NZ Coroner: Cyclists have a duty to other road users to wear high-viz

Comments came after 72 year old (wearing high-viz) was hit by car in New Zealand

by Sarah Barth   March 2, 2013  

Hi-Viz cyclist © Simon MacMichael.jpg

Another coroner in New Zealand has called for cyclists to wear high-viz following the death of an elderly man who was hit by a car.

Ian Grant Scott, 72, was actually wearing a fluorescent jacket at the time of his death in Green Island, Dunedin last year, but  Otago-Southland coroner David Crerar said that  it appeared he had not been fully aware of traffic.

He was also not wearing his hearing aid, fearing that it would get sweaty and stop working.

According to Stuff NZ, Mr Crerar said that shortly before colliding with the car, Mr Scott had veered toward the centre of the road, into the path of an oncoming car.

The driver was considered by police and the coroner not to have done anything wrong.

He said: "It can only be speculation, but if Ian Scott had been wearing his hearing aids, he may have heard the Honda approaching and he may have paid more particular attention to staying on the left-hand side of the road."

"In my view, it is always appropriate for those riding cycles on roads carrying other vehicular traffic to do all that they can to ensure they make themselves visible to other road users.

"Riders of bicycles, particularly on main roads, owe a duty and a responsibility to other road users."

These new comments come after New Zealand’s Ministry of Transport was said to be considering another coroner’s request to make high-visibility clothing compulsory for cyclists.

The coroner, who described it as a "no-brainer" and said it should apply to all cyclists riding in public at all times, made his recommendation in the case of a senior police officer originally from the UK who was described as “the face of road policing” in the country.

Jane Dawson, representing the Cycling Advocates Network, insisted to the coroner that hi-vis clothing would not have prevented Superintendent Fitzgerald’s death.

However, Brenden Crocker, a spokesman for the Ministry of Transport, commented that it was giving serious consideration to the coroner’s comments.

34 user comments

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The point about the hearing aid is ridiculous too. You can be riding in to a strong wind and hear not a lot. What about all these electric/hybrid cars that now make no noise? Should cars be compelled to tap their horn every 50yrds? Of course not, but to tackle driver speed & responsibilities seems to be an onerous, vote losing task, so blame everyone else....

I heard New Zealand don't treat cyclists well at all. And here's the confirmation.

posted by bikerdavecycling [71 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 9:13

5 Likes

Wow... Turns out the sleepy paradise of new Zealand holds a dirty secret... This is awful on so many levels. The hi-viz thing to me seems more of a way to ridicule cyclists... "wanna ride bikes, sure, knock yourself out, hut do you mind wearing this clown suit, it'll give us all a good laugh before we run you down".
My missus would love to move to New Zealand, the atitude displayed here puts le right off.

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [305 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 9:25

6 Likes

The story says "Mr Crerar said that shortly before colliding with the car, Mr Scott had veered toward the centre of the road, into the path of an oncoming car.

The driver was considered by police and the coroner not to have done anything wrong.

He said: "It can only be speculation, but if Ian Scott had been wearing his hearing aids, he may have heard the Honda approaching and he may have paid more particular attention to staying on the left-hand side of the road.""

So how on earth would HIViz have made him safer?

""In my view, it is always appropriate for those riding cycles on roads carrying other vehicular traffic to do all that they can to ensure they make themselves visible to other road users." But the problem was he swerved across the road and wasn't capable of hearing other vehicles!

""Riders of bicycles, particularly on main roads, owe a duty and a responsibility to other road users."" Can't argue with that, just as drivers have a duty of care to cyclists but nothing in these quotes would have been avoided by wearing Hi Viz clothing.

I wonder how long before a coroner eager to make a name for themselves over here drags this up as justification for their comments? Confused

posted by spen [86 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 9:33

5 Likes

How many witnesses were there who saw the cyclist swerving across the road? Was it just the driver who killed him? Was there any other evidence to support that claim?

Got to wonder...

posted by Paul J [644 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 9:56

4 Likes

You know when a primary school kid does something the teacher likes - say, paints a brightly-coloured picture with a smiling face for a sun - there always a few suck-ups who will then paint exactly the same picture, despite the fact that they were actually supposed to be doing pottery. Well the same applies to minor functionaries like coroners. When one says something the government picks up on, or gets in the press, there will always be sycophants who'll pile on the bandwagon as soon as they get a case that is even vaguely related. Kind of sick really, when their duty is to provide explanations, to the family of the deceased in the first instance, that they choose to lecture them instead, on something that was unrelated to the incident.

On another topic, are you stalking that lady- cyclist with the all-yellow kit and bike?

posted by ubercurmudgeon [168 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 10:14

6 Likes

I'm glad this has been reported globally. Ive just moved back to NZ and the attitude toward cyclists is like the UK in the 80s. This chump of a coroner clearly has no clue but neither do most of the public. NZ is so far behind it would be laughable if it wasn't so dangerous and sad.
Wish us luck, we're going to need it!

posted by timmah [5 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 10:17

3 Likes

I agree with the coroner

... and will comply immediately after all cars are required to be painted bright yellow as well

Buddha said:

Believe nothing, No matter where you read it,
Or who has said it, Not even if I have said it,
Unless it agrees with your own reason
And your own common sense.

mad_scot_rider's picture

posted by mad_scot_rider [555 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 11:16

6 Likes

So the driver that hit the cyclists saw him and noted that the cyclists changed direction AND STILL HIT HIM. I rest my case.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [494 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 11:51

5 Likes

Well, even in Oz (which is itself in a time warp) they say New Zealand is 50 years behind the rest of the world.

