Jack's Point cyclist: 'Something has to be done before I die'

by Kim Bowden - Feb 20, 2024

A cycle commuter is frustrated work on a promised bike path between Jack's Point and Frankton is dragging - and fears someone will die if nothing is done soon.

Paul Vlietstra had a horror ride last week on the state highway, prompting him to send a "fired up" email to local decision makers demanding an update on the project.

Mr Vlietstra says he is tired of hearing excuses for its delayed delivery.

"Give me a shovel and I will start digging the bloody thing."

He reckons his ride to work each morning is "harder than doing a full-on double black diamond downhill trail".

"Something has to be done before I die."

He says last week roadworks and an accident combined to make for one particularly hairy commute from home to work, which left him "freaked out". Road cones, traffic management signage and loose gravel forced him away from the verge and into the flow of traffic.

"That was scary."

While the new coalition government has put the brakes on dozens of projects around the country designed to encourage cycling, walking and public transport use, a spokesperson for the New Zealand Transport Agency says the Jack's Point route is not affected by that decision.

However, they can not provide any timeline for construction, and say there has been no progress since a last update in December.

They caution sections of the route rely on the progression of private developments outside of NZTA's control.

"We are not the only parties who would need to collaborate to make a safe cycle route in the future. There are developers who are key parties and they may not be in a position to provide a dedicated cycle route for some time given where their plans are at."

The latest plan shows a preferred route that will steer clear of State Highway Six for the most part, leaving Jack's Point and making its way along the back of Hanley's Farm and the future Woolshed Road and Park Ridge neighbourhoods, before hugging the base of Peninsula Hill and then the highway and crossing the old Kawarau Falls Bridge to link to the Lakeside Trail.

The spokesperson says NZTA is not proposing to widen the highway anywhere between Jack’s Point and Frankton "given the ground conditions and other issues". 

An original preferred route proposed to go under the state highway and over a new crossing of the Kawarau River has been ruled out after geotechnical investigations revealed the building of a bridge would be cost prohibitive.

In October 2019, members of the Way to Go partnership - NZTA, the Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Otago Regional Council - announced $14 million in funding had been approved for the first stage of a major investment in walking and cycling improvements for the Wakatipu Basin.

The partnership then indicated the Jack's Point to Frankton route was part of its stage one plans, set to commence that financial year.

The latest update from NZTA on the project can be found here.

Main image: Paul Vlietstra rides his bike from his home in Jack's Point to work in Frankton and reckons its more dangerous than a double black diamond downhill trail.

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