Wellington City Council plans to build a new high-quality cycle path/footpath to make this route safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. Two-thirds of the indicative $9 million cost will be paid by the Government through the new Urban Cycleways Fund and the National Land Transport Fund. The Council’s budgeted share is $3.12 million.
The Hutt Road pathway is part of the Council’s planned $34.7 million investment in cycling over the next three years, to encourage sustainable and affordable transport, healthy exercise, fewer emissions and reduce congestion. Two-thirds of that investment will be made by the Government and one-third by the City Council.
This investment will include cycleways in the eastern suburbs and central city, with a package of improvements in each area including separated bike lanes, shared paths, slower speeds and shared road spaces.
The Hutt Road cycleway is one section of the 12km Wellington-Hutt Valley route and will provide a vital link in a larger regional investment in the cycling network from Upper Hutt to the Wellington waterfront, and in Wellington City’s network. The New Zealand Transport Agency will be responsible for the Petone-Ngauranga section. The consent process for Petone-Ngauranga will be undertaken this year.
Construction of the Hutt Road to central city project will be in two stages – from Ngauranga to the Aotea Quay overbridge and then from the overbridge to the CBD. Construction of the first section is scheduled to start this year, with both sections completed by mid-2018. The route from the Aotea overbridge to the CBD is still to be decided, with the two options being Aotea Quay and Thorndon Quay.
Changes to the Hutt Road are part of the 2008 Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Plan agreed between the City and Regional Councils and the NZ Transport Agency. As in that Corridor Plan, these changes will be happening at around the same time as the expanded capacity on the motorway from Ngauranga to Aotea offramp.
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says more than 400 cyclists an hour use the Hutt Road at peak times. “The Hutt Road is already the busiest route for cycling in the region and will get much busier once this new pathway connects with the proposed harbour-side route between Wellington and the Hutt Valley, part of the Great Harbour Way. Hutt Road is the key route for the growing numbers of Khandallah and Ngaio cycle commuters too.
“Our investment will make transport on this route safer and more reliable for everyone, and give people real transport choices for how they travel to and from the central city. We will encourage new and less confident bike riders. Once completed this corridor is expected to attract over 1800 bike journeys a day, reduce traffic and go a long way to making Wellington a cycle-friendly city.”
The Chair of the Council’s Transport and Urban Development Committee, Councillor Andy Foster, says the Council has made a number of safety-led improvements on Hutt Road and Thorndon Quay in recent years, including reducing speeds, adding clearways and pedestrian crossings but the number of crashes involving cycles along this route is higher than local, regional and national averages.
“The fact there are crashes is unacceptable. We have to improve visibility of cyclists for people in vehicles turning into and out of premises. With 67 percent of crashes on the existing shared pathway occurring as drivers are exiting onto the road, this has to be a priority.”
Cr Foster says hazards such as lighting poles and some utilities on the existing path will also be removed.
As well as more people cycling, the number of people travelling by bus on this route is expected to be higher than those travelling in cars within the next few years.
To improve bus journey times and traffic flow, a new peak-hour transit (T2) lane is proposed to operate in the morning peak southbound and the afternoon peak for traffic going north. The T2 lane will be reserved for vehicles carrying two or more people and for buses, in-service taxis, motorcycles and mopeds. Changes at the Ngauranga Gorge-Hutt Road intersection will include bus lanes so buses can queue-jump, and improved pedestrian and cycling facilities.
Cr Foster says the T2 lanes will provide significant benefits for buses and people who car-pool.
The cycleway option favoured by the Council is a two-way off-road segregated path on the eastern side of Hutt Road (built on the existing shared pathway) to separate people on cycles from traffic and from pedestrians.
It is proposed a number of on-footpath parking spaces will be removed to accommodate the new path. North of the Ngaio Gorge a 3m cycle path with 2m footpath is recommended, with a wider 4m bike path and 2m footpath from Ngaio Gorge to the Aotea Quay bridge. Also proposed is a buffer zone to allow space for people opening doors of parked vehicles.
Some businesses fronting onto Hutt Road will lose their right to ‘encroach’ on to the existing footpath and use it for customer and staff parking. Cr Foster says much of this lost parking is proposed to be compensated for with off-peak (after 9am) parking in the T2 lane.
The Council is working on design concepts and will be asking for community feedback over the next few months. People will be able to have a say on parking options and safety zones, new bus stop locations, crossings, and if segregation between cyclists and pedestrians on the new path is preferred.