Last week, there was a bit of a brouhaha about a tradie who sent an offensive email to a cyclist who he almost hit. The whole thing went viral, and pretty quickly led to the company getting the employee to apologise for the remark. The incident happened on the corner of St Asaph and Manchester St, which is about 100 metres from where I live. This brought the whole thing pretty close to home for me. Traffic is a nightmare in town at the moment, including works on St Asaph. I tend to avoid riding my bike down there, as what was a two lane road with space for carparks on both the left and right hand side of the road, is now reduced to one lane, with the kerb on the left and cyclone fencing on the right, meaning there is no where for a cyclist to try and get away.
Unfortunately, this happened in the week in which the City Council announced that the proposed cycleway network may be delayed for three years, which could push its completion out to 8 years away. There are reasons for this, but I think it is disappointing, as I fear that repeated delays will result in it being shelved permanently. The big issue is that the insurance companies who are paying for the repair of the horizontal infrastructure – roads and the things under them – refuse to pay for “betterment”. Therefore the roads have to be put back in the way they were pre-quake. So once all the roadworks have been completed – remember that the people of Christchurch have already suffered through 3 years of this, with at least the same amount of time to go – only then will the council be able to start with the extensive works which some of the cycleways will require. After 6 years of intense disprution, can you imagine how well any proposal to dig up the roads again might fare? Especially in the minds of motorists, who will feel that they are going to suffer for the benefit of just a few cyclists.
The council and the government need to find a way to get the cycleways introduced into the current schedule of roadworks, otherwise we will end up with a situation where they just become too hard and too unpopular. Because we can’t keep having horrible incidents like this one, where a cyclist was killed by a truck on her way to work.