This post was written by Greater Auckland writers, with a contribution from Jon Turner, the deputy chair of the Puketāpapa Local Board.

A person died this weekend, riding their bicycle on a typical Auckland street. Our hearts go out to their family and friends.

We don’t know details beyond what is in the public domain: a person on a bike was in a collision with a car on Saturday, on Manukau Road in Royal Oak, and tragically they died at the scene. Some headlines mention a truck, but photos show an ordinary people-mover parked in the median strip. There are suggestions that this may have been a “dooring” incident; we don’t know.

Quite simply, someone isn’t coming home, and that is heartbreaking.

What follows are thoughts sparked by the ordinariness of this awful event, in an attempt to answer a question we feel every time this happens on our roads: where do we put our fury and our grief?

Being doored is a clear and present danger on our streets. Anyone who gets around the city by bike is hyper-aware of the omnipresent threat of a suddenly opened car door. The fear is that we either hit that door or swerve into traffic. And the terror is that the driver of a following vehicle may be unable to stop in time.

Likewise, for anyone who gets around by car, there is the omnipresent worry that the simple act of opening a car door might cause this to happen to someone else.

It’s awful that we even have a name for this scenario. It’s awful that this ever-present danger – the “door zone” – is designed into so many of our streets. It’s awful that a decade ago, an incident along similar lines led to a coronial inquest and promises of change… and still, so little has been done in the years since to prevent doorings happening again, and again, and again.

So where do we put our fury and our grief?

This weekend’s fatality happened on a road that’s identified in AT’s Future Connect planning documents as a priority regional route on the strategic cycling network.

Manukau Road is on Auckland Transport’s Regional Cycle Network plan. AT map shared by Nicholas Lee on Twitter.

Here’s what the road currently looks like. Parking lane, driving lane, painted median, driving lane, bus stop/ parking lane.

Remember, AT’s own Parking Policy says street parking should be removed if it endangers people on bikes. And it’s not like there’s any shortage of off-road parking in this neighbourhood. Every shop is a few steps away from a parking space that doesn’t create a door-zone danger strip for people on bikes.

A person’s life has ended; their friends and family are bereft. Other people’s lives have been changed irrevocably in a split second, because the road design did not protect everyone on the street.

The ripples go outward and onward, and will do for years. Those directly involved, and their whānau and friends. Those who witnessed what happened. Those who helped. Those waiting at home for who helped. Those who will follow up in days and weeks ahead with the distressing details of a life lost. And on and on and on.

We’re already at 10 road deaths so far this year in Auckland, and we’re only just into the 10th week of the year. These thoughts apply to all of these tragedies. Let’s not forget that AT has adopted Vision Zero. In their own words, from their own website:

“Vision Zero, an ethics-based transport safety approach, was developed in Sweden in the late 1990s. It places responsibility on the people who design and operate the transport system to provide a safe system.”

Who from AT will front and take responsibility and be held accountable for this needless death?

What happened on the weekend is not what anyone planned or imagined when they set out on their day, on an ordinary Saturday morning in late summer in Auckland. But our unforgiving streets made it possible. You could even say they made it inevitable.

So where do we put our fury and our grief?

The broader location of this weekend’s fatality – the Royal Oak roundabout and its feeder roads – was the subject of a safety improvements consultation in late 2019. Public feedback called on AT to make the roads safer for bikes. In fact, it was the strongest feedback theme:

Improving the road for people on bikes was the strongest theme in public feedback when AT recently consulted on upgrades to the roundabout in Royal Oak. (Image via Alec Tang on Twitter)

And yet, safety recommendations by cycling advocates were not acted on, even simple suggestions for tactical improvements:

A tactical treatment for Royal Oak roundabout as suggested by Bike Auckland in late 2019.

And improvements recommended by an independent safety review were not implemented either.

What makes all of this so sad and frustrating for us is that time and time again advocates point out these issues – and are ignored. The Royal Oak roundabout consultation; the changes to Mt Roskill, or Ash and Rata St; year after year, the list goes on.

Auckland Transport even admits it puts less weight on some submissions in favour of safety for vulnerable modes on the road. Here’s an AT Board meeting from September 2021, at which this is discussed. About 16 minutes in, board member Kylie Clegg asks about the value of doing minor improvements to the likes of Royal Oak and Blockhouse Bay roundabouts, given AT may have to go back and do it again properly later:

We’re reviewing feedback around cycling…[and] I’m just interested in that, in terms of how we keep working on these projects to achieve our climate change, mode shift and safety goals. And interrelated, we have just below, the high-risk intersection programmes.

I’ll take an example: Royal Oak roundabout where you read the consultation feedback and just sort of balancing what we can do now, and needing to do a number of intersections, versus getting it really right. So I think in some of that consultation feedback there was quite a bit about “we need to do more”.

So I’m interested in your thinking around getting it as good as possible and doing it well once, rather than going back. That philosophy.

Executive General Manager of Stakeholder, Communities & Communication, Wally Thomas, responds:

Just in terms of the consultation, the Mt Albert projects as noted there, we received, and we generally receive, a lot of feedback from Bike Auckland or members of Bike Auckland regardless of where the project is. We weight those, you know, we take on board community views, and those from not within the community, and kind of weight those in terms of our feedback.

