14 Mar 2018

State highway cycle lane a 'work in progress'

6:22 pm on 14 March 2018

A flagship cycle lane project is not a mess, just a work in progress, says a Dunedin cycling group.

Dunedin cycle poles

Photo: RNZ/ Ian Telfer

Last month theTransport Agency began rolling out the country's first fully-separate cycle lane on a state highway through the busy North Dunedin student area.

The $8 million project was sparked five years ago by the deaths of two cyclists killed on that road.

Cyclists and motorists in the area have been complaining of the disruption and unclear signage.

One lane under construction near the Dunedin Botanic Gardens has a series of rectangular sections of green paint painted on the road and dozens of concrete islands at different angles varying the width of the lane.

The initial drawings for the project were of wide two-way lanes on the side of the state highway but the designs have since morphed.

They have become one-way lanes that change sides halfway along, which widen and narrow to accommodate car parks and the many driveways.

Local business owners said there had already been a number of near misses between cyclists and cars trying to navigate the new sections.

Some cyclists using the lane today told RNZ News they did not know where the lane started and stopped and that they were feeling frustrated by new traffic signals for cyclists which stopped them for up to two minutes while cars got a green light.

The Dunedin cycling group Spokes is defending the project, saying it is still under construction but looking good.

There are no other designs like it in New Zealand so it has been a learning curve for the Transport Agency and the city council, Spokes' president, Jon Dean, said.

The lanes will take everyone time to adjust to but will worthwhile in terms of safety and usage, Mr Dean said.

"We've now got a protected cycle lane which is safe from dooring or being hit by moving vehicles, the cars are parked in a reasonably safe way... and plenty of room on the state highway for people driving," he said.

"I'm not convinced that it is messy, I'm convinced that it's different, and we aren't used to this style of design", he said.

NZTA spokesperson Jim Harland said the project had been challenging and the design had changed a lot in response to community feedback.

The green paint is not all in place yet and there would be diagonal striping across critical driveways and business entrances opening onto the cycle lane, Mr Harland said.

People needed to be patient as it would take some time for everyone to get to learn to use it safely, he said.

The project is still on track to reduce cyclist deaths and serious injuries by 70 percent, and for pedestrians by 25 percent, so it was well worthwhile, he said.