Open letter: Innovating Streets proposal must create a safe Essential Workers’ Route

Full text of letter sent to Wellington City Councillors on Tuesday 5th May 2020 at 7:15pm

Kia ora Councillors,

Firstly, thank you for your work with Officers in producing the Innovating Streets proposal to be presented on Thursday 7 May.

These moves need to support physical distancing in the city centre, and a return-to-work without traffic chaos from avoidance of public transport by allowing more people to walk and bike in safety.

But the proposal is too timid to achieve these aims. The most significant ideas in the report have been excluded using a risk measure that focuses heavily on roadside parking (a small proportion of city centre parking).

Cycle Wellington proposes you add an Essential Workers Route – by reinstating some of the rejected options and extending a route to the hospital.

This route runs from Thorndon Quay to Wellington Hospital via Bunny or Whitmore St, the Quays, Taranaki St, Adelaide Rd and Riddiford St. It uses interventions discussed in the report, and other simple temporary changes, to close the gaps in current paths making a continuous, safe route from Ngauranga to Newtown.

To create this route, for modest funding assuming Waka Kotahi contribute 90%, you need to add to your Innovating Streets proposal:

  • Thorndon Quay, safe travel, by changing angle parking temporarily to parallel parking throughout. Importantly, this retains parking outside all businesses that currently have it.
  • The Quays* – convert a traffic lane on the seaward side of the Quays to 2-way cycling – riders joining at existing waterfront crossings. Faster riders will be diverted away from the waterfront, reducing conflict and helping walkers maintain distance.
  • Taranaki Street* – protected lanes either side, possibly including use of pedestrian crossing phase where cyclists cross traffic
  • Adelaide Road – Move to a 24h bus/cycle lane 
  • Riddiford Street – removal of parking at John St intersection (also supporting physical distancing around local businesses)

*Reinstated options

With these changes, Wellington could stand proud among Auckland and other cities taking bold steps to protect their people in the aftermath of COVID-19 and commence tipu toa – building back better.

Noho ora mai,

Mark Johnston & Linda Beatson

Co-Chairs Cycle Wellington