Median lines may aid path sharing, crash victim says

A Dunedin cyclist smashed into by another cyclist on a shared path last week says his accident was a reminder care still needs to be taken in cycle lanes.

Shared paths were safer than mixing with traffic on the roads, but some median lines separating cyclists and pedestrians might not go amiss, Garth Christensen said.

The 69-year-old suffered a head injury when he was knocked from his bike on the shared path at the corner of Portsmouth Dr and the Andersons Bay inlet causeway about 5.35pm last Thursday. Mr Christensen, who was wearing flashing lights and high-vis gear, did not see the other cyclist coming until the cyclist, who was travelling ''somewhat faster'' then he was, was basically on top of him at the corner.

''My last recollection was a cyclist coming towards me ... and the next was talking to somebody in the ambulance - I was really sort of out of it - and finally someone putting a bandage around me in hospital.''

The retired electrical engineer said he was a keen cyclist who did not own a car and cycled everywhere. He bought his Vauxhall home because it was close to a cycleway. From his house, he saw more and more cyclists ''zooming along'' on the shared path below.

He did not blame the cyclist who ran into him, but thought, as more people were encouraged to cycle, it was a good time to raise awareness about all users taking care on shared paths.

Although he generally felt safer on cycleways than on roads, he had only ever had two crashes, both on cycleways.

''I spend time every year in America and cycleways are dangerous places for bicycles, believe me. ''He wondered if speed limits and median lines might be good ideas for shared paths in Dunedin.

Competitive cyclist Matt Dunstan said he thought median lines would certainly help.

If he was alone or with one other cyclist, he preferred to use shared paths because they were safer and smoother than roads or cycle lanes on roads.

He was always conscious of other users, particularly children, but sometimes found it hard to predict which way a person or cyclist might move as he approached.

If everyone stuck to the left, as on the roads, it would be easier, he said.

There seemed to be no good place for faster cyclists, he said.

''We get abused wherever we are,'' Mr Dunstan said.

Bigger groups would go on the road, but often cycle-lane surfaces there were covered in gravel. Drivers, even once the police, would signal for them to get on the shared paths.

''We don't really fit anywhere.''

The ideal would be separated two-directional lanes for cyclists, but median lines on shared paths would help, he said.

The chairman of cycling advocacy group Spokes Dunedin, Robert Thompson, also said in his experience shared paths worked best with a centre line on them.

''You get to a point where there's enough people using them [then] you have to make it work for everybody and say ... you keep left and pass on the right, and that should work well for everyone whether they are cyclists or pedestrians.''

It should be a matter of common sense, he said.

He noted the corner where Mr Christensen crashed was a particular issue, because of the poor visibility.

Dunedin City Council senior traffic engineer Ron Minnema said some paths were too narrow to paint a line down, while others had long sightlines, which meant people could see what was coming.

However, he had organised for a median line to be painted on a blind corner of the Shore St shared path this week and would investigate what sounded like a similar issue at the Portobello Rd/Portsmouth Dr bend.

There were road-user rules for shared paths people had to follow, but the idea was largely to ''share with care'', he said.

Rules for use of shared path
• A person using the path must use it in a careful and considerate manner; and not create a hazard to other people using it.

• Cyclists and riders of mobility scooters and skateboards, or other wheeled devices, must not travel at a speed that constitutes a hazard to other people using the path.

• If a sign or marking on the path gives priority to pedestrians or cyclists, users must follow the signalled priority.

• No user may unduly impede the passage of any other user, whatever priority the sign or marking gives.

Source: Land Transport (road user) Rule 2004

Thread closed

This thread is now closed. - Ed

What would be great . . .

What would be great for cyclists would be to have 'car culture' selfish people removed from any ability to drive on the roads in the first instance; especially those who write that cyclists should essentially be wary when they're around.

Good on you Dunedinite

Great to see that a long term Dunedin resident has such a positive attitude.

The people of Dunedin need to continue to promote community, and different people need to cooperate. However, I'm disgusted by some of the comments people make in these columns, threatening others for touching a car? This is not the Dunedin we love.


History and common sense

Tells us what's good for cyclists, Skillo. Not mixing it on the road or a state highway with cars, trucks and buses is what's good for cyclists.


You obviously don't live in North Dunedin

Everlast: BMX riders are often seen on North Road, complete with a decent helmet, therefore do have the same worry as other cyclists.

I don't need to provide you with any stats, as three recent deaths in as many years, in Dunedin that has prompted this whole cycle lane issue should be proof enough.

I note that you completely avoided answering the point on children having to use the road with little knowledge of the rules. In the interest of their safety, they must be allowed to cycle on the paths. [Abridged]


The 'car culture' brigade

The 'car culture' brigade seem to think they know exactly what's best for cyclists whilst maintaining the adage that 'the road is mine, and mine only'; no wonder so many cyclists get taken out by inattentive and selfish drivers

BMX riders

BMX riders do not have to worry about cars getting too close to them or trying to bully them off the roads, also I doubt very much that that cycle deaths are "frequent". Link to the stats please?

You will find that most adult cyclists do in fact have a car licence so there is no need for them to sit a test. But in reply, you will find there are a lot of idiot cyclists who do not care one iota about road rules, same as car drivers. I would not be surprised if those cyclists are the same car drivers that disregard the law.

BMX riders

Yes, BMX riders often do jumps, not often you hear of any getting killed. On the other hand, cycling on the road involves the possibility of being collected by cars, trucks and buses and deaths are frequent. Common sense would suggest a proper helmet be mandatory for road use but after observing many cyclists, I see common sense in short supply for many of them.

