Perhaps the newbies on the Board are not aware of the public outcry a few years ago when speed bumps were installed in Belgium Street at great expense. They had to be taken out again at more ratepayer expense following an enormous public backlash.
Undeterred, the Board is so captured by its political ideology that it wants to expand networks of cycle lanes and bridle paths, but not footpaths, in an effort to return Waiheke to some mythical kumbaya past where tourists never came, cars were rare and everything was delivered by horse and cart.
Even the cycle enthusiasts in Auckland Transport have baulked at this particular idea by pointing out what is obvious to any layman - there isn’t enough room. Now the Board is considering making the footpath outside the supermarket a shared path where cyclists can co-mingle on their speedy mopeds capable of doing 50kph and racing bikes capable of 70kph with more vulnerable pedestrians.
The reason for having cycle lanes in the first place is to make cyclists safer, although the jury is still out on that. Footpaths keep pedestrians safe from all road users including cyclists but so strong has the cycle lobby become that cyclists feel they should be not only kings of the road but also kings of the footpaths. They are aided and abetted in this notion by some local boards captured by an anti-car philosophy.
A more likely explanation for this madcap scheme of the Waiheke Local Board is that they have a mountain of cash to spend before 30th June. They had been accumulating it for a school swimming pool but now that that idea is dead in the water money previously set aside, around $70,000, to further the project is back in the pot and waiting to be spent. If they don’t spend it by 30th June the money goes back to Council. Having been castigated for handing back $1.4 million to Council already, the Board doesn’t want to look even more incompetent, hence this scheme.
But Auckland Transport is even pouring cold water the shared path idea. This is an extract from the AT report on the last WLB agenda
7. A shared path along the northern side of Belgium Street could be considered as this can be joined to the footpath on the western side of Wharf Road. But a cycleway along southern side of Belgium Street, even if provided, cannot be continued along Wharf Road because of the absence of footpath /shoulder on the eastern side of Wharf Road. The Walking Cycle Team recommend that this be considered as a possible Local board Transport Capital Fund (LBTCF) project, so the Board will need to consider this in terms of 10 year advocacy plan priorities.
If this madness becomes reality then it is time Waiheke joined the growing backlash around the country against cycle lanes in a campaign called ‘Paint it Back’.
The Belgium Street idea is tragic, as will be the consequences if the Waiheke Local Board gets its way on yet another hair brained scheme to waste ratepayers’ money.