News | 24 February 2022
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New suburb to city routes to get Wellington fit for the future

Wellington’s daily low-carbon commute experience is about to get an upgrade, starting with two critical suburb-to-city connections, as the Wellington City Council takes action to prepare for the future.

Bike network plan design for Bowen and Terrace

Improvements to our bus and bike routes will be rolled out over the coming months to make it easier and safer for people to get into the city from Newtown via Adelaide Road and Kent and Cambridge Terraces, and from the Wellington Botanic Garden ki Paekākā via Bowen and Whitmore streets.

Wellingtonians have been asking for better transport options for years, they’ve also asked for action on climate change and housing.u

In response to this, Wellington City Council has updated Paneke Pōneke – the city’s bike network plan – and is now preparing to deliver two transitional bike and bus routes that will make it safer and easier to get around the city in low-carbon ways.

These street changes will support the growing neighbourhoods and new ways of living in and moving around our city. Following in the footsteps of many other cities around the world, they will also make our transport system more resilient in the face of major events.

Paneke Pōneke is integrally connected with the Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme (LGWM), a partnership between central and local government with support from mana whenua partners, which is working to align transport and urban development in the central city, move more people with fewer vehicles and help address the climate crisis.

The interim changes will integrate with the development of LGWM’s City Streets package and other projects in the programme. For example, the Bowen Street changes will include upgrading The Terrace intersection as part of the LGWM Central City Walking Improvements project.

We’re building a city fit for the future. Consultation shows over
90 percent of Wellingtonians want action on climate change, and the transport network is the most important place to start because 34 percent of the city’s emissions come from road transport.

Councillor Iona Pannett, Chair of Pūroro Āmua, the Council’s Planning and Environment Committee says feedback received on Paneke Pōneke showed 87 percent support or strongly support the plan.

“The Committee will consider and make final decisions on the network plan in March,” she says.

“Council acknowledges that some of these changes will be challenging for businesses. We are working intensively with a number of business owners to understand their specific needs and will be doing everything possible to respond to their feedback.”

Councillor Tamatha Paul agrees, and says our first few transitional routes will enable greater transport choices, which is especially important from a transport equity perspective.

“Students, workers, and low-income whānau living along these routes will have more options to get around safely whether that’s by bus, bike or on foot. These are examples of the groups of people we want feeling safe to take up low carbon methods of moving about our city.

“The changes are part of preparing for development planned and already happening, which will provide more houses while keeping our city compact. We will have a lot more people living close to town, many apartments won’t have car parking, and with limited street space, we need a good a mix of ways for people to get around,” she adds.

The designs have been developed by technical experts and had input from a wide range of organisations and businesses. The project team will be working through final operational issues over the next few months and then engaging more broadly with the community once the interim routes are in place.

The Council is furthering this work with an adaptive approach, as seen with the Brooklyn Hill Cycleway,
which received a positive response on how efficiently it was put in place. People will be able to experience the routes first, then provide feedback.

“These street changes are being implemented using adaptable materials so we can test the designs in real-life and get feedback on how they’re working. Given the impacts of the protests, we’ll be delivering the Botanic Garden ki Paekākā later in the year, but we want to let everyone see the plans now,” says Councillor Paul.

The interim bike and bus lane improvements will provide an opportunity to collect data and see how things work, which will help inform decisions about permanent upgrades in the future. This approach to adapting city streets has been a success in other cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Barcelona and Paris, and has helped get connected bike networks in place faster. 

Work on the Newtown to city route is scheduled to happen from April to July this year. Work on the Botanic Garden ki Paekākā route will follow in July to September. There will also be some preparatory work happening on both routes from early March.

“We’re putting these routes in quickly and then modifying them based on data and feedback because there is no time to waste. We must take action to provide safer ways for people of all ages and abilities to get around, and reduce emissions,” says Councillor Pannett.

Councillor Paul adds: “Through our consultation on Paneke Pōneke, the bike network plan, people told us that we just needed to get on with it. We’re already receiving a ton of positive feedback and encouragement from locals about this change. It’s been a long time coming.”

The Council agreed last year in the 2021-2031 Long-Term Plan to accelerate the development of a safe, connected bike network. In September, they voted to get on with delivering these two routes as soon as possible.

Baseline survey results for the first two routes indicate that 44 percent and 55 percent of respondents had experienced a near miss or been involved with a crash on the Botanic Garden and Newtown routes respectively.

Capital Coast District Health Board Chief Financial Officer Matthew Parr says the hospital is delighted to hear safer biking facilities between Newtown and the city are being prioritised and will be in place quickly.

“For our staff, and people who live in this area who ride or would like to, the sooner we can get a safer route the better. Walking and biking offer great health and well-being benefits and changes like this are a great way to make Wellington an even more appealing place to live.” 

The designs can be found at Feedback on how people are finding the routes and what needs to be adjusted will be welcome once they are in place.

The designs include:

  • A safe connected biking route from Mein Street in Newtown to the Waterfront, with bike lanes separated from traffic most of the way (via the city end of Riddiford Street, Adelaide Road and Kent and Cambridge Terraces).
  • An uphill bike lane on Bowen Street and shared downhill bike and bus lane connecting with bike lanes on both sides of Whitmore Street and part of Glenmore Street, so people can safely ride between the waterfront and the Botanic Garden ki Paekākā.
  • 24/7 bus lanes on Adelaide Road and Bowen Street that will reduce delays and make bus travel on these routes easier.
  • Better bus lanes on Kent and Cambridge Terrace operating more of the time (Monday to Friday, 7am to 7pm)
  • Hook turns – bays that make it easier for people on bikes to make right hand turns on busy routes.

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