Car parks to go as cycle safety gets nod

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 04/12/2012

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Three car parks on Te Awe Awe St are set to be permanently axed in the interests of cycle safety.

Palmerston North City Council's planning and policy committee has taken up a staff proposal to create peak-hour clearways on the street, and taken it a step further.

The car parks in question are dotted along the lagoon side of the street between Ihaka St and Victoria Ave, on a stretch Cr Bruce Wilson described as "manifestly the least comfortable" part of the route for cyclists.

Senior transportation engineer Glenn Connelly came up with the clearway plan as a way to balance the interests of cycle safety against the convenience of residents who wanted on-street parks for themselves and visitors.

But Cr Chris Teo-Sherrell, who depends on his bike for transport, said it was time to tip the balance in cyclists' favour.

He said the council should get serious about its goal of making Palmerston North the best and safest place to ride a bike, by giving cyclists a higher priority in the hierarchy of road users.

Mayor Jono Naylor said he could not support councillors taking over the role of roading engineers.

"We are here to give direction, in this case, to make Te Awe Awe St safe for cyclists. It is not the job of this committee to go around deciding which particular car parks should stay or go."

Cr Teo-Sherrell said the three parks had become a political issue.

"We need to have the political guts to say we are putting the needs of moving cyclists ahead of those of parked cars."

He said a piecemeal approach to cycle safety was not enough. If the parks remained, cyclists would continue to be forced out into the traffic lanes near the busy Victoria Ave intersection.

The recommendation to remove the three parks was won narrowly, by seven votes to six.

The committee adopted the clearway proposals for the rest of the street, from Albert St to Fitzherbert Ave.

The clearways will operate on the lagoon side of the street from 7.45am to 9.15am, and on the city side from 2.45pm to 6.15pm.

Mr Connelly said the clearways could be implemented quite cheaply in the near future.

Their operation would be monitored, and the possibility of installing inset parking bays could be considered in future.

The committee has also asked staff to review ways to make the roundabout at Albert St safer for cyclists.

Cr Duncan McCann said it would be difficult to encourage more cyclists to use the improved route along Te Awe Awe St while dangers at the main intersection to get to it remained.

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- The Manawatu Standard

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