Along with the article about red light running yesterday the Herald also ran a story yesterday with the headline of 10,000 fined for no helmet, some get speeding tickets. With the two articles combined its almost as if they were trying to paint all cyclists in a bad light as law breakers. 10,000 fines issued for not wearing a helmet might seem like a lot. Just to put things in perspective the Ministry of Transport say that helmet use is at 93% nationwide – that’s similar to the number of people that wear seatbelts. Today there are more cycling articles in the paper and in one the bus union leader peddling another perennial favourite in this debate – that cyclists should be registered. But motor vehicles are registered, surely that must surely mean they all obey the rules?
I’m not here to argue about the use of helmets or to defend those that don’t wear them. What the helmet article did though was get me thinking about how many infringements were issued to other road users. Thankfully this is a question that had been asked last year by one of our readers and the data he obtained shows the number of all traffic offences issued for the year 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012. All up (including the 10,000 for not wearing a helmet) there were a massive 1,615,741 infringements issued. So what were they all for?
Here are some of the common offences infringements are issued for.
- Parking offences – 7,000 (note this is only parking offences issued by the police).
- Driving while using a mobile phone – 11,700
- Alcohol or Drugs related – 30,500
- Intersection issues (i.e. failing to stop at a stop sign or traffic light) – 44,800
- Not wearing a seatbelt or not having a child correctly restrained – 58,000
- Car Registration issues – 122,600
- Warrant of Fitness issues – 125,300
- Driver licencing issues – 196,400
- And the biggest one of them all …… Speeding – 918,400
There are some big numbers in there, especially the speeding number. I guess vehicle registration really helped stop people breaking the road rules.
Some might try to argue that the lower number of overall cycling offences recorded is just a reflection that fewer people cycle. A quick analysis using the MoTs data about vehicle km’s travelled and cycle km’s travelled suggests that on a per km basis, cyclists travel further between infringements that other drivers do – one infringement every 28,000 km’s for cycling and every 25,000 km’s for driving. Another way to look at it is that cycling makes up 1.4% of all transport trip legs but only 0.7% of all issued traffic infringements. Suggestions by some that we should only look to improve cycling infrastructure once cyclists start obeying the law perhaps need to take a look at the full picture first. No one group is perfect and mistakes will be made. As I said yesterday the only thing we can do is to try and build our city so that if a mistake is made then they don’t have to pay for it with their life.
I also think that the comments made by Michael Barnett of the Chamber of Commerce were very good in this regard – even though he was also using the incident to push for the motorway to be extended to the port.
Chamber chief Michael Barnett says an Auckland Transport survey showing many cyclists running red lights does not excuse a lack of action on projects to protect them and other road users – especially large trucks – from each other.
Lastly the reader who obtained the traffic incident data above grouped it and compared it with the number of accidents that caused an injury. There were 9545 injuries in total and here are the results he came up with.