Well exactly 2

As the name suggests, this post is a followup to “Well exactly” as posted here by Lisa on Wednesday, April 6, 2011.

I suggested in a comment to “Well exactly” that I would measure and categorise the cycleway infrastructure that exists in Wellington City. Someone has to do the good jobs!

This is important as an historical milestone (sic) in our pursuit of improved facilities. One day we will look back and remember the old days when…

To make these measurements I first had to locate all the candidate cycleways. I started at the WCC website, but it was too vague and only listed five cycleways. Then at the suggestion of SimonK, I planned a short trip on journeyplanner and compiled a list of the “shared paths” and “cycle paths” shown on the resulting journey map.

I limited the “paths” I measured to all-weather sealed type cycleways. These are the cycleways used by everyday commuters (like me),  so:

  • no forest tracks (need to get to work on time);
  • no downhills (gulp);
  • and no bus lanes, although there might be the odd useful one…

Finally came the fun part of pedalling and sightseeing.

Image credit: Nigel Prentice

Here is what I recorded.


Route name Date prepared: August 2011 Shared Path (m) Cycle Lane (m)
Kaiwhara’ Expressway Bottom of Ngauranga Gorge to Railway Station 3500 1600
The Waterfront Railway Station to Herd St 2000
Civic Square Branch 440
Jervois Bridge Branch 130
Queens Wharf Branch 150
Whitmore Branch 30
Waitangi Park Branch 180
The Oriental Herd St to Carlton Gore Rd 1200
Evans Bay Carlton Gore Rd to Cobham Dr (Zephyrometer) 1700 2400
Cobham Cobham Dr (Zephyrometer) to Maupuia Rd (Miramar Cutting) 1620
Coutts Cobham Dr (Zephyrometer) to Broadway/Miro St/Airport 1860 890
Island Bay Reef St to Medway St (IsBay shops) 1100
The Tunnel Taurima St to Brougham St 950
The Bypass Buckle St to Buller St 200 1000
The Basin Beside the cricket pitch 350
Aotea Quay Beside the Westpac Stadium (estimate due to RWC works) 400
Cable Car Link Cable Car to Salamanca Rd (feature picture) 440
TOTALS 15150 6990


So there we have it, a grand total of 22.14km, with most of the cycleway distance on shared paths (68%).

One commentator to the original Well Exactly (Malcolm) made a comparison with the grand total in Christchurch. On the face of it, these figures would bear him out. However Wellington is a compact city so comparisons have to be pro rata. The factors here include land area, population base, hilliness, and wind! But even that could be stretching credibility a bit too far, yeah right, and well exactly.

It looks too little to me, or did I miss something?




8 thoughts on “Well exactly 2

  1. I’m impressed!

    7km of cycle lanes 😦 That’s actually more dire than I realised, even with the fact that some of the lanes are only a few centimetres wide (Oriental Parade near Pt Jerningham, I’m looking at you).

    I’ve heard there’s a shared path up Ngauranga Gorge. Can anyone confirm?

    I’m curious about why you didn’t include the near-Petone to Wellington path. Was it because it’s generally considered unrideable due to glass & other rubbish?


    1. Simon Kennett

      I’m pretty sure the paths on both sides of the Ngauranga Gorge are shared paths. I wasn’t sure of this at the time we did that layer on the journey planner, but will update it soon.

      Good point about the Kaiwharawhara bridle path – it is sealed, and pleasant, even if steep. There are a few sections of path like that around the city (Everton Tce to Kelburn Park springs to mind, or end of Koromiko Rd to Highbury) but I’m often not clear if they are shared paths or not. Enjoy with caution.

      Might also want to check out some of Tawa’s Porirua Stream shared path. That project is well underway now.

      While I take the point that unsealed paths are generally going to be avoided in wet weather, I think they offer some great options in the summer. Commuting by bike isn’t all about making good time – taking the scenic way home is worth it if it puts you in a great frame of mind after a hard day at work.

      I wonder how many km of on-road cycle lanes Ch-Ch has?


      1. Simon Kennett

        A wee follow-up on the off-road commuting thing…

        The Wellington Trails Alliance did an online survey of mountain bikers in the region last month and got over 500 responses. One of the questions was ‘Do you use the trails for commuting’. 40% said ‘Yes’.


  2. The seal on some of these areas leaves a lot to be desired. I rode along Evans Bay Parade towards Oriental Bay last weekend and large stretches were very coarse and uneven. A most unpleasant experience.


  3. Malcolm

    Nice effort! I suppose you could include shared bus/cycle lanes too. That would bump up the total a bit. Slightly depressing to see only 7km of dedicated cycle lanes in the entire city. There’s a bit of work to do there 🙂


  4. atom

    and at least one of those alleged “cycle lanes” (coutts) is 100% in the door zone 😦

    it’s good to see cycle lanes, but never forget the goal is to facilitate safe, convenient, and conflict-free bicycling. not just so we can look at numbers. bike lanes in the door-zone would be better marked as “DANGER – BICYCLES STAY RIGHT”. any bike lane that lures naive bicyclists into danger is a liability, not an asset, no matter how much it contributes to a total number.

    don’t let quantity substitute for quality.


  5. Glen K

    You might be interested in the annual statistics that NZTA collate from all local councils on various roading stats – see http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/land-transport-statistics/. The latest (2009) report shows in Table 4 a summary of the length of “cycleways” for each Council. I’m taking those figures with a huge dose of salt however as I think there is a lot of variation in what each Council is counting as a cycleway. Wellington City has 24.2km recorded, which suggests that it is combining the on- and off-road bits (I guess you’ve missed a couple of km somewhere). By comparison, Chch City lists 72km, which sounds like the off-road component only.
    I think you can only go so far with the “compact city” comparison between Wgtn and Chch. While the latter has an urban area about 4-5 times bigger than Wgtn City (not greater Wgtn) it only has ~2.5 times as much urban roading length (again from the NZTA stats). So having more than 10 times the total on/off-rd cycleway provision than Wgtn has obviously helped cycling in Chch (better design of intersection facilities helps too!).
    But I agree with the earlier “Well exactly” post that low-speed streets are also usually pretty cycle-friendly and Wgtn does those quite well. In fact, it’s important not to get too hung up on cycle facilities only; while they’re important in providing links across the grotty bits I’d be equally as interested in the total kms of low-speed and/or low-volume roads that are perfectly cycle-friendly without anything done to them.


  6. Brent C

    When I used to work in Wellington, I biked up the Kaiwharawhara bridal track. It is rather steep in some places, but if you have the right bike you can get your way up there. The views are amazing and I personally took pleasure in looking at the slow moving traffic on the motorway and the crammed trains.

    I’m not sure if this is an official track, but it is a shared path and links Kaiwharawhara to Khandallah. This route was far more enjoyable then biking up the george.


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