Council admits cycle lane width unsafe

Local cyclists are concerned about the width of the cycle lane on a key commuter’s route between Mount Maunganui and Tauranga.

Bike Tauranga affiliate Shane Plummer says the Totara Street cycle lane is a ‘tragedy waiting to happen’. He points out that the width of the current cycle lane does not meet New Zealand Transport Agency best practice guidelines.

The Totara St cycle lane varies from 1.2m to 1.5m in width, and the road speed limit is 60 km/h.

NZTA best practice guidelines state that the desirable minimum width for a cycle lane next to kerb edge varies between 1.6m and 2.5m.

NZTA states that the desirable minimum width for a cycle lane next to kerb edge on a road with a 60km/hour speed limit is 1.75m.

Tauranga City Council acting manager of transportation Phil Consedine says current cycle lane width is less than desirable for an on-road cycle lane and does not offer people on bikes adequate protection from traffic.

“Overall, Totara St is not considered ‘fit for purpose’ or adequately safe for people on bikes which presents a risk of this road, seeing it currently is being used as a route for people on bikes.

“Ideally, the cycle lane on Totara St would be between 1.5 and 1.8 metres wide. Obviously, that is not possible on the existing road due to the current width restrictions.”

ViaStrada senior transportation engineer and transportation planner Glen Koorey says the existing cycle lane width is not sufficient due to the heavy vehicle traffic and high speed limit of Totara St.

“1.2m that’s really at the minimum for a cycle lane, and you might get away with it on a quiet 50 km/h road. It’s not going to work on Totara St.”

ViaStrada senior transportation engineer and transportation planner Axel Wilke, who reviewed the Totara St project on behalf of Tauranga City Council, also raises the issue of turning traffic being the biggest danger to people cycling.

“Those truck drivers they can’t see a thing when they turn left into a driveway and that is the real danger for cyclists along Totara St.”

Glen and Axel both agree that the council’s proposed shared path along the east side of Totara St would resolve issues around the current road layout.

Tauranga City Council has halted the Totara Street Improvement project, which proposed the shared path for cyclists, while Urban Form and Transport Initiative considers the street as part of the wider transport network.

 “People will use the existing cycle lane because they think it’s the only choice they have, and it’s certainly not fit for purpose.

“When you build a decent shared path you provide good width, good sight lines and you can deal with what happens at the intersections,” says Glen.