“A section of the old State Highway 1 — rendered obsolete as a highway by the new Kāpiti expressway – is about to get a $22 million makeover, featuring cycleways, lights, roundabouts and lower speed limits.
“The New Zealand Transport Agency has announced work will begin in 2018 on transforming about 13.5 kilometres of SH1 into a local road on the Kāpiti Coast, north of Wellington.”
So begins this Joel Maxwell story on the Stuff website from last week.
“Most of the road, which was previously the only highway through the district, is already only two lanes. But the changes could see the four-lane sections through Waikanae and Paraparaumu lose a lane on each side.”
The drawing above makes clear what is intended — the conversion of one of the two lanes in each direction through both towns to a cycle lane.
It’s unnecessary to say that it comes from the now ubiquitous environmental anti-car sentiment. But there are problems.
Firstly, these are built-up areas which because of the KCDC’s empire building strategy activity encouraging developers to build more housing, are going to see a big population growth in the next decade — and many more cars on the road.
Two vehicle lanes in each direction help solve traffic congestion by allowing straight-ahead traffic to use one of the lanes while turning traffic can use the other lane. It’s not rocket science.
There is already enough room in the less congested part of the road south of the Paraparaumu centre, shown in the picture, for cycle lanes to be added as it is.
How many new cyclists are likely to use these proposed cycle lanes versus the number of new cars likely from the KCDC’s growth plans? Not many, we submit. When people go shopping they like to use their cars to carry their purchases home; there are limits on what you can carry on a bicycle.
When people go cycling for exercise all they need is some refreshment, which is easily carried on a bicycle.
And isn’t there a much promoted new cycle path accompanying the ‘Ewy’ route already?
We, of course, appreciate the environmental sentiment, but if electric cars substantially replace fossil-fuel powered ones in the coming decade, that will steadily become less of an issue anyway.
What the money should be spent on instead is the much-needed underpass for Elizabeth Street level crossing in Waikanae, which has been commented on several times on here. $22 million would cover the cost of that with plenty to spare.
Will the bureaucrats listen? If enough people speak up, maybe.