Cyclist killed; call to improve safety

Emergency services work at the scene of a fatal crash in Cumberland St, outside Dunedin Hospital, yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.A Dunedin advocacy group has called for improved safety measures for cyclists after the death of a male cyclist outside Dunedin Hospital yesterday.

The cyclist was run over by a stock truck in Cumberland St about 10am. Senior Sergeant Kelvin Lloyd said police were investigating the possibility the door of a parked car had been opened just before the accident.

The truck driver was later stopped by police and spoken to at Evansdale, north of Dunedin.

Spokes Dunedin education and safety co-ordinator Prof Hank Weiss said the cycling advocacy group had talked to the Dunedin City Council about a Canadian study that found bike lanes alongside parked vehicles, as in Cumberland St, were about seven times riskier than fully separated, buffered lanes that gave cyclists their own space.

"New investments in cycling infrastructure on busy urban streets should be spent on building protected lanes."

The Canadian research found fully separated lanes were nine times safer than major streets without designated cycle lanes.

Prof Weiss attended a council meeting a week ago with transport planners and engineers about the southern commuters route and the installation of infrastructure to protect cyclists.

There was a willingness to install infrastructure to make major routes safer for cyclists, he said.

Yesterday's fatality follows the death of a cyclist using the southbound lane on the one-way system who was hit by a truck outside Dunedin Railway Station in November 2011.

Dunedin City Council senior traffic engineer Ron Minnema said the installation of cycle barriers around Dunedin roadways would be considered on a case-by-case basis but the challenge was considering all road users in decisions.

Otago-Southland state highway manager Ian Duncan said NZTA staff were saddened by the news a cyclist had been killed on State Highway 1 and their thoughts were with the victim's family.

"The NZTA investigates the circumstances of all deaths and serious injuries on the state highway network with a view to making our roads safer for everyone who uses them, and we will be doing the same thing in this case."

A witness to yesterday's fatal accident, Solarpro owner Karl Lawrence (32), of Dunedin, said he was waiting for traffic to pass before crossing Cumberland St to enter Dunedin Hospital.

Mr Lawrence heard a noise after a "big cattle truck" passed and then saw the dead man lying on the street.

The "young Asian" cyclist appeared to have died instantly after going under the rear wheels of the back trailer, he said.

The truck did not stop but the driver might not have noticed anything.

"I would have thought it was a bump in the road. That's what it sounded like."

Mr Lawrence was taken by police to identify a truck that had been stopped near Evansdale.

A Tulloch Transport spokesman said the manager of the Southland-based company had gone north yesterday to support the truck driver.

• A man died when a ute was involved in a head-on collision with a stock truck and trailer unit on State Highway 1 south of Ashburton about 4pm yesterday.

The man was understood to have been the sole occupant of the ute, which was severely damaged, the Ashburton Guardian reported.



@Petermcd: I totally agree with you on the practical uselessness of signalling on one-way street cycle lanes and use the same approach as you do whenever  I'm forced to ride on them (i.e. I look for a safe gap). My hints were aimed at those cycling on two-way streets among motor traffic.  As part of defensive riding, I never trust signalling to give me the space I'm looking for (although sometimes it delightfully does :), but it has its merits, especially when riding more or less at the same speed as the motor traffic on two-way streets. When driving a car, the thing that annoys me the most are motorists whose indicators are "broken", so signalling when riding a bike is a logical thing to do, when it can be safely done.

Signalling for following traffic - or not

@ Road_User Thursday 22 November: It is very rare to read a comment in these columns on cycling matters that I am almost in total agreement with but Road_User is right in the button in his or her approach to cycling in the city. I am coming from over 30 years of regular cycling round the city.

Just one wee point - the signalling thing.  There are times to signal yes, definitely, but the 3-second rule that works so well for traffic streams travelling in the same direction at more or less the same speed does not work for traffic streams travelling in the same direction at significantly different speeds especially when a manual signalling action inevitably degrades control of the vehicle, the bike. 

