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Much more to be done for cycle-safe capital

May 15th, 2009 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

graff-main1By Daniel Simmons Ritchie

CYCLING groups say the city’s roads remain dangerous despite Wellington City Council’s pro-cycling policy.

Alastair Smith, secretary of Cycle Aware Wellington, says Riddiford St in Newtown has had “stop box” cycle wait areas added but, without cycle lanes, these are useless.

“When [the council] redid Riddiford St outside the hospital it would have been a splendid opportunity to put in bike lanes,” he says.

The council finalised a cycle policy in November last year but work on it has been mixed, Mr Smith says.

Patrick Morgan, project manager for the Cycle Advocates Network, says implementation has been slow and poorly executed.

“We think their cycle strategy is a bare minimum,” he says. “It’s encouraging that they’re thinking about cycling but we think they can do a lot better.”

Councillor Andy Foster, urban development and transport portfolio leader, says the council is working on a review of Thorndon Quay to alleviate cycling accidents and working with commercial cycle-hire operations around the city.

“I think there are philosophical differences around the council table, but there is certainly a priority put on sustainable transport, of which cycling is a part.”

Councillor Celia Wade-Brown, who cycles to work four times a week, says the cycle policy is still in its early days, but she can understand the cycle groups’ frustration.

More funds for cycle development would be nice, she says, but how those funds are directed and co-ordinated will make the difference.

Mr Smith says cycle lanes and stop boxes need to be placed in strategic locations because Wellington’s one-way, multi-lane streets force cyclists to make hazardous manoeuvres around motorists.

Both advocacy groups say cycle lanes will not address all safety concerns and want reduced vehicle speeds and a focus on cycling networks.

Patrick Morgan says the draft long-term council community plan has not put enough money aside for cycling and that it should prioritise cycling to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

He maintains that Wellington is a great place to develop cycling as it is compact, the CBD is flat, and most journeys begin on a downhill slope into town.

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  1. There are some issues with car driver behaviour and expectation too, and a lack of real understanding that cyclists are legal road users. New laws across a number of states in the US now prosecute car drivers – $1000 dollar fine in Southern Calfornia for any motorist that harasses, taunts, or maliciously throws objects at direction of cyclist. Same in Colarado…. In NZ, the laws appear balanced the other way, for example, a driver on the wrong side of the road ran into a cyclist (hospitalised) during the K2 cycle classic last year and the driver wasn’t prosecuted as far as I know. Cycle groups report a number of cases like this. Although from my perspective, I find truck drivers in Wellington very careful and aware of cyclists.

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