Ouch! That stings!

bee on a bike
Bike sting?

According to this morning’s Dominion Post, a “police sting” resulted in eight bicyclists getting $150 tickets for running a red light. The red light is located on “Thorndon Quay at the T-junction with Mulgrave St next to the railway station”. The article goes on to say that this route sees “up to 600 cyclists feeding in from the Hutt Valley and northern suburbs in the morning commuter peak between 6.30am and 9am.”

Let me assume for a second that 600 bicyclists went through that intersection on their way to work, resulting in eight tickets being issued. That would mean that 98.7% of bicyclists did NOT go through a red light; at an intersection that police identified as a problem. That’s something to think about next time the issue is raised.

CAN’s Patrick Morgan describes the police attention as “misplaced” and suggests that the infrastructure is to blame. CAN’s Alastair Smith supports this view, citing specific improvements to the intersection that have been presented to WCC.

Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said the council fully supported the police stance. “The fact that cyclists are merrily sailing through that intersection is unacceptable – they’re putting pedestrians at risk.”

If anyone is putting pedestrians at risk, then I’m on his side: I won’t defend unsafe practices, and “those bicyclists” really piss me off. But if these are stop-look-go red light jumps, then I think that police resources are being misallocated.

Meanwhile, Paris, France is the first capital city to specifically allow bicycles to go through red lights. Based on that article, it sounds very similar to an Idaho Stop Law and over the next few years we’ll get some data from that experiment. I’m sure NZ will get it right, just give ’em 20-30 years.

In the meantime, it’s still illegal (here in NZ) to go through a red light on a bike. Even if you’re smart and careful about it, you’re risking a ticket and fine. I’m not sure about demerit points, but if anyone knows, please post a comment.



16 thoughts on “Ouch! That stings!

  1. I’m one of those 600. I always stop at the lights. But I can’t really blame those who don’t; the design of the junction means that it’s actually perfectly safe to do a rolling stop in the LH cycle lane, check if anything’s coming down the hill, and then go through. This intersection is probably the best example I can think of of a case for an Idaho-style “treat red lights as stop signs” rule.


  2. I was particularly annoyed at the Council’s line that because kids cross nearby they won’t fix the intersection for cyclists. What’s wrong with having an intersection that works for everyone, for goodness sake!


  3. Malcolm

    I was rather surprised by the blunt response from the council. Not very constructive. They could at least have a look at possible solutions to improve the intersection.


  4. Chris Glover Kapiti Coast NZ

    Demerit points do not apply to cyclists because you dont need a drivers licence to ride a pushbike.I know because in 1994 when the stupid helmet law came to nz I got chased by pigs for not wearing a helmet and charged with failing to stop.I was found guilty fined 50 dollars plus court costs and advised I had 35 demerit points.I then rang LTSA to complain, they then contacted their legal staff and were told that demerit points did not apply because a licence is not required for riding a pushbike. The 35 demerit points were then removed from my licence


    1. Simon Kennett

      In about 2007 a rider from Nelson got a fine and demerit points for not stopping at a Stop sign. It came up for discussion in the CAN-Legal forum at the time.


  5. i picked up a $150 fine this morning (monday 20 Feb) for running the red light at thorndon quay / mulgrave street. i always slow down, stop for pedestrians if they are crossing, and move through if it is clear. i reckon about half of cyclists do the same…..


    1. Nigel

      I was wondering myself whether to bring this case up. I decided not to, because I believe (not sure) that slip lane is to avoid us getting crushed by turning long vehicles (think buses, but not only them).

      So in principle, no, but in practice, yes. Overall I totally agree with your idea of a slipway at the railway station intersection, but only because it is a major cycling thoroughfare and therefore deserves this treatment.

      P.S. The “shareway” sign and pole seem to have vanished. Maybe just lost in the foliage (will check over the next few days).
      P.P.S. As a user of this slipway, I find the hazard of returning to the roadway at the end about as dangerous as “taking the road” through the intersection.


      1. Nigel

        Just confirming the Karori “shareway” sign has vanished. I still have a photograph of it, as I once did a survey of the various types of shareway signage.


      2. Malcolm

        Thats weird. Maybe its worth informing the council that the signs no longer there. Might have blown away or fallen off, if not taken down deliberately by the council.


    2. Simon Kennett

      I think the Chaytor/Karori slipway snuck through because cyclist speed is low and there are relatively few pedestrians (but it still caused some debate at WCC when it was put in).


  6. Andrew

    I note that they also appeared to be ticketing cyclists that were going through the bus interchange.

    That actually DOES make sense, as I am quite sure a cyclist is going to get killed or injured going through there.


  7. atom

    I just found this –

    Land Transport (Offences and Penalties) Regulations 1999

    6 Demerit points —
    (3) To avoid doubt, demerit points may only be recorded in respect of an offence that—
    (b) concerns the driving of a motor vehicle (other than an offence detected by approved vehicle surveillance equipment).

    I think that means no points for offences committed on a bicycle (and no points for automated speed-camera tickets).


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