What works is planning for or waiting for gaps in the faster stream that mean a manoeuvre can be made without getting in the way of the faster vehicles.  On our one way system, that means the "green wave" deplored by another correspondent at least has the advantage that there are periodic gaps in the traffic streams that the ageing cyclist wanting to move to the right can take advantage of. 

I know it is technically illegal but controlling my bike and staying out of the way of rapidly overtaking traffic is a higher priority than signalling intentions that won't affect the course of other vehicles. In the last resort, there is always the hook turn.

These comments apply to traffic coming from behind and travelling significantly faster than I am. For other situations and participants different considerations arise.

Share the road, not the cycle lanes

My sincere condolences to the family and friends of Dr. He.

As a cycle commuter riding daily in the same area where this terrible accident happened, I would like to share my thoughts about safer cycling. I think defensive riding is the key to safety for cyclists. An important part of it is taking the space you need to ride safely on a road. For example, when riding with motor traffic, it is possible to leave enough space between you and parked cars to proactively avoid being surprised by careless door-openers. But that is not possible to do on most cycle lanes in Dunedin, which is why I personally avoid them.

Also, I have noticed that the farther left cyclists ride, the closer the cars overtake them; this is because they are not absolutely forced to cross the centerline to overtake and in the process often come all too close to do it safely. Some motorists do not have a sense of how close they come to a bike when overtaking and only grasp the dimensions of their vehicle when they see another car ahead of them passing a cyclist too close. A good rule of thumb for a motorist is: give a cyclist so much space that you would not be likely to run over them even if they suddenly fell on their bike.

I started riding in Dunedin in 2008 and would rather share the two-way streets with cars than the cycle lanes on one-way streets with trucks. Great majority of motorists e.g. on the two-way George Street are safe and courteous to share the road with.

I wish more cyclists had the confidence to ride with motor traffic because it really is safer there than on cycle lanes. Just stick to the rode code: indicate when preparing to turn, don't use the turning lane when not actually turning, have the patience to wait in line behind cars if you don't arrive as the first road user in red lights, wear hi-vis clothing and use your eyes and ears!. That's how I've stayed uninjured so far, after about 8000 kms of bicycle commuting in Dunedin.


This will continue

This will continue to happen because far too many Kiwis are 'car culture' dependent. I would also add that the roads here are not wide enough to accommodate the road uses. That's something I can attest to myself. This morning when I was cycling a truck and trailer unit came well into the cycle lane right beside me.
I can I also add that people who design these roading systems should actually start using a 'human experience' type model instead of the computer programmes that have no idea how humans actually behave when they get out on the road.


Just one?

Just one?  I see at least three people, including myself, pointing out that the responsibility lies in whole or in part with motorists to check the way is clear before opening their car doors.

Cars in cycle lanes

Just yesterday outside the very spot this happened, at about 4.30, were 3 cars indicating they wished to join the flow of traffic - no problem with that. But all three were pulled out slightly, sitting in the cycle lane. One completely blocking it. The focus has been on trucks in discussion here - freight trains used to work well, keeping trucks off the road much safer for car drivers too... but just one person has pointed out it is car driver education that needs to be enhanced. Lack of awareness by car drivers opening doors, or driving into the cycle lanes, is what is causing disastrous results.

'Vulnerable road users' law

This link explains the Dutch "vulnerable road users" law . It protects non motor traffic against motorists. There is almost automatic liability for an accident for a motorist - even if the cyclist is partly at fault. 


Cycle lanes

The introduction of the cycle lanes where the fatalities have occurred are all recent additions. I believe the lanes are dangerous and contribute to the increased road toll. 

Here are the NZTA statistics for Dunedin.

There have been 3 cycle fatalities in the last two years. Two of which occurred this year. (3x more than in the preceding 4 years).

