Backing for safety campaign

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 09:51 27/04/2013
manawatu road
DAVID UNWIN/Fairfax NZ

SCARY CYCLING: With a truck approaching, Cr Duncan McCann holds on tight and hopes there’s no vehicle coming up behind him on Old West Rd.

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The drive to improve cycle safety on Old West, Turitea and Kahuterawa roads is regaining momentum.

Old West Rd, a state highway providing access to Massey University's back gate, was the subject of a community campaign to have improvements made a decade ago.

The NZ Transport Agency agreed to investigate, but the money did not follow.

Fitzherbert ward councillor Duncan McCann said it was time to revive the issues.

He said cycling on Old West Rd was a danger for anyone using it as a route to Massey, to Turitea Rd, or as an alternative to Tennent Dr to get to Linton.

The narrow bridge, in particular, had no space for cyclists at all if there were vehicles approaching in both directions.

"It's an incredibly dangerous bridge for cycling."

And beyond the highway, recreational use of the areas accessed from Turitea Rd and Kahuterawa Rd was increasing.

The 100kmh speed limits on both of those roads and the state highway made them dangerous for all users, especially cyclists and walkers.

The city council is taking a lead with the two roads under its control, with a proposal out for public consultation that the speed limits be brought down to 80kmh. It will also ask NZTA to review the speed limit on the state highway.

Last year, road planning team leader David Lane made a submission on the regional land transport programme asking for the Old West Rd seal and the Turitea Stream bridge to be widened.

"The failure of NZTA to provide some funding [for state highway walking and cycling programmes] to this region should not be seen as acceptable."

Cr McCann said he was disappointed the agency had recently resealed the section of Turitea Rd from Summerhill Dr to Old West Rd without extending the seal to make more room for cyclists.

That section was a key recreational access to Turitea and beyond.

NZTA spokesman Anthony Frith said routine resealing and creating cycle lanes were two quite distinct activities, although the recent reseal of Rangitikei St had included marking cycle lanes as the road was already wide enough.

Old West Rd, however, would require extensive earthworks and property purchase to create additional width for a cycle lane, which would add to the costs.

Cr McCann said the current 100kmh speed limit on the increasingly busy but narrow Turitea Rd, with its one-lane bridges and tight corners was "just absurd".

"There are verges in some places, but there are pinch points where there is nowhere to go."

He said improving the cycle link around the back of the university and into the Kahuterawa and Turitea valleys had potential to loop around to join a city to Linton cycleway that is being promoted by the Defence Force.

Cr McCann's advocacy follows recent comments by deputy mayor Jim Jefferies that Palmerston North was being left behind in its quest to make Manawatu the best and safest place to ride a bike.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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