Cycle lane a national first
Nelson is to get a segregated two-way cycle- way on St Vincent St
It will be the first location in New Zealand to install this type of cycle lane, which cycling advocates say is the ‘‘gold standard’’ internationally.
The cycle lane will run from Totara St to Gloucester St on the town side of St Vincent St. It will replace the angle parking on the street. There will be a buffer zone next to the lane and then a row of parallel parking spaces.
The cycleway is among a number of improvements the Nelson City Council plans to introduce this year to improve the safety of cyclists and pedestrians, especially to those going to and from schools.
Bicycle Nelson Bays (BNB) has been working closely with the city council as part of the Active Transport Advisory Group over the past 18 months to help improve Nelson's cycling infrastructure.
Co-ordinators Chris Allison and John-Paul Pochin say the St Vincent St segregated cycleway is exciting. Christchurch and Dunedin are expected to introduce similar lanes soon.
"It's quite a significant project and it's quite a courageous step."
Similar cycleways are popular overseas including in cities throughout Europe and are increasingly being seen in the US and Australia. "It's the first stage of its design and it will be improved as time goes on," Chris says.
Both say the St Vincent St upgrade is significant as it will link Nelson to the Railway Reserve and the Great Taste Trail.
"It's really the first time we've had a complete safe route for locals right up into the CBD from the south," Chris says. "The second thing is we haven't had a safe link for cycle tourists who are here in increasing numbers for the cycle trial and this fills the missing link between the Great Taste Trail and the CBD."
Chris says having a completed link to the Great Taste Trail will draw cyclists into Nelson which will financially benefit the city.
The cycleway will also help students biking to Victory School and Nelson Intermediate. This will hopefully encourage cyclists to bike to school and build cycling habits for the future.
The first two stages of the cycle- way are currently underway, and this includes work on the Totara St intersection to provide a safer crossing for Victory School students. The third section of the project - the St Vincent St section between Gloucester St and the Haven Rd roundabout will be tackled later this year or early next year.
BNB says anecedotally there has been a big increase in cycling in Nelson. Chris says this has partly been led by an increase in leisure cyclists who have been exploring the Great Taste Trail.
He says there is room for improvement in cycling infrastructure in the city, and BNB is keen to hear cyclists' feedback.
Some of the problems for cyclists include roundabouts, and the roundabout at The Halifax, St Vincent streets and Rocks Rd was of particular concern. Pinch points, where the cyclist is forced out into the vehicle lane, is another problem and there were a number of examples of those around the city.
Cycle lanes on busy roads with parking is another problem area.
Chris says there is a tension between the increasing number of cyclists and some drivers who do not like the idea of having to accommodate cyclists.
"I think that's a phase and there are real advantages for everybody if there are more cyclists as it takes more cars off the road. We are in a kind of transition phase and there are "growing pains. . .". "I think some cyclists need to learn to ride better around other road users and some drivers need to drive better around other users. Both will adapt in time."
Nelson City Council is also looking at rolling out other improvements to cycling infrastructure in Nelson as part of the Walk/Cycle/School package this year.
Council spokeswoman Angela Ricker says work is currently being done on the Maitai Walkway from Trafalgar St to the QE11 Bridge. This includes significantly widening the shared path so there is more space for cyclists and pedestrians.
Work to make the Brook area, including improvements near St Joseph and Central schools, safer for cyclists and pedestrians will also start later this year.
"There are lots of smaller projects that will help make better connections around the city for pedestrians and cyclists with safer access around schools a main focus."
Get in contact with Bicycle Nelson Bays at bnb.org.nz or by liking its Facebook page