I don't ride a bicycle - I find it too dangerous in NZ.  

In the Netherlands - if you are a motorist and you hit a cyclist you are almost immediately assumed guilty of something and likely to automatically lose your license and get punished if there is an injury or death.

As a motorist I try to be extra careful around cyclists because the consequences of an error are often severe.

My father lost all his teeth in a cycling accident a number of years ago where a motorist failed to give way. (Didn't see him)



Fact check?

Elv: There have been multiple cycling fatalities in this town, prior to the introduction of cycle lanes, which were also around long before 2007. Many will also remember the death of a Dunedin doctor outside UBS, not far from the hospital, in almost an identical situation in the mid-1990s.
The 'one-way system/truck issue' is a red herring. The situation here could have happened on any street in town. It does not require a truck to kill someone, and cyclists are forced to the side of the road (and into car door range) by motorists who see no reason to share, whether cycle lanes exist or not.
I still believe the one-way system is a safer option than uncontrolled intersections on many of our other streets. Driver behaviour and awareness of cyclists is so poor that any street is a risk.



Another tragedy

So sad to see another life lost. Someone who showed so much promise and contribution to society. Sympathy to Dr LiHong He's family.

I hope that something gets done so there is no re occurrance. Unfortunately the cycle lanes don't work. There has been a 100%+ increase in cycle fatalities in Dunedin since the introduction of cycle lanes. Before the introduction of cycle lanes in 2007, 2008 and 2010 (with the exception of 2009) there were no fatalities. 

They just don't work:

- the lanes are too small and drivers often don't see them. The cyclist is positioned in the blind spot of most ehicles.

- the lanes cross on the inside of left turning vehicles. Passing turning vehicles, even when having the right of way on the inside is hazardous. 

- the lanes are directly beside parked traffic with no room to move if a car door opens. It is simply dangerous. 

The short term sollution would be to revert back to the shared traffic system. At least when a cyclist is sharing the road with other traffic they can ride in a manner where they are more visible to other traffic and avoid the hazards of opening doors better. 

The only place where cycle lanes have created a improvement is along Portobello road where there is physical segregation.

stop talking - take action

R.I.P. Dr Li Hong He. What a needless tragedy. My thoughts are with your family.

For what it's worth, the last time there was a death in that area of town, I formally submitted to DCC my suggestions for improvement based on my experience as a regular Dunedin city cyclist. My main idea was that if cars have to park there, then the cycle lane should be on the extreme left, then the parked cars then the traffic.  At least then if a person in a parked car flings open a door the cyclist may loose a finger or two, not their life. I suggested to the authorities that if they didn't want to do that then the cycle lane should be removed entirely as it is just plain stupid (for want of a better word) to encourage cycling and the mixing of parking, trucks and cyclists in a hospital drop off zone on a state highway. Please, stop the eternal circle of talks, discussions, plans, canvassing for submissions and so on; take action. Did I mention that I don't know what happened to my submission, I can only assume that it got lost along with a host of others.

Use your brains

My sympathy lies with the family and no one likes to see a needless death.

I am constantly surprised at the apparent sense of entitlement that cyclists seem to have that everyone should make adjustments to suit their choice of transport. 

It is simple hazard management, you weigh about 80-100 kg and travel at 15 kmh, trucks weigh up to 55 tonnes and travel at 50- 60 km/h. You are always going to come off second best.

I ride motorcycles and subscribe to the view that it may not be my fault but it is always my problem.

Why insist on riding on main thoroughfares? Take another route, avoid the trucks! They are predictably on a few main routes.

Take responsibility for yourselves and your safety. Don't expect everyone else to be looking out for you.

A brick wall

How many times does it need to be said to these traffic engineers? Remove the cycles from the road and you remove the problem. Follow the rest of the world and incorporate cycle lanes with the footpaths, not with the roads. Pedestrians walking along the footpath generally do not get hit by cars. Coincidence? Or do Dunedin traffic engineers know something that the rest of the world doesn't?

