Shelly Bay – what will it mean for cycling on the Miramar Peninsula?

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What will it be like sharing this road with 4700 vehicles a day, and construction traffic?

People like biking and walking around the Miramar Peninsula – it’s part of the Great Harbour Way/ Te Aranui o Pōneke, and when part of the road has been closed to motor traffic for a Ciclovia, thousands of Wellingtonians of all ages have cycled, walked, and skateboarded around the peninsula.

WCC is planning changes for the Peninsula. In conjunction with Shelly Bay Ltd, the Council intends to create a residential and business development at Shelly Bay, with a hotel and 350 homes. What are the implications for cycling?

There’ll be public space such as a “village green”, with a walkway/cycleway through Shelly Bay. However this doesn’t appear to be continuous. At the bend by Shed 8, there is a pinch point where it looks like cyclists and walkers will have to join the road.

ShellyBay

Between Shelly Bay and Miramar cutting, there’ll be relatively little change. A “collector road” like this should be 14m wide with an 8m berm. But it’s hard to widen the road, so there’ll be two 3m vehicle lanes, with a 1.5m footpath. People biking will share the vehicle lanes. The traffic is expected to go from 1200 vehicles/day to 4700 vehicles/day. This would make the road similar to SH58 on the south side of Pauatahanui Inlet (9200 vehicles/day). Most people no longer find this a pleasant cycling route. For the 13 years of development at Shelly Bay, there will be significant construction traffic.

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Proposed road between Miramar Cutting and Shelly Bay: cyclists will use the vehicle lanes

WCC is committed to reducing the climate change impact of transport, so a new development like this should minimise the use of private cars, emphasising public transport. However there are no plans for public transport, other than the possibility of a ferry service (which GWRC is not proposing to fund). The wharves are likely to be demolished, and there are no specific provisions for replacement. The development encourages residents to use cars, contributing to fossil fuel emissions, and congestion on the route from the eastern suburbs to the CBD.

What are the alternatives? One is to develop the Miramar Peninsula as a recreational area, which aligns with WCC’s intention when it bought Shelly Bay land from the Defence Department in 2000 (before then, access was restricted, and picnicking families were ordered off the beach by Air Force staff). This is the vision of the Miramar Business Improvement District (BID) group, who have produced a video [small, medium, large].

Another option is to create a car free suburb, with limited parking and car access, but a frequent shuttle to Miramar to connect with public transport, or to pick up a car from a parking building. The road could be reconfigured to prioritise pedestrians and walkers, perhaps by using the “two minus one” layout common in Europe, where motor vehicles negotiate the use of a single central lane, with bike lanes on either side.

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Two minus one road layout

Over the time of the development, it’s likely that autonomous vehicle technology will have developed for shuttles, and a new generation will prefer shared use vehicles rather than car ownership. Parents will be glad to live in a suburb where children can roam without fear of cars, and active transport will be a real possibility.

Read the material on the WCC website, go to the open day (Sunday 30 July, 11am–3pm, Shelly Bay), and above all get your views in by 14 August.

Other sites:

Cycleways “support local”

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Lee, A. 2008. What is the economic contribution of cyclists compared to car drivers in inner suburban Melbourne’s shopping strips?

A recent news story features business owners concerned about the impact of the proposed southern cycleway – particularly the loss of parking.

Should they be worried? As it happens, a lot of research has been done into the effects of cycleways on business. The conclusion is that cycleways have little or no impact on local business, and may have a positive impact.

A Los Angeles study found no difference in retail spending between an area with bike lanes, and an identical area without. Salt Lake City found that a street with cycle lanes had an almost 9% increase in retail activity, compared with a 7% increase city wide. In Seattle, sales increased dramatically after a hotly contested bike lane was put in.

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Jump in sales after a bike lane was constructed and parking removed, compared with unchanged areas (Rowe, K. 2013 Measuring the Economic Impact of Bicycle Facilities on Neighborhood Business Districts)

People shop differently by bike. On a bike you may buy less than if you’re in a car, but you’ll shop more often, partly because it’s so easy to stop on a bike.

