Coroners Inquest into Cycling Deaths - Evidence Presented


This page will store the submissions provided by CAN and other groups or individuals to the National Inquest into Cycling Deaths, presided over by Cr Gordon Matenga between 2011-13

(note that some of these submissions refer only to one/some of the cases being investigated)

Link to final review report by the Coroner (Nov 2013)


Hi I have thought alot about why we are having so many Cycle Related Accidents & Deaths . We need to engage the Motor Vehicle Drivers & Cyclist's on Our Roads . This can be done by changing the Location of Cyclist Too Riding on the "RIGHT HAND SIDE" of Our Roads ! This is the safest as you are Cycling Towards the oncoming Vehicle , You can Both See Each Other . So the Motorist is Less Likely to Open their Door or Pull Out into Your Pathway ! RIGHT TURNING BIKES then will not be Crossing the Path of Motorist's . LEFT TURNING BIKES Would MOVE OVER to LEFT HAND SIDE of the Road Well before MAKING LH TURN . At Intersections STRAIGHT Through Cyclists would be on the Motorist's LH Side and Both Persons can see each other ! RIGHT TURNING VEHICILES can see the Cyclist and Would have to give the Cyclist Right of Way as the Vehicle was " Turning Right " across the Cyclist's Path ! <> If need be the Cyclist CAN STOP ! <> Roads would need to be Improved where there are Hills , to make NO PARKING Lanes so Cyclists have a Safe Area to Move off the Road if need be , with signage warning oncoming Vehicl's of Cyclist,s .<> Also  Many Bridges around NZ have No Space for Cyclist's or Hitch Hikers / Walkers to get ACROSS Them SAFELY . Karl Barkley C.S.I 

Thanks for the thoughts Karl. Cycling against the traffic (or "contraflow" cycling) gets suggested reasonably often (I have heard this idea a number of times in the past year or two ), especially given similar advice to people walking. It is not without its own problems however; in fact the crash rate is typically higher than "same way" riding. In particular, the dynamics of walking and cycling are quite different (esp. in regards to speed), so that someone walking who may have time to anticipate and avoid a potential issue whilst someone cycling (typically at 4-5 x walking speed) wouldn't be able to.

For example, a motor vehicle rounding a blind corner with no shoulder would have even less time to react to an oncoming bicycle (e.g. 75km/h car speed and 25km/h bike speed = relative approach speed of 100km/h, vs 50km/h if in same direction); likewise for the rider.

Intersections are another location where driver expectation could cause problems; they are expecting conflicting traffic to come from one direction and may get caught out if a rider is coming (often reasonably quickly) from the opposite direction. Studies overseas of bikepath collisions at intersections have found this problem where two-way cycling is provided on one side only. Similar issues may arise with pedestrians crossing roads and only checking for traffic to their right before stepping off. Given that 2/3 of cycle crashes in NZ happen at intersections and driveways, general contraflow cycling is likely to create more problems overall. If you only applied the rule to rural roads (where 2/3 of cycle crashes are related to rear-end and overtaking issues) there is the question of how the transition between urban and rural areas is managed (including getting the riders to safely switch back to the other side of road).

With contraflow cycling you may also be unable to easily see traffic signs that are applicable to you, as most of them will be on the other side of the road.
I suspect "contraflow" cycling would also be of limited help if the safety problem comes from poor placement of passing vehicles. If someone is bearing down on you because they have lost control or misjudged their driving alignment, you may have limited time to evade them regardless of your direction of travel (and that presumes that you have somewhere to go to evade them).

There is also the problem of narrow roads (no shoulders) where currently there is an issue with motorists overtaking riders by squeezing through in the face of oncoming traffic. Best-practice advice is of course to wait until the oncoming traffic has passed before overtaking. But how might that work if you have a car and a bike both approaching you on either side of a narrow road?

In summary, I think there are some unintended consequences of this proposal. The biggest issue is to do with road user expectations and habits (for the cyclist and other road users). A similar example of this is when having to drive/ride/walk in a different country where they drive on the opposite side of the road - it takes a bit of effort to "reprogram" yourself. I think we would be better to focus on providing adequate cycling space (esp. where sight distance is limited), lowering travel speeds where appropriate, and encouraging better driving and cycling behaviour around each other.