Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Call for segregated cycle tracks in New Zealand

A cycling expert is calling on the Government to provide dedicated cycleways with curbing channels to protect cyclists from traffic. Professor Simon Kingham from Canterbury University said there was a perception cycling was unsafe compared with other forms of transport, but the overall risk was actually lower when the health benefits of exercise were taken into account.

"The main barrier to people cycling is that they don't feel safe - it's absolutely clear and we've done some research in Christchurch on that about three years ago."

Dr Kingham said more people would cycle to and from work if it was seen to be safer. "It's people's perceptions of what is safe, and what people have made very clear is they want to be separated from traffic. They don't want to be cycling on a road with nothing but a painted white line between them and a car. 

"They want some sort of physical barrier whether it be a curb, a fence, a hedge or some planters, or a cycleway that's completely away." 

Cycling Advocates Network Patrick Morgan has backed the call for dedicated cycleways, saying cycling could be made safer through education and enforcement, but the best way was through engineering. "That's the most effective tool in the toolkit for getting more people cycling more often. If you look at places that have a lot of people riding bikes, that's how they've achieved it - they've created attractive cycling environments."

Mr Morgan said it was clear from Dr Kingham's research, a first for New Zealand, that cyclists wanted separated cycleways. The difficulties with establishing dedicated cycleways were only political, not geographical, and they could work in any city in the world - as they had done in the old cities of Europe.