Cyclists in greater danger during winter - Eastern Courier
By NEIL DUDDY - Eastern Courier | Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Motorists need to take extra care for cyclists in winter.

There have been several bike crashes in the eastern region in recent months resulting in injuries to cyclists.

The incidents have mainly been due to motorists not seeing cyclists and turning across their path.

Former national road safety policing manager superintendent Steve Fitzgerald was killed in a roundabout crash while cycling home from work on June 19 in Wellington.

Despite wearing a helmet, high visibility clothing and having flashing lights front and rear on his cycle Mr Fitzgerald was one of two cyclists to die in crashes in the capital that day.

The second victim died when a parked vehicle door was opened knocking him into the path of a truck. Land Transport New Zealand spokesman Andy Knack-stedt says drivers should be extra vigilant regarding cyclists in the winter months when conditions and visibility on the roads are at their lowest.

"With rising fuel prices more people are giving cycling a go and motorists need to be aware that cyclists have a right to use the road in safety."

An increase in environmental awareness has also seen the number of cyclists on the road increase.

ACC figures show there were 60 more claims for cycling injuries last year than five years previously.

"We encourage drivers to share the road with cyclists and ask them to remember to check for them before turning right or left, before opening car doors and before moving into the road from a parking space," says Mr Knackstedt.

"Indicating clearly is crucial because it allows cyclists to read a driver’s intentions and take appropriate action."

Mr Knackstedt says cyclists also have safety responsibilities.

"Cyclists who ride without adequate lighting are putting themselves and others in danger, but unfortunately even when cyclists do everything right and have all the required lighting they are still vulnerable on the road."

There is also public confusion regarding road rules for cyclists, particularly regarding the issue of cyclists riding side by side.

The Road Code states that cyclists are permitted to ride two abreast on the open road but should be single file when passing other vehicles and parked vehicles.