Safer Speeds – 30km/h is the stepping stone to a central city for people

As a partner in the Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme, Wellington City Council is committed to making the city safer and more attractive. Introducing a 30 kmh speed limit across the central city is a key element. A few arterial streets are excepted, the Quays, Kent and Cambridge Tces, and SH1 on Vivian St.

The Council will consult on the plan early this year, and plans to introduce changes in mid-2020.

There’s more detail at https://lgwm.nz/our-plan/our-projects/central-city-safer-speeds/

30km/h on Featherston?

Safer speeds on central city streets could be a stepping stone towards a city that works for people travelling on all modes. By restricting most streets to 30km/h it is possible that more drivers will choose those streets that are still at 50km/h, reducing the traffic volumes on those streets at 30km/h. The LGWM programme will be assessing the impacts of changes, which will allow recommendations to be made on redesigning streets like Featherston and Taranaki, reducing the number of car lanes and allowing more space for people on foot and on bikes, buses and rapid transit. An even bolder approach would be to move one step further, closing off more streets to through-traffic. Birmingham has announced plans based on earlier tactics employed by Groningen in the Netherlands and Ghent, Belgium to make their city centre slightly more difficult to drive around, reallocating space to public and active transport in the process:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/carltonreid/2020/01/13/birmingham-reveals-radical-ghent-style-plan-to-cut-car-addiction/#214e9a69760f

The idea here is to create quadrants, or zones, dividing up areas of the central city. Private vehicles are not permitted to cross between these zones, but people on foot, buses or bikes can. The result is that places in Ghent that are 1km apart on foot or bike become 3km apart by car, making the bicycle the fastest way to get around, meaning more people opt to use a bicycle. Driving isn’t a particularly slow option, it just takes a bit longer and you need to drive further. People who need to drive still can, and the way the city is laid out pushes them onto outer roads that are more capable of handling cars, leaving those central streets free for people.

Wellington could apply similar thinking. It already has a ‘ring’ road of sorts. Imagine a car journey from the Michael Fowler Centre to Pukeahu Park didn’t involve going up Taranaki Street because it was now a no-through road. Your alternative route would be via Cable St, Kent Terrace and the Basin. Perhaps you’d decide to cycle there instead because now, Taranaki St is a residential area with fewer car lanes, a 30km/h speed limit, more seating, street trees and a cycle lane and you’d be there just as fast, (raging southerly wind notwithstanding!)

Taranaki St – unrecognisable

These ideas are almost incomprehensible at the moment because Wellington’s central city has so many lanes for cars that it can be very difficult to imagine where they would all go. However 30km/h streets will start to push us towards a Wellington where walking, shopping and living in our central city becomes much more pleasant. Driving will become just one of the ways you can get around easily, comfortably and conveniently, but not quite as quickly as by bike.

Quieter, slower streets become much more attractive to people on bikes and escooters where fewer cars pass and at slower relative speeds. Of course, crashes can still occur at 30km/h, but the outcomes are vastly improved for people of all ages. Cycling on slower streets will also ‘feel’ more comfortable and natural, which will attract more people to give bikes a go where currently the road conditions can feel more risky and scary.

Cycle Wellington fully supports the plans for 30km/h streets and looks forward to safer riding throughout our central city.

Let's Get Wellington Moving

There’s some incredible stuff coming out of LGWM at the moment, with the first two rounds of in-depth consultation focusing on changes to make the central city much more people-friendly. This consultation closes this Sunday, 15th December. Have your say to make sure that the LGWMers know that this is what Wellingtonians want.

NZTA have gone with their funky map-based feedback machine to get feedback on Let’s Get Wellington Moving, which is amazing if you have a while to spare poring over maps of Wellington. However, it’s Kirihimete/Christmas so if time is not on your side there’s a TL;DR version

Hit these links which jump you straight through to the easy form-based feedback sections:

https://lgwm.nz/goldenmile/#e55

http://lgwm.nz/saferspeeds/#e56

These are great for overall feedback. The simplest comment you could put here is “Yes, do it already!”, both for improving the Golden Mile and for bringing city centre speeds down to a safer 30km/h. Two minutes and you’re done.

