Guest Post: Sunshine on St Albans

Regular correspondent Robert has been sounding out the locals about cycleways…

Over the past few weeks I have attended several meetings in my local area as part of the consultation process for the proposed Papanui Parallel Cycleway (NB: being discussed by Council’s Infrastructure Committee this Tuesday). This will allow a mostly separated pathway to take those on bikes from the city, to Edgeware, St Albans and Papanui (Northlands Mall) and join up with the Railway line pathway. When completed, it will certainly make my journey around the suburb, to work, to shop, and eventually to the rest of the city a much better experience. Judging by the number of supportive submissions received by the CCC during the consultation process I expect many others are looking forward to the benefits to the city, and also a better journey for themselves.

Not surprisingly there are some people living in the area who have concerns about the project; such concerns expressed at each of four consultation meetings presented by the CCC (Community Board and cycleway designers) The fifth meeting attended was instigated by the “Rutland Street Action Group”, made up of concerned residents and business owners opposed to the route the cycleway will take. For each meeting a great deal of background preparation clearly took place to present the information as accurately as possible, to enable full and frank discussion of the issues without excessive interjection and emotion. The final meeting held to convey the amendments that had been made to the plan to address the removal of parking concerns was extremely well presented receiving accolades and sighs of relief from many of the concerned. Time will tell if the amendments proposed will dilute the attractiveness of the cycleway and risk its long term success.

Will cycleways ruin these parts of town?
Will cycleways ruin these parts of town?

The process has been interesting. It has been revealing to learn just how passionate some people can be about the status quo and how difficult it can be to convince others of the ‘big picture’ benefits that the cycleway programme will bring to the city. Benefits to health, well-being, the environment and to the cost of transport seem unimportant to some when there is a threat to car parking access.

I share some selected comments and concerns:

The following pamphlet delivered to letter-boxes in the area got local residents talking. I am unaware of the source and think best nothing further is said.

Cycleways: the new evil...
Cycleways: the new evil…

The following table lists some of the comments that I have heard at the meetings and my personal answer to them (with varying degrees of tongue-in-cheek to disguise the biased disbelief…):

My elderly customers drive to my shop. Without parking outside they will not come. Shopping malls do not have car parks outside each shop. Some walking is always required.
My front fence is 6 foot high. Visibility is bad when reversing. There will be accidents. At present, pedestrians use the footpath, cars and bikes use the road. Will the accident rate be any worse than at present? (and you should reverse into driveways – editor)
We are in favour of the cycleway, it will help to ease congestion. BUT it must not be along the roads in our area…
We have to tolerate boy-racers. Now there will be cyclists as well. A city-wide problem should not be used as a reason to oppose a project that will benefit many people.
Our community is under threat. What is threatening the St Albans community is ever increasing volumes of fast moving vehicular traffic.
They can use Cranford St; there is plenty of room. There are multiple reasons why this is not such a good idea (e.g. traffic volumes and speeds, indirectness).
Couriers need to park outside our house. Many houses in the city do not have on-street parking particularly in the hill suburbs. Alternative arrangements are made.
Our community and businesses need on-street parking to survive. On street parking has been reduced for many years to allow for road widening, addition of turning lanes and other measures to facilitate the traffic flow for vehicles. Unfortunately this is been to the detriment of safety for cycles.
Parishioners will be unable to attend church on Sundays as there will be insufficient parking. Reading this link, here is a great opportunity for parishioners to think globally, but act locally.
A threat to this way of life...
A threat to this way of life…

Two comments that deserve most attention however are:

‘There is a perfectly good painted cycle lane along St Albans Street already‘

‘The St Albans Street/Rutland Street roundabout keeps traffic flowing very well and should not be replaced with signals, which will be a complete waste of money’

If either of these speakers had ever ridden a bicycle in this area they would know that the “perfectly good painted cycle lane” puts anyone who uses it on a collision course with traffic at each of the Rutland St and the Trafalgar/Courtenay Streets roundabouts. It only takes one close call for an inexperienced person on a bike to be shaved by a fast moving vehicle entering either of these roundabouts during commuter time and that will be their attempt at a new transport mode thwarted for good. Traffic signals will be welcomed by pedestrians also.

This is about safety.

St Albans St roundabouts are not great fun for cycling through
St Albans St roundabouts are not great fun for cycling through

“But I give a promise to those people who are opposed to this bill right now. I give you a watertight guaranteed promise.
The sun will still rise tomorrow.
Your teenage daughter will still argue back to you as if she knows everything.
Your mortgage will not grow.
You will not have skin diseases or rashes, or toads in your bed.
The world will just carry on.
So do not make this into a big deal.”

Hon. Maurice Williamson, MP for Pakuranga
Marriage Equality Bill Speech
April 2013

What concerns about cycleways have you heard from others?

1 thought on “Guest Post: Sunshine on St Albans”

  1. Ah bless ’em… I DRIVE down Rutland Street regularly and it is already a concrete jungle. I would be more concerned at the tail back of cars that blocks access to shops and houses but as they say op north “there’s nowt as queer as folk” …

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