term injuries, or worse, and I am not intending to make light of their situation, it just shows that we are trading one problem for another. In the year to date, we have had thirteen cyclists die on our roads compared to a recent low of five in 2014.

There will always be situations where people are injured or lose their lives on the roads. But of course, the more people who take to the roads on cycles, the higher the cycling death rate will go.

So what to do about it? I have spoken before about Vision Zero?and one of the main tenets of that ideology is to make cycling safer by having completely separated cycle lanes, or in other words, lanes where cycles do not come into contact with vehicles. Bike lanes such as below would be about the minimum standard required but raised kerbs protecting the cyclists would also just get a pass.

Photo credit: SF Examiner

Even aside from the problems created by the inevitable narrowing of the roads, there are other factors to consider. Recently a San Francisco Firefighters Union brought the problem to the attention of their City Hall highlighting the issues that they were having getting fire appliances to where they needed to be.Quote:

?…though firefighters support Vision Zero, such street changes can create ‘serious problems’ for fire engines navigating narrow streets and firefighters deploying ladders. end quote.

Consequently, these sorts of issues lead to half-hearted efforts and we get the sort of idiotic designs like this one that was nearly put in place on Cuba St, Wellington.


What could possibly go wrong?

So let’s get used to reading about cycling deaths and injuries. The more cyclists on the road, the more incidents there will be. We will simply transfer one statistic for another.

But just remember, if you do choose to ride a bike rather than take the car, lycra can only protect you so much.


At least you’ll know which Associate Transport Minister to blame as you’re sliding down the road.