What will get Welly Moving?

Victoria St Cycle Lanes
Will LGWM result in more and better bike lanes, or will it remove them to make room for cars?

The long drawn out Let’s Get Wellington Moving  (LGWM) process has produced a draft long list of scenarios aimed at reducing Wellington congestion. Which ones offer the best chance of “more people on bikes, more often”? There are 12 scenarios, with varying mixes of walking, cycling, public transport and “commuter and through traffic” (i.e. motor vehicles), and I’ll just discuss three that caught my eye.

Scenario G maximises walking, cycling and public transport including “separated facilities and active mode priority for a pedestrian and cyclist focused city”. It offers “a central city [cycling] network connected to the surrounding suburbs where routes include separation from high levels/fast traffic; increased supply of cycle parking/facilities [and] Bike sharing schemes”

At the other end of the spectrum is Scenario D which aims for “a high level of motorised mobility and good public transport”. This would involve “Removal of some pedestrian and cycling facilities” – which might be a challenge, given how few cycling facilities we have currently!

Somewhere in the middle is Scenario B with “A pedestrian and cyclist focused city centre, with separated facilities and active mode priority” as well as a “high quality integrated public transport network”. Rather than the full cycling network of Scenario G, it offers “Reallocation of space to dedicated bike routes connecting the commuter corridors”.

I have a concern about how the scenarios are evaluated, particularly against the objective to achieve “A transport system that provides more efficient and reliable access to support growth”. There’s an underlying assumption that more roading capacity is good for the economy. So Option D with its “high level of motorised mobility” is evaluated highly against this objective, while Scenario G, which emphases public and active transport, is evaluated negatively.

However what helps the economy is moving goods and people efficiently. We don’t achieve this by encouraging trips by private car, resulting in more congestion on the limited road space of the CBD. We help the economy by providing for high quality public transport and active transport (walking and cycling) to move people, reducing congestion for freight transport and other users who need to use motorised transport.

Cycle Aware Wellington is part of the Congestion Free Wellington coalition, which wants the LGWM process to result in a liveable, sustainable city. No doubt we’ll hear more of this debate.

Scenario G or Scenario B would certainly get “more people on bikes more often”. In the mean time, people using bikes are probably least affected by congestion. The more people that realise that, the better it will be for all road users.