Ban only way to save lives: Local

By Roger Moroney

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Poraiti resident Hylton Smith is fearful a cycling fatality is just waiting to happen on the increasingly busy Puketitiri Rd and believes the only absolute way to prevent it is getting the cyclists off the stretch altogether.

"There is more and more traffic using the road now and there's been an increase in logging trucks up there also. When the summer comes there are going to be heaps and heaps of cyclists using it."

Mr Smith said his approaches to the Napier City Council to get something done to make the road safer gave him, and other concerned residents, no reassurance that a cycling tragedy would be prevented.

The 4-kilometre stretch from the Church Rd roundabout to intersection with Rotowhenua Rd was, for cyclists, an accident waiting to happen, Mr Smith said.

"It is only a matter of time before there is a fatality along there and this is not only my opinion, it is shared by most folk up here."

There had been close calls and one had involved him.

A builder, he was towing a trailer behind his utility and rounded a tight corner when confronted by a cyclist which caused him to hit the brakes and lock the wheels up.

He later spoke to the cyclist and advised him to be a bit more careful as he had come close to running into him.

"He told me to **** off."

On two occasions he said the actions of cyclists had caused him to move into oncoming lanes.

Mr Smith took his concerns to council and was given a rundown of road upgrade options which had been explored, and while he found the figures were interesting, said statistics would not keep "cyclist's skulls out of the grills of vehicles".

The council's road asset manager, Jon Schwass, said the issue of cycle safety along Puketitiri Rd was broached during the 2008 annual plan submissions.

The issue was reviewed in 2009 and options were considered.

Council decided on an option which involved minor bend widening to improve space for cyclists at a cost of $300,000.

"Since that time selected corners on Puketitiri Rd have been widened which has provided a slightly better level of service for cyclists," Mr Schwass said.

However, he said, cyclists and motorists had created problems.

"Some of these widened areas are now being used by motorists to enable them to cut the corners and increase their speeds through this winding section of road," Mr Schwass said, adding some cyclists treated the road as "a race track and do not stay to the edge of the road".

"On that stretch it can only be one or the other, vehicles or push cycles, otherwise someone is going to get killed," Mr Smith said.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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