The New Zealand Herald is running a readers poll this week (see link) http://www.nzherald.co.nz/feature/story.cfm?c_id=1501154&objectid=10427070 on why cycling is so unsafe in New Zealand. As readers of road cycling's most popular website, we would like your views. The cyclist versus motorist has been an argument which seems to have been running for years. This is because it is an unwinnable argument, a circular argument. Who is to blame - those cyclists who ride all over the road or those arrogant road-hogging drivers?
As a cyclist who has been riding the streets of Auckland for 13 years I feel that I have something to offer on the subject. In all those years I have never once been hit by a car. Maybe this is pure good luck, or is it riding to the conditions and being aware of your surroundings? I do have those habits that every driver hates. I admit it. I jump red lights and I often don't stop at pedestrian crossings. But are these infringements so bad compared to the following that I have experienced:
• having a full can of beer thrown at me;
• having bottles of water sprayed at me as a car drives past;
• being "doored" twice and then verbally abused as if it was my fault somehow?
• on roads in Coromandel having a car drive past and someone lean out and push me off my bike into the gutter.
Over the years I have been cycling the sport has become "the new golf" and the number of cyclists on our roads is growing every day. The prevalence of cyclists is probably one of the causes of driver angst. But this is not only the answer. Drivers in New Zealand can be arrogant road hogs. This may be the result of New Zealand having a poor roading system between major centres with few highways having multiple lanes, meaning less space for car and bicycle. Or maybe New Zealand drivers are just plain inconsiderate.
The largest number of complaints in the Herald are about Tamaki Drive. I would say to those drivers who complain about Tamaki Drive in Auckland the following: you know it is a place where walkers/runners and cyclists ride and use widely as a recreational area therefore DO NOT be surprised when you come across large groups of cyclists. You know they will be there so don't drive that route!!
Motorists should also consider that for every cyclist out there, especially the commuters, it means one less car for you to sit behind in a traffic jam. For every cyclist out there it means less of your taxes being required in the health system for overweight people and those having heart attacks. For every cyclist it means cleaner greener air for everyone. And one of those cyclists you hurl abuse at could be one of our Olympic hopefuls who you will be eagerly getting behind when Beijing rolls around. So do not go abusing them as they complete their long hours of training on our roads.
But to cyclists I will also say this. Bear in mind that for every action there is a reaction. We all jump red lights every now and again and we all ride two abreast (as we are allowed to do under the road code). However ride to the conditions. Be aware of the traffic around you, and try not to scare the little old lady on the pedestrian crossing as you speed past her at 50km/h.
We would love to have your views. We have opened a post on the training forum for discussion or email email@example.com.