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Safety Message Repeated As Motorist Admits Injuring Cyclists

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Auckland, Dec 7 NZPA - Auckland police today repeated their call for motorists and cyclists to "share the road" as cycle traffic increases with the onset of summer.

The call comes on the day a female motorist, who knocked down four cyclists on Tamaki Drive in September, pleaded guilty to careless driving causing injury.

Tamaki Dr, which runs for about 10km along the waterfront from near the city centre to St Heliers Bay, is the busiest cycle route in Auckland, but its popularity also makes it among the most dangerous.

Under the Share the Road campaign running throughout the Auckland region until March, motorists are being urged to give cyclists 1.5m of room when passing and to exercise patience.

Cyclists are asked to wear highly visible clothing, observe the road rules and be aware that they could be blocking a lane when riding in a pack.

Senior Sergeant Mike Stopforth, from Counties Manukau road policing, said motor vehicles and bicycles travelled at different speeds, often on the same piece of road.

"This means drivers and riders have to be very alert of each other and predictable in their actions," he said.

"When a bike and a car come together in a crash, the consequences can be devastating."

In Auckland District Court, motorist Jennifer Speakman, 20, was remanded at large for sentencing on February 17 after admitting four charges of careless driving causing injury.

Defence lawyer Frank Hogan told the court she was sorry she failed to see the cyclists she struck.

Cycle Action Auckland spokeswoman Barbara Cuthbert said outside court that drivers injuring cyclists on Tamaki Dr were a huge problem.

"The only thing I care about is stopping it," she said.

Police had alleged Speakman failed to observe a stop sign and knocked down four recreational riders in a group of 20.

The most badly hurt cyclist received head, neck and chest injuries and was in a critical condition for several days.

After the incident, Auckland City Council convened a forum about space issues on Tamaki Dr, and more than 30 representatives of groups that included police, the Automobile Association, cycle clubs and residents attended.

A working party representing the groups is looking at ideas raised for improving safety for all concerned.

The ideas include reducing speed limits, establishing protocols for "bunch" cyclists and better enforcement of road rules.

Council statistics show that there were more than 200,000 cycle trips on Tamaki Dr in the past 11 months.

The most popular day was Saturday -- the incident involving Speakman happened on a Saturday -- with more than 800 riders were on the road some summer Saturdays.

At the same time, a safety analysis of the road showed that five of its intersections were among Auckland's nine cycle blackspots.

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