Still reading and have time for an in-depth submission? Here are some pointers, please let us know in the comments if you spot anything we’ve missed:

Golden Mile

This consultation gathers your ideas but doesn’t set out any concrete plans.
They say:

We want to make it better for people walking and on bikes, and give buses more priority

We say:

  • Separated cycle lanes to keep less confident riders away from buses, with well signposted, comfortable alternative routes where space is limited
  • Intersections are too intimidating for vulnerable road users and these people need safer means to change lanes and turn into other roads with clear right of way to drivers behind them. A suggestion is to make protected intersections with dedicated space and priority lights for people on foot, bikes, and scooters.
  • Giving people riding e-scooters and bikes a safer road space helps to keep pedestrians out of harm’s way
  • Make the Golden Mile for buses, bikes, scooters and people on foot
  • Allow goods deliveries in time windows outside of peak hours
  • If the Golden Mile is made car-free then design and enforcement will need to work together to make this a reality
  • Continuous walking along the route wherever possible – by closing side-street ends like Bond and Grey streets, and where a street crosses with through traffic give green walk signals with minimum interruption (like some of Featherston side streets)
  • Changing flow around Boulcott/Willis/Mercer/Victoria somehow to make life better for everyone

Te Aro Park, Golden Mile – what would make you more likely to ride here?

Safer speeds

This consulation proposes a 30km/h limit for the city centre – effectively everything within Karo Dive/Cambridge Terrace/the Quays apart from Vivian Street, extending North as far as the station.

We say:

  • This should be implemented for non-arterial CBD roads, and is already or is becoming the norm for cities around the world
  • Lower speeds make it feel safer or will make it more feasible for people on bikes and e-scooters to share the road
  • This needs to go hand in hand with road design features that naturally slow down the speed and clearly tell drives to give priority to vulnerable road users
  • Clearly there is a push for priority bus lanes through the CBD and this is where we expect separated cycle lanes
  • No easy suggestions how to deal with this but consideration needs to be given to people on bikes (e.g. road and electric bikes) and e-scooters who can and typically will try to travel faster than 30km/hr. This will give frustration to other road users who are keeping to the speed restrictions
  • Some roads feel too fast for 30km/h today, but these streets also have plenty of people living on them, walking on them and biking on them. They deserve safety too, and road design changes will help the lower speeds feel more natural here. The LGWM programme needs to show that these streets will be used for living, working, shopping and playing in future, so lower speeds are appropriate.
  • For central streets that remain at 50km/h (eg Quays, Kent & Cambridge, Vivian) use protected bike lanes to achieve 2 things – safer biking, and more separation between footpaths and moving traffic
  • Enforce new speed limits with cameras at high traffic volume / high risk places – do the same on the 50km/h arterial roads too
  • Green-waves for traffic lights so that people travelling below 30km/h don’t need to stop as often – making speeding futile

Taranaki Street – lots of space for living, working, playing, eating, partying – 30km/h makes sense to pave the way for new uses

Stay positive!

It’s tempting to use a consultation exercise as an opportunity to vent. However, we think a good submission should be really positive and future focused, try to imagine the Wellington you’d happily take your mates for a ride around next summer!

From all of us at Paihikara ki Pōneke/Cycle Wellington, Meri Kirihimete, Merry Christmas and enjoy riding your bike over the holidays. Looking forward to an amazing 2020!

We shortened our name!

New Cycle Wellington logo - letters C and W in a bike design with label in English and te reo.

We’re changing our name (slightly)! From Cycle Aware Wellington to the shorter Cycle Wellington. We already do more than just advocate for better conditions for people on bikes, we organise events, rides and just generally enjoy getting out there in the wind and rain and of course, on those days you just can’t beat Wellington!

Big thanks to Alex for the new logo to go with it. Wheee!

If you’re keen to get involved in our mahi, or just have fun on bikes with us, we’d love to hear from you. Join or donate here: https://cycwell.wordpress.com/join/ or come along to a meeting or event.

Pop up bike lane on Featherston St opens

Pop up bike lane
Pop up bike lane on Featherston St

Wellington’s newest bike lane popped up on Featherston St today – just for an hour. 40 people lined the clearway to build a people-protected bike lane for two blocks.

