Roundabout markings contributed to fatal crash cyclist crash, coroner hears

Road markings at a Hamilton roundabout where a cyclist was fatally hit by a truck were not “fit for purpose”, according to the coroner.

Mike Leach, 67, was struck and killed while cycling through a roundabout on Hamilton’s Te Rapa Rd on April 5 in 2017.

The road was resurfaced two weeks prior to the crash and a Hamilton City Council contractor had been verbally instructed to change the road markings, but forgot.

The driver of the truck that struck Leach eventually pleaded guilty to a charge of careless driving causing death and was sentenced to three months’ community detention and 180 hours of community work. He was also disqualified from driving for 12 months and ordered to pay emotional harm reparation.

READ MORE:
* One mistake on the road should not have fatal consequences, cycle widow says
* ‘Bordering on negligence’ after cycle safety concerns raised months before death
* Rolled truck at Hamilton roundabout causes traffic delays

The road markings as they appeared in 2015 at the intersection of Te Rapa Rd and Sunshine Ave in Hamilton

GOOGLE

The road markings as they appeared in 2015 at the intersection of Te Rapa Rd and Sunshine Ave in Hamilton

As the two-day inquest into the incident got under way in Hamilton District Court on Monday, Coroner Louella Dunn said the hearing would focus on cyclist safety, as the cause of death was not in dispute.

Dunn heard from serious crash unit senior constable David Tidmarsh, who said his investigation found the road markings guided cyclists to sit on the far left of the road, which positioned them in the blind spot of vehicles.

This was a contributing factor in the crash, he said.

The markings were in breach of the Manual of Traffic signs and markings, which were recommended but not compulsory on council-owned roads.

The Manual of Traffic signs and markings said road markings should cease before the roundabout to encourage cyclists to center themselves on the road, to become more visible.

At the time of the crash, the road markings continued to the edge of the intersection.

Mike Leach is affectionately remembered as an engaging storyteller and a gifted teacher and tinkerer.

Christel Yardley / Stuff

Mike Leach is affectionately remembered as an engaging storyteller and a gifted teacher and tinkerer.

Both Leach and the truck driver were traveling north on Te Rapa Rd, when the truck driver overtook Leach about 50 meters before the roundabout and indicated to turn left onto Sunshine Avenue.

When asked if Leach saw the truck’s indicators, Tidmarsh said it was possible.

But based on Leach’s positioning and pathway straight through the roundabout, he said “he must not have known that truck was turning”.

Leach was on the left of the truck, and the driver said he did not see him before turning, and assumed Leach had mounted the footpath or stopped.

The front center of the truck hit the rear of his bike in the center of the turn into Sunshine Avenue.

Following the crash, council contractors stopped road markings 30 meters before the roundabout and a green cycleway encouraged cyclists to mount the footpath.

Ann Leach's husband Mike was killed while cycling in Hamilton in 2017. His red bike is now used by his son Matt.

Christel Yardley / Stuff

Ann Leach’s husband Mike was killed while cycling in Hamilton in 2017. His red bike is now used by his son Matt.

Hamilton City Council acting city transport manager Robyn Denton said Te Rapa Rd was resurfaced weeks prior to the crash, and the road marker was verbally instructed to change the cycle lane markings.

She said council staff were not aware of the mistake until after the fatal collision.

“Hamilton City Council accepts the cycle lane involved did not comply with Manual of Traffic signs and markings,” Denton said.

Following the incident, Hamilton City Council switched to written instructions, and an on-site check following completion. A council staff member would often attend and help with marking out.

All intersections that did not comply were also identified and corrected, she said.

The guidelines were introduced in 2009, but it was common practice to make intersections compliant when maintenance or resealing work was due.

Denton said although roundabouts were traditionally considered one of the safest ways to efficiently move traffic, it had recently been accepted that they posed risks for cyclists – especially two-lane roundabouts.

The 2012 to 2022 and 2015 to 2025 Long Term Plans did not include funding for large roundabout improvements, she said.

Although this year’s 2018 to 2028 plan included some funding, the council had reviewed crash data and did not deem the Te Rapa Rd and Sunshine Ave high risk.

Risk was determined by traffic volumes and crash data, she said.

Crash data was obtained from police, but was limited to crashes reported to police and where an officer attended. It did not consider near misses or smaller unreported crashes.

Reassigning the flush median strip to reposition cyclists on the road was sometimes adopted, as were “hit sticks” to protect cycle lanes and speed bumps to slow traffic and help cyclists feel more confident in the center of the lane.

“It [the intersection] is safer than it was but not as safe as I would like it, but I do not know the best way to treat it to ensure safety for not only cyclists but pedestrians. ”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button