Wellington Bike Love episode 6: JIM

A knee injury opened the door to cycling. A friend wanted to help and gave Jim an old bike to recover quicker. Still, the hills of Wellington were too challenging. As the technology around e-bikes improved, he invested in a conversion for his bicycle. A decision that changed his life dramatically. “Cycling has been a revolution on how I approach my life. I absolutely love it,” he says enthusiastically.

Especially, the time factor is one of the most convincing aspects for him. Being able to get home from anywhere in 20 minutes without worrying about a car park, bus schedules, anything. “The logistics disappeared,” Jim exclaims. The newly won freedom and time is invested in his family life – making sure everyone gets breakfast, lunch and dinner.

With everything in life, there is also a little shadow side that comes with commuting by bicycle regularly. “The lack of space given to cyclists. The lack of tolerance.” He explains. “Cars go by too close.” Constant awareness is needed. The experience of an incident with an opened door didn’t stop him from riding his bike; it only changed his approach. Carefully, he now picks the routes that minimize the chance of that.

His bicycle is like a colleague for him. Jim treats it with respect, maintained and cleaned to enjoy more years of cycling.

[ By Julia Hilgenfeldt. All stories of the project can be found here: https://julsontheway.com/art-projects/wellington-bike-love.]

Wellington Bike Love episode 5: KORA

A bicycle named “Franken-bike” is Kora’s main way of traveling around Wellington. The independence she experiences with a bicycle is indescribable. No need to wait for a bus. It is cool, good for the environment and good for her with some passive exercise, she explains.

Going downhill is the most exciting part of cycling. She only goes the hills up to speed those down again.

“At times it can be difficult and quite dangerous to be part of the traffic,” Kora says. “Especially on Adelaide Road.” The inconsistent bike lanes give a slightly bitter flavour to cycling in the city.

Nevertheless, she has seen positive changes over the last year. Improved infrastructure, more people on their bikes, and in general Wellington got more friendly towards cyclists.

“A trusty little thing. Light and functional,” as she describes her bicycle. Her partner has helped her to maintain it, but she prefers to keep it “a little janky” to keep people from stealing it.

[ By Julia Hilgenfeldt. All stories of the project can be found here: https://julsontheway.com/art-projects/wellington-bike-love.]

What is an “Upper Stebbings Valley” and why should I care?

If you’re a cyclist in Wellington it’s rather statistically unlikely that you hail from the northernmost suburbs such as Churton Park or Grenada Village. So for those of us who live elsewhere in Wellington, why should we care about the conditions for cycling in new housing developments proposed by Wellington City Council in Upper Stebbings Valley and Glenside West?

The proposed developments Wellington City Council is consulting on.
Percentage of residents that commute to the CBD who do so by driving	
	
Statistical Area	Drive
Churton Park North	67.2%
Endeavour	60.8%
Churton Park South	58.6%
Khandallah North	53.8%
Strathmore	53.3%
Newlands South	52.7%
Newlands North	51.8%
Johnsonville North	51.7%
Paparangi	50.9%
Johnsonville West	49.1%
Source: 2018 Census

The existing suburbs in this area have the highest percentage of population commuting by car to the CBD of anywhere in the Greater Wellington area. This has a run-on effect on the rest of us: more cars on our roads, more demand for on-street car parking, and residents pushing for bigger, wider, faster roads.

Extract from the traffic analysis for the new development

The traffic assessment done for the development is problematic in a number of areas. The low number of cyclists in the area is viewed as a statistical attribute rather than a sign of the poor street design of recent developments. They also view a distance of 2km as being too far to enable sufficient uptake of active transport to the nearest primary school. No analysis is done of active travel options to intermediate or secondary schools. The footpath network is proposed to support trips by bicycle despite using bicycles on footpaths currently being against the law.

A picture of Melksham Drive, a wide road with new houses alongside, and countryside hills surrounding them.
Melksham Drive, the main road connecting the new development to local schools and shops

Current connections for cyclists and pedestrians in the area are extremely poor. New roads in the area have been built wide and open with no attempt to slow speeds or provide separated facilities for cyclists. In ord

Middleton Road: Not an inviting place to walk or cycle

The nearby train station at Takapu Road is touted by the council as part of the public transport supporting the development but access to this station (and anywhere else north of Wellington) for cyclists is currently only via Middleton road, a narrow and winding section of road with a set speed limit of 70km/h, likely only suitable for the most confident of cyclists. The report proposes off-road trails suitable for cyclists, but these options will include significant elevation changes that aren’t present on the road route.

In the Planning for Growth engagement undertaken last year, Wellingtonians overwhelmingly opposed new greenfield developments, and supported reducing carbon emissions and providing better transport choices. So why is the council soldiering on with business-as-usual car-centric greenfield developments with near-zero provision for cyclists?

The main access road, Melksham Drive, has been intentionally built with enough width to provide cycle lanes at some point in the future. Why aren’t they being included right from the beginning? We all know how difficult it is to install cycling infrastructure later on!

We encourage you to make a submission on the development concept, and in particular demand that:

  1. All new roads be built either with 30km/h speed limits (and appropriate traffic calming measures) or with separated cycle paths.
  2. Cycling links be provided from new developments to local primary, intermediate and secondary schools in the area.
  3. Missing walking and cycling links be provided to train stations, along Middleton Road and across the motorway to Grenada Village and Paparangi, with pedestrian priority at crossings.
  4. New developments allow for commercial zoning so that residents can shop for basic items locally without having to drive.

We also suggest that the Glenside West portion of the development be opposed as it has no viable public transport connections. The provision of a new train station nearby on the Kapiti Line has been considered by Greater Wellington Regional Council and we think it needs to be built before the development is progressed.

