From Adelaide via Bologna and Invercargill to Upper Hutt and beyond, Share the Road has hit the road hard (but safely!) this year, spreading our message of empathy between the biggest and smallest of road users.
We’ve put drivers on bikes and riders in trucks in Auckland, Hawkes Bay, Taupo, Hamilton, Nelson, Hokitika and Dunedin. In 2016 alone, the campaign has personally reached over 1,000 people in the transport industry, but the statistic we’re most proud of is that 93% of workshop participants reported a positive change in their attitudes to sharing the road. This gives us real heart, knowing we’re making a solid contribution to road safety and to the ultimate goal of NZTA and Cycling Action Network (CAN)- making it easier to get more people on bikes more often.
What’s the campaign about, again?
Our workshops are facilitated by Julian Hulls of NextBike. Julian, with a background in outdoors education and psychology, has carefully constructed the half-day courses to bring riders or drivers through a range of experiences that develop empathy for other road users by using their own feelings and history.
Driver/ Manager Workshops consist of an hour or so of classroom work followed by a short bike ride with demonstrations of the campaign’s messages. After that, it’s back to the classroom for some kai and ‘movie-making’, based on road-users’ own experiences. Feedback after workshops continues to be positive; a Nelson driver recently said,
‘[The course] made me take a look at myself and I’m a better driver around cyclists now… now I assess if I'm still ok and pass them even slower than I used to…’
Another bus driver participant told us,
‘Now I think about it [the workshop content] all the time when I see a cyclist.’
A major development in 2016 was the launch of workshops for cyclists. Faced with a 50-tonne truck or bus a cyclist is highly vulnerable but there are some pointers that can help cyclists keep safe where close contact with trucks or buses is unavoidable. The Share the Road messages have been integrated into the Cycling Workshop course content to create a lively and active half-day workshop that gives cyclists useful techniques to be safe around busy city traffic.
Like the driver/manager course, the cyclist workshops start in the classroom with some thinking about road safety, and then build on three elements of road use: cycle control skills, being seen, and choosing safe routes. Our participants have been happy with the results, with cyclists from Hawkes Bay saying,
‘I found the course interesting and the topics very relevant. I came away examining several aspects of my own riding style…’ and,
‘Really enjoyed the truck part, it was a wonderful insight into how little they see!’
Will Andrews who’s been serving on CAN’s committee is now our Campaign Development Coordinator. He's helping roll out the cyclist workshops, building relationships with cycling groups round the country and working on the Campaign’s communications.
The Share the Road campaign is supported and overseen by NZTA, who initially came on board for the 2012-2015 contract, and have now funded an expanded programme through until mid-2018. Twenty-nine workshops were budgeted for originally; the number under our expanded contract is 59. To date 35 workshops have been run along with 7 Blindzone demonstrations reaching over 1,100 people.
The background work goes on
We commissioned a new ‘Day in the Life’ set of movies in 2016, which are fun to watch and graphically show the importance of our safety messages. There’s a 4-minute video of the day in the life of a cyclist, driver, and a video combining both sets of messages. This was a lot of work and a big investment for the campaign, but the high quality and impact of these videos make it well worthwhile.
A highlight of the year was Richard’s acceptance of the TRAFINZ Leadership Award ‘for outstanding performance and contribution towards safety and sustainability in transport in New Zealand’. Richard has managed Share the Road since 2014.
Richard met Auckland Transport, City Rail Link Team and NZTA staff to look at the sharp rise in the number of construction trucks in Auckland's CBD due to the central rail loop project and a large number of other building projects going on. Richard also talked to a group of courier drivers in Christchurch who spoke about their interactions with cyclists and how they can make safer choices on the road.
Whats this about Bologna!?
Part of Share the Road’s brief is to keep up to date with the latest overseas thinking on road safety, on trucking and cycling. So, Richard made a flying trip in November to the International Cycling Safety Conference in Bologna. Part of his mission was to make presentations on what we’re doing and get feedback from international experts. For this, Richard gave a talk to the Bologna Conference, and met with cycling promotion officials in Vancouver and Los Angeles on the way home. What emerged was a strong thumbs-up for our approach from the overseas experts he spoke with, and some interesting learnings about how other countries approach road user interactions.
Richard had plenty to take in in Bologna, including research that shows an increase in risk-taking behaviour by those wearing hi-vis clothing, a study demonstrating that children are less likely to spot hazards in traffic than adults, and a blind-zone demonstration from the new Volvo See and Be Seen course.
Back home we continued to improve and streamline our databases, online registrations systems, and communications work so we can keep in touch with all those who help and take part in our activities through the year. Our Flickr photostream has some fun images -chances are you’re in there somewhere! We’ve also started a Facebook page to help share our messages, co-ordinate events and host discussions on road safety, while letting our participants and partners open discussions and give feedback. With a crack team of writers and graphic designers, we honed and perfected our branding and safety messages, and have produced a set of posters, cards and other graphics based on the new teal designs.
So what about next year, any plans?
The Share the Road campaign has always worked closely with Cycling New Zealand. Recently the first Cyclist Blindzone Workshops we held in conjunction with Cycling NZ Ride Leader workshops. Cycling NZ work closely with the sport road cyclists, whereas CAN’s membership are traditionally everyday/commuter cyclists. The partnership with Cycling NZ expands our reach of cyclists that can now be reached through the Share the Road campaign.
Right now, NZTA are researching ways of coordinating cycle training in a way that will help their goal of 10 million more cycle trips by 2019. With our connections to the Cycling Action Network throughout NZ, our skills as trainers, and our frequent travel to run workshops, Share the Road is in a good position to help with that co-ordination. We've already arranged some round-table meetings about cycle training and, in the absence of identified cycling personnel in each region, help resolve confusion among stakeholders. We feel that expanding this activity would be a beneficial side-effect of the campaign in the next couple of years. We will be increasing our cyclist workshop roll-out effort, especially in Bike Month, February.
Driver workshops will continue. To date we have had strong support from all sectors for the trucking and passenger sectors. We are learning a lot about the seasonal fluctuations which mean at certain times of year drivers cannot attend workshops. A good example are dairy tanker drivers: we'll resume workshops for this group in March as their season winds down. A continuing challenge is reaching those busy, highly committed small firms with only one or two drivers who may not hear about us or just can’t make the time to get to a workshop, so a new initiative is underway to help with this. This will involve new Commercial Transport Operator Liaison roles, where retired or semi-retired operators will engage (for a few hours a week) face to face or on the phone with their networks of commercial transport sector on our behalf. If you might be interested in this (or know someone who might be ideal), please contact Richard on 021 277 1213 or email@example.com.
While high numbers of deaths due to motor vehicle crashes are frequently in the news, we have had few cyclists die on our roads in 2016 despite a large increase in those pedaling. However, the cost both monetarily and to families and loved ones is high as noted in a recent Herald piece:
'Ministry of Transport data from June 2015, put the average social cost per crash on New Zealand roads as $4.7 million, per fatal crash, $900,000 per serious crash and $95,000 per reported minor crash. Those costs are based on loss of life and life quality, loss of output due to temporary incapacitation, medical costs, legal costs and property damage costs - the cost of picking up the pieces.' -NZ Herald Dec 25th.
Let’s be proactive, let’s aim for nothing less than zero deaths and serious injuries on our roads in 2017. This will require investment in time and money, join us as we work to see everyone getting home safely after being out on the road, watch this space!