People on bikes deserve protection, says Patrick Morgan. “We love the protected bike lanes Wellington City Council has built, but progress is far too slow. So we’re taking action into our own hands. If the city won’t protect us, we will protect our own.”
https://can.org.nz/weloveprotectedbikelanes

February 2019 meeting

20190109_120517

Park up your bike and pop in for our first meeting of 2019!

Wow, we’re already into February.  Hopefully you have all had a fantastic holidays with some nice rides.  Come and share your highlights and lets talk about the year ahead for cycling in Wellington.  The agenda:

  • Introductions
  • Top cycling experiences over the holidays
  • Aotearoa Bike Challenge
  • Go By Bike Day
  • Sam Seiniger, Wellington manager Lime, to talk about their scooters
  • Swapping chairs: a new CAW lead
  • The challenges of running a volunteering-based group like CAW
  • Updates from CAN
  • Updates from WCC
  • What concerns and opportunities we would like to get addressed
  • Wrap up – Thumbs up, thumbs down

Still same place, same time.  Sustainability Trust shop, 2 Forresters Lane, Wellington.  Tuesday 5 February 6-7:30pm.

 

 

Newtown state of mind

We’ve been reading up on the Newtown Connections project. Feedback is open until 11 December; please take a moment to have your say today.

There’s heaps of information online, from technical and background info to good ideas in comments from people who have already made a submission. Here’s what we think.

Our preference: Package C+ (the Healthy Streets Option)

To succeed, the network must be:

  • Connected – go where people want to go
  • Convenient – easy to use (avoid hills and indirect routes)
  • Comfortable – for all ages and abilities.

We don’t have a preferred option out of the three packages proposed. BUT with a little change, we support a combination of Package C routes (best balance of ‘connection’ and ‘convenience’) with Package A ‘2x 1-way’ paths (best for ‘comfort’ and safety) where possible.

Rintoul Street’s a must-do route, as the least steep route south of Newtown. It serves SWIS directly. There’s less parking impact as it runs beside Village at the Park, and Wakefield Hospital. And it provides the best connection to Newtown shops. The steep section on Adelaide Road north of Luxford Street, and the steepness of the western off-road option through MacAlister Park, rule them both out as ‘all ages and abilities’ routes.

Our preference more or less matches ‘Package C+’ identified by Regan for Island Bay Healthy Streets (love the new name!), and we think of it as the Healthy Streets Option as it best fits the objectives of that approach.

We want to stress that at this stage in the design process, our preference for a specific package is less strong than our desire to see a good outcome overall. We recognise that the viability of some combinations of route and path type depends on more detailed design to be done later.

We’ve highlighted some particular preferences:

  • Prioritise protected bike lanes
  • Yes to off-road routes, but only in addition to more direct routes
  • Avoid two-way cycleways in most cases
  • Include the flattest option
  • Mitigate reductions in parking
  • Think of the scooters!

We also have some ideas for making the most of the detailed design stage, and an overall plea: be bold!

Prioritise protected bike lanes

Wellington will see the greatest health, economic and efficiency benefits if the network both keeps people safe and also makes them feel safe. You can do this best with protected lanes. Avoid ‘on road’ cycle lanes or areas where people on bikes mix with traffic on busy main roads — this type of treatment becomes the weak link in the chain that puts more vulnerable people off giving cycling a try. Even a few metres of danger (such as through an intersection, or through a shopping area) are enough to undermine the benefit of good bike paths either side. Despite best intentions, 30km shared zones don’t work well on main arterial roads with lots of trucks and buses, such as through Berhampore shops or Newtown shops.

Good protected lanes don’t depend on good driving behaviour as much as shared zones or paint-only bike lanes. Businesses need to load goods, and in practice delivery drivers will often stop wherever is easiest. To work with this, protect bike lanes from parking and provide loading zones that are more convenient to use.

Protected intersections can help maintain comfort for cyclists and other road users. Tight spots can make physically protected bike lanes difficult to fit in. At these pinch points, and at junctions, separate cyclists from conflict with other traffic using time instead of space, with dedicated stages in the traffic light sequence.

Yes to off-road routes, but only in addition to more direct routes

Off-road routes are great, but must be in addition to (not instead of) paths that follow the most direct routes. Off-road routes are typically not the most direct, flattest, or most connected to destinations. Providing a variety of routes is important because connectivity is important! The more connections the network provides, the better the uptake will be.

