Okay. I’m jumping in. I’ve been reluctant, but here goes. Right. You ready?
Here goes. You’re probably aware that the NZTA is proposing some crazy extensive (and expensive, I’d imagine) modifications of State Highway 1 between Karo Drive and Cobham Drive. Among the changes, NZTA is seeking to widen Buckle Street, build a flyover north of the Basin Reserve, widen Ruahine Road and Wellington Road, and ultimately, to build a second Mt. Victoria tunnel. That’s a lot of change. Nestled amidst those proposals are teasing, bite-size morsels of cycle and pedestrian infrastructure. (You know, so we roll over for belly scratches.)
We’re presently at the point in the game when NZTA is seeking public comment. We– members of the public– have until 26 August 2011 to report our thoughts. I recommend reviewing the NZTA pamphlet on the changes and emailing the NZTA (email@example.com) in some sort of fast and furious (furiously friendly?) manner. Goodness knows the bit of benefit we might see as cyclists is tenuously offered. Despite trumpeting the project as a multi-modal transport solution, the literature available online tells a bit of a different story. Even the Mayor wants us to share our views. So, let’s heed our fellow cyclist’s encouragement and share our thoughts.
In the name of community education, what say we also familiarize ourselves right here?
Alright, first things first. The Flyover. I would say, “proposed,” but from what I’ve been reading on the NZTA site, we have a choice between Flyover A or Flyover B. The No Flyover option seems to have been tossed, although the Mayor does seem to be working on a proposal of her own. Go Celia go. For our purposes here– as cyclists chatting amongst each other– it behooves us to get pretty familiar with the two options and especially the possible inclusion of a proposed $8 million dollar cycling/pedestrian path. Strangely enough, this is the only piece of the project that comes with a price tag. Nothing else in the NZTA material makes note of the cost of the new roads, tunnels, flyover. The NZTA also failed to include the proposed cycling/pedestrian path on the graphics and instead asks for public comment as to whether “it’s worth the additional expense” to include a cycling path on the bridge. Hey, thanks guys!
Without the path, cyclists and pedestrians exiting the tunnel will have to descend to street level, use the pedestrian crossing at Kent Terrace and cross over 8 lanes of traffic. It has been brought to my attention that most cyclists use Brougham Street to avoid crossing all the lanes, but here is an opportunity to increase the ease and connectivity of cycle paths. Would it be easier for you to come out of the tunnel and make it to Karo Drive in about a minute rather than playing frogger? You decide and tell the NZTA (again, that email is firstname.lastname@example.org).
Next: check out that Ruahine Road widening. NZTA is sugar-coating the road-widening by touting its plan to include a six meter wide service road to share with pedestrians and cyclists. The service road seems to be a concession to property owners who will find themselves facing a four lane highway. It’s also their only way to access their houses. So, it’s not really a cycle path but a road that bikes can ride on. And, um, call me a dumb dumb, but I’m not entirely sure how this is different than every other road in Wellington. Are you? Tell the NZTA at email@example.com.
Finally, for now, the tunnel. It’s probably a decade out but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the options. The NZTA is considering a 4 meter wide path for cyclists and pedestrians to improve the safety and comfort of these users in the tunnel as well as to encourage their use of this shortcut between the Eastern suburbs and the CBD. The NZTA is considering two paths: one that is fully separated from traffic by a wall with windows and another that is separated by a safety barrier. Hmm. Which sounds safer and more comfortable to you?
Take a moment to lodge your thoughts with the NZTA (remember: firstname.lastname@example.org). Also, consider attending the NZTA Open Days at the Basin Reserve this weekend from 10am to 4pm. You can ask questions and give your feedback to NZTA directly. Membership from Cycle Aware Wellington will be there on Sunday at 2pm if you’re looking to make new friends.
Finally, but importantly, please take a moment to complete the CAW survey about NZTA’s plans. Sometimes, it’s nice to stand united behind the flexed arm of an organization. It’s also nice to admire the muscles. Nice muscles, CAW.