AA: Expressway not for horses and bikes

MICHAEL FORBES TRANSPORT
Last updated 05:00 01/10/2013

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Cyclists and horse-riders are not cut out for life in the fast lane, according to the Automobile Association, which wants them banished from the Kapiti Expressway.

The association is calling for the proposed 13 kilometre, four-lane section from Peka Peka to Otaki to be reclassified as a motorway, preventing cyclists, horses, farm vehicles and vintage cars from using it.

The request was made to a five-member board of inquiry at a special resource consent hearing for the $250 million project in Paraparaumu yesterday.

In his evidence statement, Michael Gross, chairman of the Wellington AA, said the association was "very concerned" the NZ Transport Agency planned to discourage walking, cycling and equestrian activity on the expressway, but not restrict it.

"We cannot accept that allowing pedestrians, cyclists and horses on the same carriageway that is carrying heavy volumes of trucks and other motorists travelling up to 100kmh is the safest design possible."

At least six cycle deaths on state highways and arterial routes between 2004 and 2010 could have been prevented if such a restriction was in place, he said.

Currently, 16,000 vehicles use State Highway 1 through Otaki each day, with heavy commercial vehicles making up about 10 per cent.

Mr Gross said that was more than five times the recommended guideline used in the United Kingdom for separating cyclists from vehicles travelling 67kmh, let alone 100kmh.

The Peka Peka to Otaki section of the expressway would also have the look and feel of a motorway to motorists coming off Transmission Gully, he told the board.

"The consequence of an errant motorist's vehicle colliding with a cyclist is likely to lead to a fatality on a road with a speed limit of 100kmh."

The expressway had been designed to achieve the highest possible safety rating in the country, but that would not happen if cyclists were allowed to use it, Mr Gross said.

"Human beings make mistakes and crashes are inevitable," he said. "By making this route a motorway . . . the threat of a fatal cyclist versus vehicle accident is eliminated."

Transport agency lawyer Paul Beverly said a new cycling and pedestrian facility would be built alongside the existing SH1 to encourage that activity away from the expressway.

Mr Gross said the association supported that initiative but still wanted more than just "a suggestion" that slow-moving traffic should stay off the new road.

In evidence presented earlier in the hearing, transport agency planner David Dunlop did not shoot down the association's request for a reclassification.

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But he noted the same "philosophy" would need to be applied to all eight major roading projects between Wellington Airport and Levin, including Transmission Gully and the Bain Reserve flyover, for consistency purposes.

The transport agency has set aside land for a shared walking, cycling and equestrian facility along the southern half of the Kapiti Expressway from McKays Crossing to Peka Peka. The same will also happen between Otaki Gorge Rd and Old Hautere Rd.

But Kapiti Coast District Council and Otaki Community Board want the same provision along the entire northern half from Peka Peka to Otaki. "In my view there is very little demand for such a facility," Mr Dunlop said.

 

The AA's Kapiti Expressway blacklist

- Pedestrians

- Cyclists

- Horses

- Motorcycles and scooters under 50cc

- Vintage cars, farm equipment, and vehicles incapable of travelling at 70kmh.

The legal definition of a road is broad. It includes streets and highways, and also any place the public has access to - including bridges, beaches, riverbeds, car parks, reserve lands, wharves and road shoulders.

State highways:

State highways are separate to local roads, which are built and maintained by local authorities. State highways are managed by NZ Transport Agency on behalf of central government.

Motorways:

Motorways are access-controlled, high-speed roads that normally have overbridges or underpasses so road users don't have to stop at traffic lights.

Expressways:

Expressways are also high-speed roads, but they may include well-spaced "at-grade intersections" - which means they often have accesses and driveways on to them and sometimes traffic signals or roundabouts.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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