As I write this, as a country we are still in Level 4, but due to go to Level 3.
As with the previous lockdown, I note the number of people out walking or cycling the streets.
I’m sure some of this is about getting out and getting some fresh air. However, I’m sure the cyclists appreciate the fact that fewer cars are on the roads and feel safer.
Watching some, it’s clear they may not have been on a bike for a while (me included).
A good proportion of the people who contact me write to me about cyclists. Recently, a retired farmer who has moved into town contacted me about nearly being hit a few times recently and why that was.
I must admit, I am a little confused by drivers who fail to give a fair distance between themselves and the cyclists.
When I have spoken at some events, people are surprised when I tell them they should give at least 1.5m when passing a cyclist.
As a community, we have got used to physical distancing of 2m between each other. So 1.5m can’t be that hard, can it?
A few thoughts and questions I ask myself are:
Do some drivers of vehicles think they have the right to use the road over cyclists? Is this because they pay duty on fuel?
Yes, much of the work done on Waitaki roads is partly funded by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and the money it has collected from fuel taxes/duties.
But that is not the only money used. Nearly half comes from the ratepayers of the district.
So, is it wrong to think that because motorists pay fuel taxes/duties, they have any more rights than anyone else?
I agree, some riders, like some drivers, need to think about how they are riding. It is not every driver who passes a cyclist too close.
It is true to say some cyclists ride in groups in the middle of the road.
With groups of cyclists, often a call goes up from the person at the back if a vehicle approaches, and the group moves to the left of the road if safe to do so.
Drivers should recognise the closer to the edge of the road a cyclist gets, the closer to the gutter and drains they get and that can also be a danger to them.
The next time you approach a cyclist in your vehicle, please remember – they have no roll bar, airbags or seatbelts.
Your vehicle is surrounded in metal and in a crash. Who is going to come off worse? Please give them time and space.
Finally, September is the month Students Against Dangerous Driving (Sadd) holds its annual main event around road safety. Fingers crossed we are released to at least Level 2 and some of the planned activities can go ahead. Well done to everyone for getting this far with the planning.
Jason Evered is the Waitaki District Council road safety co-ordinator.