TVNZ news is reporting on research by Ben Wooliscroft, Otago University on factors that deter people from cycling: ""We saw petrol being important, workplace facilities, cycle lanes are important as well, but the biggest barrier to people cycling was their fear, essentially, of drivers," says Wooliscroft." also comment from NZTA and BikeNZ

The right to ride a bicycle in safety without fear

Having enjoyed 10 years as one of Japan's 86 million unhelmeted pavement bicyclists and having endured the last 3 years 'sneakling' around the back streets of Christchurch, for me the greatest fear is that of persecution and prosecution by the police for my deliberate choice to segregate myself from the rivers of steel ( by riding on pavements where I deem this to be the safer option) . Bicyclists in New Zealand are subject to a $200 fine for riding on the pavement and $55 fine for refusing to wear a helmet, and it is aggressively enforced.

Of the 98% ( whatever the number) of New Zealanders who refuse to get around by bicycle, there may a large number who might otherwise choose to if they were encouraged ( by a change in the law and education campaign) to use existing extensive, but currently under-utilised segregated facilities.( i.e.'footpaths') and to ride without the imposition of having to wear a helmet.

I'm pretty certain that if all cyclists in Japan were forced to share the road with motor vehicles ( and to wear helmets), that we'd see a similar abandonment of cycling to that which we have here.

Japanese bicyclists (from all demographics) are patently aware of the obvious danger that sharing the road with comparitively large fast moving motor vehicles involves. The difference there is, that their authorities allow them the right to choose the safer path,-which overwhelmingly they see as being, where they exist, the pavements.

Alan Preston in Mangawhai,Northland


Freedom to choose and freedom from fear.

The main theme of this thread is the extent to which fear is a factor in dissuading New Zealanders from taking up cycling as a means of transport.
My contribution is inspired by the stark contrast between my experiences as a cyclist in Japan (most recently 4 years in Kyoto) and more recently (3 years in central Christchurch) in New Zealand.

My experience of cycling in Japan was overwhelmingly of freedom: freedom to chose the non-confrontational path, freedom to ride slowly, freedom to not wear a helmet etc.. but most importantly of freedom from fear: freedom from the fear of being hit by a car, freedom from the fear of injury and freedom from persecution by the authorities.

Anyone who wants or needs to cycle in Japan, does.
You could not generalise as to what 'demographic' is most well represented among cyclists in Japan.

In New Zealand, anyone who chooses to ride a bicycle is subject to restrictions on where we can ride, being forced to 'share the road' to ride as fast as we can go ( by implication,being on the road) and to comply,- or else to endure the fear of being prosecuted by the police.

Consequently cycling is limited to a very narrow demographic of (mainly)assertive young(ish) what I call
ófficer class'cyclists.

I have found riding in New Zealand to be fraught with restrictions and fear and I believe that until those advocating in the interests of cyclists accept and start addressing this aspect to promote cycling to the general public ( as opposed to just those who are willing to comply with the legal status quo) , we are only ever ( given the current automobile dominated environment) going to get more of the same....

Alan Preston in Mangawhai, Northland.