Safety improvements on the Otaki River Bridge

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Cyclists ride two abreast and “take the lane” on the Otaki River bridge in October 2010.  The bridge is too narrow for cars to pass cyclists safely. Photo by Andrew Donaldson/ Chainlinks
Cyclists ride two abreast and “take the lane” on the Otaki River bridge in October 2010. The bridge is too narrow for cars to pass cyclists safely. Photo by Andrew Donaldson/ Chainlinks

+ Yesterday I had an email that put a smile on my face. It had to do with changes of road design on the Otaki River Bridge. When I later talked with the NZTA engineer my smile became broader. Mr. Steve James wants to meet with Kapiti Cycling Inc members to discuss safe access for our cycling population on the Otaki River Bridge and access to and from Riverbank Road. I want to say straight away that it will not be the elegant bridge depicted in the recent Dominion Newspaper and other local papers on 27 November.

+ What has caused this shift in attitude? The Safer Cycling Panel under Chairman Richard Leggat has delivered their report “Safer Journeys for People who Cycle” to the transport minister office only as recent as 8th December. Cycling Advocates Network (CAN) chair Bevan Woodward says: “It is not acceptable that cyclists and pedestrians account for 30% of deaths in urban areas. BikeNZ and CAN are looking forward to working closer with government to deliver on Safer Journeys.” If you wish to read more try www.can.org.nz.

+ The meeting took place on site today (Wednesday 10th December) in driving rain. The trucks at 70 km per hour splashed meter high waves on us as we stood talking. NZTA is willing to use funding available this year to: Embed loop detectors in the roadway at both ends of the bridge that will bring on a flashing red light to warn motorists that there are people cycling on the bridge roadway; Access ramps at both ends of the raised footpath; Green lanes markings on both sides of the road, especially helpful when continuing straight passed Riverbank Road; A longed for off road cycle path through the reserve between the bridge and Riverbank Road to be used both ways. Finally two more requests will be looked into: one, shifting the barrier at the south end of the bridge to allow easy access to the riverbank and two, some kind of protection along the raised footpath. Further Steve James will investigate the possibility of a 50 km speed limit. In January the plan will published in this newspaper.

By Liz Mikkelsen-Malpas