A Portland study found that “bicyclists, transit users, and pedestrians …for all businesses except supermarkets, spend more, on average than those who drive”. A Toronto study showed that most cyclists spent over $100 a month, while most car drivers spent under $100 a month. In Melbourne, the hourly spend from a car park was $27; if the same space was allocated to bike parking, it would generate $97 an hour.

But, you cry, these are Overseas Studies, not applicable to Aotearoa! Well, despite the little known clause in the Tiriti requiring waka space outside every marae, there are NZ studies that support the view that cycleways are good for business. An NZTA study concluded that “cyclists contribute a higher economic spend proportionately to the modal share and are important to the economic viability of local shopping areas” and “that retailers generally overestimate the importance of on-street parking outside shop”. A study of our very own Tory Street showed that removal of car parks would have little impact on business: the on street parks constituted only 2.5% of the available parks in the area, and only 6% of shoppers used the on street parks.

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Where would you want to shop by bike? Where would you want to shop by car?

It makes sense that cycleways encourage people to shop locally. If you’re in a car, you’ll head across town to a big box retailer, with a couple of hectares of parking. If you’re on a bike, you’ll shop nearby, particularly if there’s a comfortable cycling route and convenient bike parking. Certainly, some businesses are dependent on car parking. If I’m going to Placemakers to pick up a load of timber for a construction project, I’ll take the station wagon. But Placemakers provide parking for their customers, rather than relying on ratepayer subsidised parking on the street.

The motto of Natty Art Studio, one of the Adelaide Road businesses featured in the story about the cycleway, is “Shop small, support local”. The good news is that the southern cycleway will achieve both of those objectives.

[Note: Natty Art Studio state on Facebook that the Dominion Post article misrepresents their views: “would love to see more cycleway improvements but they need to slow down the traffic so that bikes and pedestrians can be safe”]

Want better cycling in Newtown?

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While some of us are staying up late watching the Tour de France, the Southern Suburbs are getting ready for a Grand Départ in the race to provide better biking options. Newtown Resident Patrick Morgan writes:

“The City Council has plans for connecting Berhampore and Newtown to the CBD. We need to work together to get a great result. Let’s get together on Saturday 15 July 2-3:30pm at Baobab Wellington 152 Riddiford St for an informal meet up.
We’ll need to speak up for cycling routes that are convenient, comfortable and connected, or we risk getting pushed onto indirect or hilly routes.
A Council citizens’ panel had a look at route options in 2014 and made some recommendations. Can we do even better? From the WCC website:
‘Routes will connect the southern suburbs with local centres, schools and the central city. The current route runs through the southern suburbs from Shorland Park in Island Bay. The second section of the cycleway will run from Wakefield Park in Berhampore to John Street in Newtown.’ Have a look at WCC’s initial options.

You can also join the conversation on FaceBook  and on Twitter at #BikeNewtown

AGM meeting report, June 2017

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[Previous AGM report here]

Present: Ron, Peter Bu, Patrick, Alex, James, Sridhar, Frank, Andrew, Peter Ba, Ben, Mark, Paul Br, Linda, Nick, Andy F, Sean, Alastair

APOLOGIES: Andy Gow

Chair Ron Beernink reviewed the year.

  • By September 2017 any changes to Island Bay should be known.
  • Work on the Hutt Road Shared Path has started, working north in 100m section.
  • Let’s Get Wellington Moving is proceeding, although not as fast as we’d like.
  • We’re seeing more non-Lycra cyclists around town

Treasurer Linda Beatson reviewed our finances

  • Plenty of money in the bank. Apparent deficit is due to overlapping years, and late payment of our share of CAN subscriptions.
  • Andrew asked if we’d considered becoming a charity so tax isn’t paid on donations. James responded that reporting requirements are more onerous, and Alastair suggested CAN (which is registered) might be able to make better use of donations.
  • Finances approved subject to final approval by committee.  Final 2016 financial report.

