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Cyclists back compromise on high-risk highway

By Alisa Yong

[email protected]

Cyclists are tentatively backing changes to a dangerous stretch of road after the transport agency bowed to pressure and reviewed the layout and crash barriers on a section of SH2.

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) is proposing to redesign the road south of the Waingawa Bridge after cyclists said at a public meeting in May that the recently-installed crash barriers were an accident waiting to happen.

The agency has since proposed several options to make the shoulder wider for cyclists and said the one preferred by cyclists who were at a second meeting earlier this month, was to use the existing road width to allow for an increased sealed shoulder of between 2.2 to 2.5m.

Under this option, the crash barriers would remain in the same location.

Keen cyclist and organiser of the initial meeting, Clive Peters, said he would have preferred to see the barriers removed altogether, but believed the proposed changes would make it safer for cyclists.

“It’s going to give us a bit more wriggle room all up.”

Cyclist Kirsty McKenzie said she had some reservations about the plan but anything that made the road safer was a “step in the right direction”.

“I’m only supporting it as long as they use rumble strips because we really need those.”

“It’s not ideal, so it has to have the rumble strips as that’s the only way it’s going to work. If they are there it would certainly make it that much safer.”

Ms McKenzie said the group wanted to see something done quickly, and had been told the other options would take much longer and cost more, so they had agreed to a compromise.

“If we wait too long we are going to have a fatality down there.”

“Something needs to be done – any improvement would be a start.”

Consultation on these things was best done beforehand as doing it now was like “shutting the gate after the horse had bolted”, Ms McKenzie said.

Transport agency regional performance manager Mark Owen said the option was “pragmatic and cost-effective”.

“This option would improve safety for people who ride bikes, and balances the needs of all people who use this section of the state highway.”

The other two options discussed were an off-road path behind the barriers, or to relocate the barriers.

“While redesigning the road layout was the preferred option when we met, we agreed to give everyone time to consider all three options, and provide their feedback to the Wairarapa Road Safety Council.”

If the plan received the support of the community, the agency would make the changes this summer, when conditions are suitable for resealing.

Anyone who wants more information on the options, or who would like to provide their feedback, can email [email protected] or phone 06 377 1379.

Feedback should be provided by Friday, July 29.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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