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NZTA building bridges with cyclists

By Don Farmer

[email protected]

The public purse must indeed be a very big one.

I suggest rather than a purse it must be a very large sack if the money spent, and about to be re-spent, on crash barriers erected along great stretches of State Highway 2 between Masterton and Carterton is any yardstick.

This week the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) confirmed it is “reviewing” the layout of the barriers which is highly likely to involve relocating sections of the barriers and adjusting roadway markings to give cyclists more room.

While clearly this is a partial victory for the cycling fraternity which has been up in arms over the barriers ever since they were installed it is nevertheless a classic example of how not to go about getting a job done properly.

It seems abundantly clear the barriers were erected with about the same level of consultation the Communist authorities in East Berlin afforded the people of that great city before the overnight construction of the Berlin Wall.

Right from the outset cyclists claimed they had been dealt an unexpected and dangerous blow describing the barriers as a death-trap which could see them squashed between the barriers and crashed vehicles.

Most of all they complained about the lack of consultation and now are welcoming the NZTA review and have gone as far as praising the organisation for at last sitting round the table with road users to discuss the re-design.

While it is a noble aim to try and improve road safety and the good intentions of NZTA should not be questioned this episode is an abject lesson in how not to go about things.

That brings me back to the public purse.

Erecting crash barriers could in no way be described as being a cheap undertaking and if, as expected, the review finally determines that the barriers need to be uprooted and realigned along with road markings being changed then you can bet your bottom dollar that is going to add significantly to the final outcome.

What is an absolute must now is for NZTA to get it right next time and ensure that the organisation regains the respect of the cyclists while helping to protect all road users.

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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