Should people walking be expected to share space with people on bikes? This question made the front page of the Dominion Post last week, reporting on WCC’s hearing on the Waterloo Quay shared path.
Shared paths (i.e. paths that are legal to use for people biking as well as walking) can be contentious. Actual collisions between cyclists and walkers are rare. A London study showed that only 2% of pedestrian collision injuries on footpaths were due to bikes. But walkers can be unnerved by the “whoosh factor” of being passed too close and too fast by someone on a bike – similar to the feeling you have on a bike if you’re passed too close by a fast motor vehicle. Shared paths are different from footpaths: you can only legally ride a bike on a footpath if your bike has small wheels, or if you’re delivering newspapers.
It’s tempting for Councils to create a cycle path by simply declaring a footpath to be a shared path. However often this isn’t satisfactory. An example is where the Karo shared path crosses Cuba St. People on bikes cross the pedestrian route on a narrow footpath with poor visibility, right next to a busy State Highway.
Which brings us to Waterloo Quay. There’s a wide boulevard on the eastern side of the Quay from the Bluebridge Terminal up to the Cruise ship terminal. For some years, people on bikes had been riding it as a shared path, using it to access the buildings in the Centreport complex (including Statistics NZ and the Regional Council), and as a way of getting to Thorndon Quay via the Fran Wilde walkway. However it hadn’t been officially designated as a shared path, so the seemingly innocuous traffic resolution TR70-15 was drafted to formalise this.
Living Streets Aotearoa (which includes some cyclists as members) have rightly been concerned about the proliferation of inappropriate shared paths, and decided that TR70-15 was a place to make a stand. They kindly forwarded their submission to CAW so we could make an opposing submission, leading to the “Walkers vs Cyclists” high noon standoff reported by the Dominion Post.
Although CAW submitted in favour of the shared path designation, we actually agreed with much of LSA’s submission. In particular the southern end of the path at the Bluebridge terminal needs a serious redesign. To get to the continuation of the shared path to the waterfront on the eastern side of Shed 21, you have to cross a high speed slip lane. The crossing doesn’t follow the “desire line” to get to the waterfront, and there isn’t a drop kerb to make it easy for bikes to cross.
Another hazard is the very wide BNZ carpark entrance, with a traffic light sequence that is biased against people on the shared path. Apparently this is to become the main motor vehicle entrance for the Centreport complex, but it’s still hard to see why it has to be three lanes wide. The Centreport complex is right next to Wellington’s main public transport hub, so you’d think a City committed to taking action on climate change would be making it easier for people in the complex to get to the public transport hub, rather than encouraging them to use fossil fueled vehicles.
In the end, the Council agreed to the shared path designation. But TR70-15 has some valuable lessons for us. Shared paths aren’t necessarily the best solution – long term we should have protected cycle paths, for example along the quays. Shared paths need to be done properly, with good signage and transitions to other parts of the network. Cycling and walking advocates need to work together for a city that encourages as many people as possible to cycle and walk. And in the mean time, if you’re biking on a shared path, obey the courtesy code: keep your speed down, politely alert walkers as you approach, and pass with plenty of space.
Our ‘Most improved’ category is new this year. What’s the biggest improvement you’ve seen this year: a new bike path, a great new initiative, or a change of heart?
This category replaces both our best and worst bike-infrastructure categories. We’re seeing great stuff starting to happen around the city, but it isn’t quite there yet. If we stuck to bike facilities we’d be celebrating the small improvements we’ve seen completed, or maybe calling out crap infrastructure that’s about to be replaced…
So instead we’ve opened things out — as well as bike infrastructure like parking and paths/trails, you can nominate new initiatives or people/organisations that have changed their approach to become much more bike-friendly.
Oh OK I know, you wanted to see what the previous best/worst winners were. In 2014, the waterfront won ‘best’, edging out Polhill MTB tracks and minor improvements around the Basin Reserve. The essence of ‘can’t beat Wellington on a good day’.
And the gong for worst went to the Hutt Road shared path through Kaiwharawhara. It’s still there, and still injuring cyclists on a regular basis, but the improvement-vultures are circling and we should see changes in 2016. Not a moment too soon!
Here’s a closer look at our ‘Most bike-friendly shop or café’ category. It’s a new category this year, bringing together our categories for bike shops, other shops and cafés that go out of their way to make people feel welcome when they arrive by bike, sell your favourite bikes or accessories, or do other great stuff to support Wellington’s biking community.
The competition’s tough — from restaurants and cafés that provide great bike parking, to bike shops that fund and support trailbuilding and kids’ biking initiatives, to cafs that are also bike shops (or should that be the other way round).
Last year’s winners were:
Moore Wilson, for ‘A large lobby in the grocery waiting for bikes, and a bike veranda in the main entrance’
Floyd’s, for ‘Friendly service, bike art and lots of help with community trails projects’
Bicycle Junction, for ‘Friendly staff. Lots of help for the cycling community and a focus on utility cycling’
Past winners also include iRide (and their café Pura Vida), La Boca Loca, and Commonsense Organics.
