A cyclists passes the green sludge on Rocks Rd that has caused several accidents. Photo: Charles Anderson.

‘Black spot’ causes chaos

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A Rocks Rd blackspot made up of silt, water and slime has caused serious injury and near death to at least three people in the last few months with some worried when it will claim someone’s life.

“The thing I’m worried about is that someone will die there just because of a little puddle,” says Kirsten Boswijk who rode through the spot last September.

She slid off her bike and broke her pelvis.

“I was really lucky that there wasn’t much traffic, just a motorbike and another guy who picked me up,” she says. “I’m worried that someone isn’t going to be so lucky because it’s quite a busy road and there are a lot of trucks there. There is not much anyone can do about it if that happens.”

She says, if it wasn’t for the people who stopped, her situation could have been much more serious.

“I really want to thank them but I don’t know their names.”

NZTA, which manages the road, says it has put a sign up saying it is slippery when wet, however that did not help another cyclist who last month who went through the puddle and ended up with a broken shoulder and broken ribs.

“It’s just bloody treacherous,” he said. “When I came off there was a guy behind me in a ute who managed to stop in time. But I was lying there looking up at the grill of a truck. If he was looking the other way there is no way he would have avoided going over the top of me.”

The cyclist said he had ridden through puddles “countless times” on his way to work and never had an issue. But he thought there might have been less road sweeping going on.

It is understood that the puddle has also claimed a police officer on foot who fell seriously and injured his hip while attending a call out on Rocks Rd.

An NZTA spokesperson said it was aware of the issue and it would be solved in the broader Rocks Road repairs and rebuild project which is due to get underway next month.

“This work will see the area concerned re-laid to new levels, improved drainage and the roadway resurfaced.”

During the day the highway between the Basin Reserve and Magazine Point will be two lanes and 30kmh at all times. It will reduce to one lane over night with Stop/Go traffic management in place.

No properties or businesses have access ways on this section and cycle lanes will also be unavailable. However, the walkway will remain intact, except during underpinning of the seawall at Magazine Point.

Cyclists will need to walk their cycles along the walkway or cycle with the traffic in the centre of the lane.

The work will take place from 7pm to 7am when traffic volume is at its lowest along Rocks Rd. It is expected to take seven weeks to complete.

The NZTA spokesperson said that that in the meantime the Tasman Journeys team has erected slippery road signage to warn cyclists, and had the site swept again.

“We encourage cyclists to take care until this area is made safer.”

But Kirsten rode past the spot again on Sunday and noticed the puddle was still there.

“It needs to be sorted and fast. At least put some cones around it or something.”

Nelson City Councillor and the Green Party’s 2017 Nelson candidate Matt Lawrey said that while it was good news the problem was going to be fixed, the potentially lethal situation highlighted the urgent need for the city and NZTA to get on with building a shared pathway around the waterfront that gets people away from the traffic.