Cycle project scaled back

The Dunedin City Council has been forced to pare back original plans for the controversial South Dunedin Cycle Network, as the true costs of the project become apparent.

Despite being reduced by almost half, the curtailed network is expected to cost about $5.5 million - $1 million more than original estimates for the whole network. The blowout may eat into funding set aside for the rest of the city's cycle network.

The council this week adopted a revised 14.8km network of cycleways criss-crossing South Dunedin, 10km less than it originally approved but retaining some crucial links across the area and between it and the central city.

Routes planned for South Rd, Forbury Rd, Macandrew Rd, most of Hillside Rd, the western end of Victoria Rd, Musselburgh Rise, Silverton St, Tainui Rd and through Tahuna Intermediate will no longer go ahead.

Staff presented councillors with three options after being able, for the first time, to more accurately estimate the cost of the project.

Senior transportation planner Lisa Clifford said previous cost estimates had been just that, as no similar network had been built in New Zealand.

Now the first stage was nearly complete and the tenders were in for the next stage, staff could see the actual costs.

Quiet streets (new to New Zealand) in particular, such as in Marlow St, were turning out to incur significant costs at intersections, and there were significant costs in retrofitting parking in new street layouts.

Based on what it now knew about costs, she said, the council would only be able to build 12km of the original 25km cycleway network within its original $4.5 million budget.

The network would cost as much as $7.85 million if built as originally approved by the council.

The revised network chosen would cost about $5.5 million and probably take a bit longer to complete because of the need to access more funding, also complicated by a drop from next year in the funding assistance rate available from NZTA for new capital projects.

The council would either have to increase the ratepayer share of the costs in 2015-16 by about $60,000 (bringing it to $410,000 that year) to push up the NZTA's contribution to the required level, or use some of the ratepayer money allocated for cycleway projects in 2016-17.

The council has budgeted to spend $350,000 on cycle projects in each of the next six years.

A decision about where the additional money will come from will be made as part of the long-term budget-setting process early next year.

The decision was made with relatively few questions from councillors, and no debate, at this week's infrastructure services committee meeting.

It was not what the council desired, Cr Jinty MacTavish said.

''We are in another invidious position that we are again unable to implement what we would have wanted to implement, for funding reasons.

''It's not ideal.''

Earlier in the meeting, Crs Mike Lord, Kate Wilson and Andrew Whiley peppered staff with questions about the amount of consultation they did, particularly around Marlow St, where more than 600 surrounding residents have signed a petition seeking to have the street returned to pre-cycleway design.

Staff said there had been two rounds of consultation last year.

Cr MacTavish acknowledged the network was having some impacts on residents, who were feeling disenfranchised.

''But I think those are issues we simply need to work through with those residents because this is a network that needs to happen.

''It's as much about a mental shift in the way we experience our roads and the way we experience the streets outside our houses as it is about physically changing our environment.''

Time to have a cup of tea?

I have always been of two minds on the cycleway project. I see the arguments of both sides which have validity. As someone dispassionate about the issue, I do think it is time to go back to the drawing board and think through the whole issue more clearly as to what is needed for adequate cycle safety and what we can reasonably afford given the debt burden of the council and the effects on all citizens, not just cyclists, of the cycleway plan.

Bad mistakes will inevitably be made by not doing so. 

Pie in the sky

The DCC says "no similar network has been build in NZ", "costs were just estimates" and "It's as much a mental shift in the way we experience our roads". On one hand, it's time to congratulate the council on finally being realistic about their pie in the sky project. However, the DCC quotes do indicate that the Dunedin cycleway is a failed social experiement that the ratepayer is expected to pick up the tab for.  It will not leave Dunedin people filled with confidence in their civic leaders. No wonder there are no similar networks in NZ!

Tail wagging the dog

Clearly the council sees it's role as changing us to their way of thinking.

''It's as much about a mental shift in the way we experience our roads and the way we experience the streets outside our houses as it is about physically changing our environment.''

Democracy, no? Someone once compared the Greens to water melons - green on the outside but red on the inside.

A modern solution

As there are thousands of cyclists desperate to see this "network" built, then DCC should just do a bit of crowd-funding to cover the shortfall. If 10,000 of these  cyclists pay only $200 each, then there is a quick $2 million to get some of the work done. By the number of comments in the ODT whenever cycling is raised there must be at least this many willing contributors out there.

Come on the noisy minority, that is only $4 a week for 1 year and you get what you demand. $4, less than one latte!

And DCC could do it every year and you could continue to contribute, some of you might even forgo 2 latte's worth.