If you can pave and light the off-road routes, so they become viable options all year round, at any time of day, do it! Motion sensors could allow the lighting to respond to the presence of people, saving energy when the paths aren’t in use and adding a ‘wow’ factor when they are.

Avoid two-way cycleways in most cases

We absolutely understand the desire to use two-way cycle lanes to mitigate effects on parking, but we can’t endorse this approach if it results in greater risk for people riding bikes.

Two-way cycleways don’t work well on roads with lots of intersections or driveways — the risk of being sideswiped by a driver who didn’t look both ways before crossing the cycleway is high. Two-way cycleways are also risky on steep hills, because of the speed differential between uphill and downhill cyclists. Taking both of these things into consideration, we don’t think two-way cycleways are appropriate for many of the places you’ve proposed them, such as on Rintoul Street and Adelaide Road in Package C.

Let’s not end up with stories like this on Stuff:
City of Ottawa chooses less safe option for O’Connor bikeway to make room for cars 

That said, a two-way cycleway may be appropriate for Riddiford Street, in the low-speed shopping area, as long as intersections and transitions are handled very carefully. Drivers are already used to slowing and looking both ways for pedestrians when turning into most of the side roads through Newtown, which lowers the risk for people on bikes. Lowering the speed limit to 30km/h through there would also help.

Include the flattest option

Whichever route or mix of routes you choose, include a less steep route to attract the most people. Not everyone wants to climb the Adelaide Road hill.

Mitigate reductions in parking

  • Prioritise resident parking over commuter parking — consider introducing residents-only zones, with no fee for the first while to help residents see the value before they have to start paying?
  • Create more parking spaces on council land — for example, at the top of MacAlister Park?
  • Make the hospital own its parking problem, which currently has a major impact across Newtown and beyond. Unlike most workplaces, there really is a case for the hospital taking responsibility for providing parking for staff and visitors. Hospital support for carpooling, public transport and other behaviour change (for the staff who can) could reduce demand too. Direct bike lanes are part of the solution too.

Think of the scooters!

Innovations like Onzo bike-share and electric scooters show how rapidly transport can change. Build paths that work for a variety of users, with specifications that make them resilient to change — whether that’s the next new transport idea, or an increase in mobility scooters, or simply a large uptake in biking. For example, you could provide bike parking along the route that would be convenient for finding or leaving a dockless share bike without blocking the footpath.

 

So… to finish, two overall points:

Make the most of the detailed design stage

Pay particular attention to intersections, and to the transitions between protected lanes and other types of treatments. For example, use things like hook turns and dedicated traffic signals to avoid vulnerable people having to mix with buses, filter through lanes of traffic, or wait to turn on green spots in between lanes of moving traffic.

Be bold!

Removing parking is really hard, and we have sympathy for businesses and residents who will have parking removed near their properties. But Wellington cannot become a truly resilient 21st century city without making it possible for more people to cycle and leave the car at home. Our population will continue to grow, and we have finite space — we can’t endlessly accommodate more and more cars.  

Go and have your say — it matters!

November Meeting

Onzo - love cycling

Second to last meeting of the year!  So let’s make it a good one.  Discussion items on offer this time:

  • Bike share schemes – good idea?
    • What’s working, what’s not with the Onzo trial?
    • What about e-scooters?  On the footpath, cycle lane, or on the road?
  • Te Ara Tapere ki Pōneke – Open Streets
    • Impressions / lessons learned.
    • How regularly?  And same location?
    • Bring it back as part of Biketober next year?
  • Updates from WCC, NZTA.
  • Ideas for last meeting of the year.
  • Thumbs up, thumbs down

See you good people there.   6-7:30pm, 6 November, Sustainability Trust, 2 Forresters Lane (off Tory Street)

September CAW meeting

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Riding around Wellington is still a challenge but on the positive side the weather is improving, we have more day light and the Government is spending big on cycling infrastructure.   And we have the following discussion topics to excite you.

  • Government goodness; what has been announced.
  • Ngauranga-Petone improvements; the latest from NZTA.
  • Sharrows; your thoughts.
  • Wellington improvements; the latest from WCC.
  • Where to for CAW; updates from our planning workshop.

A short list, but other items may pop up closer to the time.

