29 Jan 2014

No changes to rules after cyclist's death

8:49 pm on 29 January 2014

The Minister of Transport has chosen not to make any changes to Land Transport Rules despite a coroner's recommendations following the death of a cyclist near Wellington in 2008.

Stephen Fitzgerald, who was 57 and a police superintendent, was hit by a large truck while cycling in Petone.

In January last year, coroner Ian Smith recommended that all cyclists wear high-visibility clothing, that there be a gap of one metre between the cyclist and a vehicle when passing, and that it be compulsory for cyclists to use existing cycle lanes.

Documents just released show that Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse told Mr Smith that making high-visibility clothing compulsory would be unreasonable, could potentially discourage people from cycling and adds an extra cost.

In a letter to Mr Smith dated April 2013, Mr Woodhouse said enforcing a one-metre gap between a vehicle and cyclist when passing would be difficult because police would have to judge accurately whether motorists were providing the required distance. He repeated that reasoning to reporters outside Parliament on Wednesday.

Mr Woodhouse said making high-visibility clothing mandatory is not going to improve cycle safety.

The Cycling Advocate Network said there is some merit in the recommendation of a one-metre gap.