I think, in particular Mt Roskill – Mt Albert / Mt Roskill projects have been requested by the community for a long time, and are well supported by the Local Board, so I think that project will go through reasonably smoothly, um but – but we do weight representative groups and individuals in the community, in the neighbourhood. I hope that answers your question.

Our question, again, is: where do we put our fury and our grief?

Auckland Transport: “We don’t have the money to do that”
Commentary by Jon Turner, Deputy Chair of the Puketāpapa Local Board

It is becoming far too common. A tweet expressing concern about a crash. A bland message from Auckland Transport that a road has been closed. Speculation flying around the internet, followed by the sad confirmation that someone – a whanau member, a friend, a colleague – has lost their life while trying to get around on two wheels.

It’s close to home. A road I ride regularly – on the way to Cornwall Park, or to Greenwoods corner. The roundabout that everyone jokes about as being so dangerous it could kill you.

I, like everyone else, was happy to see Auckland Transport consulting on safety upgrades to the roundabout way back in 2019. Sure, the initial design wasn’t too special, but surely they would listen to consultation. After all, they listen to consultation when it is demanding that car parking spaces be kept.

Sure enough, when the feedback report came out, the key theme of the feedback was to make it better for cyclists.

The response from AT was, basically, “we don’t have the money to do that.”

They talked about “being a Vision Zero organisation.”

They described the project as being an “interim project to address safety at this intersection.”

They ignored the safety review. 

They kept on-road parking right beside a gigantic private car park, as well as an underutilised council-owned car park.

They trumpeted a 647 million dollar surplus.

And someone didn’t come home from a Saturday ride.

It’s so hard to be working to get people biking, and seeing that work bear fruit, while knowing our road system is designed in a way that deaths like this will keep on happening. We have a goal to get 7% of Aucklanders cycling to work. Without safety for all users being a priority in any upgrade Auckland Transport makes, this won’t happen. If they won’t do it when the feedback overwhelmingly asks for it, where the safety reviews nearly demand it, and in town centres, how can we ever get there?

My partner tells me to ‘be safe’ every day when I leave on my bike. I usually laugh it off – I know the roads, I know how to ride safely. This morning, I hugged her extra tight.

A person died this weekend, riding their bicycle, past the local shops.

A person died this weekend, riding their bicycle, just down the road from a primary school. (What do we tell the children?)

A person died this weekend, riding their bicycle, on a typical Auckland street.

Where do we put our fury and our grief?

Community members placed flowers on the footpath near the site of the crash. Image via Alessandra Francoia.
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  1. Our thoughts are with this cyclist’s family.
    I always think when I go out for a cycle, that I might not come back. So many close passes. So much anger. And so little action from AT, Waka Kotahi and Police. Only once in the past 5 or so years since I have had a camera has a driver been censured. And that took 6 months hassling the Police.
    I feel the same about my (adult) kids who commute, and my little grandchild when she gets taken to daycare.
    It shouldn’t be like this!

  2. Thomas’ reply about weighting points directly at the organisation’s bias and lack of understanding about democracy. First, it shows that Auckland Transport are choosing to weight the views of anti-change locals over the population’s need for a cycling network. That’s not ok. Auckland Transport have the responsibility to deliver a safe system.

    It also ignores that people who are out there actually cycling on the streets have experience that is worth listening to about what’s unsafe. That they, and the people who want to cycle but feel it’s too unsafe, have sought out the organisation that advocates for improvements in order to support them. These members aren’t like AA members who are there for reasons like car insurance. They are there because they agree with Bike Auckland’s advocacy. The checks and balances are constant – people would cancel their membership if Bike Auckland weren’t saying what they agree with.

    Auckland Transport should be providing a safe system, and shouldn’t be weighting the responses or treating anything as a referendum at all. Unfortunately, this problem manifests throughout all their work programmes. Their whole interpretation of the legislation’s requirements for consultation needs overhaul.

    1. Those comments from Kylie Clegg and Wally Thomas.. all about why we can’t rather than how we can. AT’s Vision Zero diluted to meaningless waffle by their own stale and incompetent leadership, while another person just died on their watch. Hopeless.

    2. Without in any way ignoring the tragedy of the death(s) involved, I think you are wrong. AT are right to give greater weighting to those who live and work in the area than a ginger group trying to push their own agenda. However well intentioned. Presumably lobbyists for the transport industry also give feedback. Do you want their build more lanes, leave the parking in place, don’t dare lower the speed limit agenda’s to also be given equal weighting? Particularly as there are more of the pro-car lobby groups than there are pro cycling/pedestrians.
      I know there is generally very little local feedback on most plans. It would be easy for this local opinion to be lost amongst the louder voices of the professional lobbyists if every submission was given equal weighting.

      1. Bike Auckland is not “a ginger group trying to push their own agenda”. They are advocating for people who have been systematically marginalised, endanger, abused and – yes – killed, by the transport sector. They shouldn’t even be needed. It’s a system failure that they are.

        We have a problem that people get away with making prejudiced, misinformed or hateful comments about people trying to use a very sustainable, equitable and healthy form of transport. Unfortunately, describing Bike Auckland in the way you have fits into this category, even if you didn’t intend it.

