Monday, 10 October 2011

Safer Roads

What a beautiful day yesterday for my Sunday ride! A most enjoyable outing of 100km that took me from my home in Raumati south on SH1 through Paekakariki, Pukerua Bay and on to Eastern Porirua.

A slightly different route for me as I was taking a ride down memory lane. My first teaching job had been at Waitangirua Intermediate in Porirua. I rode by my old school and on to our first house in Whitby, where we lived when Kate was born on leaving Dunedin

Having passed down the familiar streets of Whitby I made my way to Pauatahanui to resume the more regular ride over the Paekakariki Hill to home.

Although an extremely pleasant ride it was marred by the number of crosses on the side of SH1 that brought me back to the reality of the dangers of what I love to do.

Everyday we venture on to the roads we are risking life and limb. We never know what dangers lie in wait for us. This is all too apparent to me when on my bike. Almost on a daily basis a motorist makes a poor choice or passes me too close. Unfortunately no matter how careful we are there are many out there who are not and are a menace on the road.

About 10 years ago my wife was coming home from a night shift at Wellington Hospital when an oncoming motorist crossed the centre line. The accident occurred just north of Pukerua Bay on SH1 before the median barriers were brought in. His car hit my wife's car head on. Remarkably Jo survived with merely a swollen ankle and glass in her face from the shattered windscreen.

As a result of my wife's potentially fatal accident I wrote a song called Money Taks which is on my Coming Home musical. Click here to have a listen. The song talks about the sorts of debating and arguments being tossed around at the time on the merits of putting in the barrier. My point of view would be that if they save only one life on an already identified dangerous road they surely should be put in.

Ultimately however no matter how much money is spent on making our roads safer the motorists need to be responsible to ensure the roads are as safe as possible. Motorists need to go more cautiously and defensively. They must assume that everyone else on the road might do the unthinkable at any time and be prepared to compensate for the poor decisions of others. I know as a cyclist everyday I am highly aware that motorists often don't even seem to see me at roundabouts and coming out of side roads, even with lights and reflective gear.

This blog has also been triggered by a teenager's death recently on SH1 between Otaihanga and Waikanae. Another motorist crossing the centre line on a dangerous busy road. The same debates have started up again as it did 10 years ago about the value of putting median barriers in. Can you put monetary value on people's lives? Why are we still debating?

What are your thoughts on putting in median barriers?

1 comment:

Lea White said...

I'm so sorry to hear your wife was in such a serious accident. Thank goodness she was okay! It must have been so stressful for you all! I often feel really sorry for cyclists and it looks really really scary when all the cars and trucks go past.