A round-up of recent Wellington bike news: not just headwinds and political arguments

I wrote this for a round-robin of updates among the various CAN local groups, and Ron pointed out it’s been a while since we posted a general update on this blog. So, here you go! Let me know anything I missed out and I can add it in.

-James

We have some good-ish news in Wellington, though not much fresh kermit quite yet.

Local elections

New Mayor Justin Lester was the most bike-friendly of the leading mayoral candidates and has backed us in past consultation on good projects. He has a reputation for pragmatic compromise – so good for getting things over the line, but as you will no doubt know this can sometimes erode the most ambitious or controversial aspects of projects…
The body of councillors has also overall shifted towards pro-cycling, and there should be more of a consensus around the table rather than the fine balance of opposing views, and electioneering, that hampered progress over the last 3 years.
Sarah Free and new councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman have the transport portfolio between them. Sarah Free supports cycling (you may have met her at the last CAN Do) and Chris has a transport planning background and appreciates the role of urban cycling. They both came to our first post-election CAW meeting, with a council officer who explained the planned programme of cycling works. So a good election outcome overall.

Short term

Picture credit: Ron Beernink

NZTA are currently putting in a short (600m) stretch of upgraded path including a wider shared path through this underpass where SH1 and 2 meet: https://www.google.co.nz/maps/@-41.24759,174.8135734,3a,75y,163.89h,83.56t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sY2rmw29H9BlU_0NBnhUULA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

This is the first element of the Wellington-Hutt improvements. The city council will begin moving light poles from the shared path south of this point this month, as the start of improvement works on the Hutt Road and (finally) the first construction work spending UCP money. Resurfacing, moving of carparks, and (fingers crossed) conversion from a shared to a divided path are to follow shortly, as well as some junction and driveway improvements.
Also in the Hutt Valley, the biggest construction thing at the moment! – bike provision at the new SH2/SH58 interchage – a big new road interchange, and SH2 has lots of road cyclist use. Construction is well under way, and we’re getting excellently designed bike provision as part of the project – no more crossing motorway-like slip lanes, rather dedicated bike-only (plus walking) paths, with a design speed of 30k plus so roadies can zip on through.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLOz0a7O_JE

Medium term

The council has a set of projects to sign off, that should get consulted in the next few months. Losts of consultation feedback to encourage! These are arrayed around the edges of the CBD and beyond because…

Longer term

…of the the Let’s Get Wellington Moving project. The project’s good because it does take active transport seriously and an integrated plan for the city will make it easier to get cycling into places where it will be a trade off against other things like parking. But it holds up the construction of any CBD cycling infra because of its longer timeline. We’re trying to get some CBD trials of traffic or parking lane conversions to cycleways, a la Quay St in AKL, as initial or temporary improvements.

I****d B*y, or, The Cycleway That Must Not Be Named

This is still being re-litigated, but at least in a more positive way. The council has set up a participatory design project Love the Bay that looks at various aspects of the suburb, including the cycleway. Any changes will hopefully be at least neutral for cycling, rather than of the ‘tear it out’ nature some opposers had been campaigning for. And the route to join that section to the CBD is back on the table, which should help with the network effect aspect.

Social stuff

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photo credit: @bicyclejunctionnz on Instagram

 We’ve recently had some great events like community bike fix-ups and the third annual Need for Tweed ride (run by our friends Bicycle Junction – their pic above – apparently penny farthing selfies are a bit sketchy). CAW committee member Hilleke has set up a charitable trust and scored some grant funding for our project ReBicycle, rescuing old bikes and donating or loaning them to refugees and others in need. Looking forward to meeting the Dutch this Friday! Must get out my giant can of pink paint and decorate something before they get here 🙂

Other stuff

Pedal Ready is a regional bike skills programme which upskills thousands of kids and a few adults http://pedalready.org.nz/

Bikes in Schools continues to expand, with WCC fully funding three new projects each year http://wellington.govt.nz/ services/parking-and-roads/ cycling/we-support-cycling/ bikes-in-schools

Off-road, Wellington has awesome trails and ambitious goals. The Wellington Trails Trust is focused on developing a world-class multi-user trail network in the Wellington city and region http://www. wellingtontrailstrust.co.nz/

Join us at CAN Do in Wellington in March 2017 https://can.org.nz/cando2017

Keep the rubber side down!

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