- By Laura Kvigstad, Auckland Council reporter funded by New Zealand on Air
Auckland Transport (AT) says there has been a 700 per cent increase in motorcycle deaths over the last year.
At the Transport and Infrastructure Committee on October 19, AT presented the recent death and serious injuries numbers which showed there were 16 deaths for motorcycle riders over the last year, compared to two deaths in the previous year.
AT executive general manager Stacey van der Putten said the data was shocking.
“In tougher economic times people do look for more efficient and cost effective means of travel and you can see that in terms of that new registration data. [There are] a lot of new motorcyclists potentially entering our network,” van der Putten said.
She said there were still a lot of questions around the issue but that it would require a targeted strategy.
Cr Julie Fairey said there was a trend of older New Zealanders getting back on motorbikes.
“Boomers are now buying motorbikes – those bikes are now bigger, faster, the road conditions are different, there are a lot more people on the roads and they are not always getting the updated training that they need to ride them,” Fairey said.
She asked if AT was helping to facilitate conversations around training for older motorcycle riders. Van der Putten said there was collaborative work happening around ACC’s Ride Forever programme which provide training for motorcycle riders.
“It is not a trend that is going to go away. It is about how we can improve education and understanding,” van der Putten said.
Howick councillor Maurice Williamson was critical of the data and said more information would paint a clearer picture of the issue.
“Across New Zealand, is the motorcycle fatality rate going up or is there something unusual about Auckland? If we are doing something wrong that would show up,” Williamson said.
He said data for motorcycle death across the country and vehicle kilometres travelled for motorcycles could help to unpack the issue.
Chair John Watson said it was a complex issue that needed more information around who where and how the deaths occured.
“If we have got the information then I think it is going to be helpful to get it out there because the last thing we want is people buying motorcycles and going out into a dangerous environment,” Watson said.
Mayor Wayne Brown was formerly the Land Transport Safety Authority chair and said the age of motorcyclist fatalities peaked on both ends of the spectrum.
“Between 15 and 28 [years old] you get this peak and it runs down; it runs out really flat – then there are all the guys, 45 to 55; who thought they would get back into riding a motorbike – they fall off and die,” Brown said.
AT has regularly been reporting death and serious injuries data to the committee and several councillors suggested the issue of motorcyclist deaths needed more information at the next meeting.