Yesterday (1 September) councillors at the Environment Committee meeting debated the 2016 Open Space Access Plan which provides direction on the use, management and development of the track network through the city’s Town Belt and other reserves. The Committee has voted to:
- Conduct a one-year trial of electric bicycles on a limited number of tracks in the city’s parks and reserves (see list below).
- Agreed to proceed/continue with six key initiatives for new tracks around the city (see list below)
- Propose to the incoming Council that changes are considered on the Wellington waterfront and the footpath promenade in Oriental Bay to reduce conflict between cyclists and people on foot.
- Engage with the community on a proposed new downhill mountain bike track in the Polhill Gully reserve in the Aro Valley.
- Further consultation with walking and cycling groups on how to avoid user conflict on the track network
- Look at further mountain biking access on Te Ahumairangi Hill
In most cases the recommendations are subject to further debate at a meeting of the full Council on 28 September.
The committee’s Chair, City Councillor Iona Pannett, says 269 submissions were received earlier this year for the Open Space Access Plan review – “that’s a very clear indication of the passionate views of so many Wellingtonians about how our cherished reserves and open spaces should be treated and used.”
The very fast advent of e-bikes, including those for off-road use, has encouraged the committee to propose the one-year trial. “We know there are growing numbers of mountain biking enthusiasts who want to take e-bikes on to our tracks. We also know there are a lot of walkers and other track users who are concerned about the use of bikes with a motor.”
Cr Pannett says the committee, having heard submissions from people concerned about conflict between cyclists and people on foot on the waterfront, recommended that cycle speed limits be considered by a Council committee in the next triennium. “It’s not something directly relevant to the Open Space Review – but it’s something the committee believes the next Council cannot ignore.”
Cr Helene Ritchie, the Council’s Natural Environment Portfolio Leader, says Wellington is blessed with open access to the natural environment and that the Council intends to ensure open access to our open spaces.
It is essential that areas close to the high density inner city – Te Ahu Mairangi (Tinakori Hill), Polhill/Waimapihi and Matairangi-Mt Victoria - and those in the suburbs close to the magnificent Skyline walk in the Outer Town Belt and other areas remain readily accessible and safe for walkers and cyclists of all ages.
Contact with nature is essential for people’s wellbeing, fun and enjoyment. Our natural capital is what makes Wellington special.
It is great to see a commitment and recommitment to six major new tracks in the city. These tracks will allow more Wellingtonians to get out there and enjoy the natural environment.”
She adds that it is essential that the community continues to have full input into decisions about the future use of the tracks on the Town Belt and other reserves, especially Polhill Gully which has become increasingly popular over the years.
We intend to talk further to the community about the proposal for another bike track in the reserve.”
Proposed e-bike tracks:
- Hataitai to city walkway (commuter link track)
- Newtown to Hataitai walkway (commuter link track)
- Te Ahumairangi Hill (commuter link track)
- Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park – downhill tracks north of Snake Charmer, and restricted to uphill on the 4WD tracks. (Not open to e-bikes: Koru, Sally Alley, Nikau, Leaping Lizard and Possum Bait Line, as these cannot be accessed from the 4WD tracks)
- Skyline Walkway from Makara Peak to Old Coach Road in Johnsonville, includes 4WD tracks above Chartwell and Sirsi Terrace
- Old Coach Road
- South coast (Te Kopahou) along coastline and the Tip Track and Red Rocks Track
- Spicer Forest Road and through to Tawa (Chastudon Place) and Broken Hill Road, Porirua
- Sanctuary fenceline, through to Wrights Hill via 4WD tracks only.
Proposed new tracks:
- Skyline Track between Old Coach Road and Spicer Forest
- Harbour Escarpment Walk between Woodridge and Ngauranga Gorge
- Urban Coastal Connection, including Te Aranui o Poneke/Great Harbour Way
- Rural Coastal Connection - coastal track linking Owhiro Bay to Makara Beach
- East-West Connection - a track linking Otari-Wilton's Bush to Makara Road and beyond to the west coast
- Karori Stream Access - connecting Karori and Makara to the south coast.