News | 25 July 2017

Plans to make central city biking easier

New lane markings that would allow people on bikes to travel both ways on some of Wellington’s slower one-way streets are among a series of changes being proposed to make cycling in the central city easier.

Artist impression of cycling contra-flow in Cuba Street.
Artist impression of proposed cycling contra-flow in Cuba Street

The new contra-flow lanes, which can be added without removing parking, are being proposed for two one-way streets with relatively low traffic volumes and speeds. They would allow people to ride:

  • up Cuba Street from Ghuznee Street to Vivian Street
  • along Willeston Street from Willis Street to Victoria Street.

The lanes, and four other proposed changes, are the first of several batches of improvements designed to help make the central city more bike-friendly. Feedback is required by 11 August.

The other changes proposed are: 

  • marking a new one-way cycle lane on Rugby Street for people riding from Adelaide Road towards Tasman Street (this requires the removal of six coupon parking spaces)
  • changing signs so people can legally ride both ways in lower Cuba Street between Wakefield Street and Manners Street
  • designating Bunny Street (between Victoria University business and law schools) as a shared zone, and allowing people on bikes to ride both ways between Lambton Quay and Featherston Street
  • providing parking for about 20 bikes in Grey Street (next to the public toilets and showers). The existing motorbike parking in this spot would move just around the corner to Featherston Street, replacing two pay-and-display car parking spaces.

Councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman, the Council’s Portfolio Leader for Transport Strategy, says the Council is working with the NZ Transport Agency, Greater Wellington and the community through the Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) project to develop a transport system that supports the public’s aspirations for how the city looks, feels and functions.

“The LGWM team is working to find the best ways to meet the varied transport needs of the growing number of people who need to get in, out and through the central city including those who travel by bike.

“These latest proposed improvements align with LGWM’s objectives and will make getting places by bike a little easier, particularly for less confident riders,” he says. “They are a small part of a much bigger plan to create a safer cycle network, help tackle congestion and make Wellington an even more sustainable and attractive place to live.”
Councillor Sarah Free, the Council’s Portfolio Leader for Public Transport, Cycling and Walking, says contra-flow lanes are new to Wellington – and are thought to be the first, or among the first, for New Zealand – but are successfully used on one-way streets overseas including Australia.

“They are a simple, effective way to improve connections and allow people on bikes to take a more direct route, which is why we are keen to put some in and trial them here,” she says.

“The streets where these are proposed all have relatively low traffic volumes and speeds, and are places where some people already choose to ride in both directions.” 

In Cuba and Willeston streets, people on bikes travelling in the usual direction would share the main lane with general traffic as they do at the moment. 

They would be able to ride in the opposite direction on a new on-road cycle lane clearly marked with arrows and cycle symbols. Minor changes would be made at the Vivian Street intersection, including tweaks to the traffic light phasing to give people biking a few seconds to get across, or turn into Vivian Street ahead of traffic. 

In Cuba Street parking spaces would remain where they are. The cycle lane would run along the outside of the cars with a metre-wide door-zone buffer space in between. 

Cr Free says $1.5 million has been set aside to make inner city improvements as part of the Government’s Urban Cycleways Programme and the Wellington City Cycleways Programme.

“A central city community working group helped come up with a long list of potential changes, including these ones, to allow us to access this funding, improve connections and make getting around by bike more convenient,” she says.

Information on this first set of proposals and related traffic changes (resolutions) is available online at Feedback can be made online, by email or mail.

Councillors will consider and make a decision in mid-September. If agreed, the changes will be made later this year, or early next year.