Response to Patzoe

I was a bit surprised to read your comment that "its getting a little tiresome" to not run over cyclists. I also find it difficult to picture this "evasive action" you mention that would be necessary to avoid a cyclist in a bike path. Even were there no bike path, it is general courtesy (and not to mention the safest option) to give a cyclist plenty of space, and so in driving in this manner no unsafe driving would be necessary.

Also, I would like to know how you propose cyclists get to work (or anywhere other than a train station) if they are limited to using "designated corridors such as could easily be created near the rail lines"? This seems somewhat impractical to me.

Furthermore, I disagree totally in regards to your comment that "bikes and pedestrians mix". Most cyclists travel a great deal faster than pedestrians. Forcing >30km/hr cyclists to share a space with pedestrians, including small children who would wander straight in front of a cyclist, is not a good mix at all. 

Drop-off zone

I completely agree Schneiders. I almost went the same way at the same spot a few years ago. Putting a hospital drop-off zone beside a cycleway is just stupid. OK, it may be partly the fault of whoever opens the car door or brakes suddenly, but in a drop off zone it will happen many more times a day ... and on the side of a main highway? [Abridged]

It's time for change

Firstly, my condolences to Dr He's family and friends.
As many of the other posts have pointed out there are a number of very dangerous cycle paths in Dunedin, and changes need to be made to improve the safety of cyclists.
Personally, I would very much like to see NZ drivers' licence requirements include more on sharing the road and driving safely near cyclists. Regardless of whether we are in a motor vehicle or on a bike, we all have the right to use the road and we all deserve to be safe.
I think ‘Spokes Dunedin' has made some excellent points regarding our cycle paths here in Dunedin, and their images portraying ‘what we typically have as cycle paths' and ‘what it should be' make the point very well.
I hope everyone with concerns about the safety of cyclists in Dunedin speaks up. Maybe if enough of us make our voices heard something will be done.

Protected cycle lanes

This is an unnecessary tragedy. Being a regular user of both one-way systems and George Street (the alternative option) I would choose the one-way every time, despite the appalling cycle lanes.
In the North End, George Street has fewer light-controlled intersections, with cars turning across any road user's path. On the one-way, you only have to consider traffic flow in one direction. This is one less thing to think about, despite the higher average speed of vehicles.
In my mind the one-way system is the optimal place for a protected cycle lane. Removing an entire lane of parking from the Oval to the Gardens would be a start, and is probably the minimum requirement. This fits well with those who believe cyclists shouldn't be on a State Highway, as highways shouldn't have parking on them either.
Protected lanes have been shown to save lives and would arguably improve cyclist-drive relations as well. Yes, parking would be lost, but at many points in that area are expanses of ground-level car parks, which are a complete waste of space, crying out to be 5 stories high.[Abridged]


Checking before you open the door

I 've heard of new drivers in other countries being trained to open the car door (from inside the vehicle) using their left hand, thereby forcing them to twist around enough to actually look for approaching vehicles.
Condolences to the family and friends of this person.

Back to rail!

The call to ban cyclists from the inner city is ridiculous and made by obnoxious car drivers who think cyclists are fair game on any roadway. You know who you are. I have never experienced more of this type of road user anywhere in the world! Better idea is to get the trucks off the roads. Get freight moved by rail again and perhaps Hillside won't have to close! Why on earth does the main highway run through the centre of Dunedin? It is about time council focused on safe active transport options. Cycling in Dunedin is hazardous to one's health!


Thanks please don't see this as personal but I assume your response means you are keen to help fund these corridors! I guess you could say " but I don't ride a bike why should I help fund it?"

I am a cyclist and I pay tax, rates , rego and road users charges ACC and who knows what else. Cycling keeps me out of the health system. I once was 122KG heart attack waiting to happen now I'm 80kg according to a blood test last week Ii have a 1% change of a heart issue in the next 5 years. I am happy to pay my share of the health costs are you happy to help pay for safe roads?

