4 May 2016

Capital cycleway faces strong opposition

8:35 pm on 4 May 2016

Cyclists, residents, and local businesses in the capital say a proposed two-way cycle path on a busy road will be dangerous to both cyclists and pedestrians.

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Photo: 123rf.com

At the Wellington City Council's hearings on its Hutt Road cycleway upgrade, councillors were told to re-think the proposal, and to consider moving the cycleway altogether.

It's the latest puncture in the city's beleaguered cycleway programme - an Island Bay cycleway has been the focus of intense public debate, with many residents opposed to it running between the footpath and parked cars.

A new proposed cycleway along the Hutt Road will be on the pavement, sandwiched between pedestrians and parked cars, with only a painted line separating it from pedestrians.

Khandallah resident Jeff Owens cycled the route regularly and said he would rather bike on the road instead.

"The proposals as they are, I believe, will put cyclists into conflict with pedestrians and into conflict with motorists," Mr Owens said.

"What [council] is doing is taking the situation - which is bad - and making it worse."

Mr Owens said that would be exacerbated by the speed cyclists would travel in a dedicated lane.

The Khandallah Residents' Group told the council to reject the proposal.

Its convenor, Christine McKenna, said it would make the road's traffic problems worse, for no gain.

"Safety on the cycleway will not increase by enough to make a difference," she said.

"The so-called 'transport improvements' are likely to cause an increased accident rate."

Ms McKenna said the cycleway had the potential to cause as much public outcry as the one in Island Bay.

Any cycleway in the area needed to be easy to get to, and provide a safe passage all the way through to the centre of town, she said.

Businesses in the area were also unhappy with the proposals.

Tim Kelly, a transport consultant hired by Carters - a building supply company on the Hutt Road - said about 80 contractors visited the business between 7am and 9am each day.

He said that was the same time as cyclist numbers peaked.

"We do feel that cycle safety and business convenience would be severely compromised by this proposal," Mr Kelly said.

He said the loss of carparks would make it impossible for staff to get to work.

"In my view, it's preferable to take a little longer to achieve an outcome which is both safe and not detrimental to commercial businesses," he said.

"As a cyclist myself, I actually think it would be more enjoyable experience... if you're not having to look out at every single driveway and worry that somebody's going to come out, and whether they've seen you."

Jo Glen represented the Best Start early childcare centre.

She told councillors the new cycleway would make it difficult for parents dropping off the 100-or-so children who attend each day, and that could affect the centre's bottom line.

"We're very in favour of the cycleway running alongside the railway lines," she said. "It's not that we don't love cyclists, I too am a cyclist, and a runner, and a walker, and a mother but we just think alongside the childcare centres, this is a recipe for disaster."

Ms Glen was one of the many who were keen to find an alternative route.

One alternative that was gaining favour around the council table, and in the community, was a dedicated path along the waterfront.

But commuter cyclists, such as Tracy Berghan White, said that option may be great for tourists, but it was too out of the way.

In her parting words to the council, commenting on cycleways throughout the city, she said "cheers, and good luck".

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