ZB

Cyclist's death was 'preventable': Auckland Transport accused of not making changes earlier

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 9 Mar 2022, 8:32pm
Levi James tragically died on Saturday. Photo / Supplied
Levi James tragically died on Saturday. Photo / Supplied

Cyclist's death was 'preventable': Auckland Transport accused of not making changes earlier

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 9 Mar 2022, 8:32pm

An Auckland cycling group says the death of a teenager over the weekend could have been prevented if public calls to make the area safer for cyclists had been acted on. 

Levi James was killed while biking down Manukau Rd near the Royal Oak roundabout – a stretch of road that has seen safety concerns and analysis for many years, with suggestions not enough has been done to keep road users, especially cyclists, safe. 

In 2019 Auckland Transport began a consultation to upgrade the intersection and make it a safer area. 

The strongest feedback from the public at the time was to improve it for cyclists. Auckland Transport noted in the feedback document people felt this could be improved by adding a cycle lane or changing the junction's design. 

However, Bike Auckland chair Tony Mitchell said this wasn't done and James' accident could have been preventable if it had. 

"The roads have been dangerous for all users, for walkers for cyclists and for motorists as there's quite a significant amount of traffic trying to get around at once." 

Auckland Transport was approached for comment but a spokesperson said they were unable to make any further comments while a Serious Crash Unit investigation was underway. 

Mitchell said Bike Auckland had been speaking about issues relating to the area for some time but changes, bar a raised zebra crossing, had not been put in place. 

"There hasn't been the slowing of traffic, the reduction of speed in the roads leading up to the roundabout. 

"Manakau road is viewed by Auckland Transport as a main cycling route, and therefore should be Improved for cyclists at some stage, our question is why hasn't that happened already." 

Mitchell was "deeply saddened" by the teen's death and while he acknowledged there had been some good infrastructure put in place by Auckland Transport, it had taken too long. 

"We're going to continue to work tirelessly to help protect cyclists, our vulnerable road users and we're going to make sure that a thorough investigation is undertaken on this crash, so we can understand what went wrong. Equally as important now, is we need to make sure this doesn't happen again." 

Between 2014 and 2018 Auckland Transport recorded 61 crashes within a 50-metre radius of the roundabout. This included one resulting in a fatality, one with a serious injury and 14 with minor injuries. 

Levi's mother, Kim James, told the Herald on Wednesday she believed the 19-year-old was on his way to visit his grandmother when he was killed. 

"My mum had lost her husband, my dad, about two and a half years ago and he would visit her quite often." 

Puketāpapa Local Board transport lead Jon Turner said the community had been let down by Auckland Transport. 

The roundabout at Royal Oak from Manukau Rd in March 2021. Photo / Supplied 

"When you read the reason why they said they didn't do it, it was oh, we will be doing more work in the future so we'll save it till then. I mean that [the reason they didn't act] does sound like money doesn't it." 

Although the board's boundary finishes a few streets away from where the crash occurred, 
Turner said he still receives complaints about the safety of the road area. 

- by Katie Harris, NZ Herald