Call for increased awareness of cyclists

A real estate executive is calling for greater awareness of cyclists on Auckland roads after the driver who injured her was convicted this week.

Kiri Barfoot - a director of Auckland's largest family owned real estate company Barfoot & Thompson - was in a group cycling along Ti Rakau Drive when a car pulled into a driveway in front of her.

Two cyclists ahead of her managed to move out of the way but Ms Barfoot was too far to the left side of the lane and slammed into the back of the car.

The crash happened on a fine sunny day in July two years ago. The driver was convicted of careless driving causing injury on Monday after a defended hearing at the Manukau District Court.

Kong Au Yeung was disqualified from driving for nine months and ordered to pay Ms Barfoot $700 in reparations plus court costs.

Ms Barfoot told APNZ she prefers to ride in a group because she is more visible and drivers tend to show more respect.

She said when the crash happened, she had no time to react. When she hit the car he chin slammed into the back windscreen.

Ms Barfoot found herself on the road and knew that she had to get up.

"I went and sat on the grass and looked down and there was all this blood on my fluoro top''

Her cut needed six stitches at the local accident and emergency clinic.

Senior police prosecutor Sergeant Paul Watkins said Yeung turned left from his lane into the path of the cyclists and Ms Barfoot had nowhere to go.

"It was an un-safe lane change and he was not paying attention to the cyclists.''

Yeung's lawyer Steve Cullen said his client said he never saw the cyclists and indicated as he turned.

He said the defence case was that Ms Barfoot had a duty to look out for other traffic and to stop short of any obstacle. His client was found liable because his car was jutting into the roadway from the end of the drive.

Ms Barfoot said some motorists needed to change their attitude towards cyclists.

"A lot of car drivers think we should be on the pavement. Do people really need to be at work 20 seconds earlier? Does it really matter?''

Her crash happened four months before the death of British nurse Jane Bishop on Auckland's Tamaki Drive. Ms Bishop was killed when she collided with a car door and went underneath a truck.

The driver who opened his car door, Glenn Becker, was charged with careless use of a motor vehicle causing death but the charge was thrown out last month because the evidence didn't support that he was careless.

Ms Barfoot said the Bishop case has made her more conscious of the dangers on Tamaki Drive.

"Now when I go along Tamaki Drive where that poor girl got hit, I always go wide, stick my hand out so people can't pass me. I'm always looking at cars parked, so they don't open the door on me.''

Cycle Action Auckland is working with Auckland Council to eliminate pinch points where cars and cyclists are forced together by road layouts and other factors such as parked cars.

Spokeswoman Barbara Cuthbert said she is upbeat about progress since Ms Bishop's death but cyclists being cut off by cars is still a problem.

She endorsed Ms Barfoot's approach of riding in a bunch but said cyclists should move into single file and wave motorists past when appropriate.

Mrs Cuthbert said she has noticed an increase in mutual awareness and responsibility on Auckland's roads and said users have "turned a corner''.

A nationwide study of crashes involving cyclists by Otago University's injury prevention research unit found that drivers were primarily at fault in almost two-thirds of incidents.

The study of crashes between 2002 and 2009 also found that 60 per cent of drivers involved in fatal or injury crashes where the driver was at fault said they did not see the cyclist.

 

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