Monday, 5 October, 2009 – 12:29
The Cycling Advocates Network (CAN) is calling for a stop to cyclist-bashing on the roads and in the media. CAN’s call comes after four cyclists were injured last week on Auckland’s Tamaki Drive when a car failed to stop at a stop sign. Public and media response to the crash frequently featured abuse of cyclists.
CAN spokes person Stephen McKernon says “cyclists often endure verbal abuse from motorists simply for being on the road. A segment of the motoring public also says cyclists break the Road Code and are a nuisance, and so conclude that cycling is dangerous. When a cyclist is injured or killed, this abuse is amplified by ill-informed media and callous public comment. These extreme views imply that cyclists deserve to be injured or killed.”
There are about 1.3 million cyclists in New Zealand, compared to 2.5 million motorists, and most adult cyclists are also motorists. Given the high numbers of cyclists, crashes involving them are actually rare. Statistics show that for every cyclist in a crash, there are about 13 motorists in crashes.
And motorists are the direct cause of over 70% of crashes involving cyclists. McKernon says, “the evidence shows cycling is the safer mode, both in terms of numbers of crashes and their costs to the community.
It also indicates cyclists are no more of a nuisance on the road than motorists. We need to challenge ill-informed and abusive views of cycling when expressed by transport decision-makers, media or motorists.”
“Transport decision-makers may also assume this abuse equates with informed public opinion and voting patterns. In fact, neither is true,” says McKernon. “Cycling is one of New Zealand’s five most popular activities and is here to stay.
A third of our MPs are openly pro-cycling, including Prime Minister John Key. Leisure cyclist numbers are growing steadily,” says McKernon “and we have the opportunity to switch leisure cyclists to commuters, where significant economic and environmental savings can be made, and great social benefits gained. Even a small switch to cycle commuting can have big effects.”
“We can only gain if motorists and cyclists must learn to share our roads safety. Ill-informed cyclist-bashing does not foster a culture of responsible road use and decision-making. It also prevents us from enjoying the benefits cycling offers the community as a whole.”
CAN supports Cycle Action Auckland’s proposal this week to discuss provision for cycling with Auckland City Council, and the Council’s subsequent forum on cycling in Auckland. CAN calls for these discussions to move from cyclist-bashing to working together with respect for mutual gain.