News | 10 August 2021
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More Wellingtonians commuting by bike – helping reduce city emissions

The number of Wellingtonians commuting by bike continues to grow with the latest data showing more people than ever riding into the central city during the busy morning peak.

Cyclist on bike lane on Crawford Road in Kilbirnie
Cyclist on Crawford Road bike lane

The continuing upward trend is a positive move towards reducing transport emissions and becoming a net zero carbon capital by 2050.

Wellington Mayor Andy Foster says the trends are extremely heartening and some are almost certainly a reflection of big improvements on Cobham Drive, around Pt Jerningham, and other routes in the east that are making it easier and safer to bike.

“Where we have built safer cycling routes, we are seeing really good improvements in the numbers of people riding bikes and no doubt, these are going to be used more and more in the future.” 

Cr Iona Pannett, Chair of Pūroro Āmua, the Council’s Planning and Environment Committee, says switching to a lower-carbon commute is a practical way Wellingtonians can personally take climate action, and contribute to the city’s goal of net zero carbon by 2050.

“I’m looking forward to living in a city where it’s possible for people to get around easily and sustainably, and where more of our children and young people can get to school and other places independently.”

The data from the latest cordon and other counts, which are done every year over five working days, monitor travel into the city between 7am and 9am.

Latest figures show that on average 2,462 people a day biked into the city from key directions during that time.

The 12,309 people recorded over the five mornings was the highest ever weekday total, and 17 percent up on the previous highest five-day total.

Weekly totals from several key intersections are up, and are in some cases, the highest to date. Some of the biggest gains are from the east, where new bike and walking paths are progressively being developed.

The most significant jump was recorded at the intersection of Cobham Drive, Evans Bay Parade and Wellington Road:

  • This year 648 people biked past this point between 7am–9am on a Tuesday compared with 423 last year.
  • This highest daily total was 53 percent up on last year and 67 percent higher than 2019. ­
  • The 2439 weekday total over the two-hour commute period was the highest ever, 44 percent up on the previous highest total of 1693 recorded in 2017.

Data also shows a significant rise in the numbers of commuters biking to Newtown and beyond via Crawford Road, where a new bike lane was completed in 2019. The five-day morning peak tally taken at the intersection of Crawford and Wellington roads this year was 770 people – at least 30 percent up on any of the counts taken in recent years.

The trends from the counts are backed by data from the electronic counters that have been installed around the city in recent years. They also show what’s happening at other times of the day and night.

The busiest spot was the bike path in Oriental Bay where the electronic counter recorded more than 30,000 trips a month in January, February, March and April this year. It’s the first time the number of journeys has been consistently over the 30,000 mark for four months in a row.

Hutt Road averaging over 27,000 trips a month and Thorndon Quay at around 23,000 are the next busiest routes. Those numbers are predicted to significantly increase when Te Ara Tupua between Petone and Ngauranga is built.

Along with the growing numbers of people choosing to bike, numbers of people walking into the city remain high. An average of 10,375 people a day were counted walking between 7am and 9am this year.

The annual cordon count also records the numbers of vehicles coming into the city at that time.

On a typical day, the number of vehicles doing the morning commute this year was 26,281 –slightly higher than last year – when the country was just about to go into lockdown – but 3,500 lower than 2019.