        Locals can offer details, but they should never be able to delay or prevent a project required to create a network that is required for safety.

        Auckland Transport are wrong to treat consultation the way they do.

        1. “despite universal advice from Neurological experts that they save lives.”

          The evidence is that safe infrastructure saves lives. Helmets? Not so much.

          Just be honest. You hate cyclists.

        2. This statement is incorrect: it contains a logical fallacy: “Bike Auckland also campaigned against mandatory bike helmets, despite universal advice from Neurological experts that they save lives.” (My emphasis).

          Bike Auckland supports the use of helmets. Because helmets save lives.

          On the other hand, mandatory helmet laws cost lives. Thousands of them. They’ll never see the services of a “Neurologist expert” as they die early of cancer or heart disease.

      2. A ginger group vs those who live and work in the area?

        Somebody died.

        Maybe that person was just passing through, maybe they lived and worked in the area, it doesn’t matter.

        When weighing inputs, the professionals have a responsibility that extends far beyond some lobby group wanting more parks, or somebody wanting a rainbow painted crossing.

        Words can’t express my anger at highly paid professionals that are sitting in an office at AT, and (not surprisingly) find that by doing nothing they get paid the same, don’t upset the locals, and even if people die and get maimed, they suffer no consequences when they get into the AT transport supplied car and drive home

        Pedestrians and cyclists are vulnerable, not surrounded by a 1000+ kg steel cage and it is false equivalence to suggest that a cyclist lobby group trying to make safety improvements has no more value than a potential group wanting to keep parking so they don’t have to walk another 50m.

        Like others, I am pretty angry. I would like to express myself more; and having met Wally, have been deeply unimpressed by the caliber of people working at AT

      3. In the city centre, it is my experience that AT often give little weight to the views of local residents who are generally very supportive of changes to improve safety of vulnerable road users. So, DM, I think you are wrong. AT aren’t giving higher weighting to to view of locals, they are giving higher weighting to voices who want to maintain the status quo.

      4. Also, @dm, let’s be very careful when you say “professional lobbyists”. AA, Road Transport Forum, Voices for Freedom, Oxfam – these can fairly be called professional lobbying groups because they have a shedload of money behind them compared to grassroots community groups who’ve bootstrapped themselves and continue to live largely on volunteerism.

        Now, there’s a spectrum, and “being well funded” doesn’t mean “their aims are evil” any more than “having no money” means “their aims are virtuous”. BUT don’t for a moment induce false equivalence by implying Bike Auckland is “a professional lobbying group” like the Road Transport Forum.

        that’s plain silly and does nothing to help the conversation along.

    3. @Heidi you’ve nailed two really important points there about modern democracy and public participation:
      1. the relative influence of “communities of place” i.e. people who all live / frequent a certain geographical area, vs “communities of interest” (e.g. ppl interested in knitting (of whom many might join online knitting communities], people who care about the climate [of whom many might support Gen Zero], or ppl who are antivax [of whom many might support Voices for Freedom]).

      And the second is
      2. the degree to which we assume certain groups like Residents’ Associations speak for the majority in communities of place (which by definition have lots of people who don’t bother speaking up on all sorts of things, they just get on with life there ), vs how much communities of interest are represented by a specific group (like Gen Z or Voices For Freedom).
      In this respect it’s illuminating to look into how democratically those groups decide their policy positions (FTR, GZ do this very well, VFF very badly).

      Overall tho, we can say for sure that the place-based – specifically, property-based – biases in our local governance and democracy are really strong. And engagement teams have just bought into that and perpetuate it. I know, I work in this space all the time!

  3. Both NZTA and AT are same in regards to getting improvements to cycling infrastructure. If it affects traffic flow or parking you will never get it. The most frustrating part is they just say no to every idea. They never say it is a good idea lets see if we can find a way to implement it.

    1. My take on the issue of removal of parking is that it generally is not AT that object to removal and in many cases that is their preferred outcome. The real push-back to removal of parking comes from Local Boards who advocate or listen to the local/frontage shops that ‘will go out of business’ if the parking is removed.

  4. It’s not just an Auckland problem. We see similar attitudes across the country. As Heidi says the whole system needs a major overhaul. We have government agencies promoting cycling and the Road to Zero program but on the ground at local levels there is constant pushback. Hopefully when the Emission Reduction Plan is published – which should include a big push for cycling – the advocacy for cycling from community groups can be reinforced by government pushing down on councils to make the necessary urgent changes.

  5. “Likewise, for anyone who gets around by car, there is the omnipresent worry that the simple act of opening a car door might cause this to happen to someone else.”

    Unfortunately for 99% of people travelling in cars this isn’t a worry or even a thought. Like most cyclists I have almost been doored a couple of times but I have also had an extremely close call when driving a car on the open road. If I hadn’t been careful and slowed down before the car parked half on the road near a corner I would have either collided with freshly opened rear door of that car or the front of the oncoming car.

    We need raise awareness of the Dutch Reach and similar methods to avoidthese situations.

      1. In an ideal world I would own many more cars but almost never drive any of them. Here’s hoping we get there in my lifetime. I’m starting to worry we won’t.