Submissions can be made before monday 30th November at https://wellington.govt.nz/have-your-say/public-inputs/consultations/open/upper-stebbings-and-glenside-west

Wellington Bike Love episode 4: Sarrah and Freya

Sarrah (left) and Freya (right)

SARRAH

As there were no parking spots in the city, Sarrah decided to use her bicycle instead and since then didn’t regret her decision. As easy as it sounds, it wasn’t.

She never saw herself as a cyclist, even thought she couldn’t do it without a lot of encouragement from her friends and a beautiful e-bike, she now happily rides every day to work. “It’s not only a pleasant commute, it’s even quicker and more environmentally friendly than by car,” she says.

“For sure, there are some roads that are confusing, especially Adelaide Road,” Sarrah mentions. She takes extra caution while passing a parking car, though never had an accident.

“People take care and respect cyclists,” she says enthusiastically. Her favourite parts of the city to cycle are Miramar and the Waterfront.

Over the years, her relationship with her bicycle developed into a loving and respectful one.

FREYA

Freya did not want to buy a car and looked for other options to get around. Luckily her flatmate showed her the way to a life with a bicycle.

Now, it has become her main mode of transport – to commute, to pick up groceries, anything! And all of this combined with free exercise.

“Especially during lockdown, it was amazing to cycle with friends along the empty roads,” she says.

With traffic, the feeling changed – in some parts, she feels a bit more rushed by the cars. She says, “There are some grumpy drivers, but the majority are sweet.”

Apart from those aspects, Freya enjoys the downhills as her favourite parts of cycling in Wellington. There are a lot, and they let her easily forget about the “bah” up hills.

Her bicycle gives her a sensation of freedom. She loves and misses it when out of town.


Credit to artist Ellen Coup for the mural artwork that served as background.

[ By Julia Hilgenfeldt. All stories of the project can be found here: https://julsontheway.com/art-projects/wellington-bike-love.]

Wellington Bike Love episode 3: Mathew

More mountain biking was Mathew’s intention while buying his current bicycle. The intention shifted, and now it is primarily used to commute from Khandallah to the CBD. For him, flexibility is the key. “I would rather go when I want to go instead of sitting and waiting for public transport.”

With that, other benefits came along. Especially during rush hour, he realised cycling is quicker than by bus or car. It has less environmental impact and the exercise puts him in a good mood, feeling healthy and energised after his 20-minute ride. A win-win situation.

Although, he enjoys cycling alone, together with his wife would be even better. She hasn’t the “boldness you currently need to cycle in Wellington” as Mathew describes it.

Parked cars which narrow the streets more, people who don’t indicate and open their car doors without looking are the main factors. He always plans his route to avoid congested roads.

But Mathew sees change is already happening, with the 30km/h zones as an example. It is just a matter of time. With more improvement around the infrastructure, his wife might feel more confident to join him and cycle the scenic route home along the waterfront.

Mathew spent some time choosing his bicycle for his current needs. He really likes it. “I think it’s a cool one,” he says.

[ By Julia Hilgenfeldt. All stories of the project can be found here: https://julsontheway.com/art-projects/wellington-bike-love.]

Wellington Bike Love episode 2: JOSH & CHARLOTTE with SYLVIE (hiding in the picture) & GEORGE

Instead of being stuck in traffic with the car, Josh and Charlotte switched to bicycles with their kids to commute to work and school. “It is better for the environment, cheaper and easier,” says Charlotte. Daughter Sylvie adds “It’s good fun.” Now, it has become a big part of their daily life.

While they have worked out the best ways to get around, “there is room for improvement regarding infrastructure and awareness of drivers and cyclists,” Josh mentions. “Especially the pathway through Mt. Vic tunnel.” Besides that, cycling in Wellington is fascinating. The greater awareness of the surroundings, noticing the things and happenings along the way gives a feeling of connection to the city. “It is thrilling” as Charlotte describes it.

A life without bicycles is not imaginable anymore for the whole family.

[ By Julia Hilgenfeldt. All stories of the project can be found here: https://julsontheway.com/art-projects/wellington-bike-love.]

Wellington Bike Love episode 1: Barbara

Last year, Barbara moved from Australia to New Zealand. She left her car behind and now only rides her bicycle around the streets and hills of the city. “Riding a bike is all about convenience,” she says. “It’s faster than by car.”

Wellington is one of the most dangerous cities she has ever cycled. “The streets are mad. It is so congested. Too many cars for the space.” The good thing is that the drivers are generally polite, and her love for descents keeps her going. “Cause of my body weight, I am a very good descender,” she euphorically says.

For her, cycling is the closest experience to flying. With the invention of e-bikes, Barbara now can cycle forever. Her little orange bicycle has already become a part of her body.

[Credit to Stephen Templer and Sean Duffell for the mural artwork that served as background.]

Protect the jewel in Wellington’s crown – save Round the Bays cycling route

Biking around the bays is a stunning ride. But that could be ruined if traffic trebles. We’ll be forced off the road.

Next Wednesday, Wellington City Councillors vote on a proposal to develop Shelly Bay, permitting a giant housing and shopping development. But there’s no plan to upgrade Shelly Bay Rd. That could mean 3-4 vehicle every minute along a narrow road, trying to pass on blind corners. Cyclists could be expected to share a 1.5 metre path with pedestrians. Unacceptable.

Please take action to protect Round the Bays. Contact your Councillor and let them know you want them to make sure cycling is protected. Ask for the decision to be put on hold until an upgrade of Shelly Bay Rd is agreed.

Email or call your Councillor via https://wellington.govt.nz/your-council/mayor-and-councillors/councillors

#SaveRoundTheBays