Brakes go on cycle safety
The death of one cyclist and injury of another on Hamilton streets last week has prompted a city councillor to sound a warning over a drop in funding for cycle and pedestrian safety.
Councillor Dave Macpherson said he had grave concerns about delaying a programme targeting the city's most vulnerable road users given the cycle crashes last week and the deaths of two pedestrians on Victoria St last month.
Mr Macpherson said the main aim was for a greater space between motorists and cyclists.
"The two things it's really impacting over the medium term are intersection improvements for cyclists and also moving cycling facilities from on road to off road."
Thomas William Briggs, 57, was killed at the River Rd and Wairere Dr roundabout on Wednesday and another cyclist was hit by a bus on Shakespeare Ave in Enderley just minutes earlier.
The crashes came the same week the council confirmed it would defer spending $400,000 of its $1 million budget on the city's walking and cycling programmes, instead pushing it back another year.
Central government funding has also dried up, with New Zealand Transport Agency saying there was no additional cash for things like cycleways and underpasses for at least the next year as the Government was focused on building roads.
Mr Macpherson said the Government had an unbalanced approach to funding roading projects such as the $2 billion Waikato Expressway.
"The Government should realise it's [cycle and pedestrian ways are] an area they should be supporting as well – they seem fixated on four-lane highways."
Last week the council confirmed it would spend $600,000 on finishing its river path project to link the northern boundary with Waikato and Te Awa river trail but push all other work on walking and cycling routes back a year.
The city has already made a number of changes as part of its 10-year cycling plan aimed at providing cycling routes throughout the entire city and is halfway through improving cycling routes to all schools. The 2016 completion date has been stretched out due to the reduction in NZTA funding.
Keen Hamilton cyclist and Cycle Action Waikato president Robbie Price said roundabouts presented one of the major safety hazards for cyclists in the city.
"Even where there are cycling facilities (cycle lanes) on the road they are disappearing before you get to the roundabout and you are left with no road space as a cyclist."
The other major problem was safe access into the CBD. However, he said the city's cycle plan was slowly addressing the problem and many of the issues were "perceived rather than real".
New Zealand Transport Agency acting regional director Robert Brodnax said Mr Macpherson's claim that the Government wasn't funding walking and cycling in Hamilton was incorrect. NZTA contributed about $1.2m to walking and cycling in Hamilton for the three years to July 2012 and he said "there was every chance" it could get money in the new three-year funding round.
CYCLING IN HAMILTON
Wairere Dr off-road facility
Te Rapa Rd cycle lanes
Cobham Dr end of riverpath
Rifle Range Rd cycle lanes
SOURCE: City cyclists