Principal says 'tangible action' on dangerous shared cycleway taking too long

10:33 am on 8 August 2019

An Auckland school principal says it's only a matter of time before a child is seriously hurt as Auckland Transport drags its heels fixing a dangerous cycleway.

A sign on the northwestern cycleway in Auckland

A sign on the northwestern cycleway in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Rowan Quinn

Newton Central School had to suspend its walking school bus along the popular northwestern cycleway in January after several near misses, and abuse hurled at children by some cyclists.

Principal Riki Teteina said it was frustrating there had been no meaningful change since then.

The walking bus was in jeopardy for next year as well, he said.

Mr Teteina - and many parents and cyclists - want separate paths for cyclists and pedestrians at the busy bottleneck where kids walking to school meet cyclists coming from as far away as west Auckland.

But physical work on the track would need to be underway now for it to be ready in time for the start of the next school year, he said.

"Why is it taking so long for tangible action? This should be an absolute priority," he said.

Auckland Transport said it was working hard on the change.

Pedestrians, scooter and bike riders on the northwestern cycleway.

Pedestrians, scooter and bike riders on the northwestern cycleway. Photo: RNZ / Rowan Quinn

In a statement, the network management manager, Randhir Karma, said it was in the middle of a "design process" and was consulting with land owners near the bottleneck.

It would need their permission to expand the path to allow for separation.

In the meantime, a centre line had been painted and light-hearted signs dot the route cheerfully reminding everyone to look out for one another - and cyclists to slow down and ring their bell.

A sign next to the northwestern cycleway provides advice for using bells.

One of the signs along the cycleway. Photo: RNZ / Rowan Quinn

However, Mr Teteina said engineers should be sorting the problem.

Some parents said the signs had made little difference and they were still encountering cranky cyclists, frustrated if children got in their way.

But one mum, Lesley Schwartz, said she'd noticed more cyclists ringing their bells - and that was reminding parents and kids to take care too.

But an upgrade to the area was needed, she said.

"Yesterday someone passed us and it actually almost looked like a little moped. They just come along at such a speed and they have so much weight. It's just inevitable that something could happen," she said.

A dad, Vance Bentley, was cycling and dropping his daughter to school.

He said with a bit of education and people considering each other, things would improve a lot.

"I think when everyone gets to understand how other people work and move then you just become a little more tolerant."

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