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Scenic Drive cycle awareness campaign underway

Media Release
4 December, 2009

Scenic Drive cycle awareness campaign underway

A cycle awareness campaign is underway in west Auckland’s Scenic Drive.

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A new set of distinctive signs encourages motorists and cyclists to ‘make space’ and ‘share the road’. Some carry specific message for known blind-spots, like ‘cyclists at speed’ at the intersections with Te Henga and Shaw Rds to alert drivers of the need to look left or right.

Waitakere’s Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse says near-misses in Scenic Drive are common.

“The summer beach season is about to begin and now’s the time to raise awareness. We need visitors and locals alike to keep their wits about them and help make Scenic Drive safer.

“Recent collisions in Tamaki Drive, the fatal hit-and-run in Helensville and another death near Otaki have high-lighted tragic outcomes when vehicles tangle with cyclists.

“The number of people cycling in Waitakere City is growing and drivers need to be conscious of that. There is a reciprocal onus on cyclists to be safe and be seen. Please be generous and share the road safely.”

Recent traffic counts have found up to 200 riders in Scenic Drive at weekends, or up to 20% of traffic. Best known as ‘the road to Piha’, no other westie road is both so challenging and so full of cyclists.

Narrow, steep and winding – sometimes all at the same time - the road is shared by cars, cyclists, tourists, pedestrians and residents’ driveways. Councillor Hulse says the campaign aims to help all safely co-exist.

“Cyclists need to keep left and ride single file, and motorists need patience on hills and bends – it’s no different than waiting 30 seconds for a pedestrian at a crossing.”

Near-misses and community safety concerns prompted this Waitakere City Council project, which has been made possible by $40,000 New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) funding. The necessary research and process took two years in all, but has minimised the cost to ratepayers.

“Waitakere City has been committed to being cycle-friendly. I like to think that our willingness to support cycling, and to try new things, will be a positive contribution in the new super city,” Councillor Hulse says.

The council’s Twin Streams Walk and Cycleways last month won the Cycle Action Network’s top award for best cycle facility. The regional “Share the Road” cycle safety campaign is also underway – the ‘Share the Road’ concept’s early development was part of a school travel programme in the Lincoln Road area in 2006.

As the gateway to west coast beaches, the Waitakere Ranges and regional parks, Scenic Drive has a unique planning designation within Waitakere City as a scenic route. Its regional importance for visitors, recreation activities and as a hill training route for cyclists helped the council secure support from NZTA and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority.

The council’s Leisure Services Manager Louis Rattray – who has himself had a near miss on Scenic Drive - says residents and motorists participated in surveys and research in support of the project, and to help identify sign locations. “Thank-you to our Waitakere Ranges communities, the Automobile Association and west Auckland’s cycling club, the Department of Cycling, for their assistance.”

A recent survey has shown a 49% increase in the number of Waitakere cyclists from 2007 to 2009; 32% of this increase coinciding with the completion of the majority of Project Twin Streams pathways. That increase bucks the regional trend of relatively static cyclist numbers in the greater Auckland region.


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