How long before the Hutt Road obstacle course will be resolved? The good news is that some of these obstacles like the lamp posts will soon be gone. That is fantastic. But we will have to wait till next year to see the illegal car parks removed and a proper cycling and walking commuter route created. Or perhaps longer? No end date has been confirmed for this project.
As reported in Scoop the WCC Transport and Urban Development Committee today voted in support of the recommended staged approach to implementing the cycleway and other transport changes along this busy route.
The first stage will involve not just removing the lamp posts, but also shifting the bus stop from outside Animates to south of Spot Light, and improving the path surface. All of these are significant improvements in their own right. But it doesn’t solve the problem that both pedestrians and cyclists have to share a 3 metre narrow path, with motorists regularly crossing this to park alongside or over the path. The Council admitted that this parking is in fact ‘technically’ illegal.
The first phase of the project will give the Council time to investigate alternative options. That is fair enough as there will be a real impact on some of the businesses, but also for the number of people of who park along the route in order to walk or cycle into town. What will the Council do if it cannot find alternative options is the question? Will it still commit to removing this illegal parking? Or will it silently keep its fingers crossed that the initial improvements are enough to keep everyone happy? Which is very unlikely.
The reality is that the number of cyclists will continue to increase on this major commuter route. Add to that the inevitable upsurge in e-bikes (apparently 80% of bikes produced in China are now electric bikes!). Which will put extra pressure on this shared path. Including making life more uncomfortable for the pedestrians. The rate of accidents between cyclists and walkers may be low, but as a pedestrian it is not comfortable to have cyclists race by. And people on bikes cannot always predict what walkers will do. Particularly little kids by the Play Centre. Or dodging people who are plugged into their phones and happily daydream their way into the path of cyclists. Not their fault. They are entitled to their own space without having to worry about cyclists. Which is why we need a proper 5 metre wide path that gives 2 metres to the pedestrians and a separated 3 metre two-way path for cyclists? Urgently please.
Significantly the WCC Transport and Urban Development Committee also voted unanimously to go ahead with the Great Harbour Way. This is fantastic news as it will create a shared path that will follow the Harbour from Pencarrow to Eastbourne. This should be in addition to the Hutt Road cycling and walking commuter path. But can the Council get the money together to do both. Will it rob Peter to pay Paul? Hopefully not.
So it will be interesting to see how all this plays out of the next couple of years. The good news is that the WCC and also NZTA are keen to get on with it. Which makes today’s announcements an historic day for all those people who cycle or would like to.