The arguments of a lone Dunedin city councillor seeking
to have the South Dunedin Cycle Network stopped in its tracks
fell largely on deaf ears yesterday.
The majority of Cr Lee Vandervis' colleagues instead voted to
accept changes to routes, moving the project on to the next
stage, although not before some expressed concerns about
parts of the process so far.
These included concerns about the information being shared,
the consultation process, signs and markings on cycle routes,
the cost/benefit analysis used and councillors' being asked
to retrospectively approve changes to routes when tenders
were already being sought.
On the last point, Cr Richard Thomson was assured by
transportation group manager Gene Ollerenshaw routes could
still be changed through negotiation with any successful
Cr Thomson had expressed discomfort at being asked to
approve work already gone to tender.
His particular concern was on proposed changes to the Oval
cycleway, originally meant to traverse the fields on the east
side but now proposed for the existing path on the west side
of the Oval.
That route was less direct and required cyclists to
back-track, meaning they were likely to take Princes St
instead of the desired route via Vogel St into town, Cr
Councillors asked staff to ask contractors to price both
routes and bring the options back to councillors for a
decision on which should proceed.
They also agreed to seek from the main funder of the
network, the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), an extension
of the project deadline to ensure decisions on the remaining
fourth stage of the project - expected to be the most
''sensitive'' in terms of impact on parking and property access
- were not rushed.
The entire network is at present required to be completed by
July next year to take advantage of NZTA funding.
Other concerns included the fact new information 118 car
parks across South Dunedin would need to be removed as part
of the next two stages of the project only surfaced after it
was sought by Cr Hilary Calvert.
Some councillors expressed disquiet the information was
not included in the staff update on the project and were
concerned about where people would park instead, although Cr
Mike Lord said it did not seem too many parks given the size of
the area involved.
Crs Calvert and Kate Wilson successfully sought a promise
signs would be used during the construction of the next set
of cycleways to avoid the confusion caused to road users
during the construction of the first set, particularly on
Transportation planning manager Sarah Connolly said staff
felt the two-week consultation period on each stage was
enough, as most wanting to make submissions usually did so in
the first few days anyway.
Cr Vandervis argued the whole project should be dropped
because the NZTA-mandated cost/benefit analysis only
considered cyclists and not other road users.
Also, the value of the lost car parks and loss of ''motorised
connectivity'' had not been considered.
For most people, buses and cycling were simply not realistic
options, he said.
''The whole cycling plan is utter lunacy and crazy ... I
believe the majority of people don't want this. I think now
is the time to vote against going any further.''
But Crs Thomson, Chris Staynes and Mayor Dave Cull said the
decision was already made and the council was committed to
providing options for all road users and improving safety.
''There are some people who don't agree with it, but [the
decision is] made and it's going ahead, so now we are having
a debate about the implementation of it,'' Cr Thomson said.
Cr Vandervis was the only councillor present to vote against
accepting the suggested route revisions, although Cr Calvert
abstained because of the lack of a cost-benefit analysis for
all road users.
Mr Ollerenshaw earlier confirmed staff also had some concerns
the $4.5 million budget for the project ($1.5 million from
DCC and $3 million from NZTA) would not be enough, but said
that would be clearer once tenders were in for stage 2 of the
project later this month.
If the project was going to go over budget, the options would
be reassessed at that stage.