I do my own research when I find it of interest, but frankly I have no interest whatsoever in cycling. Other than that, I knew you would provide it to prove your point. From perusing it, it seems there is great expectation on young cyclists to be aware of road rules. Is it really expected that 5 or 10 year olds be conversant with road rules when many that have actually passed a drivers licence don't even know them? I'm sure there must be more to it than that and if not, it's time all road using cyclists be made to sit a test to prove their knowledge of the rules, like other road users must do.


Scenes and demands

While you're there making your scene, how about demanding that the Police actually do their job and enforce traffic rules for motorists as well?


Speedfreak43 - You will find that bmx riders do jumps so some may need them, most people that ride bikes in town are not athletes and I assume do not do jumps as they normally just commute around town.

Also below is the Law on cycling on footpaths, you really should do your own research.

NZ law -


Is it illegal?

Everlast: I picked my son up from school on Friday and sat waiting in the car for him for 15 mins outside the school. In that time i witnessed four adult cyclists. One was using the cycle lane and the other three were using the footpath and one of those was not wearing a helmet.

I wouldn't know if riding on the path is legal or not but if you care to point me to the evidence, I will happily pop into the police station, make a scene and demand that they enforce that law.

There was certainly no problem with riding on paths when I was last on a cycle (in the 70s) and even now, I wouldn't expect that young kids are  forced by this law to have the use the road .


That is illegal.

Your argument doesn't wash

Everlast: The BMX riders use and race with them on so your argument fails here.


What people are not realising is that a full face motor bike helmet is not practical as cyclists generate heat, so will overheat wearing such a helmet. Try climbing a hill while wearing a helmet like that. That is why they wear light weight and breathable helmets. Wearing a full face and heavy helmet in summer while going up a hill or long distance would be torture! People would be fainting all over the place.


The real truth

Everlast: Those not confident to ride on the road already had a place to ride. It is called a footpath.

Pictures say it all

He wouldn't be lookin like that if he was wearing a full face helmet. I have no problem with wearing a helmet in the car. I do it everytime I go racing so I'm well used to it. 

The real truth

The real truth is that the few motorists that get frustrated with cyclists do so because they are in too much of a hurry and think they are the only ones allowed on the roads, a very arrogant mindset indeed. When I drive my car, I have no issues with cyclists on the road whatsoever as I do not try and bully them off the roads as I know they have every right to be on them, plus I am aware of the law in NZ and abide by it.

From what I have read, the cycle lanes are being built so people that would like to ride their bikes can in a safer manner as they do not have the confidence to ride on the roads…yet. Other cyclists do not have to ride on them if they choose not to, as they have the confidence to ride with the traffic. I personally do not care either way if they get built or not as I mostly ride on the road.


You are wrong

Speedfreak: I have been saved a few times by my cycle helmet. Also, under your logic, walkers and runners will also need to wear motorcycle helmets… yeah,
right. [Abridged]


Effectiveness of cycle helmets

vSo... Vehicles without airbags offer little protection in a crash. Maybe useful if driving through a group of cyclists, but hit a truck and you're toast.

Time for all drivers of older vehicles to be made to wear a motorcycle helmet.

BTW speedfreak, I've crash-tested a few cycle helmets over the past four decades, including taking a header into the kerb. I've walked (or ridden) away every time, and I'm sure that wouldn't have been the case if I wasn't in the habit of wearing a helmet.

But I think we're OT.

Make cycle lanes safe

Make cycle lanes safe and usable and most cyclists will use them.

Have a think for a moment about Portobello Road, and the difference between a family with three kids (all on bikes) and a competitive bike racer out on a training ride.

Still think the same path is likely to be appropriate for all cyclists?


Effectiveness of cycle helmets

Cycle helmets offer little if any protection in a crash. Maybe useful if riding through a building site as it may offer a little protection from falling debris but for road use you may as well wear a tea cosy.

Time for all cyclists to be made to wear a motorcycle helmet.


The comment by everlast demonstrates well one of the reasons why so many motorists get frustrated with cyclists.

If the DCC and government is going to a huge expense to make separated cycle lanes, cyclists refusing to use them because "they have the right to be on the road" makes a complete joke of that expense. I call on the DCC and government to mandate that cyclists must use cycle lanes where such lanes are provided. The only exception would be if there was a reasonable excuse for not using the cycle lane; such as an organised road race.

Of course, I fully expect that there will be abuse from cyclists over this suggestion but if cyclists refuse to use cycle lanes then we all should question why we pander to their demands for separated cycle lanes.

On yer bike Ron

Painted median lines are a killer in the wet for those on two wheels. Even better on a corner. Well done.

I hate to say it...

But this was always going to happen. Two-way cyclists, two-way pedestrians all on the same path ...... and cyclists say cars are the issue.

So DCC, when do you roll out the plans for the seperate roading network with lighs and crossing for cyclists? After all, there was an injury and we know the moment there is an accident we need to throw in markers and trafficlights and rebuild the roads...etc etc.


That is one of the reasons I try to stick to the roads while riding a bike as much as I can, I find it safer. I too have had motorist waving to me to go on the shared pedestrian/cycle lane going from Vauxhall to the Andersons Bay Inlet, but I know the law and have every right to ride on the road (it is a choice cyclists can choose to make) so I either ignore the waving motorists or politely wave back at them, I have no idea if they yell at me as I have an mp3 player going. I was very surprised to read a Police Officer told you to get off the road! But then again I have seen the Police indicate the wrong way when going around a roundabout so I guess I should not be surprised that some do not know the law….even though they are paid to uphold it.


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