Who do you fancy for the crown this year? An old favourite? A new kid on the block? Get your vote in, and watch out for Awards night and the announcement of this year’s winner.
I’ve never been a fan of wearing special clothes to go bike riding; so I’ve avoided both branded Lycra and Frocks on Bikes events. However I decided to make an exception for the Need for Tweed Ride as a chance to get in touch with my inner Victorian. In the back of the wardrobe I found a tweedish jacket (bought well off Saville Row in an attempt to keep to the dress code of a UK university) and arranged to borrow an offspring’s bow tie.
But how to photograph the event? Digital didn’t seem quite dignified. After some cupboard delving I retrieved my Rolleicord twin lens reflex, last used at least three decades previously. But could I get film for it? Photo Warehouse sold me a 120 roll film, though the assistant apologised for not being able to help me load it – he’d never actually loaded a film camera. “There’s probably a video on YouTube“.
On Saturday I hopped on my eBike (there are limits to this retro thing after all) and headed out to Shelly Bay to join the crowd of Tweeders milling around admiring pre loved clothing and even more pre loved bikes. Our mayor arrived, desperate to be recharged – her eBike that is. A skilled Penny Farthing rider did graceful circuits towing her stuffed penguin in a trailer (my attempt to photograph this Penny Pair resulted in an aethereal double exposure)
I wandered around capturing interesting folk, and discovering how a real camera changes the experience of photography. With only 12 shots to last the day, I had to get people to pose rather than aspiring to the “decisive moment” approach. But with a “serious” camera around my neck, people were happy to pose. On the other hand, it wasn’t all that obvious that I was taking a photograph, peering down into a leather enshrouded box at waist level.
Soon we were summoned for the send off, and reminded that it was our mechanical steeds that liberated humanity from the horse. With a tinkling of bells over a hundred of us circumnavigated Evans Bay to Cog Park, where the Bicycle Junction team attempted to emulate the Loaves and fishes with cucumber sandwiches and cream scones. Thus recharged, we battled (at least the electrically unassisted of us) the traditional Wellington northerly gale to the city, and the Rogue and Vagabond watering hole.
So what had the Tweed ride achieved? We’d certainly shown that you don’t need 21st century clothing for 21st century riding. We’d also shown that the future of transport isn’t about hoverboards, DeLoreans, or even driverless cars. Bikes are a great transport technology, and they’ll be with us for at least another century.
A day or so later, returning from having dropped off my Rollei film to be developed, I stopped at our local bakery. Having a coffee was Ans Westra, the Dutch immigrant famous for her documenting of Kiwi life with her Rollei. Coincidence? I think not.
Entries are open for our Roll On Wellington Cycle Awards 2015! This is where we reward the great and good for the things they do for Wellington’s biking community.
Fill out this short entry form to tell us who deserves to win this year. We have six categories, from shops and employers to drivers and champions of the cause.
Entries are open for the next couple of weeks, and we’re holding the awards night on Tuesday 1 December.
We’ll pick the winners by quality not quantity of entries (our super-secret judge is clever like that). And you can vote for anything or anyone – it doesn’t matter whether or not you have a link to the things you think deserve to win.
Meeting with WCC: cycling team is currently working through NZTA procedures to get Urban Cycleway Programme funding for projects. Planning for the northern route (Thorndon – Ngauranga) is well advanced. CAW will be represented on stakeholder working groups.
Submissions on speed reductions went well. There is wide support for lower speeds.
Via Strada cycle design course. A good way to find out what traffic engineers know about cycling.
CAN Do, Hamilton, 19-20 March 2016. Subsidies may be available from CAW/CAN. CAW will be hosting the 2017 CAN Do.
Roll on Wellington Awards will be presented at December meeting: online nomination and voting will be available soon. We brainstormed possible nominations: Aurecon, Bikes in Schools, Switched on Bikes…
From south of the Bombay Hills, we imagine that Auckland is Los Angeles in the South Pacific, with motorways snaking across the land. But rumours have filtered south that cycling is becoming a preferred Jafa mode of travel. I recently checked out the cycling scene when I visited friends and whanau in Auckland (I’m a Westie, from Henderson in West Auckland, although I emigrated before black singlets and V8 Holdens became compulsory) .
I started by accompanying my mate Rob on his commute from Point Chevalier to his workplace on the Auckland waterfront. We headed along Point Chevalier Road, which is busy but not uncomfortably so. Sharrows indicate where to ride: out of the door zone – this differs from the Wellington sharrows, which are placed in the middle of the lane.
