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The Press-News column Sep 10

2 Abreast Cycling Rule should be abolished.

With the darling buds of spring bursting forth, the blaze of lycra seems to grow in tandem with the explosion of blossom. Yes, the warmer weather brings recreational cyclists out in ever-increasing force.  Cycling advocates are stepping up their campaign for legislative protection, which would force motorists to give every cyclist 1.5 metres breathing space. As a very occasional cyclist, I can fully appreciate the desire for more room to roam unmolested, by vehicular traffic. But you only have to look at the tenuously narrow lane configurations on many roads to conclude that a 1.5 metre separation distance between cyclists and motorists is impractical. Any such requirement would have the perverse result of forcing motorists to routinely cross the centre line, to keep clear of cyclists. I think there is a much easier solution to the pathological  tension and territorial hostility that plays out on our roads, between the two wheelers and four wheelers.  Abolish the two-abreast cycling rule. This rule is already a  strings attached mishmash, given the road code states that cyclists can ride two-abreast, but not  if they are impeding traffic from behind, or passing parked cars. Well, how many abide by that? Two-abreasting is a quaint 1950s anachronism. Single file is the way to go.

Insanity on Ilam.

Have you been past Canterbury University lately? Since mid-July,  a chunk of Ilam Road, from Creyke Rd to Kirkwood Ave has been the subject of a $600,000 “cycle-friendly refurbishment.”  This profligate carve- up of the road into vehicle, parking and cycling lanes has led to the truly barking outcome, that cyclists now have a bigger share of the bitumen than general road traffic. This over-cooked, spliced-up reworking of Ilam Road could only be the product of an over-reaching council committee that’s sipped too many cups of oolong tea.  Cyclists not only have free run of the footpaths, emblazoned with painted bike symbols,  but a dedicated roadside cycle lane,  reinforced with concrete blockades. I’m serious – they are blockades. These ugly concrete slabs are virtually impossible to see at night, as motorists  and their mangled left front wheels will testify. For vehicular traffic, Ilam Road has now been absurdly shrunk to mimic the girth of an incidental country lane. The city council has had the gall to hail Ilam Road’s extravagant re- configuration as a “guinea-pig” for our future.  Enhancing the roading provision for cyclists must be done cost-effectively.  $600,000 for a 500 metre –long redesign is a dud deal –  and completely unsustainable. In fact, the Ilam Road spend-up has spooky parallels to that obscenely costly bus trial in Hills Rd, a few years ago, which was subsequently deemed an abject failure.

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