The Welcome Bay resident isn’t even a cyclist, but he sensed a life-threatening hazard for those who are. And he called for action.
“When they have to stick up 20-plus bollards to separate cycle lanes from car lanes, it tells me they see it as a danger,” wrote Jeremy Brooking to Sun Media.
“And it’s only a matter of time before someone’s killed.” Jeremy’s anxiety was fired by the cycle lane alongside the city-bound approach road to the Maungatapu underpass – right at the Welcome Bay Lane entry from Welcome Bay Road, where left turning cars can veer cross the cycle lane.
“We need a safe, sensible solution,” says Jeremy.
But even before Jeremy’s dire warning, the potential hazard had been flagged.
A statement, the NZ Transport Agency says both they and Tauranga City Council “share concerns about cyclists’ safety” at the exit and agrees improvements need to be made.
The Weekend Sun did a consumer test – reporter and part-time cyclist Sharnae Hope volunteered to run the Welcome Bay Lane exit and share her experience.
“It’s scary and dangerous,” says Sharnae. “It’s downhill, so you are gathering speed and there are no signs warning of left-hand turning traffic.”
A large truck added drama to Sharnae’s test run. “I didn’t see it - I heard it, something big. I didn’t know where he was going but by that time I couldn’t back out.” Fortunately, the truck had slowed to turn after Sharnae had ridden through the hotspot. And photos prove it was indicating.
“The intersection is being monitored daily,” says NZTA, “and if new measures don’t slow drivers down, Welcome Bay Lane will be closed until a permanent solution can be put in place.” The new measures referred to are the bollards or lane markers installed at the Welcome Bay Road exit or Welcome Bay Lane entry. The markers aim to slow motorists to 40kp/h before crossing the cycle lane.
Jeremy Brooking says: “Nowhere else have I seen cycle lanes indicated with bollards like this – they are normally in high speed, high crash areas.”
NZTA says the design of the intersection meets the current engineering code for residential roads. “Safety is our first priority, and while these designs are finalised we have installed lane markers to make the intersection safer.” However it is looking into a number of additional measures to improve cyclist safety.
Options include lowering the entry speed into Welcome Bay Lane, providing a safe bicycle crossing point further up the lane, ‘speed calming’ measures like speed bumps or a cycle-only underpass beneath Welcome Bay Road.
NZTA says it’ll consult the community when there are more details on solutions. “We remain committed to making it safe and as easy as possible for people to cycle between Welcome Bay and the city.