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Low support for high-vis requirement

Friday 15 Feb 2013 5:09 p.m.

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A coroner's recommendation that all cyclists should be forced to wear high-visibility clothing has been met with widespread cynicism.

Cycling advocates say there's doubt it would improve safety.

Pippa Coom of Frocks On Bikes says visibility is important for cyclists but there are other ways to be visible on a bicycle than wearing a high-visibility vest.

“I wear skirts on my bike, I wear high heels, and motorists definitely notice me. Far more than if I was wearing a high-vis jacket and lycra,” she says.

It's a light-hearted take on a serious issue. Last year eight cyclists were killed on our roads.

Wellington coroner Ian Smith has recommended:

  • High-vis clothing be made compulsory for cyclists;
  • That drivers leave a gap of one metre from cyclists;
  • More education for cyclists and drivers;
  • Clearer rules around cycle lanes.

The recommendations were in response to the death of road safety police boss Steve Fitzgerald at a Petone roundabout four years ago. 

He was wearing reflective stripes on his clothing and had lights on his bike when he was hit.

But the Government says it doesn't want to mandate one item of clothing.

“There are a number of things cyclists already do, wearing headlamps, other reflective bands, lights on bikes,” says Associate Minister of Transport Michael Woodhouse.

The Cycling Advocacy Network (CAN) doesn't want mandatory high-vis clothing either.

“There's really no evidence that forcing people to wear high-vis all the time, on the waterfront or cycle trails, is an effective road safety improvement,” says CAN spokesperson Patrick Morgan.

Cyclist James Watson doesn't want to wear high-vis clothes, but thinks it's a good idea.

“It's really, really dangerous on the roads. I grew up in London and cycled every day and it's deadly here,” he says.

But Ms Coom says the attention on what cyclists should do and wear is misdirected because the majority of accidents are caused by motorists.

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