        1. Max, owning a car means it has to be stored everywhere it goes, requiring parking – which impacts safety, urban form, access, public views on the use of berms and footpaths, and emissions. Owning a car means only really congested routes will seem more attractive to take by bus; without owning a car, taking the bus makes economic sense.

          We are wasting a lot of our money, collectively, on car ownership. The research is strong that higher car ownership leads to higher vkt in a causal relationship. My words were that we need to reduce our car ownership rates, and I don’t think you can argue with that. It doesn’t mean each individual owner needs to sell their car, or that enthusiasts like Buttwizard have to give up their hobbies.

        2. I would be surprised if the Dutch have as many cars as us. Cars are expensive, more so than here because they actually do things like exhaust tests. And you can ride bicycles over there.

          Wikipedia gives a figure of 837 cars per capita for New Zealand (narrowly beating the USA and Australia), compared to 499 for the Netherlands.

        3. Heidi – agreed 100%. I am restrained from pursuing my car-related hobbies, ironically, by the high cost of the car I require by default just to commute; which in turn, is higher because the transit system to not use it doesn’t exist, so everyone else uses theirs too.

          We end up with congestion, long commutes and push-back on building the kind of rapid & active transit networks that can get us out of this crazy cycle. And every now and then it comes with a terrible price that someone ends up paying.

        4. “837 cars per capita”?? Wow, that adds up to 4,185,000,000 cars for the team of 5 million. Roeland, you probably mean 837 cars per 1000 capitas.

  6. How and why do Auckland Transport have a $648 million surplus? On what planet does that make sense? How can they then justify their non-action on this, by saying they can’t afford to do the work to make the area safe? Heads should roll at AT…

  7. Thanks for a thoughtful article. It’s such a sad situation for everyone.
    No one expects to die when they go out for a bike ride, and my heart sank when I read the news. If I ever mention that I cycle to work/for fun – the main reaction from friends is shock and concern about my safety, and this news reinforces why.
    I am not sure what it will take for Auckland Transport to take this seriously and implement safe cycle lanes and intersections – if not this, then what?
    Another challenge around driver’s attitudes towards cyclists – they are really aggressive, drive closely next to you and really don’t want us on the road – quite literally I was yelled at to “get off the road” on Pitt Street last week. Is education or culture change possible? Maybe, but it will take a long time, so safer infrastructure is so important. The more cyclists there are, the safer we will be.
    Totally disappointed that they are “weighting” feedback from Greater Auckland/Bike Auckland members – I will not tick that box next time I provide feedback.

  8. So tragic and avoidable. I was ‘doored’ on Ponsonby Road, one of our main shopping and hospo districts, an area where if you can’t make it safe for pedestrains and bikes then where can you? I was left with 9 stiches in my knee but could have easily died had traffic been following as I was splatted into the middle of the lane. I don’t think the below comment even remotely replies to the guy in the ute who swung his door open without a second glance

    ‘Likewise, for anyone who gets around by car, there is the omnipresent worry that the simple act of opening a car door might cause this to happen to someone else.’

    Yeah right! Don’t think i’ve ever seen a safety campaign on one of the most common and dangerous biking accindents.

    1. My daughter was also footed on Ponsonby Rd and miraculously escaped with a broken finger , although her bike was run over by a following vehicle. The psychological damage has been huge though and she has gone from being a confident everyday cyclist to taking the bus and driving

        1. Yes, I was trying to envision how a cyclist might be “footed”. No doubt it’s possible.

  9. Wally Thomas’ reply was awful. But watch the video: the Board member who asked the question gave the thumbs up! Why? In what way was her question answered?

    I’m not sure what is worse. The answer from the comms manager. Or everyone present – CE, Chair, Board, ELT, allowing that answer to sit.

    1. +1

      That is truly depressing. The question wasn’t remotely answered, just a response that confirms that “locals” are prioritised.

      (Speaking as both a local and a cyclist I wonder how Wally “weighted” my submission??)


    “The Safe System approach acknowledges that as people we all make mistakes; a mistake should not mean someone dies or is seriously injured on our roads. It’s also an approach that values everyone using the road, not just those in vehicles. It is about caring for more vulnerable road users like people walking or cycling, children and the elderly. Vision Zero is the international benchmark for transport safety.”

    How can they have something so disconnected from the reality on their website.

    1. I’m so sorry for this cyclist and their family and friends.

      Even the wording of “vulnerable road users” is all wrong for a focus on safety. If we starting using the terms “road users” and “dangerous road users” (for those in powered vehicles) it would be clearer where the emphasis lies. We shouldn’t be asking the vulnerable to be less vulnerable, we should be asking the hazards to remove themselves.

  11. There may be safety in numbers coming. The herald is quoting JP Morgan that Brent crude may hit $185 a barrel by the end of the year. I expect this would switch a bit of mode shift. We could even run out wouldn’t that be funny.

  12. An engineer has had to sign off on the plans at some point.

    If a building kills people because it was designed poorly, with the safety reviews talking about the shortfalls, and members of the public point out flaws on public record. You would be spending a lot of time in a courtroom, and would have your chartership removed.

    If many people die or are injured on this section of road, with safety reviews telling you it’s dangerous, and you still sign off, where is the reaction? Maybe the government needs to step in and make vision zero enforceable with legal responsibility laid at the feet of designers. “You were told that not adding bike lanes and keeping parking was dangerous, you chose to ignore that recommendation, you are responsible and cannot be trusted with engineering systems that the public spends so much of their lives interacting with.

