This afternoon WCC Chief Executive Kevin Lavery announced a solution to the issues with mobility parking outside the Island Bay Medical Centre. Mr Lavery writes:
"I’m pleased to inform you that the council has made some changes to the cycle path layout in Island Bay.
Following discussions with representatives of the Island Bay community, and receiving some independent feedback, a decision to modify a 50 metre section of the cycleway south of Medway Street has been made.
It’s a practical solution that makes the layout more consistent and better for everyone.
Essentially, the change will turn this section into the same shared space layout as exists through the commercial area to the north of Medway Street, which makes the layout more consistent. The protected cycleway will transition to this shared space layout further south than currently exists.
There are three key reasons for making this change:
These changes will be implemented as soon as possible.
In the meantime, a post construction safety audit is underway and the balance of the project will be subject to a fuller review before March 2017. Unless there are issues raised through the safety audit that require urgent attention it is envisaged that there will be no further changes until the substantial review in a years’ time."
This is a decision that definitely has pros and cons. The main upside is that the mobility parks outside the medical centre will now be immediately adjacent to the kerb which resolves a significant issue for the users of those parks. The main downside is that 50m of protected cycleway is now being converted back to shared space. This definitely lowers the level of service from a cyclist's point of view and represents a major compromise.
As a member of the community stakeholder group that advised the council on this I can assure you that this issue received more attention than any other and was the subject of hours of discussion, including a one hour site visit. The apparently straight-forward solution of simply moving the mobility parks back to the kerb created knock-on issues in terms of the consistency of the design on both sides of the road that then needed to be dealt with. The council officers did a very good job of thoroughly exploring and explaining all the possible options. They also listened to all the feedback they received from around the table. Although the chosen solution was not my personal choice I am happy that the process was very robust and that the council officers made their decision from a fully informed position and taking into account all views. Some cyclists will not be happy with the decision from a cycling point of view but I think it is very important that at the current time people on bikes are seen to be willing to make some compromises so that the cycleway can be completed and the community can move forward. This area will be closely monitored by the council to ensure that it is working well and if it is not then changes will need to be made. It may also be possible to make further refinements once the cycleway is completely embedded into the overall transport environment.
In addition to moving the mobility parks back to the kerb this solution also has the benefit for motorists of creating a net gain of one new car park and lessening the severity of the pinch point in this area. In return, I hope that people on bikes can expect to see motorists always observe the 30 kph speed limit through the shared area. Motorists will also need to respect without question the rights of people on bikes to merge into traffic and take the lane without being forced over to the left.