Speed blamed for motorcyclist deaths

New Zealand Motorcycle Safety Consultants chief executive Allan Kirk said motorcyclists must always be prepared for the worst to happen. Photo / APN
New Zealand Motorcycle Safety Consultants chief executive Allan Kirk said motorcyclists must always be prepared for the worst to happen. Photo / APN
A spate of motorcycle fatalities has prompted police to warn riders to reduce speed. And an expert claims motorists can be "twits" after at least four riders were killed and several critically injured in as many weeks.

In the latest crash, a 45-year-old motorcyclist was killed when he hit the back of a 10-tonne tractor trailer as the unit turned into a driveway on a rural road near Morrinsville on Saturday morning.

Less than 90 minutes later at 11am another motorcyclist on a charity ride at Ohinewai, east of Huntly, was critically injured when he failed to round a bend and crashed into a barbed wire fence.

The accidents come a day after a mechanic in his 60s was badly injured when his motorbike and a car collided in Whangarei.

Four days earlier, on February 24, Christiaan Minnee, 36, died in hospital after colliding with a turning ute at Tamahere in Waikato, and on February 20, 72-year-old Jack Barnes of Hamilton died when his motorcycle and a car collided on the Brynderwyn Hills south of Whangarei.

The year's first fatal motorcycle crash happened in Taupiri at 10pm on January 4, when Auckland-based Chinese national Shixun Jiang, 24, crashed into an oncoming car as he tried to overtake traffic on State Highway 1B.

Speaking after Saturday's death on the Morrinsville-Walton Rd, Waikato road policing manager, Inspector Freda Grace, said police were concerned at the number of motorcyclist fatalities this year and urged riders to be cautious.

"The circumstances of this crash mirror those of a crash earlier last week that claimed the life of another rider and appears to be another avoidable tragedy," she said.

Mrs Grace said speed appeared to be a factor in both Waikato crashes on Saturday.

New Zealand Motorcycle Safety Consultants chief executive Allan Kirk said motorcyclists must always be prepared for the worst to happen.

"It's an equal amount of stupidity and unfortunate luck that comes into these crashes," Mr Kirk said.

"The driver simply doesn't see them for a variety of reasons. Therefore the motorcyclist has to be able to second-guess what that driver is going to do. In other words, be prepared for right twits."

Mr Kirk, who has been riding for 50 years, said New Zealand had a problem because many riders aged over 40 lacked experience.

"They're what we call born-again bikers who came back into riding.

"They were quite capable of controlling a bike in the old days, but bikes these days have improved so dramatically that now the bike can outride the rider. And these guys are getting into trouble."

Mr Kirk said many older riders did only about 2000km every year during summer, and that wasn't enough riding experience.

"They tend to lose the edge."

Another problem was target fixation, in which riders focused too long on something they wanted to avoid and instead ran into it.

Motorcycle and moped crashes 2001-2010

More than 13,500 accidents including 391 fatal, 3489 serious, 6281 minor, and 3454 non-injury.

Contribute to 7 per cent of the total injuries in New Zealand.

Risk of being killed or seriously injured up to 20 times higher for motorcyclists than for car drivers.

Crossing or turning in urban areas, losing control on a bend or head-ons in rural areas are the most common causes of crashes.

Source: NZ Transport Agency

- Natalie Akoorie of the New Zealand Herald

Cycle safety

Of course the rider on the HD that pulled out in front of me on Gordon Road on Friday evening was riding perfectly safely!  I used to ride bikes, I enjoyed it, and yes, some car drivers are nuts, but if you want to ride like an idiot, expect the consequences eventually.

Born again bikers

Mr Kirk is correct in what he states. I think the problem is those having a mid life crisis and go and purchase a "belly button bike" (Harley) and then think they can somehow ride it like a sports bike. You see it at nearly every bike rally, some Harley rider off the road at a corner that the bike just couldn't take.

I'm happy to take the flak from Harley owners (Don't park that jap sh*t near us), safe in the knowledge that when I come barrelling into a corner at speed, a dab on the brakes and a bit more lean will get me through.

You wanna ride like Rossi, you need a bike like Rossi. It's as simple as that.

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