    I’ll give a more extreme example:
    The bike infra where you are expected to ride on the side of the Waikato expressway with zero protection from wandering vehicles, inside the barriers. Now they are planning on upping the limit to 110. So its already hilariously far from being vision zero compliant, they’re making it even worse (while acknowledging the danger for vehicles and spending heaps to improve barriers)
    They shouldn’t have been able to find an engineer in the country that would sign off on that.

      1. So if you have CPEng you shouldn’t work at AT and if you work at AT you shouldn’t have CPEng? Are the qualified people there responsible for everything everyone else does?

        1. Could AT function if no one with CPEng would work there?

          How many would have to resign before the problem was acknowledged and solutions found?

        2. I can’t think of much that AT do that requires a staff member to have CPEng. You don’t need it to be a board member or a senior manager. You don’t need it to be one of their project managers. Anything that might require it is probably done by outsiders.

          Surely anyone with CPEng working there and who sees that LGOIMA request below would resign their CPEng immediately. Why stick a target on your back like that?

          Responsibility and authority for what is on our roads rests with Road Controlling Authorities. The hint is in the name.

        3. I have had a light bulb full of vegetables sort of a moment in which I thought of one chartered engineer AT would be better off without.

    1. I am not sure that any of that is true.
      1/ There is no requirement for an engineer to sign off of road improvements. That is done by a manager somewhere.
      2/ The CTV building was deficient and fell down killing many people and nothing happened to the people responsible.
      3/ Roads are the responsibility of the Road Controlling Authority, not someone who gave the cheapest price to deliver a change specified in a contract.
      4/ Just try getting anyone to design anything if they sign up to be responsible for how others use it later.
      5/ That is a picture of something at Taupiri- ok I accept that is a true thing. It looks like that.
      6/ That would have been drawn, safety audited, the designer has to respond to the audit report and note any impact on budget, but then the client (NZTA) decides whether they will accept the designers comments or the audit report view. The NZTA is a statutory Authority tasked with deciding whether they want stuff like that or not. They are a part of government. I wasn’t involved but I can guess that one option was simply ban cyclists from the expressway.

    2. When I was employed in any organisation with its own internal standards, you would need to get signoff from management for anything that deviated from that standard. That certainly applies in this case, as the AT standard is a Dutch style roundabout.
      Many FOIs and I still have no idea who this person is, if it gets done, and if not, why not?
      There’s someone who did this! They are the one responsible.

      1. AT shows a picture of a Dutch roundabout in one of their many guidelines but I don’t remember anything that says that is their standard. You need to be a bit careful as AT have standards they require of developers and a much more lenient system they apply to anything they are doing themselves. External projects need to be gold-plated, internal ones just need to be cheap.

    3. AT does not have a sign-off process for their road designs. There is no Chief Engineer who is accountable for personally approving any design that is constructed. If you don’t believe me just pick any recent project and ask who was the officer responsible for signing off on the design.

      1. Actually, it is very easy to find who signed off the design. The Road Safety Audit actually has a whole section at the end where the person responsible at the Road Controlling Authority signs off design responses.

  13. There’s room for a more strategic consultation here I think – to ask people who aren’t cyclists which designs they’d prefer to give them (and other people) safe cycling options. And don’t give ‘none’ as an option. There’s no point asking for general feedback on a cycling-friendly design for individual projects – people just don’t like change in their neighbourhood if they think it impacts their ease of driving. Even in the Netherlands, car drivers go full chicken little about it. Give people limited options, then implement the preferred designs without giving time-rich local boomers the opportunitiy to override cycling infrastructure by way of whinge-enabling consultation.

    1. There is no need to be generationalist! I am a boomer, I want cycling infrastructure.
      I think you will find that a lot of opposition is younger, with money, who have bought into the area and drives their kid to school in their SUV or double cab ute.

    2. Unfortunately non car centric transport advocates are seen as too often as cranks always to be resisted. This is most evident at a political level, but is also very pervasive within our transport/roading authorities that have largely evolved under “car is king” previous political governance both nationally and regionally.

      National, have laid out clearly with Luxton’s State of a Nation speech yesterday, and the Auckland Mayoralty candidates that it is endorsing, that elect them to consolidate car privilege. Hence their pledge to stop the Auckland fuel tax.

      Unfortunately I fear that that the Labour mayoral hopeful’s pledge of making public transport free will neither gain enough votes, or if implemented, give the most relief from our current transport woes.

      Whist reducing the prices of public transport journeys is laudible, by far the biggest priority here is making existing journey provision more reliable and faster, followed by extending the reach and hours of public transport services.
      Free, but crappy public transport will do more harm then good.

      1. The crazy thing is that building safe cycling facilities is waaaaaaay cheaper than any roading project could ever be (not including moving services, that’s a separate line item that gets bundled in, inflating project costs).
        The party of business should surely side with that?

  14. You don’t owe any driver any courtesy that compromises your safety.

    Hold the lane.

    On narrow lanes, roundabouts and their approaches, by on-street parking, build-outs and chicanes, hold the *whole* lane.

