Eric Crampton blogs a list of recent Coronial recommendations, including:
- Coroner recommends quad-bikes be equipped with rotational towballs
- Coroner recommends that all farm houses be fenced off. “Mr Scott called for farmers and Labour Department officials to lobby the government to make fencing compulsory on all farms”
- Coroner recommends people wear hard hats when climbing ladders to prune trees (whether they should be required when doing other things on ladders is not discussed)
- Coroner recommends that you should have to have a licence to rent a nail gun.
- Coroner recommends restrictions on access to glaciers
- Coroner recommends helmets for riders of motorised skateboards.
- Coroner recommends warning labels on Coke.
- Coroner recommends mandatory high visibility clothing (not just vests) for cyclists.
The problem we have is Coroners only look at how to reduce deaths. They seem to often miss any requirement for balance such as whether their recommendations are practical or affordable – or if they may have undesirable consequences.
Lucy at Cycling Auckland takes issue with the last recommendation:
The Coroner made two recommendations, both of which I feel quite strongly would not help to improve cycling safety. Irritatingly, neither of them seem very relevant to the actual accident he investigated.
First, as mentioned in the media, he recommended that the wearing of hi viz should be made mandatory for all cyclists because he saw it as a “no-brainer.” He doesn’t present any evidence to support this view.
This recommendation seems oddly unrelated to the case, given that the crash happened at 5.20 pm when it was just getting dark and Stephen Fitzgerald was wearing both reflective hi viz stripes and functioning lights.
So it is not even relevant to this case – but the Coroner just thought it was a good idea. It isn’t.
The problem with both of these recommendations, in my opinion, is that while they would probably make individual cyclists safer if they followed them (although it’s arguable in the case of hi viz, because there is some evidence that drivers give cyclists more space when they look less experienced) overall they make cycling less attractive.
This is particularly true of the hi viz recommendation. Even riders such as myself, who have very little interest in fashion, would probably be put off by a permanent requirement to wear hi viz.
Because I don’t particularly want to walk around the supermarket or go to work in hi viz, such a law would require me to permanently wear a hi viz vest over my normal clothes. This would not only be hot in summer but also would be annoying to carry around when I reached my destination.
Obviously, of course, riders who actually care about how they look while riding – such as teenage girls or the Frocks on Bikes types – would quite likely choose not to ride at all if hi viz was mandatory.
I’ve yet to see a single person support the Coroner’s recommendation.