Transgressions on roads make for one-way trip to frustration

By David Thomson on Sat, 3 Nov 2012

Most afternoons of the week I drive south on Dunedin's one-way system, starting out near the intersection of St David and Great King Sts, and skipping off the one-way at the intersection of Cumberland and Jervois Sts.

This short but regularly repeated component of my motoring life traverses more than a dozen intersections and nine sets of traffic lights. It is, of course, part of State Highway 1, as well as one of Dunedin's major arterial roads, and carries a pretty heavy vehicle load, at relatively low speed.

Unfortunately, as well as being a frustratingly slow stretch for the half-hour or so after 5pm, it's also a place where I see some of the worst of Dunedin's on-road behaviour. In fact, having observed the behaviour of fellow road users with extra care over the past couple of weeks, it is actually a rare journey on this stretch of road that passes without my observing one or more flagrant breaches of this country's road rules.

It is motorists, as opposed to other road users, that indulge in most of the bad behaviour: aside from a basic failure to indicate when changing lanes or turning, the most common motoring sin I observe on this stretch of road is mobile phone use, including folk who are obviously texting, as well as those making conventional calls.

But motorists are by no means the only culprits: when it comes to running amber, or sometimes red lights, cyclists are right up there, too. A few weeks back I was stopped at the red light at the museum reserve pedestrian crossing, and was passed by a chap on a bike, who seemed happy to ignore the light, even though he needed to zigzag around some pedestrians making their way over the road.

This young man, who was riding a flash bike and wearing specialist cycling kit, then went right through the Albany St intersection on a red, without so much as a glance to his left or right.

Proceeding on the green, I was back on his tail before the St Andrew St intersection. I stopped for the red light but he (after a glance to left and right this time) just rode on through.

He did the same again on a red light at Queens Gardens, to bring his tally of illegal intersection crossings to four.

As I watched each of these transgressions, my feelings moved progressively from astonishment to annoyance, and finally anger.

While this may be starting to read like an anti-cycling editorial, it is not intended as such.

It's just that had any of those crossings ended in a collision with a motorised vehicle, you can guess who - initially at least - would have been regarded as the culprit, and who would have had to live with the guilt of injuring (or worse) a fellow human being: the poor motorist, of course.

Changing tack to what I hope will turn out to be a happier subject, Hayden Paddon will next week contest the final round of the S2000 World Rally Championship, in Spain.

After retirement from the penultimate championship round in Germany cost Paddon his previously strong chance of winning the S2000 title, there was some thought that he would give the final round a miss. I'm delighted that - with new support from Red Bull - Paddon will be starting in

It's an important opportunity for him to show how fast he really is, when able to drive without any consideration for championship standings.

David Thomson