New two-way cycle lane confuses users

KATE DAVIDSON
Last updated 12:58 08/04/2014
Lewis Stanton
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

OPEN ALL HOURS: The new cycle lane on St Vincent St at 3.15pm on Monday.

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The new road layout on St Vincent St is causing confusion and concerns for road users and businesses.

The Nelson City Council has put in a two-way cycle lane between Totara St and Gloucester St on the side next to the pathway.

On the outside of the cycle lane car parking has been changed to straight parks rather than angled.

The changes have a number of businesses along St Vincent St worried.

Lloyd Elliott, owner of Osprey Boats, called the layout "a balls-up".

"The other day we were sitting outside and an ambulance came up the road and there were cars in front of it, obviously they had to pull over and they had nowhere to go, so cars pulled over and drove up the cycle lane so the ambulance could go past."

He said the new layout was creating a backlog of traffic as there was nowhere to pass vehicles waiting to turn.

It was also causing headaches for his business as "it was virtually impossible to get out of the yard with a boat on the back" safely.

He said it was not a car versus bike issue, but about "safety for everyone and all road users, it's just not practical".

Sharon Nisbett and Jenny Cunningham, of Rockgas, had witnessed mothers with prams walking in the lane and said drivers had "so much to contend with" as parked cars blocked the view of oncoming traffic making it difficult to pull out safely onto the road. "It is three phases to get out of here at night," said Nisbett. "One is to first stop for the pedestrians and it's both left and right, then you get through a bit further and you have to give way to cyclists who are coming at you at both ways, but then you have to get out further so you can see the cars."

Cunningham said parking on that side of the road should have been done away with and more signage and education would have been helpful.

Graham Boland, of Nelson Auto Parts, said he had seen people pulling behind parked cars thinking it was a third lane and others turning and driving down the cycle lane. He said the council had sent a letter allowing businesses to object to the plans "but I thought they must know what they were doing".

Bicycle Nelson Bays co-ordinator John-Paul Pochin was using the lane yesterday morning and said it was "a great facility" which encouraged more people, especially children to feel safer about getting on their bikes as a mode of transport, but it was not finished and Bicycle Nelson Bays was pushing the council for improvements.

"We see this as the first stage and it was one of those facilities where it was better to get something in than nothing at all and it allows us then to build up the numbers and push for improvements to it," he said. "The next stages will be to carry on this straight down St Vincent St and we are looking at the across town links now so it's not complete and that link into town needs to be tidied up."

Cyclists had to go through two roundabouts while on the new lane and there was some confusion about how to navigate these when travelling against the traffic flow.

Pochin said roundabouts were "notorious" for cyclists and suggested traffic lights might work better.

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Cyclists could cross the roundabouts at islands and confident users could go through the roundabout.

Sheree Lauchlan and Gwen Hall, of Stoke, were using the lane for the first time yesterday.

"We've only just hit it I think it's weird being on the wrong side of the road," said Lauchlan.

They pointed out that cyclists coming along the left-hand side of St Vincent's would have a hard time crossing over to the cycle path from the roundabout, but overall thought the path was good especially for children and with a designated space for car doors opening.

Nitika Ennion, living on the corner of Victory and Northesk streets, said it was a great facility and she had seen more cyclists out and about since it had been installed, but she had also noticed some confusion about how to use it with one friend asking if it was possible to U-turn using the lane.

Council communications manager Angela Ricker said they had received positive feedback about the changes, had informed the public of the new layout and there was no issue with vehicles being partly over a cycle lane for the short length of time while waiting for a break in the traffic to pull into.

She said she suspected issues would be resolved once people adjusted to the changes and the council would monitor the situation.

It also plans to continue the lane all the full length of St Vincent St.

- Nelson

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