Safety: Who Ya Gonna Call…?

OK, so you’ve had a crash while out riding, whether with a car or some other hazard. Or maybe it was just a near-miss but it’s not the first time you’ve had problems at that site. Or perhaps some idiot driver has decided to do something incredibly dangerous and nearly cause a prang with you?

1887: Christchurch’s first bike crash? (c/ NZ Journal)

It can all be very scary, painful, annoying, and maybe even enough to make some people rethink their choice to cycle. But if something needs to be fixed to prevent future incidents, how will the relevant authorities be able to do something if they don’t know about the problem in the first place? I’ve already told you how to report maintenance-related problems, now here’s some hints about reporting safety issues.

  • Although all motor-vehicle collisions on our roads should be reported to the Police, many involving cyclists aren’t. It is estimated that only 10% of cycle collisions get reported. If crashes aren’t reported then they can’t end up in CAS, the Crash Analysis System database used to identify road safety blackspots. So the message is simple: make sure you report any collision with a motor vehicle to the Police, especially if you are injured in any way (If you are seriously injured, someone should ring 111).
  • Christchurch City Council used to have a Cycle Hazard Incident Report (CHIRP) system, a simple method of capturing information on cycle collisions and hazards to cycling that would normally go unreported. Many unreported incidents occur off-road on pathways or don’t involve a motor vehicle, so this provided a useful additional dataset. Unfortunately this is no longer available, but you could use the standard Council reporting system to register particular locations where you’ve encountered problems (but it is recommended that you contact Police directly instead for serious motor vehicle incidents). You can also use the Council’s new SnapSendSolve app to report things on the fly too.
This probably counts as a hazard…
  • Had a near miss, thanks to some dodgy driving behaviour? Even if there was no collision, for lesser transgressions you can submit a Police Community Roadwatch report; the police send the driver a warning letter saying they have noted this incident and confirm this by letter to you. The police will also store the report and it is available if they decide to prosecute or to deal with future incidents. Note that, to report someone this way, you must be able to identify the vehicle (i.e. get their licence plate number and a basic description of the vehicle) and also note the location and time of the incident. Forms are available from your local police station, or complete an online submission, or download from their website.
A bit close to be passing on the old Waimak Bridge…
  • If you have a serious complaint against a driver for careless/dangerous driving you may want to file charges with Police and request a prosecution – visit your local Police station and lay a complaint. If you take this approach they will ask you for a statement and you must also be prepared to be called as a witness.
  • Alternatively, if a commercial vehicle was involved, call/email/write to the company concerned, asking for a response. Most are very good about dealing with this kind of behaviour.
  • If the particular type of driving behaviour is common to many motorists, you may want to approach your local Council road safety coordinator; they may be able to undertake a road safety education/enforcement campaign. Or you could contact Spokes Canterbury, the local cycling advocacy group, and see how they can help to get some local action.
  • Not surprisingly, the Police can only go so far without evidence in addition to your word alone. Any photographic or video evidence you can get might be handy (another reason to keep that smartphone handy), and see if there are any people around who could act as a witness. You might want to even consider getting a helmet or bike-mounted video camera – there seem to be a growing number of riders adding these to their gear.

Despite the media hype, cycling is still generally a safe activity for the most part. But it’s important to know what your options are if things untoward do happen.

You want dangerous locations or drivers sorted? Tell someone about it!

3 thoughts on “Safety: Who Ya Gonna Call…?”

  1. Thanks for the CHIRP link. I hadn’t been aware of this service, so now sent in three reports and will see what happens 😉

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