Cycle crash highlights safety issues

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An accident on the St Vincent St Cycleway last week has highlighted the need to make parts of it safer, with nearby businesses saying it will only be a matter of time before there is another crash.

A cyclist was injured at the Parere St section of the cycleway on Thursday morning, after failing to give way to oncoming traffic while crossing the road.

Although there is a give way sign and line markings for cyclists at the intersection, there is still confusion over whether cyclists or drivers have priority at the black spot, and nearby businesses say they are witnessing “near misses” on a daily basis.

Workers at Rockgas and Osprey Boats say that Thursday’s accident was a “classic example” of a cyclist not giving way at the intersection, and would like to see more signage or crossing bars put in place.

Matt Elliott, of Osprey Boats, who is a cyclist and a motorist, says it’s not a case of cars verses bikes, and that cyclists are not giving way because the signs are too small and not at eye level.

“I’ve had a couple of close misses on my bike and in my car,” he says.

“I think if someone spent a whole day watching the cyclists, they would be amazed. The policeman who was at the accident even commented how bad it was.”

Sharron Sendall from Rockgas says the worst time is in the afternoon when children are biking home from school.

“They just don’t give way,” she says. “I don’t want to see a young kid hit, some of them are so tiny and often cycle in front of their parents.”

Several other St Vincent St businesses who were spoken to by Nelson Weekly also expressed frustration that their premises can only be accessed “over the cycleway,” and say that the parallel car parks on the edge of the cycleway make it difficult for their customers to see cyclists when pulling out of their businesses.

Robert Vandenburg, of Mean Greens Fruit and Vege, says he has lost plenty of customers because of the cycleway, especially elderly shoppers, because “they don’t want to take the risk”.

“The concept is good, but there needs to be more awareness,” he says. “We have signage for people driving out, but having to look at two lanes is hard and unfortunately the cyclists tend to get their backs up pretty quickly.”

The cycle way is also concerning businesses towards Victory Square, with YMCA executive director Gary Cox saying he has “struggled with the cycleway since its inception”.

He says he raised his concerns with both Nelson City Council and NZTA but has had little or no response from either.

“We have had a number of near misses with both adults and young children because of the visibility issues,” he says.

“I don’t think this is fair on our kids, families or community as it places our most vulnerable children at risk and I believe that there will be a serious accident in St Vincent St as a result of the road design and its usage.”

Nelson City Council’s Alec Louverdis says they have no plans to change anything at the Parere St intersection, as they have “no recorded crashes” at the location.

He encourages people to use the council’s ‘cycle crash hotline’ to report both near misses and crashes as it helps the council to identify and work to improve possible trouble spots.

Councillor Matt Lawrey, who uses the cycleway every day, says that despite Thursday’s accident, people need to remember that its enabling lots of people who are not that confident on a bike to get into cycling and to get safely to and from work and school.

“That’s a very valuable thing and I’d still really encourage people to use the cycleway. The impression I get from both cyclists and motorists is that people are getting used to it.”

If you are involved in, or see a cycle crash or near miss, phone 0800 CYCLE CRASH (or 0800 292 532) or visit the council’s website.