Then we joined the Northwestern Cycle Route, which runs from Te Atatu to the CBD. Although construction work sent us on to some quiet back streets for a short distance, this was virtually all off road. And well used – it became hard to ride two abreast as faster commuters zipped by. I was also noticing the tell tale hum of electric assist bikes – the answer to distance and hills.
As we approached Upper Queen Street, we hit some hills, which earned us the thrill of descending the sweeping curves of the Grafton Gully Cycleway to pick up the Beach Road Cycleway, the two way separated cycle route leading in to the city centre. Rob carried on to his work on the Auckland Waterfront Cycle Ride, having completed 80% of his 11km commute on off road cyclepaths. I doubt that many Wellington cycle commuters have that option.
The latest addition to the Beach Road Cycleway is integrated into the pedestrian area. Walking advocates are concerned about the proliferation of shared space, which often seem to be a way for lazy councils to provide cycling facilities by simply declaring footpaths to be shared space. However on Beach Road signs that indicate that the cycle path is not a shared path seem to have little effect on pedestrians! The lesson is that non-shared cycle paths have to look like roads, not footpaths.
Auckland also has the NextBike public bike rental system, at the moment mostly available on the waterfront.
I was a few years too early to experience Skypath, the cycling and walking clipon to the Harbour Bridge, but I was able to bike a possible approach route, the Westhaven Promenade, a wide boardwalk connecting the Viaduct area to the southern end of the Bridge. I wondered how soon I’d be able to bike a similar route along Wellington’s harbour between Petone and Ngauranga.
On the way back, I snuck a look at Auckland’s latest piece of bike infrastructure, the Canada Street bridge leading to an repurposed motorway onramp and the proposed Nelson St Cycleway – I’ll have to return next year when this elegant curving structure is opened.
It’s impossible not to compare the progress in Auckland with what’s been achieved in Wellington. Although Wellington has had good uptake by people of cycle commuting, to date the Council had trouble following through with cycle facilities. The progress in Auckland is surprising, given its motorway orientation, and the hilly topography (in contrast to Wellington, most journeys in the CBD involve hills). So why have cycling projects gone ahead so successfully in Auckland?
One factor is that cycling is under the control of Auckland Transport, at an arms length from the Council itself, so cycleway designs aren’t subject to direct political pressure. And most of the projects so far haven’t involved contentious issues such as removal of parking. Although it hurts to admit it, motorways have helped – much of the Northwestern and Grafton gully cycleways are in motorway corridor. There is also an energetic and effective local advocacy group. The cunning cycle advocates persuaded the petrolheads to give up space for motorways, then used it to build cycleways!
Lets hope that our council will emulate Auckland, not just in trying to get a long haul airport, but in providing real cycling infrastructure to get more people on bikes.
Cycling the Silk Road: The Silk Road is an ancient trade route from Turkey to China, through Iran, central Asia and the Pamir plateau. It’s also an adventurous bike ride. Join us for a slide show with Patrick Morgan.
Detective: “is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
Sherlock Holmes: “To the curious incident of the cycleway from Berhampore to the CBD”
Detective: “There is no cycleway from Berhampore to the CBD”
Sherlock Holmes: “That is the curious incident”
It’s great news that the Island Bay Parade Upgrade, which includes a kerbside cycleway, is under way. Making Island Bay parade more cycle friendly will encourage more journeys by bike in the suburb, which benefits everyone: less congestion for those who need to drive, a more relaxing journey for those who bike.
But of course, Island Bay was stage one of a cycle route from Island Bay to the CBD. An Opus report of May 2013 found that the route had “a high strategic fit” and a benefit-cost ratio (BCR) of 3.7 – for each dollar invested, almost $4 of return could be expected (Transmission Gully has a BCR of only 0.6). In July 2014, a Citizen’s Advisory Panel identified the most promising routes for stage two of the cycleway, between Wakefield Park and Newtown. In July 2015, an ePetition called for building a cycleway through Berhampore.
However the Wellington City projects to be funded under the Urban Cycleways Programme don’t include Island Bay to CBD, and WCC doesn’t appear to have current plans to press ahead with it. Instead, concentration will be on the northern route, from Wellington CBD to the Hutt Valley; improvements to cycling routes within the CBD, and the Eastern Urban Cycleway connecting the CBD with Kilbirnie and Miramar.
These are all important projects, but why the change in priority for Island Bay to CBD? Of course, the reaction of some Island Bay residents to the unfamiliar concept of a kerbside cycleway, and the resulting political delays in implementing the Island Bay Parade changes, have probably played a part. Also, the uncertainty surrounding transport provisions at the Basin Reserve may make planners hesitant to commit to a definite route.
Earlier this year, over 300 people who bike urged the Council to “get on with it” and build cycling infrastructure. If Island Bay to CBD is on the back burner, it’s vital that WCC proceeds quickly with the routes that have been prioritised under the UCP. With government funding available from the UCP, and councillors voting unanimously for the Cycling Framework, there really isn’t an excuse to lose momentum.