Pūroro Āmua, the Council’s Planning and Environment Committee, today considered petitions signed by more than 1000 people with concerns about the project, as well as significant support from others keen to see it proceed as planned.
The concerns around parking and loading zones were acknowledged along with staff efforts to work with businesses to find solutions. These include plans to trial a new loading zone just south of the shops.
The bus and bike improvements are expected to be in place until mass transit and other long-term transport changes are made through the Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) programme.
Their fast development reflects strong feedback from the community over the past few years, including through the city’s Long-term Plan and Paneke Pōneke (bike network plan) consultations last year. The Council responded by boosting funding and accelerating the development of a citywide network of safe bike and scooting routes.
The changes, being rolled out along part of Riddiford Street and Adelaide Road first, will start on Tuesday 19 April near Wellington Regional Hospital. They’ll be made with road paint and bolt-down materials that can be easily adjusted following community feedback.
Like the process to make Brooklyn hill safer last year, people will be able to see how the street space can be shared in a different way, what works, and what doesn’t.
Any urgent safety adjustments will be made quickly as required, but the main opportunity for wider public feedback will be when the whole route to the waterfront is complete in early spring and people can try it out.
In the meantime, contractor Fulton Hogan will be changing road markings, installing rubber separators and posts, and assembling modular, purpose-built platforms and ramps at bus stops.
The route will be adapted in sections – Mein Street to John Street first, John Street to the Basin Reserve next, and then changes between the Basin and the waterfront, including work at intersections. As each section is completed, it will be possible to use parts of the new lanes. Until then, work areas will be coned or fenced off for safety reasons.
Mayor Andy Foster says the corridor is critical in our plans for our integrated transport and urban development future for Wellington.
“The corridor will be part of the planned mass rapid transit route under all four LGWM options. Newtown is also one of four areas of particular focus for urban development to deliver more housing. This corridor will see significant change over coming decades.
“More development along key arterial routes, supported by walking, cycling and public transport, will be key in reducing emissions and transport congestion. We will have to work closely with the community and business in planning that change.
“We acknowledge that some of these proposed trial changes will be challenging for some businesses and we are working with business owners to understand their specific needs and develop practical solutions to address their concerns.
Councillor Iona Pannett, Chair of Pūroro Āmua, the Council’s Planning and Environment Committee, says Wellingtonians have been clear about the type of the city they want for the future, and the need for urgent climate action.
“We’ve seen cities overseas successfully make transitional changes like these, and we need to move more quickly and boldly too. We do understand though that many businesses are doing it tough at the moment and we will do everything we can to accommodate their needs.”
Councillor Pannett says getting something relatively simple in place without digging up and renewing large sections of road and kerb is a flexible and cost-effective way to make positive progress quickly, and an alternative to what can sometimes be years of discussions over plans.
“It also means we can start reaping benefits sooner. Having 24/7 bus lanes along Adelaide Road and extended bus lane operating hours on Kent and Cambridge terraces will make journey times through this part of the route more reliable.
“People who bike – or who may have been too nervous to bike – can look forward to a largely traffic-free ride between Newtown and the city and waterfront soon.
“This is a cheap, healthy way to make short trips that should be an option for people of any age and ability. It shouldn’t be something that requires high levels of courage, skill and confidence.
Megan White, manager of Capital Kids Cooperative, a childcare centre just off Adelaide Road, says having bike lanes separated from traffic will make a huge positive difference for herself and the centre.
“I have just begun making the change to commuting to work via bike, however coming through Newtown without protected bike lanes is a big barrier and makes me feel very uneasy. We have a lot of families that also commute by bike, but many parents have shared they reluctantly have to bike on the footpath to keep their tamariki safe, which isn’t ideal.
“We want to encourage and educate whānau and tamariki to be kaitiaki of our planet, but things need to be safer for more of us to make changes.”
Capital & Coast District Health Board supports plans to improve the bus lanes and make the route safer for people on bikes.
Chief Financial Officer Mathew Parr says the DHB is pleased 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.”
More on the changes:
- There will be separate lanes on each side of the road for buses, bikes and traffic past the hospital and along Adelaide Road to the Basin Reserve.
- From the Basin Reserve to the waterfront, bus lanes will operate for longer (from 7am-7pm instead of only during peak hours).
- The bus lanes along Adelaide Road will operate 24/7
- A two-way bike lane will be created on the road next to the grassy median on Cambridge Terrace, crossing to the eastern side of Kent Terrace near Courtenay Place and then on to the waterfront via Kent Terrace.
- Parking will be replaced by the new bus and bike lanes along parts of Riddiford Street, Adelaide Road, and in places on Kent and Cambridge terraces.
- There will be no change to the parking directly outside the Wellington Accident and Urgent Medical Centre and Urgent Pharmacy.
- Some of the time restrictions in side streets will be altered to ensure there is short-stay parking, and Council staff will continue to work with businesses on loading options.
- Subject to Covid-19 uncertainties and weather, the changes on Riddiford Street between Mein Street and John Street will take about four weeks.
- The new lanes from Mein Street to the waterfront are likely to be completed by late August/early September.
- Work hours will generally be 9am to 4pm, with a temporary 30km/h speed limit in place around the work zone to keep everyone safe.
- Cones and barriers will be in place where required, but people will be able to get to shops and businesses, and pedestrians will still be able to safely get past work areas.
- Bus stops will be moved slightly while work happens.
- People on bikes will have to ride in the bus or traffic lane as directed by traffic management until each section of the route is complete and fully open.
More information about the changes is available at transportprojects.org.nz/newtown