Masterton cyclists slam 'death zone'

By Alisa Yong alisa.yong@age.co.nz -
6 comments
Keen cyclist Clive Peters outlines the problems for cyclists at the barriers near Waingawa Bridge, south of Masterton. PHOTO/ANDREW BONALLACK
Keen cyclist Clive Peters outlines the problems for cyclists at the barriers near Waingawa Bridge, south of Masterton. PHOTO/ANDREW BONALLACK

A stretch of road being dubbed a "death zone" by cyclists is to be reviewed by the Transport Agency following a public meeting yesterday.

Representatives from NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) met with about 30 cyclists and the mayors of Carterton and Masterton at a roadside meeting to discuss the barriers south of the Waingawa Bridge.

The barriers have raised the ire of the district's cyclists, who say the barriers have left them with nowhere to go when cycling between the bridge and Cornwall Rd.

Clive Peters, the meeting's organiser, said the space left for cyclists measured only 1.2m in some places.

"And half of that is debris that you can't ride on."

One of his JNL colleagues who rode a scooter to work was "scared".

"A chap has stopped riding his scooter because of the danger of that stretch of road."

The road was the only way out of town and cyclists had no alternatives, he said.

Chairwoman of Athletics and Cycling Masterton, Sue Lyttle, said the club had weekly rides down the stretch of road, and even with riders going single file, they were "squeezed up".

"The type of traffic we are dealing with is not your normal sedan -- it's the massive big stuff plus all of the trucks going into JNL with logs on.

"We've literally been squeezed to nothing."

Mrs Lyttle said a cyclist on a bike needed at least 0.4m worth of space plus 0.8m of wriggle room -- "1.2m is right on the limit of what cyclists need," she said.

"This stretch is a death zone. It's not if, it's when."

Jorge Sandoval, race director of the New Zealand Cycle Classic, said the design of the road ran counter to the goal of promoting Wairarapa as a cycle-friendly district.

"I'm trying really hard to promote this region as a cycling destination, and believe it or not, a lot of Wellingtonians come over here on the weekend to try to train and this area is really, really dangerous."

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said the council had raised the issue with NZTA last year but now was the time to work together to find a solution.

Carterton Mayor John Booth said it was important NZTA consulted better with cyclists.

Mr Booth said he's seen "some pretty serious things happen, especially since the barriers went in". He said from the council's or mayor's point of view the main thing that really angers people is when there is no consultation.

Chief road safety adviser for NZTA, Colin Brodie, said the barriers had been installed because the stretch of road between Carterton and Masterton had been identified as a high-crash area.

"We are looking at all of the high-risk roads and this was one of those on our list."

The barriers had been proven to reduce injuries in 75 per cent of crashes where cars left the road, he said.

He said NZTA would not be providing answers at the meeting but would be considering how to improve the road for cyclists.

"There are no fixed answers today because we are going to go back and think about it and what we can do."

NZTA aimed to have a 2m minimum width for cyclists, but in some places it was only possible to have 1.5 to 1.2m, Mr Brodie said.

"I'm not saying that doesn't feel tight when you are on the side of the road.

"I'm not saying it's [the problem is] not real but it's a little bit more perceptional than real."

NZTA's central regional regional director Raewyn Bleakley said they would be reviewing all the feedback from the meeting. "We'll give you a commitment that we will have another look."

Any ideas for changes would be brought back to the community for consultation.

Feedback can be emailed to the manager of the Wairarapa Road Safety Council, Bruce Pauling at rsmanager@wairsc.org.nz.

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