Committee confirmed:

Chair: Ron Beernink
Treasurer: Linda Beatson
Membership secretary: Sridhar Ekambaram
Minutes secretary: Alastair Smith
Submissions leads: Eleanor Meecham, Alastair Smith
SASTRG reps: David Laing, James Burgess
General committee: James Burgess, Patrick Morgan, Sean Linton

Andy Gow, Andrew Macbeth, Nick Ravi, and Benjamin Burkhart prepared to help out on an ad hoc basis.

Year ahead:

  • Discussed getting the message out: social media (Bike Auckland have a paid role for this), email, conventional media
  • Have asked that Kaiwharawhara station be reopened to provide options for people who drive to Hutt Rd and park. Metlink not keen.
  • Urban Cycling Programme on a tight timeframe
  • Consultations coming up on Petone to Ngauranga.

Urban Cycling projects: Ron, James and Alastair reported back on workshops for Thorndon Quay, Oriental Bay, Evans Bay, Kilbirnie and Miramar. Newtown-Berhampore will be coming up soon.

Discussed implications of footpath cycling Select Committee report.

Roadworks signs on cycle lanes and shoulders have been a problem. Ron is pursuing with NZTA.

WCC has responded swiftly to deal with misplaced sharrows.

Thumbs up/ Thumbs down:

  • Benjamin: Metlink bus blocking lane at Thorndon Quay
  • Andrew: uncomfortable cycling uphill on Terrace south of Salamanca, remove parking at rush hour – could apply on other arterial uphill routes
  • Paul: free left turn for cyclists? NZTA is investigating a rule change.
  • Alex: Congestion Free Wellington is a new organisation campaigning for better transport options.
  • Ron: support bus drivers, generally good to cyclists
  • Andrew: changes in public transport are looking to improve overall service
  • James: post AGM pub visit….

CAW July 2017 meeting notes

roadworks on Evans Bay parade
Temporary traffic management in Evans Bay. At least cycling was considered, but parked cars seemed to be more important

14 of us gathered to discuss cycling issues in Wellington. 

Ron updated  us on the regular CAW and Hutt Cycling Network meetings with WCC, Hutt City Council and NZTA.

  • Petone to Melling. People on bikes give a thumbs up for this project which will establish a cycling track between the expressway and the railway.  Plan for implementation later in 2017.
  • Riverlink project will connect Hutt CBD to a relocated Melling station with a pedestrian/bike bridge.
  • Early engagement on the Petone to Ngauranga shared path is expected in October.
  • Improvements are needed at Ngauranga interchange (e.g. vegetation, rubbish). WCC do not see as a priority, but CAW & NZTA do. Maybe we should hold a working bee, which CAW did in the 1990’s.
  • Temporary traffic management issues (e.g. construction signs in bike lanes) are being addressed but seem to be systemic. It’s a national issue: Dougal List of NZTA has been approached about holding a workshop with contractors and road controlling authorities. Some discussion of Evans Bay, where there was a sign warning that cycle lane was closed, but could have used parking lane for a temporary lane. Do you have photos of particularly good or bad examples? Send them to Ron.
  • Quick win improvements in Wellington CBD are about to go to Council. These include
    • Grey St covered bike parking close to showers
    • Contraflow bike lanes (on otherwise one way streets). Mercer, Cuba between Vivian and Ghuznee, and lower Cuba, Willeston, Pukeahu Park between Tory and Martin Square, Basin Reserve at Rugby St, Bunny St W. Are there other good places for contraflow lanes?
  • Progress on Hutt Road Improvements
    • Construction work has started!
    • Orange rugby posts at Aotea overbridge are there to stop cars, but create issues for biking. Problems with lighting on north side need to be addressed before removal of poles.
    • The staged approach to the project will involve limited removal of parking at this stage. Back in June 2016 we looked at what needed to happen.
  • Thorndon Quay and Eastern suburbs have been having early engagement workshops with the community that are producing short lists of projects for detailed design.
  • Newtown will soon start an engagement process. Still deciding on stakeholders, many groups need to be involved.
  • Next steps for Island Bay, going through the formal process.
  • Congestion Free Wellington. new coalition aimed at getting sustainable transport options from the Lets Get Wellington Moving process.  Patrick and Alastair involved, Alex also keen.
  • Bike Newtown FaceBook page has been started to get Newtown and Berhampore people involved in upgrades for the Newtown community.
  • Bike to the Future awards – discussed what and who we should nominate.
  • What’s happening about Ciclovia? An event organising company is looking at a CBD event.
  • Ellie of Generation Zero, talked about the campaign for a Zero Carbon Act, including a cycle tour.
  • Thumbs up, thumbs down…
    • Up. Alex: WCC funding for Bikes Welcome
    • Up. Ron mentioned the Asia Pacific Cycle Congress to be held in Christchurch 17-20 October.  Should CAW sponsor someone to go? Advocate rate $500 before 1 Sept. Perhaps $250 each for 2 people. To decide next meeting.
    • Down. Alex finds reporting parking infringements difficult. Have to give personal details, only through phone, not through Fixit app,
    • Ron gave a thumbs up for Simon of HCC who has been good on engagement, for example on the Beltway
    • Up. James notes a Bike fix-it stand is now at Brooklyn, also Aro Valley. Maybe carrying a repair kit will become obsolete!

