Cy­clists drive bet­ter, new re­search re­veals

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By SI­MON MAUDE

Keen cy­clist Jay Martin has a the­ory that’s nig­gled away at her for years that has now been proved true.

A study com­mis­sioned by Har­bour Sport shows young cy­clists make bet­ter driv­ers.

‘‘I’d heard the the­ory so much I ac­tu­ally thought it had been re­searched. But when I found out it hadn’t, I asked, ‘how are we go­ing to work that one out?’.’’

Martin is Har­bour Sport’s ac­tive com­mu­ni­ties man­ager and em­ployed vis­it­ing sports science students from the Univer­sity of Bath to con­duct a na­tion­wide sur­vey of driv­ing in­struc­tors.

Dozens of in­struc­tors and hun­dreds of their high school aged students were quizzed. The sur­vey found 88 per cent of in­struc­tors felt their cy­clist pupils had a ‘‘bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the road en­vi­ron­ment’’.

Martin, whose hus­band and 14-year-old son race a tan­dem road bike to­gether, says hav­ing an early, healthy ex­po­sure to cy­cling hones the senses.

Cy­clists have to be ‘‘high­speed de­ci­sion-mak­ers’’ who have good re­flexes and sit­u­a­tional aware­ness, she says.

Peter Shep­hard, na­tional vice-president of the New Zealand In­sti­tute of Driver Ed­u­ca­tors, agrees and says cy­clists get a head-start on other learner mo­torists.

‘‘The young per­son rid­ing has to make lots of de­ci­sions. As a road user this gives them an ear­lier op­por­tu­nity to heighten the higher-or­der senses and it gives them a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity.’’

The study found more than three-quar­ters of in­struc­tors thought young cy­clists had a ‘‘height­ened aware­ness of other road users.’’ More than half of the sur­veyed young cy­clists agreed.

New Zealand driver train­ing is shift­ing from an ‘‘in­struc­tional to coach­ing fo­cus’’ and learn­ing to cy­cle helps with that shift, Shep­hard says.

Har­bour Sport works col­lab­o­ra­tively with or­gan­i­sa­tions like ACC and Auck­land Coun­cil to sup­port and fa­cil­i­tate in­creased cy­cling in the com­mu­nity.

Photo: SI­MON MAUDE

Coded re­sponse:

A study shows cy­clists make bet­ter mo­torists, Jan Martin says.

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