After several years of back and forth discussion, in July 2013, the University of Otago Property Services Department made good on a February 2012 public commitment to open up the Leith walk to improved shared path access.
Making it easier for cyclists to take advantage of the low speed/low traffic volumes on Leith Street and the almost traffic-free shared pathway connection, is an important improvement to the active transport options around the Otago campus. Those who don’t want to ride next to the heavy traffic on the SH1 one-ways (even with the new wider bike lanes) now have a flat pleasant route through the South end of campus. Further upgrades along other parts of the route are being considered by the DCC and NZTA as part of central cycling network improvements.
Cyclists and pedestrians alike are pleased with these first changes. Walkers do not have to queue into crowded lanes like cattle and cyclists, and skateboarders and wheel-chair users can move through the widened space now without barriers or stoppage. Like all shared space, users will need to respect each others’ movements and allow for hassle-free movements. It’s not a place for speedsters, it’s a place for enjoying the campus beauty, a low-stress ride to or from work or school, and interacting with people.
There remains some concern further down the Southbound path due to rubber “safety” bumps forcing cyclists to veer left close to a blind corner. Hopefully that will be addressed soon by simply cutting a small path through the center of the bumps for both cycles and wheel-chairs. Until then, cyclists going towards the Leith bridge should either: a) Slow down and be cautious while traversing on the left, b) Go over the safety bump, or c) Steer to the right – depending on conditions.