The curious incident of the missing cycle route

Detective: “is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

Sherlock Holmes: “To the curious incident of the cycleway from Berhampore to the CBD”

Detective: “There is no cycleway from Berhampore to the CBD”

Sherlock Holmes: “That is the curious incident”

It’s great news that the Island Bay Parade Upgrade, which includes a kerbside cycleway, is under way. Making Island Bay parade more cycle friendly will encourage more journeys by bike in the suburb, which benefits everyone: less congestion for those who need to drive, a more relaxing journey for those who bike.

Construction on Island Bay Parade

But of course, Island Bay was stage one of a cycle route from Island Bay to the CBD. An Opus report of May 2013 found that the route had “a high strategic fit” and a benefit-cost ratio (BCR) of 3.7 – for each dollar invested, almost $4 of return could be expected (Transmission Gully has a BCR of only 0.6). In July 2014, a Citizen’s Advisory Panel identified the most promising routes for stage two of the cycleway, between Wakefield Park and Newtown. In July 2015, an ePetition called for building a cycleway through Berhampore.

However the Wellington City projects to be funded under the Urban Cycleways Programme don’t include Island Bay to CBD, and WCC doesn’t appear to have current plans to press ahead with it. Instead, concentration will be on the northern route, from Wellington CBD to the Hutt Valley; improvements to cycling routes within the CBD, and the Eastern Urban Cycleway connecting the CBD with Kilbirnie and Miramar.

These are all important projects, but why the change in priority for Island Bay to CBD? Of course, the reaction of some Island Bay residents to the unfamiliar concept of a kerbside cycleway, and the resulting political delays in implementing the Island Bay Parade changes, have probably played a part. Also, the uncertainty surrounding transport provisions at the Basin Reserve may make planners hesitant to commit to a definite route.

Earlier this year, over 300 people who bike urged the Council to “get on with it” and build cycling infrastructure. If Island Bay to CBD is on the back burner, it’s vital that WCC proceeds quickly with the routes that have been prioritised under the UCP. With government funding available from the UCP, and councillors voting unanimously for the Cycling Framework, there really isn’t an excuse to lose momentum.