Bikes for Life: a public rally for action to improve cycling safety in Auckland

Cycle Action Auckland announces Bikes for Life: a public rally for action to improve cycling safety in Auckland - 11am this Sunday, 5 December, on Queens Wharf, Auckland.  

“Cycle riding benefits health, air quality, carbon emissions, the economy, traffic congestion and happiness. It is an important transport choice that enhances our cities and lives. Despite this, the recent spate of deaths and rising levels of cycling injuries in Auckland shows how hostile our roads can be to people on bicycles.” says Barbara Cuthbert, Spokesperson for Cycle Action Auckland.

“Voters in Auckland’s Supercity elections last month gave overwhelming support to policies for a liveable city – lively public spaces, better public transport, and safer, easier walking and cycling. The new Council and Auckland Transport have been quick to address cycling safety– but the lack of central government funding is a serious obstacle.”

“New cycle lanes and cycling education programmes depend on subsidies from the national transport budget. Despite rising levels of cycling injuries and the popularity of cycling, less than 1% of the transport budget is allocated to walking and cycling. This is pathetically small compared with public demand for cycling. 30% of Kiwis own cycles and there was a 27% increase in cycling in ARTA’s official cycle count in March this year.”

“Traffic congestion and lack of cycling investment are impacting on cycle safety. The lack of space for bikes on many city and rural roads is creating aggression and conflict between road users. Cycling deaths, injuries and  aggression will keep escalating unless central and local government give lack of safety and poor road behaviour the priority they deserve.”

“Tamaki Drive is indicative of the hazards faced by people who cycle. CAA applauds the prompt action taken by Auckland Council and Auckland Transport. We also need urgent collaboration on national action."

"We call on the government to allocate more funds for:
1.       Connected cycle lanes in cities and shoulders on key rural roads.
2.       On-road cycle training in schools and for adults who want to cycle for transport. 
3.       A new, fresh public education programme for safe road use. “

"The Bikes for Life rally will be held on Auckland’s newest ‘people place’ Queens Wharf, this Sunday 5 December from 11am – noon. Cycle Action invites everyone who wants their family and friends who cycle to be safe, those who would cycle if it was safer and easier, and those who have ever ridden a bicycle, to come.”

Groups audience: 


Widower says driver 'a victim too'

The husband of one of three cyclists killed after being struck by a car near Morrinsville says the 23-year-old behind the wheel is a "victim too" - and has appealed for better training for young drivers.

Roger Wolfe and his 16-year-old daughter Kelly joined about 300 pedallers and supporters at a rally held at Queens Wharf in Auckland yesterday to demand safety improvements for cyclists

Cycle Action Auckland organised the "Bikes for Life" event in response to the deaths of five cyclists within days.

The victims included Kay Wolfe and fellow Morrinsville Wheelers club members Mark Andrew Ferguson and Wilhelm Muller three weeks ago.

Mrs Wolfe, 45, died after four days in hospital, and police have laid three charges of careless driving causing death against 23-year-old Matamata woman Kristy King.

She is to appear in Morrinsville District Court on December 15.

Her lawyer, Paul Gascoigne, said yesterday she would enter a plea then, but he intended seeking disclosure of the policeevidence.

He said Ms King had been "co-operative with police and will continue to be so", but was struggling with the aftermath of the collision.

"As you can imagine it was a pretty emotional time for her,"

Mr Wolfe, who farms bulls between Morrinsville and Gordonton, told the Herald he had yet to meet Ms King but he had heard "she's a nice girl from a good family."

"She's a victim too," he said.

He did not know how long she had been driving, but in a speech to the rally bemoaned a lack of training for young people before they were allowed to drive solo.

"The driving licence period has got to be longer and you people, when you drive through the Waikato, you've got to let your kids drive through there," Mr Wolfe said.

"Dad's going to have to sit in the back seat and give the kids experience on the roads."

He is thankful that his 18-year-old son Gavin, who was riding behind his mother, was not run down as well.

"My boy was also in the group - he was the next bike behind."

Mr Wolfe would usually have been with the cyclists on their ride, but he was taking the youngest of the couple's three children, 12-year-old Shane to a sports event at the time of the crash.

Asked whether he would keep cycling, he said he could afford neither the time nor the risk now he had be "a dad and a mum" to his children.

If he did get back into the saddle, he expected to confine himself to off-road mountain-bike tracks.

"You can only break and arm or a leg doing that - you're not so likely to get killed."

In his appeal at the rally, Mr Wolfe said he was "gutted" by the fatal accident but "something has got to come out of it".

"I believe this 23-year-old girl wouldn't have had enough driving experience on our open roads.

"Every day I see cars in farmers' paddocks, I pull them out of the drain myself. People get it wrong all the time.

"All those times they've missed somebody or a power pole, and in this case she got three riders."

Mr Wolfe said his wife lost a lot of blood and "died" several times, before being revived, during a rescue helicopter flight to Waikato Hospital.

When he arrived at the hospital, Mr Wolfe was allowed to see his critically injured wife only after identifying her wedding ring.

"I gave that to her 23 years ago."

Auckland Mayor Len Brown was unable to attend the rally, but in a speech read on his behalf by council transport committee Mike Lee said road safety was a "hugely important issue" for his organisation.

"We need to move beyond simple positions that cyclists take up too much room or cars are inconsiderate," he said.

Cycle Action spokeswoman Barbara Cuthbert praised the new council and its Auckland Transport subsidiary for responding quickly to the death of 27-year-old British cyclist Jane Mary Bishop at a narrow point on Tamaki Drive three days after the Waikato accident.

Car parking spaces have been removed in the area where Ms Bishop died to give cyclists more room.

But Ms Cuthbert said it was unacceptable that only 1 per cent of the national transport budget was spent on walking and cycling, when 18 per cent of people regularly made trips on foot or by bike.