A quick heads up for all the Lightpath riders: NZTA is planning a number of changes to where the “snaky bridge” part of Lightpath joins onto Canada Street (at the southern end of Lightpath).

Fences currently make it hard to see approaching bikes (or pedestrians!) at appropriate distances. Similar issues exist from the other direction due to high railings (required for fall protection above the motorway) and an utility shed…

There have been several severe incidents at this location – with riders colliding with others, including some cases with serious injuries requiring hospital care. There’s a number of factors that have played into the incidents and regular near misses here – lack of forward visibility due to fences around the curves, an utility shed blocking line of sight, rider speeds being too high to for the conditions, and a bollard* in the way.

The proposed changes may initially be somewhat counter-intuitive, as they increase the tightness of the curve, as you can see on the plan below. By reducing speeds and slightly pushing westbound riders coming away from the fence to the north, this design is intended to also also improve effective visibility sightly. Sadly, it seems that the utility shed at the west end of the entrance and the motorway maintenance access to the east of it could not be changed to give a better see-through which would have allowed higher speeds to be acceptable.

The proposed layout change, tightening up the intersection so riders go slower. Earlier discussions about speed bumps or raised tables instead were found not feasible, and rebuilding the bridge end section wholesale was too expensive…

The works are planned to start as early as this week, and should last about two weeks. The path is hoped to be able to be kept open for the full time – but please be particularly cautious due to workers in the area, and changing conditions.

*One quick note regarding that bollard – the plan above notes that the existing bollard is to be removed, and a new flexipost OR holding rail is to be installed. We told NZTA that we’d see a holding rail in that location as a significant collision risk. NZTA have in principle agreed, but say that to avoid damage to Canada Street bridge by anyone driving a heavy vehicle onto the bridge, a physical blockage of some form will still be required. They’re currently still assessing where a bollard or other feature could be better placed to block such vehicle access without creating a new hazard and/or being hard to see. This is still being worked out.

The existing bollard, designed to prevent car incursions, in practice also forces last-minute decisions by people walking and biking.

Overall, we hope that the changes result in a much safer situation here – while it would have been better to have changed the issue more fundamentally (by straightening out the last sections of the bridge of course), this is sadly, a “hindsight is 20/20” situation.

At least both we and NZTA are now much more aware of these issues, and have been closely focusing on reducing the risk that similar design issues will occur on other projects such as the Northern Corridor Path, or SkyPath.

Architecturally beautiful, visibility challenged. We can do better.
Categories
General News
Share this