Eighty centimetres might seem plenty of room to spare, but for Alex King recently it was far too close.
The Gore resident narrowly avoided a collision with a young cyclist at the pedestrian crossing near the Gore Main School gates.
Mr King said he was still shaken by the incident, which happened about three weeks ago when he was driving up Ardwick St.
“I’ve been driving for 75 years and it is the closest I have ever come to hitting anyone,” Mr King said.
“I felt rotten in the sense I could have killed him.”
He had been aware of the cyclist as he approached the crossing, which was marked with planter boxes.
“He changed direction into my lane.
“I had nowhere to go.
“If I had gone to the right I would have hit the centre planter.
“I jammed on the brakes.”
This gave the cyclist enough room to carry on his way but he came within 80cm of the van’s mudguard.
At first Mr King did not tell anyone, partly because anyone he told the story to told him it was his fault and it was a frightening experience.
“I bottled it up ’cause I could have killed him.”
Finally, about two weeks later, he went to the Gore police station.
“It was getting at me.”
The police officer, whose name he could not remember, told him that if someone cut across in front of him he was not to blame.
Mr King also went to see Gore District Council roading manager Peter Standring, who suggested the planter box on the left had been shifted further in than it should have been, which created even less space for vehicles than usual.
“He promised me the planter would be shifted that day.”
To Mr King’s knowledge, it had still not been shifted.
Mr King was not convinced there still would be enough room for a cyclist and vehicle to go through the space.
His solution was simple.
“Get rid of the planters.
“I understand the planters are temporary but death is forever.”
Of even more concern to him was that he had seen a similar thing happen to another motorist a fortnight later.
Mr Standring said the planter could have been shifted by the vandals who had been upending the planter boxers.
“We’ve taken [Mr King’s] concern seriously and contractors are on to it now.”
Acting Sergeant Christopher Dunbar, of Gore, said there were many factors to consider when determining who was at fault in a situation like the one Mr King experienced.
Factors would include the cyclist’s position on the road, the speed of the driver and injuries that occurred, he said.
“If the vehicle’s travelling on the road .. and they haven’t seen that person and that person’s just cut in front of them, the person cutting in front of them on to the road would be deemed to be at fault.”