Local resident's thoughts

A few comments about the cycleway:
Royal Crescent towards the Victoria Road end is badly formatted – when it rains the stormwater runs toward the houses, not the road.
The hump in Victoria Road is excessively and unnecessarily high. Why is there no similar hump at the Andy Bay crossing (along from St Kilda Vet)?
This morning, again, a cyclist riding along Royal Crescent was not using the cycleway. Why are cyclists not using the cycleway?
The road surface on Royal Crescent is like corrugated iron, yet the DCC spent money resurfacing the ‘quiet street’ part of Marlow Street which now has significantly less traffic. Waste of money.

Since the closure of Marlow Street at Royal Crescent end I now have to travel about half a kilometre further to get to work, and given I go home for lunch most days it is at least double that estimated additional travel. Now consider the additional cost of fuel for me for a year – assuming I go to work 230 days of the year and each day that additional kilometre (2 x 0.5km) is travelled we have 230 kilometres which if the vehicle consumed 1 litre per 10 kms at a cost of 2.50 a litre the works out at 23 litres of fuel total cost $57.50 for the year.
Of course, if we us the a business rate for vehicles of say of .77/km then the cost is somewhere in the region of $170. And that is just one vehicle. How many others have gad there travel distance increased by the introduction of the cycleway? 
So thanks DCC for the increased cost.

If it wasn't so sad

Looks like yet another example of the council being told, ignoring the advice, pushing their agenda and failing. Miserably.

Maybe if they cancelled the rest of the project they could put the remaining funds into reinstating all the roads that they have ruined in the process. 

Amazing to see the total of zero cyclists using the cycle lane between Andersons Bay and the Uni at rush hour this morning as well. 

The nose to tail traffic jam sucked though. 


Time for an inquiry

I think the time has come for a full, public, inquiry into cycleway construction in Dunedin.   As a city we are spending many millions and yet seem to be getting very little in return.   After the article this morning I rode round South Dunedin and struggle to see very much of real value associated with this project.  
We have a some white paint and the usual DCC proliferation of "sticky out bits" which seem to do little but annoy everyone.  But I could see no real cycleways for the millions of dollars which have been spent.
The Alexandra to Roxburgh cycleway and the Mount Cook to Oamaru trails both cost less than the South Dunedin cycleway and I want to know why.   I questioned councillors at a recent meeting and was told by Doug Hall that is was because of the high cost of gravel in Dunedin - and I guess he would know!

Real cycleways would be a huge benefit to Dunedin but what we seem to be getting is very little for a huge cost.   


Let me see. So your job is planning roads and you cant work a quote closer than less than half of the real costs? Hmmm. Ever built anything before? Or was it just wishful thinking to get the project agreed to? I am rather surprised that this lane is not coming to South Rd and Hillside Rd being that they have been made so much more dangerous and busy thanks to the motorway widening project (which isnt finished after how many years and millions of dollars spent?).

South Dunedin left in the cold

It is interesting that the flattest and most cycle friendly area in Dunedin has been removed from the cycleway network and won't go ahead. I understand that in addition South Dunedin has one of the lowest rates of car ownership in the country. Well done DCC yet another well thought out project.

Sacred cows cost lives

Once again we sacrifice young lives rather than taking the cheaper option of putting lanes in the spare space now used, free of charge, for storing  vehicles on the street, otherwise known as parking. The sacred cow of parking rather than lives saved.


Strange choices

Have to agree with yeahnah on this one. The Council somehow think that the least important parts of the project - mainly through the quiet residential streets in South Dunedin - deserves the bulk of the funding, and so they've cut out things like Hillside to allow them to go only "slightly" over budget. I can't imagine that this bodes well for anything they were hoping to accomplish in the busier parts of the city, where cyclists do actually find themselves in danger from vehicles (or endangering pedestrians, if they go that route) during the commute. Sadly, this is just more fodder for the anti-cycle campaigners to use when they're out not seeing cyclists.

Here's a challenge

Can somebody please tell me something that the DCC has been involved in that has come in under-budget? All we ever hear about are blowouts and overruns. I suppose no care is taken when it is not one's own money.

Good ol' council

So, to sum things up:

1. They've put a bunch of cycle lanes where the residents don't want them.
2. The busiest parts of the scheme are now going to be put on the back-burner.
3. Once again, no accountability from anyone who did any of the 'work'.

In the meantime, people are still getting skittled on the one-way systems and main throughfares and not a lot has been achieved. 

I'd be angry were I not so depressed at the level of ineptitude that crawls the halls of the civic centre. 


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