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Dunedin will almost certainly host world-class separated cycle lanes along its one-way network within a few years. Two lanes - one heading north, one south - will stretch from the Botanic Gardens to Queens Gardens. There will be safety benefits, and increased uptake of cycling, and the chance for Dunedin to market itself as a healthy, active city with greater lifestyle options than before. Car parking will also change significantly. In short, such a project includes reams of details, which reporter Craig Borley has distilled below.
• Why are separated cycle lanes being considered for Dunedin's one-way system?
Two cyclist deaths in central Dunedin, in 2011 and 2012, prompted a review of the city's cycle infrastructure. It was determined cyclists needed better, safer, dedicated routes through the busiest parts of Dunedin.
• But why the one-way system? Shouldn't it be for cars and trucks only?
No, says the NZTA. Cycling is a ''formally recognised form of transport'', and the NZTA believes Dunedin's one-way system can accommodate cyclists without disrupting car and truck traffic flows.
• Were any other routes considered?
Three routes were considered: George St-Princes St, Leith St-Anzac Ave, and the one-way system.
• George St-Princes St: Parking issues, bus movements and frequent high-volume intersections meant George St-Princes St could not have worked unless they became ''quiet streets'' or ''shared spaces'' - moves that were considered too complex when the immediate goal was cycle safety.
• Leith St-Anzac Ave: This was considered a good route for Otago University commuters, but left people too far from the CBD. Several investigations had shown the bulk of cycleway traffic was heading to the CBD, making this route impractical.
• Could heavy traffic be diverted away from the one-way system?
This option was looked at, but was considered highly complex, creating significant problems for other roads and property owners in the city. The one-way system combined the need for a clear and direct path from north to south, and the proximity to the CBD. It also offered fewer complexities than the other options.
• Isn't Dunedin too cold and hilly for this sort of cycle infrastructure?
Dunedin's winters are considerably milder than almost all of Europe's cities, yet cycleways abound across that continent.
Dunedin's weather is also comparable to Vancouver and Portland, North American cities with high rates of cycling and cycling infrastructure.
While Dunedin is hilly, about one third of its population - some 40,000 people - live below the inner-city green belt and below 50m above sea level.
• Will I be able to skateboard on this cycleway?
No. In New Zealand a separated cycle lane is reserved for bicycles only. No scooters, mopeds, skateboards, or motorbikes.
However, power-assisted bicycles, or `eBikes', with power output less than 300 watts, can be used.
• How many people will use these cycleways?
NZTA has surveyed current usage at about 500 trips per day on the one-way cycle lanes. NZTA believes usage could triple to 1500 trips daily when the separated cycle lanes are completed.
• Why hasn't the Dunedin City Council prioritised the one-way cycle lanes ahead of the South Dunedin Cycle Network?
Dunedin's one-way system is part of the country's state highways network. As such, it is owned and managed by the NZTA, not the DCC.
The NZTA will pay for all cycleway work, and operate under its own systems and timetables.
• Will the DCC have to pay for some of the work?
The NZTA will pay for all work needed for the cycle lanes to be up and running. However, extra work, such as parking changes, changes to side streets, cycle parking facilities, and landscaping over and above the NZTA's will be the DCC's responsibility.
• If this is being funded by the NZTA, how can we be sure Dunedin's cycleways will be considered important enough for national funding?
There are steps still to be taken before funding is assured, but in the NZTA's 2015-18 State Highway Activity Management Plan, Dunedin's one-way cycle lanes were ranked top out of 20 projects from around the country.
• How much are the cycle lanes expected to cost?
Current estimates are for $7.5million, though it is expected that figure will fall. The NZTA has budgeted for a worst-case scenario.
• When will we know if it's going ahead or not?
The NZTA will have decided on the business case's value by October.
• When can we expect them to be built and open for use?
A best-case scenario is for June 2017. Many things could change that, though.
• How many car parks will be lost?
The business case has yet to be finalised, but it is expected about 370 car parks will be removed from the one-way system. Those lost parks will be mitigated to an extent by DCC measures, which could include more parking on surrounding streets, more publicity of currently vacant parking spaces and the construction of a new parking building on DCC land.
• Will both the north and south sections of the one-way be affected?
Yes. A proposal to have a two-way cycle lane, using just one road, has been all but dropped.
• How far along the one-way system will the cycle lanes stretch?
From the Botanic Garden in the north through to Queens Gardens in the south. From there, the cycleway will feed on to Vogel St and on to the South Dunedin Cycle Network.
• How wide will the cycle lanes be?
For the most part, they will be 2.6m wide. This is considered wide enough to allow overtaking. However, where car parks are reinstated, and at intersections, the cycle lanes will narrow to between 1.6m and 1.8m. These widths are considered too narrow for overtaking, and are therefore avoided where possible.
• What will separate the cycle lanes from the traffic lanes?
For the most part, kerbing will be used to separate the lanes. Some of that kerbing will planted, some will be plain concrete islands - decisions will be made during the detailed design process. Where vehicle access is needed there will be no kerbing.
• Will vehicles still be able to access driveways etc across the cycleway?
Yes. For low-volume access points, cars will turn directly from the traffic lanes, across the cycle lane, into the driveway. For high-volume access points, traffic bays will be built in to allow vehicles to pull over before turning.