On Tuesday, I attended my first Cycle Aware Wellington meeting. For those of you who might not know, CAW is the local arm of Cycling Advocates Network, and it envisions the use of our trusty bikes as a means of everyday transport. I thought I’d share a few of the items discussed so, you know, you can feel like you were there. Which I’m sure you were. In spirit. You were felt.
Okay, first things first. The meeting was well attended by newbies– not necessarily to cycling but to CAW. Granted, it was only one meeting but I think that’s awfully good news for Wellington bike riders. The more of us who show our pretty faces at meetings like this, the heftier CAW’s mandate. Shall we– the bike riders– become powerbrokers? Why not?
You may recall the survey CAW recently circulated to assess the cycling priorities of local riders. Hopefully, you participated in it. CAW received a total of 445 responses to the survey in about two weeks. (Compare this admirable total with only 89 in 2010. Bikers are go!) The survey posed about eight issues for CAW’s advocacy, including increasing the Wellington budget for bike infrastructure, the establishment of a Southern Cycle Route from Island Bay to town, the improvement of the shared Hutt Road, the creation of a showcase bike boulevard, bikes on buses and a Cyclovia-style take-back-the-street event for Wellington. With 37% of the vote, an increase to the budget for cycling was the overwhelming preference of survey respondents, which is not, perhaps, surprising, given that an increase in funds could be considered the prerequisite for all the other proposals. Fixing the Petone to Ngauranga gap along State Highway 2, creating a bike boulevard, improving the Hutt Road cycle route and creating the Southern Cycle Route, in that order, rounded out the top five.
Missing from the top five: bikes on buses and a street festival closed to motorized transport. I’m going to chalk that up to the abundance of good and necessary ideas presented. Goodness knows there’s a lot of work to be done in Wellington and an occasional street-event may seem like a luxury, but I’ll editorialize briefly to say that it’s these kinds of changes and events that get people back on their bikes in the first place. Which leads to the creation of new habits and routines. Okay, that’s quite enough out of me. Democracy is such a pickle sometimes. Let’s move along.
CAW has been meeting with Wellington City Council’s Safe and Sustainable Transport Manager, Paul Barker, along with a couple councillors, to discuss the viability of altering the bike route along Hutt Road by using a corridor behind several buildings, including Spotlight, along the railway. Among those in attendance, the idea received mixed reviews largely based on concerns about the lighting and maintenance of the path but also because of a long-held priority to establish a seaside route from Ngauranga to Aotea Quay. Another little bump on that road seems to be WCC’s interest in developing a bus lane in that same locale which would play host to riders as well.
As we posted recently, the WCC has 40 new sump grates to replace those ravenous wheel-eaters around town. Make sure you get an email out to firstname.lastname@example.org with the specific location of the grate you’d like to see swapped out. GPS locations, google street images and pics are encouraged to make sure the Council is accurately advised of the beast you’ve seen trying to devour your tire.
Finally, CAN and CAW are working with Little Monsters to produce a 90-second video to promote CAN’s Stop at Red Campaign, with a message that broadcasts the wise notion of Giving and Getting Respect. If you have suggestions for the theme and content of the video, please share them here and/or with Patrick at CAN (email@example.com).
For more info on the meeting, check out the precise minutes. And, for those of you looking for a productive avenue through which to channel your bicycling frustration, you may consider getting involved with CAW. Meetings take place on the first Tuesday evening of every month and will be announced on their website and facebook page (and here, I should add).