DevonJohn

posted by solkanofastera [24 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 11:59

3 Likes

I remember chatting to a Swiss guy on tour once, he'd travelled all over the world by bike, but the only place that he'd feared for his life on the roads was NZ (north island). He actually gave up and hired a car - the attitude to cyclists was apparently bordering on homicidal.

G-bitch's picture

posted by G-bitch [310 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 12:15

8 Likes

When did yellow become high viz? The sea of yellow jackets I see on a commute aren't any more visible than anything else on the roads, if anything you become conditioned to that same tone of yellow and see less of it. What you need to stand out is light - either reflected or battery powered. Doesn't have to be that sodding yellow all the time.

posted by Nick T [817 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 13:24

8 Likes

Oooh and flags too. Make cyclists have those long flexible flags attached. That should do it.....

Thinking

posted by Dazza_Tee [3 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 13:27

5 Likes

I have to say, I'm one of those who is not against hi-viz at all. I don't wear it on every ride, mainly evenings and nights, but when I see yet another commuter or teenager dressed head to toe in black setting off into the dusk with nothing more than a little red blinker, I always think to myself "Rest in peace, you silly muppet".

posted by chokofingrz [295 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 14:16

5 Likes

A red flag and limited to 5 miles an hour. Oh no, wait, that was cars wasn't it? I find that road users using their eyes and ears and brain are the safest. Lights are probably useful at night too. I don't see what colour clown outfit has to do with anything...

...

posted by AlexStriplight [69 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 14:53

7 Likes

Perhaps we should fit ice cream van sirens to all cars so we can hear them coming? Then would could make every road a 30 mph limit.

Pedestrians can wear a Mr Blobby-like cushion suits and crash helmets to minimise their risk of injury and wear bells on their trousers like a Morris Dancers so we know where they are.

Or, we could all take responsibility for our own actions and drive/ride/walk with consideration for others and the conditions.

posted by sorebones [110 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 15:30

5 Likes

I am too tired to argue, no, just no. Yawn



Suffering from Low Cadence.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1345 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 16:08

10 Likes

Coroners, doctors and other "respected" professionals should concentrate on the jobs that they get paid to do and stop pretending to be "experts" on road safety.

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [187 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 19:57

7 Likes

Cyclists should perhaps be made to wear yellow stars on their sleeves too.

posted by Some Fella [786 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 20:01

6 Likes

Some Fella wrote:
Cyclists should perhaps be made to wear yellow stars on their sleeves too.

...and to use separate buses... Wink

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [187 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 20:05

6 Likes

Surely drivers have a duty to other road users not to drive into them?

posted by Chuck [393 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 20:13

4 Likes

Now you're just being silly ; ) Don't you reliase all roads are empty of any obstacles that might slow down mr toad...

posted by northstar [1107 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 21:03

7 Likes

Proves one thing: Coroners are not omnicompetent. Hi-viz have the same properties as the duvet protecting one from the boogeyman.

Still smiling politely at a persistently flat chain.

velophilia's picture

posted by velophilia [39 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 21:40

7 Likes

I heard a politician on the radio today talking about how spending on H & S courses was costing the country a fortune ' yet you pass one test and can drive a dangerous weapon around for the rest of your life.'

If Hi Vis ever becomes mandatory it should only be so if motorists wear crash helmets as well.

Best be safe eh?

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1070 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 21:41

6 Likes

Surely the driver should have had someone walking in front with a red flag

posted by pique [18 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 21:45

5 Likes

I'd be happy to have my driving checked once every 5 years or so or sooner depending on driving history, so long as it was covered from my annual leave like jury duty is. One day refresh, if I pass all good, if I fail then I have to retake at my own expense. I'm sure the savings from the lowered casualty rates would cover the scheme and then some.

posted by Nick T [817 posts]
2nd March 2013 - 22:50

7 Likes

Remover silencers from cars? As far as I am aware being deaf is not an obstacle to either driving or cycling. ...and can car drivers hear a bike bell in their sound proof boxes, over the radio/music player?

posted by joncrel [8 posts]
3rd March 2013 - 11:51

2 Likes

Hi viz was designed to make railway workers visible at large distances from speeding trains. It works by reflecting invisible UV light into the visible spectrum, thus increasing the visibility of small visual targets at a distance. Large visual targets, such as a cyclist seen in front of car should not need hi viz to be visible. (If cyclists were allowed on motorways, that would be the context where hi viz would be beneficial). To work it needs plenty of UV light, and low levels of visible light, so its best used on dull overcast days. It has no benefits at night.

Like cycle helmets, the actual benefit of hi viz is actually quite small, but (also like helmets) its used as a convenient excuse to let drivers off the hook when they drive dangerously. (or in this case as a convenient distraction to avoid punishing a driver who may have been driving dangerously).

posted by joncrel [8 posts]
3rd March 2013 - 12:02

6 Likes

I ride with lights flashing and ensure I am visible to other road users, unfortunately you could have flashing strobe lights strapped all over and someone would still say they haven't seen you Confused

posted by martib [44 posts]
3rd March 2013 - 15:20

4 Likes

In other news, NZ scientists have discovered the sky is blue... Thinking

posted by dino [57 posts]
3rd March 2013 - 17:25

6 Likes

all very sad - as well as a duty to wear high viz - also the implication that cyclists are a danger on main roads.

For those want to speculate or simply view the circumstances of the "accident" and form their own view of what could have happened here is a link to a picture of the scene - the car would have had to cross on to the other side of the road to pass safely but was close to a bend - no prizes, think we've all been there. Coroner simply reflected the prejudices of a majority of population that roads are for vehicles and that other users can only be tolerated if they take precautions to avoid vehicles. Only hope had a good 72 years.

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/200106/cyclist-killed-dunedin-crash-named

posted by antigee [165 posts]
3rd March 2013 - 23:15

7 Likes