    Practice holding it somewhere quiet, just to get over the impulse to skootch left.
    I promise you this is harder than it sounds.

    Cyclists are most likely to get hurt or killed by vehicle impacts from the side, or by dooring. You reduce your chance of this by tactically blocking drivers from passing and allowing yourself ample clearance.

    1. Totally agree about taking and holding the lane – but sadly, driver education is lacking even with professional drivers. I tried this last Sunday on the narrow left lane of Mt Albert Road (as it approaches the roundabout near the scene of this awful and tragic death) and was deliberately close-passed twice by a bus driver, who when I caught up with him and asked why, was completely flippant “so what, I close-passed you?” and told me I shouldn’t be in “his” lane. I have reported this appalling behaviour to the bus company and police and thankfully am a robust enough cyclist to continue riding.

    2. And what should children do? Taking the lane is safer for people who are comfortable doing it, though it comes with its own dangers – and don’t forget that people who are at the receiving end of prejudice and hate for other reasons are more likely to cop the anti-cycling aggression from drivers if they try to take the lane. So taking the lane might actually be bad advice for some.

      Requiring people to take the lane isn’t part of a safe system. ‘Though I know you didn’t mean it was.

      1. Agreed Heidi & Jo,

        Using the system we have now you can improve the odds, but I would never call it safe.

  15. This is the reason I am not going to use Bike and also I will not let my kid drive the bike. We have been honked 200 m from the school while riding bike on the road and he is 6 year old, he mentioned me that people who are in the car looks more powerful that people who rides bike as they have give way for cars. Such a sad situation in Auckland, AT have blood is their hands.

  16. Zero chance I will ride a bike in Auckland or let my kids ride a bike. Cars roar down our street at 80+km/h (in a 50 zone). Even 50 is way too fast for a residential street if you want to make it safe for cyclists to share the road.

    The kid of a family friend was hit by a car while cycling – except he had already dismounted and was crossing a busy road at a pedestrian crossing. That’s right, a 10 year old couldn’t cross a busy road on his bike (one of the “safe cycle routes” according to the council), so he got off and pushed his bike over the pedestrian crossing, where he was hit by a car because the driver was distracted by his phone. Fortunately he survived (he didn’t walk away, because of the broken leg), and has made a good recovery, but until there is a serious attempt to a) build cycle-friendly infrastructure and b) enforce laws against distracted driving, then my kids won’t be getting on bikes in this city.

  17. I ride everywhere around town, but am super terrified of dooring, having had numerous near misses. This means I ALWAYS take the lane. Sometimes this leads to aggressive and abusive behaviour by drivers behind me, but usually not. I always move as far left as possible when parking stops, say when there’s bus lanes without parked cars, am always aware of traffic behind me and of my stress and likely driver frustration.

    But this means I essentially become a pace vehicle at between 20-30kph (e-bike). So the absence of separated lanes means I slow all traffic. Does the traffic model, which I guess says we can’t slow very important vehicles with road reallocations have this as as an assumption? I guess not.

    On street parking, usually free, is a scourge to all safety, obviously, but also to road efficiency. This is my point. Only dumb out of date methodologies would lead to its retention on urban arterials.

    1. I’m in this exact same boat (or bike, really).
      It’s amazing how many drivers take any opportunity to roar past me and my kid on the school run, including the numpty who overtook us on the wrong side of the road on the raised table pedestrian crossing outside the school
      My wife thinks I’m probably getting a rep in the neighbourhood for being the foul-mouthed cyclist; but you know, f*** those guys.

    2. Having been doored and hurled onto the road a few years back myself (luckily on a quiet street with no vehicle following), I now deliberately leave a clearance margin of 1-1.2m between myself and any parked car. I am very aware that on many roads this puts me into the path of moving traffic and that I will likely be holding some of it up, particularly on an uphill gradient when it can take me some time to get past a string of parked vehicles. So to make-amends / preserve-the-peace / disarm-potential-aggressors, I make a point of sharply veering out of the way as soon as I can, and giving a little friendly back-handed wave to acknowledge / appreciate / thank those behind for their patience. I shouldn’t have to do this, but in the interests of self-preservation / keeping-everything-harmonious / trying-to-give-cyclists-a-good-rap, I have found it a pragmatic approach.

  18. Where do you put your fury? At the ballot box this year – vote in people who will actually do something about this.

    1. We already did. Problem is that middle managers at Auckland Transport make these decisions with no accountability.

  19. This is a beautiful and affecting piece of writing. Can a way be found for it to be read into the minutes of AT board and Council?

  20. RIP fellow cyclist, family member, friend, regular person, could be me next
    LGOIA and OIA engineering signoff on dangerous infrastructure from now on.

    Doors, cyclists, trucks, kids

    AT – heads up – we expect and demand safe infrastructure

    Do your job or defend it in court.

  21. NZ needs a compulsory Vision Zero / Zero Carbon road design manual for new infrastructure and retrofits. (Exceptions by sign off only with liability if they are proven to be unsafe/> zero carbon).

    Where I currently reside the design manual is already compulsory, close to vision zero and being strengthened.

    What we dont need is 60 odd road controlling authorities all making different decisions that are not necessarily vision zero / zero carbon based.