6-7:30pm 4 September, Sustainability Trust, 2 Forrester Lane.

Our August meeting: what we discussed

20180807_182216.jpg

  • Patrick gave a brief update on the Bicycle Mayor initiative, which was one of the topics at the 2Walk&Cycle conference last week.  This is being done in a number of places around the world to have a people’s champion push a positive message.   Some more planning needed before we look to launch this.
  • Ron explained that the Biketober initiative will be done next year when we have more time and assurance of the right support (e.g. funding).  Instead we will put our effort into making the Open Streets Wellington / Te Ara Tapare ki Pōneke event on 28 October a big success.  Ron’s partner has already come up with offers from her Ukelele and Dance groups to perform at our stand.  We also hoping to have the Dutch embassy partner with us with their stand and wooden bike.
  • We talked about issues with the buses.   A key message is that we need to do our bit to stay alert as new bus drivers are getting used to having to share the road with us.  MetLink and TranzUrban will look to join us next month for more of a discussion and explain how drivers are trained to be aware of vulnerable road users.  Not clear if drivers are allowing people to use the bike racks on all buses yet.  Hutt Council ran a facility to try out one of these racks.  Good to have this done at for example the Wellington railway station.
  • Patrick provided a few more highlights from the 2Walk&Cycle conference including our own wonderful Alastair Smith getting the well deserved “Outstanding Contribution to a Bike Friendly Future”.  NZTA talked about their shift to a multi-modal approach to transport.  Key speaker was Lucy Saunders who’s “Healthy Streets” is the discussion to have about new ways of improving our cities.
  • Volunteers are asked to help to trial the Sensible app and button to easily record people’s experiences of their trip.  Hamish McNair will be in Wellington on 24 August to give 30 of these Sensible units for people to trial over the weekend.   As he doesn’t have enough units yet to just them give away the idea is to provide as many people as possible the chance to try it out (for one ride or for the weekend).  More details in this article: Sensibel_article_wellington
  • An update was given on our monthly meeting with WCC to discuss cycling-related projects and concerns.  Items that were addressed:
    • New pedestrian islands should not put cyclists in conflict with cars because of creating a pinch point.  WCC will address this with their traffic department as there a standards to follow.
    • Councils around NZ are adopting chip seal as a cheaper option.  WCC will look at ensuring a smoother seal for key cycling routes.
    • WCC will talk to their parking reinforcement team about our suggestion that their wardens can get bikes to patrol areas like Thorndon Quay and Hutt Road.  This helps to legitimise and normalise use of bikes for work purposes.
    • WCC will look at what can be done to make the south-bound connection between Thorndon Quay and Bunny Street West safer as the recent road changes have narrowed the median strip, making it more dangerous for cyclists.  They will also check what is happening to the Bunny Street West improvements that Councillors had agreed to.
  • Some of the other items we briefly touched on
    • The government is doing a consultation on law changes about vehicles keeping a 1.5m distance from cyclists, allowing people on bikes on footpaths, improved give-way rules for intersections, and drivers having to give way to buses turning out of bus stops.
    • The online bike count is becoming more detailed, showing actual counts for specific monitoring points.
    • Advanced lights for cyclists for the Ohiro rd-Cleveland St intersection.

The high rewards of paid parking*

Wellington City Council are considering charging for weekend parking. We made a submission in support. Here’s what we wrote.

We support the proposal. We see three positive ‘behaviour change’ effects:

  • more people choosing to use public or active transport for weekend visits to the CBD
  • better availability of the existing roadside parks for those who need to drive
  • paid off-street parking becomes relatively more attractive (even if prices go up by the same amount, the comparison is no longer ‘free vs paid’).

As a result, the CBD might feel less car-dominated at weekends. Fewer drivers will ‘circle the block’ in the CBD searching for roadside parks. There’ll be less traffic to cycle amongst, and less pollution and congestion.

We’d love more support for people deciding whether to drive or walk/bike to the CBD at the weekend, for their whole journey or after parking further away. Two things that would help:

  • more crossing time and priority when crossing roads
  • better biking facilities – especially safer-feeling ways to get across the CBD.

* Title pun apologies to Donald Shoup‘s The High Cost of Free Parking, which explains why in far greater detail.