A cheeky short-cut

One of the great things about being on a bike is that you can go places that cars can’t. Some of these are pretty obvious – one of the best parts of cycling in Wellington is getting to ride around the waterfront, or through Cuba Mall. But some are a bit less so. Let’s talk about… cut-throughs, also known as accessways. These are handy little short cuts that you can use to shorten your ride.

For example, if you’re going from Aro St to Willis St, you can just go on the road… or you can swing in past the Aro Valley community centre, to Palmer Street, and take the cut-through to Abel Smith Street. This is a useful shortcut to avoid the volume of traffic coming down from Brooklyn Road in the morning. Similarly, if you were wanting to cycle from Kilbirnie to the airport, you can either go along Cobham Drive with the cars, or you could take advantage of the pedestrian/cycle tunnel under the airport runway, getting you from the end of Coutts St to Miro St and avoiding several very large roundabouts full of cars.

Any major city has lots of these little accessways, and Wellington’s no exception. But they’re often a bit stealth, a bit hidden, a bit poorly advertised. So it’s really worth your while investigating your options as regards taking car-free shortcuts on your regular commute.

My favourites around town are:

  • The waterfront – OK, it’s not technically a cut-through, but it’s a great ride and you avoid a lot of traffic lights.
  • The airport tunnel – as mentioned above, if you’re going to the Eastern suburbs and don’t want to mix it up with airport traffic, there’s a carfree tunnel under the runway that links the broad, well-signposted bike route along Coutts St with Miro St, ideal for trips to Seatoun, Miramar, and the airport itself.
  • For commuters going to Khandallah, there’s a very useful accessway joining up Nicholson Road with Winchester Street in Kaiwharawhara – so you can completely avoid the Ngaio Gorge, just hang a right in Kaiwharawhara and go through a nice leaf-lined path to get to the harbour-facing end of Khandallah.

These are all perfectly accessible to any kind of bike. If you commute on a mountain bike, you’ve got the option of taking offroad shortcuts. Some of these are pretty obvious – taking shortcuts using the tracks on Mt Vic, or across the top of Tinakori Hill – but one less well-known route that’s worth the look is the Wakely Gully track, which goes from the bottom of the Ngauranga Gorge up to Newlands. It’s a steepish climb on a loose surface, but it avoids a lot of traffic and it’s a blast to ride up or down.

If you’re regularly riding a particular route, it’s worth taking some time at a weekend to explore around your route, and see if there’s any useful short-cuts you can take on a bike. The best short-cuts are often hard to see from a car – small gaps between two properties may hide a perfectly legal accessway that shaves a useful amount off your commute. I once knocked five minutes off my commute by finding an accessway that let me cut through the middle of an industrial estate rather than going all the way around it. Take a sunny afternoon and have a bit of an explore.

Or try a “ride” on paper. Use Google Maps to go over your route. Look for little connectors between streets – for instance, here’s a useful shortcut to use going between the airport retail park and Kilbirnie.

Or just cut to the chase and use the Journey Planner or look at the printable, PDF maps available.

When you’re on these shared-use paths, please look out for pedestrians. And bear in mind that pedestrians often come with unpredictable dogs and small children, who can dart out unexpectedly. On any shared path, it’s a good idea to keep the speed down so you can cope with the unexpected.

So – what’s your favourite cycling shortcut around town?

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13 thoughts on “A cheeky short-cut

  1. Caren

    There are lots of great little shortcuts between the streets in Lyall Bay… from Apu Cres through to Lyall Parade, from Freyberg St to Onepu Rd. They’re quite cunningly hidden too.

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    1. Yeah, I was going to list a few but realised that it would take too long – there’s a lot of them in Lyall Bay. Churton Park is also surprisingly well served for short accessways, too.

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  2. Simon Kennett

    Regional Cycling Maps show these shortcuts in bright orange (if they are OK for bikes) or grey (if they are ‘foot-only’).

    Copies available just inside the entrance of Greater Wellington Regional Council (142 Wakefield St) and some bike shops and info centres.

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  3. There’s further shortcutting in aro – i could get from my old home in Epuni street to lower willis street without actually cycling on willis street.

    From ablesmith, there’s a public street that looks like a driveway. it’s called inverlochy place. It leads north, through to a pathway beside the bypass trench. Keep following this north and then cross ghuznee traffic onto another footpath that goes north up over the top of the motorway tunnel entrance and onto macdonald crescent.

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  4. Chris Glover Kapiti coast NZ

    A path under Coastlands Shopping Mall Bridge on the North side of Wharemauku Stream links reserve land East and West of Coastlands and has been a popular shortcut for pedestrians, cyclists and dog walkers for over 15 years since 1996. A useful shortcut between Paraparaumu Railway Station and Wharemauku Stream Cycleways on both sides of Wharemauku Stream, an easy shortcut to Raumati Beach. If you stay on the North side of Wharemauku Stream it is easy to go under the new Rimu Road Bridge, go down stream a short distance to another path that takes you to the library ,the Community Center, the Aquatic Center and a Cycleway to Kapiti Road.

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  5. Chris Glover Kapiti coast NZ

    I built the path under Coastlands shopping mall bridge in 1996, visible on Google maps satellite, it has been there for 15 years. I built a path under Paraparaumu overbridge in 1995 and a path behind Paraparaumu RSA at the end of 1995, path on the North side of Raumati road on top of a stone retaining wall in 1997 ,paths under both sides of the new Rimu road bridge and paths under both sides of Otaki overbridge in 2006, a path under the South side of Otaki river bridge and a path under the North side of Pukerua Bay overbridge in 2007 and many others around the Kapiti Coast.
    I am a SERIAL PATH BUILDER.

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  6. Chris Glover Kapiti coast NZ

    CORRECTION: Path is under the SOUTH side of Pukerua Bay overbridge between Muri road and the cycleway beside SH1.
    It has been a popular way of crossing state highway 1 safely since 2007 until recently. Now it is difficult and dangerous because of sloping concrete and trees removed that were keeping people away from the edge.
    There is a way to fix this with a safety fence and flat concrete but this will take time and cost money.

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  7. Rob

    I take a sneaky shortcut through the Takapu Rd station on the way into town. It means I don’t have to try and cross the main road traffic and then navigate the busy intersection.

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  8. Chris Glover Kapiti coast NZ

    There is a short cut between 46 Makora road and 6 Toroa road, Otaihanga. This is a council drainage reserve with no open drains. It is flatter, straighter and shorter than the alternative route.

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  9. James

    Wakely Gully is great. Watch out for the resident bush-sheep (on Animal Control’s Most Wanted list).

    There’s an underpass under SH1 in Johnsonville linking the two parts of Burgess Road. If you’re heading from Johnsonville towards Newlands, it avoids the busy Johnsonville and Helston Rd roundabouts, and gives you a quieter (albeit even steeper) hill to ride up afterwards.

    I’m looking forward to the signs being changed to show Bunny St (Featherston –> Lambton) is OK too, although I’m not sure if its strictly counts as a cut-through. Not only does it save time, you also get to ride up the tight part of Molesworth St towards the Terrace on a traffic light phase that doesn’t send loads of cars alongside you.

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  10. Chris Glover Kapiti coast NZ

    There is a short cut between Weggery Drive West, Waikanae Beach and Otaihanga suspension bridge.
    This short cut passes thru a road reserve between 146 and 148 Weggery Drive, over a stile to cross a fence, down a sloping bank, and joins up with the main cycleway to Otaihanga suspension bridge over Waikanae River to Otaihanga domain.

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