    All infrastructure going in now needs to be vision zero / zero carbon, not towards vision zero. We dont have the money to go back later and add second upgrades.

  22. Thank you for this thoughtful article Jon. This cyclist was a wonderful young man, he had just left school in 2021 and had started University, he had a bright future ahead, many friends and interests, from a lovely family, who was simply riding a bike in his neighbourhood doing jobs and visiting family. You are right – someone opened their car door, he swerved, and the van behind wasn’t watching and killed him. So many are heartbroken, especially his family and closest friends, at this unexpected and senseless loss. Safety decisions need to be personalised. The cost of this loss of life for society, what this man would have contributed in his life to those who loved him and those he could have helped in the future, is vastly more than the cost of the roading upgrades would have been.

    On the other hand I know I am often tired, rushing and distracted when I am driving – so I know how easy it would be to have a moment’s inattention result in injury or death. Yes we need to remind people of this. But that’s why safe design is important – it’s essential we remove measures that rely on human factors from health and safety as much as possible. Eliminate the risk by removing car parks. Isolate cyclists from pedestrians and vehicles. Minimise contact between cyclists and others as much as possible. Engineer solutions with fences between cycle lanes and sidewalks. Yes, then you get to human factors and also ask people to look for cyclists before they open their door, and don’t use their phone while driving or get distracted by their children, and of course to look for cyclists and pedestrians and give them space. And finally you ask cyclists to wear helmets, have lights on and ride defensively. We spend too much time at the bottom of the hierarchy of controls instead of forcing more things up the ladder to be instituted. Who should be held responsible? Who can we hold responsible? How can we get money to be spent in the right places – not by ACC or in loss of productivity, but in preventative roading measures? What do we do about the other unsafe roads? What about unsafe cycle lanes (eg carlton gore road)? We owe it to this young man and all other cyclists injured and killed to keep agitating. Please submit your article to AT’s next Board meeting.

    1. Oh. Oh boy. Thank you for giving us some details. I’m so sorry. Please let the family and friends know that other people care. That we’re balling our eyes out, too. Some of us are working every hour we have available to try to stop this from happening again. It’s just wrong. This should never have happened.

      Some of us know what it’s like for families to be ripped apart.

      He’d just left school? Oh. This is just too hard to take. It’s just too horrible. And exhausting.

      Best wishes, FriendofCyclists. Take care of yourself and your loved ones.

  23. This accident has nothing to do with the Royal Oak roundabout. (Which in itself is actually pretty safe, more so before the recent ‘improvements’ in my opinion). The problem here is the parking on the left hand side outside the bottle shop, the right turning cars travelling south entering pack and save, and the corresponding single lane travelling toward the roundabout. It’s a tight pinch to say the least. Every parked car is a potential ‘dooring’ for a cyclist, but in this case riding clear of the car doors is either impossible when the traffic is backed up from the roundabout, or entails moving into the path of the ‘train’ of cars coming down Manukau road. It’s whether you have the balls as a cyclist to put up with angry drivers who feel they are being impeded by a cyclist trying to ride beyond the reach of an opening door. Absolutely tragic either way.

    1. You’re right about it being tragic, a tight pinch, and that putting up with angry drivers requires balls.

      The reason it has a lot to do with the roundabout is that AT give excuses against putting in good cycling infrastructure that goes like this: we can’t put in cyclelanes between intersections even if it’s a cheap thing to do, because without the intersection fixed for cycling, it’d be leaving people on bikes in danger. And we can’t put cyclelanes into the intersections even when we’re doing a fairly major change there, because without the cyclelanes leading to them, it’d be stranded assets, and we’d get kickback from the public for taking space from traffic. And the computer says no.

      And the roundabout is not safe by any objective measure. It’s a roundabout where many very experienced cyclists refuse to cycle.

      If the roundabout was fixed, there’d be fewer traffic lanes leading to it, and it would work as a lid on traffic in the area – which also needs Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and parking supply reduction to reduce traffic further.

  24. The netherlands often gets paraded as having cycling ‘figured out’. I think on one point we can definitely look at them for inspiration, which is Sustainable Safety in road design.
    It is great to have cycle lanes on the road to enable people to use their bikes, but it is not necessarily safe. The safety aspect is deterring a lot of people, keeping cycling numbers down and keeping investments down because ‘there are not a lot of cyclists using the infrastructure.

    In the netherlands, Sustainable Safety is based on five principles:

    -Functionality (of roads)
    -Homogeneity (of mass, speed and direction of road users)
    -Predictability (of road course and road user behavior by a recognizable road design)
    -Forgivingness (of both the road/street environment and the road users)
    -State awareness (by the road user)

    I think for New Zealand, homogeneity is the most important aspect.
    At the moment we have a road, and cram as many different modes in, resulting in massive differences of speed between road users.

    If crashes occur at lower speed differences they cause a lot less damage to the most vulnerable road user. Where speed differences cannot be eliminated types of traffic must be separated.
    Because of this principle the Dutch will never implement a combined bus/cycle lane as is common in NZ, for example.

