Businesses opposed to cycleway

Lined up opposing a cycleway on Wharf St are (front, from left) Tony Grubb (Realcold), Roger Fewtrell (Southern Hospitality), Paul Gell (Southern Hospitality), Nigel Broad (Plato), Tony Cooke (Ellison's Aluminium) and Christine Young (Cylinder Testing Ser
Lined up opposing a cycleway on Wharf St are (front, from left) Tony Grubb (Realcold), Roger Fewtrell (Southern Hospitality), Paul Gell (Southern Hospitality), Nigel Broad (Plato), Tony Cooke (Ellison's Aluminium) and Christine Young (Cylinder Testing Services), with employees at the rear. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
A group of Dunedin businesses is the latest to take a stand against cycleways in the city, getting together to oppose a route through the harbourside industrial area.

Representatives from five businesses in Roberts St say a proposal to run a cycleway along Wharf St will promote a dangerous mix of cycling and industrial activity.

They say changes to an intersection resulting from the proposal will make it more difficult to access their businesses, which are already struggling in a tough economic environment.

The criticism is the latest outcry in a series of negative reactions from residential and business groups of the council's cycleways.

The Dunedin City Council responded the proposals for the area had come after consultation with representatives from harbourside businesses, the Automobile Association, cycling advocacy group Spokes, KiwiRail, police, the NZ Fire Service and council staff.

But the businesses say they did not know about the consultation.

And despite communication from council staff recently, they feel they were not being listened to.

The proposed stretch of cycleway would take the South Dunedin cycle route through to the Jetty St overbridge.

The proposals for the area were put together after strong opposition to plans to close access to Robert St from Wharf St to accommodate the cycleway.

A preferred option involving taking the cycleway along Wharf St and making some layout changes at the Wharf St-Roberts St intersection, rather than closing it off, was one of four routes on which the group sought feedback.

But the businesses said the restrictions on access would still be a problem for them.

Asked why that was, when there were two other access roads from Wharf St to the area, Southern Hospitality's Roger Fewtrell said any added difficulty of access made it easier for customers to use competitors' services.

Plato's Tony Broad said businesses chose their locations because of access.

He said there was no complete plan for cycleways across the board - instead the system seemed to be going ahead in ''an ad hoc way''.

Cylinder Testing Services' Christine Young said the group was ''providing local jobs for local people, and trying to look after the local economy''.

''What do we get? - Just s***.''

The businesses wanted the cycleway that already runs along Kitchener and Birch Sts to be the preferred route. They said Portsmouth Dr and Wharf St were not well used by cyclists, particularly when compared with the thousands of vehicles that used them.

Council senior transportation planner Lisa Clifford, who has been communicating with Mrs Young, said consultation was continuing and no decision had been made.

She said one business in the area, Dive Otago, and a real estate agent for landowners, had been part of a consultation group.

Mrs Young said she had known nothing about the consultation.

Ms Clifford said the businesses' proposal for the Kitchener St cycleway to remain was not possible, as there were too many trucks parking on, and crossing, the cycle lane. The Wharf St route was shorter.

''As much as cars want to go the short way, cyclists want to go the short way, too.''

She said there would have been changes at the Roberts St entrance without the cycleway, as it was not safe.

A report and recommendation will go to the infrastructure services committee on July 24.

Mayor Dave Cull said he could not understand why the group was going to the media while consultation was still under way.

Mrs Young said it was because the businesses felt they were not being listened to.

A petition asking the council to return two-way access to one end of Marlow St, which was reduced to create a ''quiet street'' for cyclists, has attracted 460 signatures so far. Organiser Trevor McStay said he planned to present the petition to councillors at the infrastructure services committee meeting.

- david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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