What will get Welly Moving?

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Will LGWM result in more and better bike lanes, or will it remove them to make room for cars?

The long drawn out Let’s Get Wellington Moving  (LGWM) process has produced a draft long list of scenarios aimed at reducing Wellington congestion. Which ones offer the best chance of “more people on bikes, more often”? There are 12 scenarios, with varying mixes of walking, cycling, public transport and “commuter and through traffic” (i.e. motor vehicles), and I’ll just discuss three that caught my eye.

Scenario G maximises walking, cycling and public transport including “separated facilities and active mode priority for a pedestrian and cyclist focused city”. It offers “a central city [cycling] network connected to the surrounding suburbs where routes include separation from high levels/fast traffic; increased supply of cycle parking/facilities [and] Bike sharing schemes”

At the other end of the spectrum is Scenario D which aims for “a high level of motorised mobility and good public transport”. This would involve “Removal of some pedestrian and cycling facilities” – which might be a challenge, given how few cycling facilities we have currently!

Somewhere in the middle is Scenario B with “A pedestrian and cyclist focused city centre, with separated facilities and active mode priority” as well as a “high quality integrated public transport network”. Rather than the full cycling network of Scenario G, it offers “Reallocation of space to dedicated bike routes connecting the commuter corridors”.

I have a concern about how the scenarios are evaluated, particularly against the objective to achieve “A transport system that provides more efficient and reliable access to support growth”. There’s an underlying assumption that more roading capacity is good for the economy. So Option D with its “high level of motorised mobility” is evaluated highly against this objective, while Scenario G, which emphases public and active transport, is evaluated negatively.

However what helps the economy is moving goods and people efficiently. We don’t achieve this by encouraging trips by private car, resulting in more congestion on the limited road space of the CBD. We help the economy by providing for high quality public transport and active transport (walking and cycling) to move people, reducing congestion for freight transport and other users who need to use motorised transport.

Cycle Aware Wellington is part of the Congestion Free Wellington coalition, which wants the LGWM process to result in a liveable, sustainable city. No doubt we’ll hear more of this debate.

Scenario G or Scenario B would certainly get “more people on bikes more often”. In the mean time, people using bikes are probably least affected by congestion. The more people that realise that, the better it will be for all road users.

Mid Winter blues? Treat them with a dose of CAW conviviality!

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The days are short now, leaving plenty of time to attend CAW’s regular evening meeting in July. Lots of things to talk about.

Tuesday 4 July, 6-7:30 pm, Sustainability Trust, Forresters Lane (off Tory St)

Going the distance on an eBike

Opotiki to Tauranga
Over 100km, but on the flat with a tailwind

I’m often asked “how far can you go on your eBike?” It’s a natural question, but an electric assist bike is exactly that: the electric motor is assisting you, so the performance depends on both you and the bike, as well as factors like hills and wind. Any claims that “this bike has a range of x” should be taken with a sack of salt. I’ve made 107km on a single charge, and run out of power at 35km.

