Capital's Cycling Improvements up for Public Say

17 December 2013

Clever thinking, compromise and creative solutions from the public are being called for, as the Capital seeks to navigate the best way to create better, safer cycle routes through Wellington.

Wellington City Councillors were briefed on the considerations, implications and costs involved in making Wellington a much easier place to get around by bike at the Transport and Urban Development Committee meeting today. They agreed to proceed with consultation on the various options for improving parts of the route between Island Bay and the city, starting in March.

Councillor Andy Foster, who chairs the Committee, says the Council is committed to improving the city’s cycling networks and has proposed tripling the amount it spends on cycling in the coming financial year from $1.3 million to $4.3 million.

“Staff have already done a lot of work this year on the logistics and costs of improving the route from the southern suburbs and it is likely to be the next major cycling project we commit to,” he says.

“We have also got information from cyclists through this year’s Cycle Forum, from Cycle Aware Wellington, and from having cyclists out on the street with helmet cameras identifying problems and opportunities across 19 other key routes into and across the city. We have a list of over 300 opportunities and problems to work through,” he says.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, a keen cyclist, says cycling improvements are about providing a real transport choice for the growing number of people who want to cycle to work, school or university, or for leisure.

“We have a multiple award-winning mountain bike park and lots of great mountain biking tracks that people use for recreation. We want to complement these with much-better on-road routes so people can cycle more easily and confidently.

“Wellington is the worst city for cycle safety and we want to be a cycle-friendly capital. Modern, progressive cities around the world cater well for cyclists – it’s time Wellington caught up,” she says.

Cr Foster says the new Council is determined to make Wellington a more cycle friendly city.

“Commuter cycling numbers in Wellington doubled between 2006 and 2012 despite relatively little investment prior to 2009, and it’s fantastic to see more and more people of all ages getting about on bikes. We really want to encourage that.

“We have 19 important routes across the whole city covering about 125 kilometres that we would ideally like to improve too over time, so we will carefully consider the standard and style of cycle lane improvements as well as the costs and implications.”

The case for Island Bay

Cr Andy Foster says the proposed strategic cycleway from Island Bay to the CBD is a good example of the complexities and community issues involved with the project.

“In respect of Island Bay, we would like to start making some improvements along The Parade between Reef and Dee streets midway through next year if we can. But before we do that we need to do some more work and talk with the community about the options.”

“One option is to improve the existing cycle lane by making lane markings much clearer at the intersections of Humber, Mersey and Tamar streets and potentially altering the road layout near 14 bus stops so cyclists won’t need to worry about buses stopping in front of them or pulling out as they ride by. The cycle lane would be in the same position as it is now but would curve in adjacent to the footpath behind the bus stops and shelters, which would be located on new islands just off the footpath.

“An alternative option is to remove the existing lane and instead create a dedicated, European-style cycle lane adjacent to the footpath that would be clearly delineated from the road in some way.”

He says improvements along this part of the route can be made fairly easily without losing any parking because the road is very wide.

“We don’t have this luxury on the next 2.5 kilometre stretch of the route, between Dee Street and John Street, because it is much narrower. Instead we’re looking at a range of possible changes that could be made along Adelaide Road as well as other route options that are partly off-road, either via Berhampore Golf Course, Martin Luckie Park and Rintoul Street or Russell Terrace; or via Wakefield Park, MacAlister Park and Hanson Street.

“We unfortunately can’t magically create more space so if we want better on-street commuter cycle routes, it will usually involve losing some parking. We will talk with residents, the wider community and cyclists about the benefits and implications of the different alternatives in a few months time and get their views before we make any decisions.

“Possible options for Adelaide Road include peak-hour clearways, uphill cycle lanes, cycle lanes on both sides of the road and a two-way cycle lane on one side. Consideration is also being given to ways more off-street car parking could be created, including providing incentives for property owners to create parking spaces on their own properties, creating car parks on areas of reserve land for park users and buying properties to create off-street car parks for residents.

“Costs vary significantly depending on what’s done and whether new off-street parking is factored in, but upgrading the Island Bay route between Dee and John streets alone could cost anything from $500,000 to more than $10 million. It is likely to be part-funded by the New Zealand Transport Agency.