Below is our response to the request for feedback on the proposed Rocks Road to Maitai Walking and Cycling Improvements (http://nelson.govt.nz/projects/infrastructure/rocks-road-to-maitai-walking-and-cycling-improvements/)
At this stage without more information regarding the proposed widths of the cycleways, paths etc. we do not feel we have enough information to make an informed decision on the preferred design. Picking a preferred design and then deciding on the widths of the paths is not logical as the suitability of the that design is very much dependent on the widths of the paths. However we offer the following observations and suggestions:
Option 1: Do the minimum - While the current on-road cycle lanes are wide, regardless of this many cyclists and potential cyclists do not feel comfortable cycling on the road. We do not consider this to be a suitable option as it does not significantly increase the safety or attractiveness of the route. Additionally, should a shared boulevard be built along Rocks Rd. as per options (3) and (4) of the NZTA Southern Link Study, those less confident cyclists would need to cross the road in order access the off -road path. Note also that this design does not meet the standards required if it’s to function as a linking component for the Great Taste Trail
Option 2: Protected separated cycleways are generally considered to be the most suitable, protecting cyclists from traffic and encouraging the "Interested but Concerned". If the widths are too narrow to allow faster cyclists to easily pass slower cyclists within the protected cycle lane they may instead use the road which offers no protection from hazards including the opening of car doors for example.
Option 3: This option is most consistent with our preferred designs for Rocks Road. Faster cyclists could continue to use the on-road cycle lanes while vulnerable, less confident cyclists could continue along the shared path on the boulevard. The devil, as always in the detail and without knowing the widths of the paths, the suitability of this design can't be determined. Specifically, the shared path needs to be sufficiently wide to accommodate expected numbers of both pedestrians and cyclists.
Removing parking would provide a significant increase in available lane/cycle way width along the route. There are a significant number of cars parked along the East side of Haven Road. However, from our observations over a period of time, cars parked outside Haven motors appear to be primarily showroom cars and have been placed there to promote the cars and the business. Should the tax-payer be providing parking that benefits just one business and not the wider community? Further North along the road there are still a significant number of cars parked but as there is only one other business it's hard to determine why so many people park there (people working in the port? Are there other places that they could park?)
Currently very few pedestrians walk along the route. As there is currently no barrier to pedestrians using the route as it is, even if the development of the Haven Precinct goes ahead, would we expect a significant increase?
The observed low number of pedestrians currently using the route leads into the way the options have been presented. For option 1, the first image shows 2 cyclists and the second shows 3, with no pedestrians in either image. In Option 2, again the first and second image show just 2 cyclists and no pedestrians. Then for option 3, the first image again shows just two cyclists and no pedestrians, however the final image suddenly shows four cyclists, two cycling on the shared pathway along with a family including young children stretched across the entire path - carnage is about to ensue! Of course this is not what we observe on a daily basis on our shared pathways and a representation of an option in this way, whether deliberate or not, is bound to sway opinion and undermines it's usefulness in determining the best option.
There is no information regarding the junctions, and road crossings. These are the Achilles' heal of any cycle route and, without that information, it's not possible to make an informed choice on the preferred options.
Why do we not see an option of a two way cycle way on the seaward side? This would combine the best of Options 2 and 3. So why isn't this being considered?