Do you want maximum range or maximum performance? Around town, where you might only be doing 30 km in a day, you might as well turn up the power level, and enjoy being able to zip up hills, and mixing with multilane motor traffic. But if you’re going for maximum range, for example if you’re going cycle touring, here’s some advice:

  • Charge your battery fully. You’ll get the maximum charge if the battery is warmer than 15 degrees, so in winter charge the battery indoors rather than a cold garage.
  • Choose a low power setting (or even turn the power off).
  • When you need power for a hill or wind, increase the power setting. Systems with a convenient thumb control are good for this.
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Thumb control (+/-) for power levels on a Bosch powered bike
  • If your bike has a throttle, you can use this to increase the power when needed, leaving the power level low. But if you over-use the throttle, particularly on high power settings, you’ll eat into the battery charge (and also get OOS in the finger holding the throttle down).
  • When touring, I often have a target speed in mind, say 15km/hr. I wait until my speed drops below the target before I increase the power level or use the throttle.
  • Check your tyre pressure – high pressure is more efficient.
  • Use your gears efficiently. It’s tempting not to bother with gears when the motor takes up the slack, but that can mean you’re using the motor rather than your legs. If you’ve got a crank (mid-drive) motor, it’ll be happiest if you’re pedaling at about 60 rpm, which is also the most efficient for your legs.
  • Air resistance goes up as the square of speed, so don’t go faster than you need to, unless you’re coasting down hill.
  • If you’re with other riders and familiar with the technique, use drafting to save energy
  • Consider carrying your charger (and the key to remove your battery) so you can partially recharge (yourself and the battery) at a cafe. It’s polite to ask before plugging in, even though you’ll only be using a few cents worth of power. We may see more charging points in public places like the one at Zealandia.
  • Purchase a larger capacity battery – this is expensive, but the retailer might be prepared to do a swap when you first buy the bike.
  • Take hills into account when planning a route. For me and my bike, about 700m of climbing is the maximum on a charge. Google will tell you the total height gain for a route – which might be different from the maximum height reached.
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Total height gain on Google – on this trip I recharged at a cafe after crossing the Kaimais

If the worst comes to the worst, you can always pedal an eBike after you’ve run out of battery. It’ll be a bit heavier than a regular bike, but a lot easier than trying to push a Tesla!

Here are some further thoughts on eBike range from Bicycle Junction and eBike School.

Bikescout – the answer to SMIDSY?

Fulton Hogan BikeScout warning system on Hutt Rd cyclepath
Bikescout LED countering SMIDSY at Caltex

A risk that people on bikes encounter every day is SMIDSY (Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You). SMIDSY is particularly prevalent on the Hutt Road shared path, usually in the form of a tradie charging out of Placemakers, concentrating their next job rather than the oncoming bike.

Fulton Hogan are keen to address the SMIDSY problem. What’s that, you say? Aren’t Fulton Hogan the people who drive large scale machinery around the countryside with little regard for anything smaller than a 4WD ute? Well, as it happens, they’re quite keen on people on bikes. Managing Director Nick Miller rolled up to CAN Do 2017 (which Fulton Hogan helped to sponsor) and told us about some of the cycling projects they’re involved in, such as the Onehunga Foreshore Bridge, which includes a shared path for pedestrians and cyclists. They’re experimenting with fitting a 360 degree camera and side rails to their trucks to help prevent the risk of cyclists going under the vehicle.

To address the SMIDSY problem, Fulton Hogan have teamed up with a Dutch company, Heijmans, who have developed Bikescout, a radar system that detects bicycles and vehicles, and activates LED indicators in the road surface to alert drivers. It’s being trialled on one of the exits from the Caltex station on Hutt Road, so I went along to have a look. At first sight, there isn’t a lot to see.

