News | 18 October 2018

Council to work with Government on walking and cycling

Wellington City Councillors today unanimously agreed to an approach aimed at securing up to $24 million in Government funding for walking and cycling improvements in the city’s southern suburbs – Island Bay, Berhampore, Newtown and Mt Cook.

Cyclists in Newtown

The approach will see essential road maintenance carried out in Island Bay before Christmas, but the redesign of The Parade postponed until an integrated plan for improvements between the south coast and city has been agreed next year.

Mayor Justin Lester says the Council and Government are committed to making Wellington become an easier and safer place to get around by bike, and today’s unanimous decision by the City Strategy Committee reflects that.

“We have been working very closely with the NZ Transport Agency in recent years to achieve this shared goal, including having ongoing discussions in recent months about the best way to maximise funding in the south of the city.

“The new Government, through its Policy Statement on Land Transport, announced in June that it plans to invest significantly more money making walking and biking safer and easier.

“It has more than doubled the available funding and increased the financial assistance rate to local authorities, which means Councils like ours have an opportunity to get more work done without needing more ratepayer money.”

The Council has previously approved $8 million in ratepayer funding to improve connections in the south of the city between now and 2021, including the agreed redesign of The Parade in Island Bay.

“Working with the Agency and Government, we can potentially fund up to $32 million worth of changes in these areas by 2021, with the Council paying 25 percent and NZTA potentially paying up to 75 percent,” the Mayor says. “It would be remiss of us not to be taking their advice on how we can achieve the best for the city and get our share of this increased funding.”

The Council is working towards an integrated plan for high-quality biking and walking connections from the south coast to the city – including the Island Bay improvements – for which it aims to achieve signoff from NZTA by mid-2019.

Councillor Sarah Free, the Council’s Portfolio Leader for Walking and Cycling, says a second round of discussion with the community to help develop connected bike routes in and through Berhampore, Newtown and Mt Cook is due to start in mid-November.

“Of the 775 people who provided initial feedback in June, 85 percent thought it was important or very important to make it easier and safer for people to bike in and around the wider Newtown Connections area,” she says.

“It’s always been planned that the Island Bay bike paths would form the southern end of a wider southern bike network. We’re now at a point where those wider connections are being planned.”

In the meantime, the following maintenance work will happen on The Parade over the next couple of months:

  • Repainting the centre line and right-turning bays from Dee to Reef streets
  • Removing redundant road markings from intersections and other asphalted areas
  • Any necessary road repairs between Dee and Tamar streets so this block can be resealed in early 2019.

The Council is in the early stages of developing a connected citywide bike network to make it possible for more people of all ages and abilities to choose to make some trips by bike. It has prioritised work in the eastern and southern suburbs, and from the north along Hutt Road, over the first few years as these are the areas where there is expected to be the greatest uptake when safer, connected facilities are in place.