Auckland Transport 'too slow' making cycling safer

By Mathew Dearnaley

Cycle Action chairwoman welcomes upgrades at danger spots, but says all projects well behind schedule

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Auckland Transport is being accused of dragging the chain in its provision of facilities to make cycling safer.

Tell us your story about being on the roads as a cyclist or motorist here.

"A hippopotamus would be faster," Cycle Action Auckland chairwoman Barbara Cuthbert said of delays by the council body in building planned new cycleways.

"Plans don't change safety - work completed changes safety," she said after the death under a truck on Tuesday of 37-year-old Auckland man John Tangiia on a busy freight route from the port.

"Every single project is way behind time, their delivery times are just appalling."

Mrs Cuthbert welcomed improvements to on-road cycle lanes on some particularly dangerous stretches of Tamaki Drive, which accounts for four of the 10 worst biking crash sites listed by Auckland Transport.

"It's good work, but too slow," she said.

The improvements include speed-reducing "tables" and extensions to cycle lanes round the bend in the road from Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World. This was where English nurse Jane Bishop died at a pinchpoint when she was crushed between an opening car door and a truck in late 2010.

Auckland Transport acted within days to remove car parking from the immediate vicinity, but that was four years after the cycling group proposed that measure when warning a general manager of the former city council's transport division of the site's dangers.

Coroner Gordon Matenga, in a finding in November, blamed the road's layout for the accident as well as Ms Bishop's own actions in riding fast in the narrow gap between parked cars and a line of slow-moving traffic.

The Super City's transport organisation is consulting Cycle Action Auckland and other stakeholders such as the Orakei Local Board on whether to provide traffic lights or a roundabout at the intersection of Tamaki Drive and Ngapipi Rd. This is deemed by far its worst cycling trouble spot after 12 crashes involving riders in the five years to the end of 2012. The board is understood to favour a roundabout, but Cycle Action favour lights.

After Mr Tangiia's death this week, Auckland Transport issued a list of stand-alone cycling and walking infrastructure improvements provided for with $17 million in the past two years, such as new or extended cycling lanes through Auckland Domain, and along Ian McKinnon Drive and New North Rd.

A spokesman said it had a walking and cycling budget of $10.3m this financial year, in addition to about $15m spent annually on facilities incorporated into other transport projects such as major road corridor improvements in Glenfield Rd.

The budget provided for new footpaths, of which 8.7km were provided last year and 6km were planned for 2013-2014, as well as 22.8km of new cycleways over the combined period. The organisation also budgeted $2m for promoting cycling and walking, and road safety education.

Give your input: Identify the roads you think need improvement here.

- NZ Herald

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