Wellington City Councillors today approved plans to build a new two-way off-road cycleway and separate footpath following consultation with the public in March/April this year.
The $4 million project is part of the Government’s Urban Cycleways Programme and the Wellington City Cycleways Programme to build a safe connected cycle network, with Cobham Drive an important link for people in the eastern suburbs. It includes a 2.5–3 metre-wide two-way cycleway and separate 2 metre-wide walking path between Shelly Bay Road and Evans Bay Parade to replace the existing shared path.
The walking path will be closest to the harbour’s edge, with landscaping and planting to enhance the coastal environment. At times the two paths will run side by side, separated by low-growing plants. The bike path will be separated from the kerb by a half-metre-wide buffer zone. People will still be able to cycle on the road if they prefer.
Wellington Mayor Justin Lester says Cobham Drive is the key route to and from the eastern suburbs and Wellington International Airport, and is often the first glimpse of our city and harbour for visitors.
“The new walking and biking paths along the harbour side of the road will help to transform this stretch of Wellington’s coast into something the city can be proud of and improve access to the area for everyone.
“Improving this route between the eastern suburbs and central city will encourage more people to choose to walk or ride a bike, making travel easier for everyone, and helping us to reduce our emissions as part of creating a more sustainable future for the Capital City.
“This part of Wellington’s coast and Evans Bay/Akau Tangi hold strong connections for mana whenua iwi (Taranaki whānui, Ngāti Toa Rangatira) and we are working together on ways of telling their stories along this route. The walking path is part of the Te Ara o Ngā Tupuna heritage trail and will be an important section of a Great Harbour Way,” says Mayor Lester.
The Council’s Portfolio Leader for Public Transport, Cycling and Walking, Councillor Sarah Free, says the Cobham Drive route will be a wonderful asset and will make a stunning entrance way to the city for visitors coming from the airport.
"It will link to better walking and cycling routes being planned for the eastern suburbs as part of building a more convenient cycling and pedestrian network. Miramar and Kilbirnie and surrounding areas are only going to get busier, so providing a variety of safe and convenient transport choices between the eastern suburbs and the CBD is important."
At the Evans Bay Parade/Cobham Drive intersection there will be an improved crossing for pedestrians and bikes. Cr Free says that while a new crossing over Cobham Drive is not part of this project, the Council and the NZ Transport Agency are working together on potential solutions for the longer term.
The Cobham Drive project is part of the Capital’s $37.25 million investment in a connected cycle network to make riding bikes in Wellington easier and safer for everyone. Two-thirds of the investment will be made by the Government – through the Urban Cycleways Fund and National Land Transport Fund – and one-third by the Council. This work will also integrate with any improvements proposed under the Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme.
Lisa Rossiter, the Transport Agency’s Acting Regional Relationships Director, says the Cobham Drive project will be the second in Wellington to benefit from Urban Cycleways funding, and is a significant step for the city.
“It will be great to see this project go ahead, following the start of work on upgrading the Hutt Road shared path. The need for safer cycling routes in a fully integrated transport system continues to grow. We are pleased to be working in partnership with Wellington City Council to help give people more transport choices.”
Construction on Cobham Drive is expected to start later this year.
Wellington City was recently rated as the third top biking town in the NZ Transport Agency’s annual Favourite Places to Ride competition.