It’s often been a difficult relationship between two sets of road users at either end of the size spectrum.
The programme was first developed by the Cycling Advocates’ Network (CAN) and is now delivered in conjunction with the NZ Transport Agency, Cycling New Zealand, NZ Trucking Association and NZ Bus. Richard Barter, project manager for CAN, says the aim of the workshops is to effect positive behaviour change for both cyclists and drivers of heavy vehicles.
“A central theme that has emerged from recent workshops boils down to a goal that cyclists respect the free movement of other road users, and that all road users understand and respect the vulnerability of cyclists.
“The programme helps to build a general awareness of how people can minimise the risks and increase road safety by combining a bit of theory with practical exercises. Getting the two groups together has a profound impact; people end up talking, listening and developing empathy for one another,” Richard says.
Jonathan Stewart, a long time driver and now trainer with Rotorua Forest Haulage attended a recent workshop.
“We spent most of our time out on the bikes doing various exercises to experience, first-hand, the issues faced by a cyclist. My fellow trainer Wayne Sykes was astonished at how vulnerable a cyclist is on the road. This perception was further emphasised when the group lined up along the edge of the road and I drove one of our trucks past them a couple of times. The group then spent time sitting in the driver’s seat of the loaded logging truck and learnt about the handling characteristics and experienced the limited vision for themselves. This new mutual understanding quickly had the group suggesting ideas and solutions with a sense of urgency,” Jonathan says.
You can read a Rotorua Daily Post article about the workshop here (external link) .
Complementary to the Road User Workshop programme CAN is also developing a tool box for both the trucking companies and the cycling fraternity. Trucking representatives are contributing to development of these resources which it is hoped will include online videos, posters, and speakers who are available to present to driver or cycling groups.
More information about the workshops is available from Richard Barter, Richard@can.org.nz or 021 277 1213.