Kerbside cycle lanes will make it easier and safer to cycle in the city.
Wellington City Council’s Transport and Urban Development Committee today agreed kerbside lanes, which bypass bus stops, were the preferred option for this area. They asked staff to get on with the detailed design work, which will include more consultation with local residents.
The Committee acknowledged the concerns of a group of residents, who presented a petition signed by more than 400 people calling for work to be halted until there is a plan on how to improve the entire route between the city and the southern suburbs. However, the Committee wanted planning on the southern-most section to continue, emphasising the importance of working with the community. The changes in this area are expected to cost about $1.3 million.
Councillor Andy Foster, who chairs the Committee, says local residents and others with an interest will have plenty of opportunity to find out more, talk through concerns and give their views before a final decision is made later in the year.
“The Council is committed to making it safer and easier to cycle in Wellington and eventually plans to upgrade more than 20 routes around the city. The new lanes planned for the 1.7km stretch between Shorland Park and Wakefield Park are the first step to improve the route into and out of the city from the southern suburbs but also designed to make it more appealing to get around the neighbourhood by bike, “ he says.
“We want a solution that will benefit commuters but also be safe enough for parents to feel comfortable allowing their children to cycle to Wakefield Park or the beach. With kerbside lanes, located between the footpath and parked cars, we can achieve that.”
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says modern progressive cities around the world are busy making improvements like these with the aim of having 15 to 30 percent of journeys, or more, made by bike.
“We need to have similar aspirational goals. I’d like to see more children cycling to school, sports games, the cinema or the new kids’ off-road trail. This is a new approach that allows for a balance between community and commuting needs.”
The Council sought public feedback recently on either, widening and improving the existing cycle lanes adjacent to the traffic or investing in safer, better quality lanes next to the footpath that met international good practice guidelines. There was strong support for the latter.
Of the 188 submissions it received – 80 percent supported cycle lanes next to the footpath. About a third of the submissions came from Island Bay residents and of those, 64 percent supported that option. The option was also supported by Greater Wellington Regional Council and Cycle Aware Wellington.
Cr Foster says 2013 Census data released a couple of months ago helped confirm what is increasingly obvious on Wellington City streets – an ever growing number of Wellingtonians are getting about by bike.
“In keeping with what is happening in lots of other western cities, it showed a big increase in the numbers of Wellington City residents cycling to work – up by 73 percent on 2006. We owe it to these people and their families, and those who would like to cycle but feel it’s too scary, to start shifting the balance a bit and making some of our roads safer.
“We’re very unlikely to be able to put this standard of cycle lane in everywhere – but where we have the space, it makes good sense.”
The detailed design will include more work on the bus stop bypasses that will allow people on bikes to safely avoid buses pulling in and out, or stopped at bus stops.
At northbound stops, it is proposed pedestrian islands with bus shelters will be created just off the footpath. People on bikes may choose to use the road if there’s no bus or go up a slight ramp to footpath level and pass behind the bus shelter on a marked lane. In the southbound direction, where there are no shelters and less people wait to catch buses, the same would apply but the pedestrian islands would be narrower. Cyclists using the bypasses would have to give way to pedestrians.
The Committee recommended that the Dee Street roundabout, which was installed in 2005, be removed and that at this stage, no cycle lanes will be put through the shopping area, which has a 30km/h speed limit.
The decisions made today only relate to the southern section of the route as far as Wakefield Park.
Cr Foster says coming up with a plan for the next section through the Berhampore/Newtown area is a lot more complicated with several possible routes and an even greater number of ways changes could potentially be made.
“To involve the community and help us narrow these down, we are setting up a citizens’ advisory panel, which will look at all the options in detail and hear from people and groups with a wide array of views and concerns,” he says.
“The panel won’t make the decision, but its recommendations and the hearing process will help the Council determine the most promising and viable solutions. We’ll then seek wider public feedback on those, probably about September.”
Cr Foster says it would be great to be able to plan the entire route into the city in one go but it makes more sense to tackle it in sections so at least some parts of the city can start becoming safer places to cycle.