CAN Do 2011 session 8: Coroner's inquiry, Greens, Spokes Canterbury

CAN Do 2011 session 8: Coroner's inquiry, Greens, Spokes Canterbury

Coroner's inquiry

Presented by: Glen Koorey (CAN)

  • Arose out of cluster of cycling deaths in November 2010.
  • Hearings: Palmerston North first, then Hamilton. Others are waiting on prosecutions.
  • Also recent inquest in Steve Fitzgerald's death.
  • Aim of hearings is to draw lessons, not apportion blame.
  • Concern that focus is narrow- only deaths; not near misses, minor/serious injuries. CAN has submitted on this.
  • CAN is looking at giving guidance to groups to keep messages consistent across the country.
  • Format of hearings: present evidence; questioning; oral submissions.
  • Sometimes drivers/families present.
  • Coroner has a wide brief in terms of recommendations e.g. law changes. Historically some recommendations are less appropriate than others- they aren't experts in the field.
  • Coroner can't tell the Police to hand out stiffer penalties.
  • Jane Dawson presented on behalf of CAN at the Steve Fitzgerald inquest.
  • Hearings are not adversarial- more like a European court.
  • At Steve Fitzgerald's inquest, evidence was heard from NZTA, Hutt City Council and the truck driver.  First two were old-school engineers - this skewed the coroner towards thinking the cyclist shouldn't have been there.
  • CAN made an oral submission- doesn't have official status but still very valuable.  Can raise wider issues- e.g. driver scheduling, roundabout design, etc.  Coroner picked up on these.
  • Media were there- some picked up on CAN input.
  • Highly recommended to attend and submit.
  • Should we be asking for input from e.g. injury prevention researchers, other experts?
  • Glen has undertaken an analysis of fatal cycling crashes using data from the Crash Analysis System (CAS).   Looked at past crashes from 2006 and collated key issues.  These data are not publicly available.
  • Age factor- more cyclists are at fault at the young & old ends of the spectrum. In between, mostly drivers at fault.  Ages of deaths are skewed towards older riders. Some of that will be due to fragility.
  • Cyclist-only crashes are not picked up in CAS (has to involve a motor vehicle). Lots of other data are also not recorded, e.g. whether the cyclists was wearing hi-visibility clothing.
  • 29% of fatals involved heavy vehicles.  Need truck side underrun protection.
  • State Highways are over-represented.
  • Gender is in proportion to usage- not an obvious factor.
  • Helmets: also typical usage - so a helmet won't save you.
  • About half of the drivers reported that they "didn't see the cyclist" (or weren't looking?)
  • Other factors include: drivers passing too close, sometimes left turning, cyclists pulling out right at the wrong time.
  • Alcohol and wet weather factors didn't show up.
  • Aim to get this information out to local groups in time for hearings.

The Greens

Presented by: Kevin Hague MP (Greens)

  • Safety dilemma- how much do we focus on it, vs. encouraging cycling?
  • Community Roadwatch- was recently revealed that the data are not really used- unless a vehicle registration comes up repeatedly.
  • Given the makeup of the current government, what opportunities exist
  • Minister of Transport Stephen Joyce has prioritised efficiency over safety.
  • NZ Cycle Network- going well.  Roll-on effects- not just a tourism project, wider commitment to eventual network.  Back Country Rides- e.g. Forgotten Highway.  Shows the potential of linking off-road rides to on-road and to urban routes.  Generating enthusiasm in local government for cycling.  Some projects will go ahead even if they don't get government funding.
  • Building alliances with recreational cycling is useful. Some recreational groups have links to government that we don't.
  • Parliamentary Friends of Cycling- around 20 members from the Greens, National, Labour.  Glen and Kieran presented to it on priorities.  Helps to de-politicise cycling.  Not going badly.
  • Labour has been a bit dismissive of the NZ Cycle Trails project- a mistake, as their cynicism isn't widely shared.  Job creation is admittedly more indirect than Key originally claimed.
  • Last summer- tried to engage with social media (Facebook/Twitter) to ask for suggestions about improving safety over summer. Got quite a few responses and sent back out.
  • As a rider- end points of cycle routes, and what comes after, have to make sense.  Doesn't matter if different bits are funded by different organisations.
  • Have to work with carriers to ensure links with public transport work.
  • We all have a role in supporting the NZ Cycle Trail in our communities.

Spokes Canterbury

Presented by: David Hawke, Glen Koorey (Spokes Canterbury)

  • Over the past year, lives have mostly been centred around the earthquakes.  Bikes proved very handy for getting home after shocks.
  • Spokes has made multiple submissions: earthquake recovery plans and general transport strategies.
  • Council ran a Share an Idea programme- got 106,000 ideas back. Lots of participation- so council has to take notice. Lots of ideas mentioned cycling, green space etc.
  • Draft Plan for CBD- lots of good stuff in it.  Concern about the fine print- e.g. are shared paths essentially just allowing cyclists on footpaths?  And timing. Vague about clear outcomes, and how to measure success.
  • Greater Christchurch recovery plan- made a detailed submission.
  • Early on after the shocks, council removed some cycle lanes.
  • Councillor and cycling advocate Chrissie Williams resigned, said the council is dysfunctional.
  • Oral presentation to city council- normalising cycling by having two women presenting it, in ordinary clothes- to get away from the usual stereotypes.
  • Lots of other groups are positive about cycling- 'people friendly city'. Supportive editorials.
  • Isolation of new subdivisions- there's a history of not looking at linkages between them.
  • Public transport has suffered since the quakes, but there are more people on bikes.