Cyclists say Wellington's road cones and work signs are putting them in danger

Road cones placed in cycle ways are increasing the risk cyclists face commuting in Wellington city.
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Road cones placed in cycle ways are increasing the risk cyclists face commuting in Wellington city.

Road cones and works signs are popping up in Wellington's cycleways, which is getting on cyclists' nerves and putting them in harm's way by forcing them to merge with traffic. 

The problem is so widespread across the region that some cyclists are getting off their bikes and moving the cones to safer places, a safety awareness campaigner said. 

Chairman of Cycle Aware Wellington, Ron Beernink, said on Friday that despite constant complaints to councils and the New Zealand Transport Agency, the hazards keep appearing in cycle lanes.

Chairman of Cycle Aware Wellington, Ron Beernink.
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Chairman of Cycle Aware Wellington, Ron Beernink.

Beernink said he thought the roading contractors must be of the opinion that signs and cones are for cars only.

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"It's like they haven't been given the proper instructions. It's particularly bad at this time of year when it gets darker earlier, and can be wet," he said.

Hutt City Council apologised for this road cone placement and said it will address the issue at its upcoming traffic meeting.
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Hutt City Council apologised for this road cone placement and said it will address the issue at its upcoming traffic meeting.

​"We even had reports of roadworks blocking access to State Highway 2 at the Petone off-ramp [on Wednesday]. It's only a matter of time before a terrible accident happens."

Road toll figures showed five cyclists died on New Zealand roads in 2016 - the lowest annual number recorded in 25 years. That total has already been surpassed this year with seven cyclist deaths. 

In February, the fragile and dysfunctional state of the capital's transport network was laid bare in a report that painted a picture of increasing congestion, rush hour delays, safety issues and vulnerability to disruption.

Wellington City Council said it Council will investigate any complaints about road safety due to work conducted by its ...
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Wellington City Council said it Council will investigate any complaints about road safety due to work conducted by its contractors.

The report, prepared by the Let's Get Wellington Moving working group, revealed cyclists in the Wellington region also have a greater-than-average risk of being killed or seriously injured compared to those in other parts of the country.

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Simon Cager, senior project engineer in Hutt City Council's road and traffic department, apologised to anybody affected by the mistake.

"We are currently discussing this issue with the contractor who undertook this work yesterday. [The] council's road and traffic team have monthly meetings with the Hutt Cycle Network, and this issue will be discussed at our next meeting."

This confusing arrangement tests a cyclist's IQ as well as their knowledge of the road code.
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This confusing arrangement tests a cyclist's IQ as well as their knowledge of the road code.

Wellington City Council spokesman Clayton Anderson said the problem occasionally flared up, but it depended on the amount of roadworks going on in the city.

"The council requires its contractors to comply with the requirements of the New Zealand Transport Agency's Code of Practice for Temporary Traffic Management for all works as far as possible," he said.

"There are some situations where it is completely impractical to fully comply with that code, and where that happens we place signage in the most appropriate place."

But Beernink said the current solution clearly was not working, and more needed to be done at the front end. 

"It probably needs the Ministry of Transport to reinforce the issue and develop a training framework, like WorkSafe do, so the contractors are aware of the correct guidelines," he said.

"When you're forced to get on the road and merge with fast-moving traffic it puts you in danger, particularly for cyclists without much experience it is very dangerous."

The Transport Agency has been approached for comment.

 - Stuff

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