Driver charged over “dooring” death

A driver who opened his car door and allegedly caused a cyclist in Auckland, New Zealand, to swerve into the path of a truck will face a criminal charge over her death.
Nurse Jane Mary Bishop, 27, was killed while riding on Tamaki Drive in November.

She was cycling home from the city centre when she dodged the door of a car parked on the corner near Kelly Tarlton’s about 6.30pm, the New Zealand Herald reported.
She avoided the car door but was hit by a truck travelling in the same direction.
She was freed by firefighters from the back wheels and efforts were made to revive her but she died at the scene.
After a three-month investigation, police charged the 35-year-old driver of the parked car with careless use of a motor vehicle causing death.
Ms Bishop, from ‘East Sussex in Britain, was in NZ on a working holiday and bought the bike to get fit for her best friend’s wedding in May in the UK, where she was going to be a bridesmaid.
This case was the first of its kind in NZ. Two drivers also faced the same charge when they killed four other cyclists during the same week in November.
And in May 2000, Hayley Roseanne Britt, 23, was sentenced to 125 hours of community work and disqualified from driving for six months after she opened the car door and knocked a 14-year-old boy off his bicycle and into traffic.He suffered severe head injuries and later died.
Cycle Action Auckland spokeswoman Barbara Cuthbert told the New Zealand Herald police were sending a strong message to motorists about ‘dooring’ cyclists and the charges “will stop someone else from making the same mistake in the future”.
Ms Bishop was a “popular and fun-loving” her workmates at an inner-city medical centre said.

Her death was the fourth of five cycling fatalities in New Zealand in that week in November.

Triathlete Andy Dye, who often runs and cycles on Tamaki Drive, was running towards Mission Bay with two friends when they came upon the crash.

The stretch of road was a “notorious corner” and a dangerous part of the route for cyclists, Mr Dye said.

“I always have to negotiate when cycling that. It’s such a tight corner and it’s narrow. And when you come around it, you’ve got cars immediately parked on the left – which is obviously where the car door was opened – and that’s notoriously dangerous.

“You tend to ride in the middle, so [vehicles] don’t pass you there and then pull over to the left when you’re through the corner, because it’s so dangerous.”

Three of the cyclists who died that week in November were hit by a car that crossed the centre line of a road near Morrinsville on Sunday.

Another was killed in Manawatu while training for the Lake Taupo cycle race.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce promised in November to keep a close watch on inquiries into the cycling fatalities to see what could be done to prevent more deaths.

He said it was too early to say if something could be done in a “regulatory sense”.

However, he told Radio New Zealand he would be considering “regulatory changes” following the “tragic series of accidents”.

There would always be roads that were shared between cyclists, pedestrians and motorists, and it was “crucially important” people took care with other road users, particularly vulnerable road users such as cyclists, he said.

“There’s no point being right s … if you have an accident with a cyclist because a cyclist will always come off in a very bad shape as we’ve seen in the last couple of days.

People needed to follow the existing rules such as speed and red lights.

“The only way we get to change attitudes is if we all take the view that actually driving on our roads and being on our roads is a job in itself that we have to focus on, that we have to be careful because actually things can happen that we will regret for the rest of our lives,” he said.

He rejected as “just silly” a suggestion from cyclists’ group Cycle Action that the Government did not care about cyclists because they did not contribute to road costs.

“Obviously the Government is concerned about cycling, concerned about safety on our roads and very concerned about the recent spate of accidents, both cyclists and non-cyclists”, he said.

Additional reporting: NZPA

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