As mentioned the other day, while my partner is really enjoying her new bike commute to work, it’s not without its challenges. At one crossroads intersection nearby, she regularly finds motorists driving across her path (despite her being on the priority road), and just yesterday in town she had a bus attempt to turn left (on a red arrow no less) as she went past. Despite having flashing lights and hi-vis accessories on her, it appears that (in)visibility of people cycling is still a fairly common issue. It was probably with this in mind that nearly 9 years ago the City Council decided to do some safety campaigning reminding people to look again, as described in the post from Nov 2014. Perhaps it’s time for another campaign?
When I investigated cycling fatalities in NZ a while back, a striking feature I noted was that more than half of the collisions involved a driver who did not even see the cyclist beforehand (or in a few cases, saw them too late). It’s a classic story that many of us have heard: “Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You” – aka SMIDSY. And for those who think that we should all be decked out in hi-vis to improve the odds – in my analysis it made no difference to the likelihood of being seen beforehand (which makes me think that the real issue is “Sorry mate, I didn’t Look For You”…).
With that in mind, the Christchurch City Council has started a new “Do we see each other?” campaign, targeting looking for other road users. The scientific name is inattentional blindness, probably made most famous in the cycling world by this road safety advert.
The City Council have personalised it by highlighting the stories of two road users, a cyclist and a truckie, involved in real incidents in Christchurch. Using bus displays, radio adverts, and the Trpt for Chch website, their stories are told, with the urging for road users (esp. motorists) to “check again” before making your manoeuvre.
I think this is a great approach, and I applaud the truck driver in particular for coming forward to lend his side of the story. As always, the challenge is how many people will heed the message and take a second look. At least in Christchurch we already have a reasonable number of people out there cycling, so I think our drivers are probably better (in the main) at expecting to see people on their bikes around town.
And while those of us who cycle will appreciate it if our fellow road users do check more carefully before crossing our paths, it’s probably a timely reminder that when riding you should also take a second look before you make a manoeuvre like changing lanes or crossing a road.
What do you think of this cycle safety campaign?