Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Biking Blame Game

Following a cycling death court case highlighting
the dangers of Auckland's Tamaki Drive, roading authorities say they can't simply remove potential hazards to make it safer.
Glenn Becker was on trial last week for careless use of a vehicle causing death. In Nov.2010 he opened his car door in front of cyclist Jane Bishop, who swerved and was killed by a passing truck. The carparks were after a road bend that created a "pinchpoint" for road-users during heavy traffic. The judge sensibly dumped the case, saying the site was inherently dangerous and Becker had been careful exiting his vehicle.
The trial was reminded that several parking spaces instantly vanished from Tamaki Drive after the accident. But Auckland Transport says the removal of more spaces needs public consultation: the Local Government Act stipulates consultation when parks are removed on a larger scale. This week Auckland Transport is meeting Cycling Action Auckland to "discuss" which parks need to go. An 'action plan' to improve the popular waterfront road includes signage, clearways, more cycle lanes and ramps onto the footpath to ease cyclist access, an education campaign, more police vigilance. Also being considered are traffic lights, widening the footpath or possibly constructing a boardwalk - all projects're expected to be completed by the end of next year.
WTF???!!! By the end of 2013???!!! When the council was staring at some serious shit straight after the accident, it removed some parking IMMEDIATELY. No "public consultation" wanking. It did that to reduce its culpability, swinging the blame spotlight onto Becker. But as Cycle Action's Barbara Cuthbert says, Glenn Becker "was the fall guy for the infrastructure - Jane Bishop was the victim".
The records show this has always been a cycling danger zone. Council should have taken immediate action YEARS ago, but now it needs to understand what "immediate" means - no pussying around with consultation, just do its job NOW, not stretch this out 'til the end of next year!
However this is not only a council issue: cyclists must pay as close attention to the traffic situation as motorists. After all, as Timaru Herald points out, cars will always be bigger than bikes...
The only party not responsible in this mess seems to have been the near-sacrificial lamb Glenn Becker.

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