Real cycling progress: the Leonie Gill Pathway opens

Celia Wade-Brown cuts the ribbon opening the Pathway
Celia Wade-Brown cuts the ribbon opening the Pathway

Although cycling in Wellington sometimes seems to be mired in “paralysis by analysis”, on Sunday 19 April it was great to join Councillors, local residents, walkers and cyclists for the opening of a real piece of cycling (and walking) infrastructure: the Leonie Gill Pathway in Kilbirnie. For years a rough path provided access of a sort over a drainage reserve from Rongotai College to the Onepu Road bus barn. WCC has now built a tar sealed 3m wide path along the route, enhancing the landscaping with tree plantings and providing signage.

Mayoral speech: a young cyclist restrains his impatience to get on with riding the Pathway
Mayoral speech: a young cyclist restrains his impatience to get on with riding the Pathway

In her speech, Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the Pathway wasn’t currently a commuter route. But there’s real potential to make linkages out of the suburb. At the eastern end, it would only require about 300 metres of cycle path along Tirangi Rd and Coutts St to connect to the tunnel under the airport runway, providing a route to the airport and central Miramar. At the western end, cycle lanes on either Queens Drive or Onepu Rd and Coutts St could make the last couple of blocks to the Kilbirnie shops more comfortable for people cycling. The Pathway could connect with the Kilbirnie – Newtown route, proposed in the Cycleway Development Programme, and thence to the Island Bay to CBD route.

Traffic Management Staff help with the crossing of Onepu Rd
Traffic Management Staff help with the crossing of Onepu Rd

Of course, some things aren’t quite finished yet. On opening day, the crossing of Onepu Road was facilitated by a traffic management team with Stop and Go signs (I’m told that a traffic island will provide a permanent solution to this crossing). The excellent wayfinding signs are only oriented to people travelling west on the path, and there aren’t yet any standard blue directional signs, which would be easier for cyclists to read while on the move, and would alert people to the fact that the Pathway offers an alternative to driving a car.

Wayfinding sign on the Pathway
Wayfinding sign on the Pathway

Example of standard directional sign
Chatting after the formalities, Councillor David Lee commented that we should be looking forward to a time when new cycle paths were so commonplace that we wouldn’t bother having ceremonies to open them.

Amen to that!

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