Fulton Hogan BikeScout warning system on Hutt Rd cyclepath
Radar and LED’s

There’s a tall pole with a couple of small radar detectors on top, and across the entrance, a row of LED lights in solid metal housings, looking like crabs with glowing eyes. But the lights seem to flash brightly and consistently whenever a bike (or a pedestrian) came along the path. In the short time available, I wasn’t sure how far driver behaviour was affected, but I presume that’s part of the evaluation of the trial. The lights would be even more effective in low light conditions, which is when they’re needed. I did wonder whether SMIDSY might become “Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You because I was looking at the flashing lights”, but if the lights are arranged properly, the message should be clear.

If the trial is successful, the system might be used in many SMIDSY-prone locations. A possible application might be in Wellington’s notoriously narrow Seatoun and Karori tunnels, where Bike Scout could activate lights to indicate the presence of bikes and the fact that they will be occupying the lane.

We need to talk about parking…

taxi parked in Hutt Rd Cycle Path
Parking on the Hutt Road Shared Path

Roads and streets evolved for walkers and horses, then bicycles, then cars. But cars changed how we use road space. Walkers, horses and bicycles generally leave the road at the end of the journey.  Cars needed to be parked. See how Cuba Street changed between 1910 and 1930

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Cuba Street, 1910  (Alexander Turnbull Library)
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Cuba Street, 1930 (Alexander Turnbull Library)

In 1910, one new fangled car is parked on the street, and the rest of the road space is available for traffic. By 1930, up to 20% of the roadspace is taken up by parked cars.

How does this relate to cycling? Virtually all cycling projects affect parking. To improve the Hutt Road shared path it will be necessary to reduce the (technically illegal) parking. In constructing the Island Bay Cycleway, some parking had to be removed to allow good visibility for residents entering driveways.

On street parking is expensive. A US report calculates that land, construction and maintenance can cost US$1000-3000 per year for a parking space. In addition, there are environmental costs – parked cars don’t enhance the feel of a city – and opportunity costs – if car parking prevents us from building a bike lane, the parking has cost us the health, social, and sustainability benefits the bike lane would have engendered.

But most on street parking is free, meaning that ratepayers subsidise people who store their cars on the street. This encourages decisions that are not good for the city as a whole.  People buy a second or third car for their household, without having to factor in the cost of storage. The more cars you have access to, the more you drive, the greater the carbon emissions you produce, and the more congestion you create.  People buy cars even though they are living in a house without off street parking, since ratepayers will subsidise their car storage.

There are people who say “I NEED to park my car on the street”. This may be true. However subsidised parking means that many people park their car on the street because their off street parking is being used for other purposes. A survey of a Mount Cook street found that 80% of garages were being used to store things other than cars. Some people park on the street simply to avoid the hassle of backing out of a driveway!

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Wellington garage (Daryl Cockburn)

WCC’s Cycling Framework states that “The movement of traffic will take priority over on-street parking” and the Parking Policy says that “Street space is a scarce resource and priority for use for parking needs to be considered against other uses”.

Dealing with parking when planning roading projects should be simple. We decide how much space is required for traffic: buses, pedestrians, bikes, and cars. If there’s space left over, we can consider using this for parking.

A new approach to parking is not necessarily a bad thing for people who need to drive cars. Removing car parks enables traffic to move more efficiently, as an Australian motoring organisation acknowledges.  Removing parking doesn’t have to mean that drivers can’t park. Donald Shoup, an expert on parking policy, points out that pricing can be used to ensure that at least 15% of parking spaces on a block are available. If the free space is less than that, we increase the price, allowing people to decide if they really need to park their car, or whether they’d be better to use another travel mode. CBD carparks now have sensors that detect whether a car is present. We could allow free or cheap parking until the 15% limit is reached, then increase the charge to free up parking spaces again. This technique of “demand responsive parking” has been successfully trialed in San Francisco.

Changing subsidised parking is politically difficult. But we need to talk about parking, and change the conversation from “how can we save the parking spaces” to “is subsidised parking a good use of this road space?” That will help us achieve a livable city and sustainable transport.