Bridge's lights give cyclists safer ride

By Corey Charlton

More cyclist safety lights such as those recently installed on the Awatoto bridge are needed around the region, says the company that installed them.

The two LED lights flash to warn motorists when a cyclist is on the bridge, and were initiated by the NZTA and Hawke's Bay Regional Council to make the bridge safer for cyclists.

The first two were stolen, but replacements with stronger security measures have now been installed.

The electronic warning signs are LED lights powered by solar panels that are activated when a cyclist crosses a magnetic field underneath the road.

The bike frame breaks the loop's magnetic field, activating the lights.

Buttons attached to stand alone poles further up the road are there as a back up, if a cyclist misses the loop.

Cars that cross the rumble lines over the loop area can also trigger the lights, but Directearth operations manager Cameron Darwen said this was unavoidable as it used programmed sensitivity levels.

"It's definitely just trying to get people to stop driving over them. The rumble lines are there for a reason."

Short of erecting a physical barrier, it was "really the only technology you can put in the side of the road.

"You can't have anything that is a danger," he said.

Although costly, he said the signs were sustainable and safe. They were powered by solar panels and they didn't have a voltage risk.

"It's been a big push from NZTA and the consultants Opus to increase the safety on our roads," he said.

"They've been really proactive and it is nice to see. I've been really impressed with what they're trying to achieve."

In February, thieves hacked down the first set of lights that were installed on the Awatoto Bridge.

The theft left the NZTA "extremely disappointed" and wondering when, or if, they could be replaced as they had cost about $50,000 in total.

The Ramblers Cycling Club also expressed its dismay, with its race sub-committee chairman Hilary Green saying you had to "hold your breath" when cycling across it, it was so narrow.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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