Coroner's inquest into cycling deaths expected

The chief coroner expects to make a decision next week about who will be appointed to conduct an inquest into 10 cycling fatalities this year, and possibly also looking at deaths in recent years.

Two children were seriously injured after being knocked off their bikes yesterday, and five cyclists were killed in three separate incidents on the roads this week.

A 15-year-old cyclist is in a critical condition having been knocked off his bike in Hastings, after he turned in front of an oncoming car about 5.50pm yesterday.

Earlier in Blenheim, a 12-year-old girl was hit by a truck while cycling to school and was in Starship Hospital in a critical condition.

The possibility of a special inquest was becoming more of a probability, Judge Neil MacLean said.

There were 10 cases this year awaiting findings, and an inquest would include road deaths over the past three years which were not yet resolved, he said.

He hoped to chose a coroner next week to head an inquest, although an investigation would not start until any criminal prosecutions had been completed.

Such an inquest could investigate whether there was a pattern to the deaths, and whether anything could be done to make improvements.

"Whether that will emerge I don't know, but I think we've got to make the effort to try and just see because I sense that the Government's anxious to be seen to be doing something appropriate about it," he told NZPA.

"It may well be it's just a series of bad luck and good weather and lots of cyclists out and coming up to training for (the race round Lake) Taupo and there may not be any more.

"But one has an uneasy feeling that that isn't going to be the case."

Waikato mother-of-three Kay Wolfe, 45, died yesterday after being hit by a car while cycling with friends last Saturday.

Another two cyclists were killed in the same accident: Mark Andrew, 46, and Wilhelm Muller, 71. Later that day, cyclist Patricia Anne Veronica Fraser, 34, died after being hit near Palmerston North.

British nurse Jane Mary Bishop, 27, died in Auckland on Wednesday after swerving to avoid a car door, falling under a truck on Tamaki Drive.

An Auckland Council spokesman said the busy intersection would be studied and changes made to make it safer for cyclists.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce said yesterday he would be watching the investigations unfold closely before considering any law changes.

There would always be roads that were shared between cyclists, pedestrians and motorists, and it was "crucially important" people took care with other road users, particularly vulnerable road users such as cyclists, he said.

"There's no point being right ... if you have an accident with a cyclist because a cyclist will always come off in a very bad shape as we've seen in the last couple of days.

People needed to follow the existing rules such as sticking to speed limits and obeying red lights.

 

 

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