Motorists abuse Auckland cycleways, putting cyclists at risk

Author
Michael Sergel,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Monday, 11 July 2016, 5:36a.m.

Auckland’s new cycleways are supposed to make it safer for cyclists to get around, but footage shows cyclists are still being put in danger by motorists who are using the cycleways as parking bays or fast lanes.

Prime Minister John Key and Transport Minister Simon Bridges cut the ribbon on the central city Quay Street cycleway on Friday, seven months after opening the nearby Nelson Street cycleway.

Bridges described the Nelson Street cycleway as “world class” and said the separated cycleway between Lower Hobson Street and Plumer Street would create a “safer, more reliable” cycling route along the waterfront.

But footage recorded by NZME and images posted on social media show cyclists are regularly confronting cars, taxis, courier vans and trucks on the cycleways throughout the day, from 4am to 9pm.

On Nelson Street, motorists have been captured driving against the flow of traffic or nearly hitting cyclists, including children. On Quay Street, a social media user photographed a queue of vehicles on the cycleway just a day after it opened.

Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan said the transport agency is looking into the issue and traffic officers will visit the area every day.

“Driving on any part of the cycleway, either north or south-bound, is an illegal movement. Auckland Transport will monitor the situation and if necessary will install bollards to prevent cars parking or driving on the cycleway.

“There are two signs on Nelson St, Cook St intersection indicating that the left turn into Cook St is not allowed and another sign indicating no left turn [is being installed] half way along this block.”

Bike Auckland chair Barb Cuthbert said she would prefer to see motorists properly educated about cycleways, but bollards may have to be considered.

“The problem is that people who are distracted, driving along, then turning into Nelson Street, suddenly they find themselves in a cycle lane that wasn't there last time they drove down the street.

“People are simply not aware, and distracted, and they're causing a real hazard. One car in that location, as you can imagine, causes a real hazard.”

A delivery truck driver, who chose to remain anonymous, said the recent removal of on-street carparks and loading zones had made it more difficult to do his job.

Dozens of parks have been removed from the Nelson Street area, and from today the cost of some car parks in the area will increase from $16 to $42 a day.

The driver said he parked on the cycleway because it was the only place he could safely stop near the businesses he delivered to without backing into pedestrians or cyclists.

Hannan said there was no reason why drivers should be using the cycleway and they were breaking the law.

“It is illegal and dangerous for vehicles to stop or drive in the cycleway. Taxis, couriers, delivery vans and trucks need to find somewhere else to do their drop-offs.

"Many businesses in the area have off-street parking and they should be using that.

“In much the same way as vehicles must give way to pedestrians when crossing a footpath, vehicles must look out for people cycling when crossing a cycleway onto a road.”

But Auckland issues reporter Michael Sergel said other people say there are also cyclists putting motorists in danger by failing to follow the road rules.

One person has accused some cyclists of "an every light is a green light" attitude and another says some cyclists treat Auckland roads like Tour de France tracks.

Similar issues have also been reported in other parts of the city. Last year the Herald revealed Auckland mayor Len Brown, a major cycling advocate, had himself parked in a cycling lane.

Hannan said anyone who sees a motorist parking or driving in a cycleway should report it to Auckland Transport on 09 355 3553.

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