Temporary street changes mooted to give walkers and bikers more space

8 May 2020

Wellington City Council has agreed to some temporary street changes it plans to roll out around the city subject to Government funding assistance.

Seven of these are Covid-19-related responses that, if approved, will involve repurposing traffic lanes or parking spaces to make more space for walking and biking while safe-distancing requirements are in place.

An application for funding through the Government’s recently announced Innovating Streets Fund will go to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency today. It is hoped decisions on which projects will get funding will be made next week. In the meantime, planning to make all of these changes will continue at pace so those approved can potentially be rolled out as quickly as possible. The Innovating Streets Fund will meet 90 percent of the cost of any projects approved.

It is envisaged most of the footpath extensions and pop-up bike lanes would be removed when social distancing restrictions are eased, but having them in place for a short while would help in the development of future more permanent changes.

The Council also agreed to speed up its part in the decisionmaking process around the Let’s Get Wellington Moving proposal for lower central city speeds so, if approved, this could be in place sooner than originally planned.

The Council will apply for funding for the following temporary projects:

• footpath extension in Stout Street to provide more space for people coming from the Railway Station

• bike lane on Featherston Street

• uphill bike lane on Brooklyn Hill

• bus lane and protected bike lane on Victoria Street

• shared path on the Miramar Peninsula between Shelly Bay and Scorching Bay (one-way only for traffic (Shelly Bay to Scorching Bay) with the lane next to the sea used by people on foot and bikes)

• bike lane on Onepu Road connecting Leonie Gill Pathway and Rongotai Road

• bike lane on Evans Bay Parade between Greta Point and Cobham Drive.

The Council also agreed to apply for funding for some other projects that could qualify for trial funding. These are temporary street changes that could be further developed with local businesses and residents and made permanent following an initial trial. They include:

• changes to make the intersection of Abel Smith and Cuba streets safer and easier for pedestrians

• central city pop-up park and public spaces

• central city parking spaces for e-scooters

• a trial bike route via Wilson Street in Newtown.

Deputy Mayor Sarah Free says to ensure the changes can remain in place as long as they are needed, the Council has been advised it is legally required to complete a traffic resolution process. “There’s obviously a lot of public support for these, but this means there will be a two-week opportunity for affected parties to look at the designs and comment before we make final decisions in June.

“We will also look at whether there are other projects we could apply for in the next funding round.”

It is expected to be about mid-June before work on the temporary street changes starts. The work would be done over a few weeks, with some changes in place ahead of others.

Cr Jenny Condie, Associate Portfolio Lead for Transport, says the temporary changes proposed are consistent with the Council’s and Let’s Get Wellington Moving’s commitment to mode shift, and developing a transport system that can ultimately move more people with fewer vehicles.

The projects, estimated to cost about $2 million, have been selected due to their benefits and ability to deliver, from a longer list that included suggestions from the community, Councillors, Council staff, Greater Wellington Regional Council, interest groups and the public. All were assessed against a range of criteria including whether they can aid social distancing, encourage walking or biking, are worth trialling, and how well they align with the city’s long-term goals.