Parking changes for cycling safety approved

Jinty MacTavish.
Jinty MacTavish.
Plans to rejig parking to improve the safety of cyclists on Dunedin's main thoroughfares have been approved after many questions and some criticism from city councillors.

The changes already supported by affected parties will be implemented pending discussions with the Southern District Health Board about an alternative location for a pick-up/drop-off zone for services on the Cumberland St side of Dunedin Hospital.

They come after councillors asked council staff and the New Zealand Transport Agency for short-term and long-term plans to improve cycle safety on the State Highway 1 one-ways through the city, following the deaths of two cyclists.

The short-term solution of reconfiguring parking would see, among other changes, some short-term parks in the most high-risk sections made into day-long parks, so cyclists did not have to deal with such frequent car-door opening on to the cycle lane.

There main difference would be changes in the allowable periods for parking in certain areas.

The changes will be made while the NZTA and council work on long-term solutions, five options for which will be presented to councillors at a June workshops.

Councillors at a council meeting yesterday had a series of questions on design and technical issues for council staff and the NZTA, as well as queries about the the level of consultation that had been undertaken to this stage.

Cr Lee Vandervis was concerned that motorists had not been consulted, while Cr John Bezett asked whether consultation was adequate on the whole, given past experience where people became ''aggrieved'' after the fact because they were not consulted.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull jumped in when Cr Bill Acklin suggested the parking proposals were rushed, and said the council had requested something be done in the short term and, in fact, there was frustration that it had taken this long.

Councillors then spent an hour discussing the removal of short-term parks often used as drop-off/pick-up area outside the Cumberland St entrance to Dunedin Hospital, after Cr Richard Thomson said he thought that could be a problem from a practical perspective, especially for those using the fracture clinic, for example.

''People are not going to find a park some distance away. They will double-park and make it more dangerous. The other side of the hospital is just too far ... you can't get out and do what you need to do and get back and move your car in time.''

Wishing not to delay the changes, especially in such a high-risk area and where Dr Li Hong ''Chris'' He died when he was hit by a truck when he swung out to avoid a car door being opened, councillors agreed staff should start implementing the changes as soon as an alternative drop-off site was established with the hospital, thus avoiding the matter having to come back to the council.

Cr Jinty MacTavish said the parking changes were the first step to address the inadequate service provided for cyclists, but they were not the best solution, because cyclists and motorist were still separated by only a white line and she was impatient to see the long-term options.

She said it was not acceptable for cyclists be sidelined to less direct routes, as suggested by Cr Acklin.

''The one-ways are important to cyclists for the same reasons as they are important to motorists. It's a fast, efficient and easy way to get from A to B.''

Cr Chris Staynes said he had difficulty with Dunedin drivers' apparent need to have to park outside where they wanted to go, and agreed with Cr MacTavish that long-term solutions might involve reducing the number of parks.

Crs Lee Vandervis and Bill Acklin voted against the proposal - Cr Vandervis because he said the statistics showed it would not be safer for cyclists anyway, in terms of the numbers of doors opening on to the cycle lane, and the changes would cause parking problems, and Cr Acklin because he could not support changing the whole parking system because cyclists wanted to use a particular route.

debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz

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