Wellington: not just headwinds and political arguments

Nov 18, 2016
Wellington: not just headwinds and political arguments

Bike Auckland

It’s good to catch up with bike news from other cities, especially those also expanding their cycle networks thanks to the Urban Cycleways Fund. Here’s a Wellington round-up from James Burgess (written before this week’s quakes!). NB this update is part of CAN‘s round robin of group updates from around the country, and also appears on the excellent Cycle Aware Wellington blog.

We have some good-ish news from Wellington, though not much fresh kermit quite yet…

Local elections

New mayor Justin Lester was the most bike-friendly of the leading mayoral candidates and has backed us in past consultation on good projects. He has a reputation for pragmatic compromise – so good for getting things over the line, but as you will no doubt know this can sometimes erode the most ambitious or controversial aspects of projects…

The body of councillors has also overall shifted towards being pro-cycling, and there should be more of a consensus around the table rather than the fine balance of opposing views, and electioneering, that has hampered progress over the last 3 years.

Sarah Free and new councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman have the transport portfolio between them. Sarah Free supports cycling (some of you may have met her at the last CAN Do) and Chris has a transport planning background and appreciates the role of urban cycling. They both came to our first post-election CAW meeting, with a council officer who explained the planned programme of cycling works. So, a good election outcome overall.

Short term

NZTA is currently putting in a short (600m) stretch of upgraded path, including a wider shared path, through this underpass where SH1 and 2 meet.

This is the first element of the Wellington-Hutt improvements. The city council will begin moving light poles from the shared path south of this point this month, as the start of improvement works on the Hutt Road and (finally) the first construction work spending UCP money. Resurfacing, moving of carparks, and (fingers crossed) conversion from a shared to a divided path are to follow shortly, as well as some junction and driveway improvements.

Also in the Hutt Valley, the biggest construction thing at the moment! – bike provision at the new SH2/SH58 interchange. This is a big new road interchange, and SH2 has lots of road cyclist use. Construction is well under way, and we’re getting excellently designed bike provision as part of the project – no more crossing motorway-like slip lanes. Instead, there’ll be dedicated bike-only paths (plus walking) paths, with a design speed of 30kph-plus so roadies can zip on through.

Medium term

The council has a set of projects to sign off, that should get consulted in the next few months. Losts of consultation feedback to encourage! These are arrayed around the edges of the CBD and beyond, because of…

Longer term

…the Let’s Get Wellington Moving project. The project’s good because it does take active transport seriously, and an integrated plan for the city will make it easier to get cycling into places where it will be a trade-off against other things like parking. But it holds up the construction of any CBD cycling infra because of its longer timeline. In the meantime, we’re trying to get some CBD trials of converting traffic or parking lanes to cycleways, a la Quay St in AKL, as initial or temporary improvements.

I****d B*y, or, The Cycleway That Must Not Be Named

This is still being re-litigated, but at least in a more positive way. The council has set up a participatory design project Love the Bay that looks at various aspects of the suburb, including the cycleway. Any changes will hopefully be at least neutral for cycling, rather than of the ‘tear it out’ nature some opposers had been campaigning for. And the route that will join this section to the CBD is back on the table, which should help with the network effect aspect.

Social stuff

We’ve recently had some great events like community bike fix-ups and the third annual Need for Tweed ride, run by our friends Bicycle Junction

Penny-farthing selfies, a bit of a challenge! Photo: @bicyclejunction on Instagram

CAW committee member Hilleke has set up a charitable trust and scored some grant funding for our project ReBicycle, which rescues old bikes, upcycles them, and donates or loans them to refugees and others in need.

Pedal Ready is a regional bike skills programme which upskills thousands of kids and a few adults, and Bikes in Schools continues to expand, with WCC fully funding three new projects each year.

Off-road, Wellington has awesome trails and ambitious goals: the Wellington Trails Trust is focused on developing a world-class multi-user trail network in the Wellington city and region.

Lastly, mark your calendars and join us at CAN Do in Wellington, in March 2017.

Keep the rubber side down!

–James Burgess

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