Injured cyclist calls for rural slowdown

Transport boss agrees with injured cyclist

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 14/03/2014
graeme howes
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/Fairfax NZ

OFF HIS BIKE: Cyclist Graeme Howes wants the council to improve cycle safety on rural roads.

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It is too dangerous to cycle on many of Timaru's rural roads, according to the Timaru District Council's transport manager, Andrew Dixon.

His comments come after cyclist Graeme Howes told the Herald he wants changes to speed restrictions along rural roads popular with cyclists, after suffering a nasty injury.

Mr Dixon sympathised with Mr Howes, but said it was unlikely the council could change the speed limit.

"I would actually advise against cycling along many of the rural roads (in the current framework) ... it's simply too dangerous, and there's little we can do to alter the speed limit," he said.

"We're hidebound a bit by the government legislation, as you can only change speed according to the level of road traffic and development. The legislation does not acknowledge aspects such as the popularity of cyclists on certain roads, so it is sometimes a bit of a crude measurement."

Mr Howes, who used to own a cycle shop in Timaru, was admitted to hospital after a motorist clipped him on the intersection of Pages Rd and Kellands Hill Rd about 8.30am on Wednesday.

"I was wearing high-visibility gear, but the old lady just didn't see me. It all happened in a matter of seconds. It was lucky it wasn't worse," Mr Howes said.

"The driver was pretty apologetic when she discovered what happened. I was lucky my friend, who is a doctor, happened to be driving to work, so he took me in to hospital." Mr Howes was treated for shoulder and chest injuries.

He said the fact the speed limit dropped from 80kmh to 50kmh "in such a short stretch" made it difficult for cyclists and drivers alike.

"It's become a key road for cyclists on their way to work. I noticed about 20 riding in a group just yesterday (Tuesday) morning. The council has been pretty proactive in putting new lanes up, so this is another area they could look at."

Mr Dixon said the council was in the process of upgrading a series of roads and installing better cycle paths, particularly along Evans St, the Hilton Highway, Old North Rd and near Washdyke.

"The council is really committed to building up our cyclepath network, but we're doing it one step at a time," he said.

However, Mr Howes said this would not stop him getting on his bike. "I enjoy it too much not to bike to work," he said.

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- The Timaru Herald

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