Heavy vehicles cycle trail risk

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 21/03/2014

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Two sections of the popular Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail could become dangerous for cyclists due to heavy vehicle traffic, according to a recent report.

The 312km Aoraki/Mt Cook to Oamaru cycle trail has been completed in stages, with the intention of moving most of the track off-road.

However, several sections are on public roads, which is causing problems for both cyclists and heavy vehicles.

Mackenzie District Council asset manager Bernie Haar presented his report to councillors yesterday.

He said there was potential for "serious conflict" on sections of Hayman Rd (16km) and Mt Cook Station Rd (22km).

"While the main objective should be to construct a new cycle track adjacent to the road, thus separating cyclists from the motorists, current budgets do not allow this to happen," Mr Haar said.

He said the council had received several complaints from cyclists about the speed of earthmoving trucks, flicking gravel and spreading dust.

However, there had also been reports of near-misses by truck drivers, taking evasive action to swerve away from cyclists travelling two abreast.

"Obviously the wheel track is the smoothest place to ride a bicycle [on an unsealed road], but it is also the obvious track that all drivers of vehicles take," Mr Haar said.

The Government has pledged $2.75 million towards the cycleway, which covers the boundaries of the Waitaki and Mackenzie district coun- cils.

The Mackenzie District Council has budgeted only $30,000 per year for track maintenance of its section.

Mayor Claire Barlow said the staff would look at some "temporary solutions" to the problem, such as extra signage, until it found a way to get these parts of the track off-road.

"We are heading into the winter so the patronage will drop and give us a bit of time to explore options," Mrs Barlow said.

"The trail is still a great ride, and over time, it will get better."

The report suggested heavy vehicle traffic would remain constant on these roads for the next few months, as Meridian carries out erosion repair work near Lake Pukaki.

Cycle Journeys' Twizel general manager Jill Jenkins said there had been concern about the effect of heavy traffic on those sections.

"However, the trail has been a huge success," she said.

"When the trail was opened two years ago, we started with only one person at the Twizel office; now there are at least seven staff working for us."

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- The Timaru Herald

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