  25. Who is to blame?
    • The cyclist for just being there, or not riding defensively enough?
    • The car driver for carelessly opening their door?
    • The van driver following, for not avoiding the collision?
    • Lawmakers for not imposing far tougher sentences for careless use of vehicles?
    • The road controlling authority for allowing parking where this can happen?
    • The road controlling authority again, for neglecting to act on warnings of such hazards.
    • The Ministry of Transport for failing to address a known and widespread safety-issue?
    • The Ministry of Transport again, for not mandating appropriately low speed limits?
    • Government and local bodies for not doing more to reduce vehicle-use and fund alternatives?
    • Vehicle manufacturers for producing billions of vehicles with this known hazard?
    • Legislators for permitting swing-doors and not mandating sliding doors?
    • Our whole global society for embracing, tolerating and prioritising a horrendously dangerous mode of transport that kills an estimated 1.3 million people per year worldwide and injures 10-20 times this?

    This tragic accident happened because we have collectively done nothing to eliminate the circumstances that so clearly gave rise to it. And because those who try to do something all-too-often opposed by pro-motoring interests.
    Where does the buck stop?

  26. All of this could have been avoided if the person opening their car door had taken a few moments to check the coast was clear before opening their door. Its hardly rocket science. I cycle along that road regularly, I live just around the corner. Yes it might be safer removing the car parking but unfortunately until you can educate road users (including peds) to operate safely there will always be “accidents”. The van driver may have been speeding or driving too close to the cyclist also but we don’t know. I’ve nearly taken people’s doors off while driving in my car who’ve just flung their door wide open without looking on narrow streets. The blame lies fairly and squarely with the people opening their door with total impunity. Look before you open. EVERY TIME.

    1. Yes when I moved here it was obvious that people were used to roads that are wide enough you can just open your door without looking. It was quite unnerving at first.

  27. which is treating the symptom instead of the cause. If there is true segregation between cars and cyclist (speed difference is too great for them to be on the same road), this would not have happened in the first place.

    Also, driver’s education is seriously lacking in this country. They should impose stricter rules to sitting the exams (theory and practical).

  28. I detest Auckland being a C40 city and I detest the UN and WEF and Auckland City who are pushing this plan without Aucklanders being aware of just exactly what you are up too. Do Aucklanders know your mass surveillance plans? Cameras everywhere? 15 minute cities? Who are you people?

    1. You utter tone-deaf numpty. Cyclists are murdered by cars and that’s your response? To whinge about evidence-based policy offending your poor oppressed religion of “moar lanes” and “moar parking”?

      How about you stop forcing your pro-pollution, pro-environmental destruction agenda on those who don’t want it, huh?

    2. Gary – thank you for your brain fart. Do you feel better now, having got that off your saggy tired old chest? “I detest the UN and WEF…” What the actual f has that got to do with anything? As Dary says, you are tone deaf to the argument and achingly out of date with the modern world.

      Maybe ruminate on the record road toll we had in 2022 and come back when you have thought of an answer on how to lower that…

  29. Where do we put our fury and grief? A. Better Education.

    You teach bike-riding school kids not to ride so close to cars that they can be hit by an opening car door. We were always told this as kids and I personally learnt this lesson the hard way as a child – but you get back on the bike again and you have learnt to be respectful of other road users.

    Notice how you rarely hear of other cars being car-doored that’s because car drivers out of respect give other cars a wide berth.

    1. so kids on bikes have to be more respectful of adults operating over-powered two-tonne machines and ride out in front of them hoping they are actually facing the front, not looking at their phones, or otherwise distracted by their mobile living rooms, and are happy to slow down to the peddling kid’s speed as they occupy the middle of the lane?… yeah right that’s gonna happen.

      who is the party here who needs to be more responsible really?

      what a frightenly car brain worm, selfish view-through-the-windscreen you have sir. I hope no children have be anywhere near you at any time.

      1. And just wait till they ride out in front of the cars at 10km/h.

        The dimwits will then complain the bikes are blocking traffic and need to get off the road. Its like listening to planks of wood.

      2. “so kids on bikes have to be more respectful of adults operating over-powered two-tonne machines”

        Exactly right. OR you could not teach kids to be respectful of overpowered two-tonne machines and have dead kids and dead untrained adult cyclists. I recommend the common sense approach – respect what can kill you. Also, remember car drivers have to have a minimum level of training dictated by the road code. You can see by cyclists’ antics many of them do not know road rules.

        1. We have had at least 60 years of road-safety “education” (I know, because that’s when I was at school), and although this has no-doubt helped the road-carnage problem from being worse, it certainly hasn’t solved it. The lesson is clear: a transport system comprising fast, heavy vehicles that are operated by vulnerable, fallible humans and mixes in close-proximity with other vulnerable, fallible humans is never going to be safe. The only answer is to engineer-out or procedurally-restrict all aspects of the system that rely on vulnerable, fallible humans getting it right 100% of the time, and stop dreaming that “education” will one day – somehow – make human beings invulnerable and infallible.
          Rail, air and maritime transport have come a long way in this regard, as systems have been progressively developed to ensure that safety-critical aspects do not rely solely on humans always getting-things-right to avoid a disaster. Road transport, by contrast, remains stuck in a time-warp where measures that would avoid large-scale human casualties are deliberately resisted.

  30. so you dont subscribe to the Greg Murphy “we all just need to be better drivers” school of thought.

    I think you just described Vision Zero – which if implemented in NZ would save many lives.

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