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2003: Year of the cycle?

2003: Year of the cycle?

Green Party MP and keen cyclist, Mike Ward is delighted at a much safer year for cyclists on New Zealand roads, but is still urging holiday drivers to watch out for bike riders on our roads this summer.

The Green Sports, Fitness and Leisure Spokesperson was commenting on figures released by the Land Transport Safety Authority (LTSA) that showed six cyclists had been killed on the roads so far this year -down from 14 in 2002.

"Most drivers are great," Mr Ward said. "The majority seem to understand that cyclists are entitled to a little wobble room and are prepared to delay overtaking until it is safe to do so, but a scary minority seem unaware of the risks they pose for cyclists by passing too close.

"Cyclists can be expected to swerve at any time, to avoid gravel, potholes, or parked cars, or because of inexperience or as a consequence of the draught of passing vehicles. The message is: if you can't pass safely slow down and wait until you can."

"With a bit of luck, and little patience by drivers, this year will represent one of the safest for cyclists." Mr Ward noted however that will provide little comfort for the victims, including the 771 cyclists injured in 2002 or a similar number likely to be injured in 2003, according to the LTSA.

"I hope holiday drivers will be careful passing cyclists on the open road this summer. Truck drivers should be especially carefully because of the turbulence they create.

"Cycling could be made safer and more attractive by designating road shoulders as cycle lanes, and keeping them swept. Separate cycle paths may take a little longer, but retaining the unused stretches for cycling when detours are constructed, would help. All new roads should include cycle paths in the design brief." according to Ward "Cycling is a great way to see New Zealand. It's healthy, non-polluting and cheaper than travelling by car. You can also see, hear and smell so much more than you can from the inside of a vehicle."

Mr Ward is a member of Parliament's Transport select committee and a keen cyclists. He is currently spending much of his Christmas holiday break cycling in preparation for February's Coast to Coast and recently raced his recumbent tricycle in the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge managing to beat his Green colleagues Rod Donald, Ian Ewen-Street and Keith Locke over the 160 kilometre course.

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