Cyclist and pedestrians don't really mix. Most walkers tavel at 5-8 kph most cyclist travel at 24- 30 kph. I don't know what the answer is  but something needs to be done.

Cyclists on our roads

I agree that cyclists should not be on the main arterial roads BUT I also believe that motorists have a major responsibility to check behind them before flinging the door open. This does not happen any more.

I would query whether or not the motorist whose door causes such an accident faces the main charge of behaviour causing accident/death etc.

Harsh? - no I don't think so not nearly as harsh as the result of such stupidy is on the victim and family..

How many such deaths will it take before the authorities act?



So why do you continue to travel that route on a bike? It just defies logic that people like you put yourselves at risk by riding on roads that are often full of traffic. There have been numerous times when I've had to take evasive action to avoid running over cyclists in that area and other parts of SH1 and its getting a little tiresome having to do that. 

We need to remove cyclsits completely off our main roads and have them travel in designate corridors such as could easily be created near the rail lines. Bikes and pedestrians mix. Bikes and cars/trucks don't. 

Remove them!

Take the bikes off main arterial traffic routes!! Bikes and other traffic just don't mix! 

Cyclists have the right to travel around our city and that should always be so but please, a little common sense! They just don't belong with other traffic and the sooner we remove them to their own designated corridors the better for all concerned. 

Hospital parking dangerous for cyclists

I cycle this route daily and the number of times I have feared for my life outside the hospital "drop off" zone is too many to count. Just last Friday in the same spot I had to hit the brakes hard as a car just stopped dead in the in the left lane immediately in front of me to drop someone off.  A freight truck straight behind also took evavsive action. With the traffic lights on SH1 synchronised from Queens Gardens, the traffic has a lot of momentum when it reaches this spot. The DCC and Hospital need to review their parking/drop off criteria. Unfortunately all the day services such as fracture clinic/physiotherapy etc. are located on this side of the hospital. Make this area metered parking and entice people too Great King St for dropping off patients. Everyone will be a lot safer!

Cyclists on State Highway 1

I see that some are calling for cyclists to be banned from state highway one. While that may sound like an easy fix how will cycle tourists get to Dunedin? There is no other option. Evansdale to Waitati is state highway one and there is no other route choice. Ii live at karitane and often ride into Dunedin coast road, state 1, Mt Cargill Rd return. I see many cyclists on this route. What is the answer? Cycle path along side railline? 


Always check

You should always check before you disembark your vehicle.

Unless you're absolutely certain that you can get out and get your door closed by the time the cyclist gets there, just wait until they've gone past.

Common sense also suggests that if your on the same side of your vehicle as the traffic, you should probably wait to open your door until you're ready to get out.

Bikes and trucks don't mix

On November 14 last year my brother was killed when hit by a truck near Dunedin Railway Station. Improvements have been made to that intersection which is commendable. However, after yesterday's death of yet another cyclist outside the Hospital I am sticking to my origional conclusion, made at that time. That is, Dunedin's Streets are not suitable, as they are currently configured, for trucks and cyclists to mix in the same space. There needs to be a major review of - AND changes to - how the two can use the roads safely.

Keeping bikes safe from trucks

One easy and cost-effective way to reduce the number of accidents like this would be to prohibit trucks from travelling in the left hand lane of the one-way system. This would keep cyclists and trucks well separated.

Another cyclist dies on SH1

Cyclists are not allowed on the northern motorway and in my view, the authorities should change legislation to make that anywhere on state highway 1. It's just lunacy to continue to allow cyclists to operate so close to truck and trailer units. History has shown us that it the past. Time to make the changes. Now

White lines do not make cyclists safer

It is crazy to have cycle lanes which put cyclists centimetres away from heavy vehicles.   The cycle lanes along State Highway 1 should be removed.

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