No Police records of cyclists or cycle safety! What the…

People who were in Australia in the early part of the last decade will be well familiar with the phrase “Not happy, Jan!” If you haven’t heard it, this 30 second vid will put you in the picture.

I had a Not happy, Jan! moment today when I saw a tweet that linked to a Greens press release. The Greens have made an OIA (Official Information Act) request to our Police force and discovered that… oh by the way they don’t record incidents involving bikes in their Community Roadwatch reporting system. That’s the one that holds the information when people report dangerous driving.

I feel really let down by our Police. What the heck are they thinking?


7 thoughts on “No Police records of cyclists or cycle safety! What the…

  1. atom

    cyclists reporting problems? our statistics don’t show any cyclists reporting problems.

    IIUC, the police are responsible for collecting this data, and then they provide it to NZTA for statistical analysis. this is broken.

    what makes this especially frustrating is that a SGT in wellington’s traffic unit recently told me that i should be using roadwatch, instead of filing formal complaints. until this is fixed, the only way to even be counted as a statistic is to file a formal complaint.

    forms are available from police or here –


  2. Simon Kennett

    Here’s another path to the various reporting options you have:

    Police do have the data from the community road watch system, but once they’ve sent off a letter to the driver, I don’t think the data collected is ever used. The problem is partly one of reliability, I guess. They have an allegation, but no more than that.

    When Police turn up to a crash, they will usually file a report. That data goes to the Crash Analysis System (which NZTA manage). That’s the data source that informs the road safety community more than any other. To a large extent, it sets the agenda. It’s a world-class system, but the under-reporting rate for cycling crashes is a real worry.

    One study suggested that only 20% of cycling road crashes get reported. So, if you have a crash involving a car, please report it at your local police station. It might be a non-injury hit-and-run, and you have no vehicle I.D. Still report it. Become a statistic! Make your crash count.


    1. And what about the near misses? There will be HEAPS more of them. As you said before, how can we fix danger spots without information about near misses?


    2. atom

      @Simon – i’m not the only one who’s filed roadwatch complaints with links to videos on youtube clearly showing what happened, and seen little or no follow up. it doesn’t matter if there is more than just an allegation, the system seems to be set up just to give people a place to vent, and maybe take some pressure off the police traffic units (which, at least here in wellington, seems perpetually understaffed).

      to date, the only feedback i’ve received from roadwatch was an email stating that a bus in scheduled service couldn’t be identified because the registration plate wasn’t captured in the video. hello… anybody home…? i’ve got the route number, place, and time: a phone call to the bus company FROM THE POLICE should be able to solve that mystery before the coffee gets cold. apparently that’s too much to ask. case closed.

      filed via roadwatch –

      their response:

      “Recently you posted a Community Roadwatch report to the Police.

      “In order to process Roadwatch reports we need accurate details of the alleged incident to identify the offending vehicle.

      “Unfortunately, your report does not provide the registration number for the vehicle you have reported, and consequently, unless you are able to supply the correct or missing detail I am unable to proceed with this matter any further.

      “Thank you for providing your report and in so doing demonstrating your commitment to the ideal of improving road safety.”

      filing that complaint via roadwatch was part of an experiment and, sadly, the results support the hypothesis 😦

      i also brought that incident & video to the attention of the bus operators. i was advised that they’ve posted reminders for the drivers, and over the last couple of weeks i’ve noticed generally improved passing by bus drivers.

      metlink: 1
      police: 0


  3. Simon Kennett

    Well, at least you got a response, I guess. My last roadwatch complaint didn’t get one. And the Police didn’t investigate when my bike was stolen (the first, second or third time) or when my car was broken into. I guess this is all a sign of a lack of resources. They’ll still put a lot of time into murders, drug dealers and fatal crashes – not so much into near misses.

    Remember, the roadwatch system is about giving the police a tap on the shoulder so they can send a dodgy driver a letter on your behalf. If you want something investigated you need to go to the station and file a formal complaint. Preferably a complaint with some hope of prosecution. The trouble at the moment is that it’s not illegal to pass a cyclist at 50 kph with a gap of 50 cm – there’s no legal minimum gap. Potentially a driver could be charged with dangerous driving, but I’ve never heard of that happening (probably because the burden of proof is considered too high).

    So, what can you do (aside from lobbying for a new law)? Wear bright clothing and reflective ankle bands. Put your brilliant bike lights on the right side of your bike. Maybe get a Spacemaker from . Then start whistling…

    Some things in life are bad
    They can really make you mad
    Other things just make you swear and curse.
    When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
    Don’t grumble, give a whistle
    And this’ll help things turn out for the best…

    And…always look on the bright side of life…
    Always look on the light side of life…

    If life seems jolly rotten
    There’s something you’ve forgotten
    And that’s to laugh and smile and give your bell a ring.
    When that bus passes way too close
    But it’s not a lethal dose
    Just purse your lips and whistle – that’s the thing.

    And…always look on the bright side of life…
    Always look on the light side of life…

    For our roads are quite absurd
    And the law’s the final word
    You must always face the traffic with a bow.
    Forget about their sin – give the drivers a grin
    Enjoy it – at least you’re on a bike anyhow.

    Remember that cycling is quite superb
    Just before you’re squeezed into the kerb

    Life’s a piece of shit
    Unless you’re nice and fit
    Life’s a laugh and traffic’s a joke, it’s true.
    You’ll see it’s all a show
    Keep ’em laughing as you go
    Gliding past to the front of the queue.

    And always look on the bright side of life…
    Always look on the right side of life…
    (Come on guys, cheer up!)
    Always look on the bright side of life…


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