The west side of Dixon St which was the proposed site of the rejected cycle lane. PHOTO/ELISA VORSTER
An overwhelmingly negative response to the extension of the Dixon St cycle lane from disgruntled residents and business owners saw Masterton District Council dump the proposal on Wednesday.
Extending the existing lane would have meant the loss of around 80 car parking spaces on the west side of Dixon St.
Council assets and operations manager David Hopman maintained the inclusion of the cycle lane was the best option to increase the general safety of cyclists, and part of a broader strategy to encourage a healthier lifestyle.
But he accepted the individual submissions from survey responses showed there was “clearly not a lot of support for cycle lanes from the public in general”.
While most councillors strongly opposed the cycle lane extension, it became clear the issue was less about whether Masterton should have cycle lanes and more about the location of them.
Mayor Lyn Patterson wasn’t willing to close the chapter on the issue.
“We either put our money where our mouth is and do these things or get jelly legs and don’t do them.”
She was eager to explore the alternative options of putting in more off-street parking on Dixon St, or creating a cycle lane on Smith St and Queen St.
“Just saying no doesn’t get us anywhere, it just sets us back.”
Both councillors Chris Peterson and Johnathan Hooker backed the proposal and didn’t think location had anything to do with people’s responses.
“It doesn’t matter where we put it, we would still get this opposition,” Cr Peterson said.
He added it was an issue which council endlessly talked about but didn’t do anything about “because it’s too bloody hard” and referred to the public response as “bikelash”.
But councillor Bex Johnson said the cycling strategy was not the issue, “the issue is Dixon Street”.
Councillor Brent Goodwin agreed, and said having a cycle lane on both Chapel and Dixon Streets would be “a fundamental mistake”.
“Not every street needs a cycle lane.
“They’re too close, it’s a duplication.”
Cr Hooker said the cycle lane extension was one of many bold decisions the council would have to make this year and believed some business owners went out of their way to sabotage the proposal.
“I’m certain once there was consultation there were a whole lot more cars parked than before consultation.
“Businesses are taking the opportunity to make it look like it is more congested than it actually is.”
Mr Hopman recognised Dixon St was not the preferred option but part of council’s cycling strategy was to implement the cycle lanes as work on the roads progresses.
Because Dixon St is due for a re-seal, it was the cheapest option available.
Councillor Deborah Davidson stated this was not a good enough reason for putting a cycle lane on the road and the strong public opposition must be listened to.