Shared cycle-path option backed

KATE DAVIDSON
Last updated 10:50 18/08/2014
CYCLE
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ

IMPROVEMENT: Some cyclists are backing a shared pathway along Rocks Rd, saying it will improve safety on the route.

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A group of cyclists is giving the thumbs-up to a proposed four-metre shared pathway along Rocks Rd.

The Nelson City Council and New Zealand Transport Agency have faced a backlash over two concepts it has put out for redeveloping Rocks Rd, but not everyone is unhappy.

The jointly funded project between the council and the agency includes one option of upgrading on-road cycle lanes and the footpath, costing between $9 million and $13m, and a second option of a shared four-metre-wide cycling and walking route on the seaward side of the road for between $11m and $15m.

Anneke van Laanen, who carpools from Ruby Bay to Tahunanui each day and then cycles into town for work, said at the moment the state of Rocks Rd left many cyclists with only the Railway Reserve route, which could be off-putting as it was uphill.

"Rocks Rd is really important and at the moment it is so narrow," she said with traffic signs often covering the cycle lane.

She pointed to the health benefits of walking and cycling, but said there needed to be safe alternatives to driving.

"If it's there, people will use it. It's a stunning spot the whole Rocks Rd, it's beautiful. The safer it is the more it will be used," she said, and for her, a separate shared pathway was the safest option.

Anne Cargill said as a commuter she accepted concept one with its improved on-road cycle-lanes, but as a mother she supported option two.

"I think it's better for a wider range of the Nelson community. Neither the current situation or option one allows for anyone other than a confident cyclist to ride through that corridor," she said.

"People who are less confident are left with only one option to access Tahunanui beach and that's by car."

Cargill and her husband looked at cycle infrastructure when they moved to Nelson and bought their house in Atawhai because of the shared pathway into the city.

They both commute and their 13-year-old daughter has begun biking on her own into school - this was down to her learning and building her confidence on a shared pathway, said Cargill.

David White from Stoke has been cycling along Rocks Rd every day for 29 years and is keen on option two.

He has experienced the danger of the road, such as at the Richardson St intersection. "I have been hit there myself and knocked off my bike and injured," he said.

"That's one of the reasons I favour all the cycling and pedestrian traffic being on the seaside."

It was a car that hit him and he said he trusted the truck drivers more than those in cars.

"My biggest worry is people using cellphones coming up behind you and not seeing you and hitting you from behind," he said.

White said residents' concerns needed to be accommodated but the redevelopment was still in the conceptual phase and nothing was set in concrete.

He said with education option two would work.

The cyclists made it clear this was not a driver versus cyclist debate as they all owned cars and paid vehicle and road taxes, but chose to cycle when possible to limit their impact on the environment, reduce congestion for those who did not want to bike, and get exercise.

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- The Nelson Mail

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