OK, so you were lucky enough to get a new bike for Christmas but now is not the time to cast it to one side with your Christmas tree, now is the time to put it to work for you !
A bike can be a significant purchase but it can pay for itself in no time at all -
Cycling and Walking infrastructure is hampered by lack of investment, not because of the lack of a new highway. Unfortunately the desire by some to use this project as a political football has held Nelson back from being the city if could have been. The reality is that by focusing on this project as a solution to the regions woes, regardless of the social and environmental consequences, projects such as the St. Vincent St. cycleway have been severely compromised and the Rocks Rd. boulevard project delayed (possibly indefinitely). These compromises and delays reduce the uptake of cycling and also put peoples lives at risk. New roads do not reduce congestion. Reducing car usage does.
It is worth noting that there are four stages of assessment in the current NZTA investigation, and this is just the first stage which looks only at whether there is a problem worth considering further assessment, and not whether there are alternative responses to that problem, or if the potential solution of a new road would cause other problems to an extent that outweigh the advantages. Those assessments lie ahead.
Council held two workshops on walking and cycling issues last week, facilitated very well by Dave Allen and assisted by council staff. The information that came from these meetings will be fed into a set of principles and suggested outcomes that were developed by staff and elected councilors in an earlier workshop.
Overall there was a good deal of useful debate, and a number of participants echoed some similar themes - not least that the aspects of tension in some areas reflect Nelson’s success in building the numbers of people out there being active, but there’s a clear understanding that the implication of that growth might have been better planned and prepared for, with the result that we now need to move into catch-up mode.
The first workshop focused on waking and cycling for transport and the second on recreation. BNB attended both, but took a more of an observer role at the second since in this area the Nelson Mountain Bike club and, to some extent, the Nelson Tasman Cycle Trails Trust provide leadership. The issues in the off-road/mountain biking area are in some ways similar yet different to urban paths, and this is likely to be reflected in the application of some of the solutions (such as a more straight-forward application of specific-use paths), but the underlying issues involving (better) planned development and user responsibility will be the same.
With urban paths and routes the issues are complex; as a couple of participants noted, some shared paths carry a mix of different users in different sections at different times, and most providing an important amenity for large numbers in our community, so making these work better is unlikely to be a simple matter of banning particular user groups. This is particularly so when we look at the increasing number of more vulnerable people, like children and older, less experienced riders, for whom off-road shared paths are a necessary safe option. So the need to meet their needs, and the needs of walkers, should be pushing us to think creatively about how to provide options for the needs of faster and more confident riders, like experienced commuters and mountain bikers in a way that takes the pressure (and tension) of shared paths.
Most of this stuff is fairly obvious at a conceptual level so the devil will be, as is often the case, in the detail. It’s not quite clear what the process is from here, or what degree of consultation there will be in the next step(s), so we’ll keep you posted. What we will say is that we have been a little disappointed by the speed of progress in tackling this, and what it takes to get some issues on the Council’s agenda. BNB met with Nelson’s Mayor and the then president on Nelson Grey Power to discuss shared path issues in November last year, and pushed for an integrated approach to walking and cycling issues in our submission to the Regional Land Transport Strategy, also last year, so a little action earlier might have been a good move.
Bicycle Nelson Bays' Chris Allison and John-Paul Pochin talk to Mainland TV (about 10:49 in).
It's great to see the progress being made to the extension of the Railway Reserve at Beatson Ave. This work will provide the missing link to the shared path by creating an off-road route for cyclists all the way from Gloucester St. in Nelson to Saxton Fields, The Great Taste Trail and Queens St. in Richmond.
This route is also important as it links to Victory School, Nelson Intermediate School, Nayland School, Broadgreen School, and Garin College, providing a safe route for many children to get to and from school and reducing congestion on our roads at peak times.