A Longer Term Plan for Healthy Streets in Wellington

The following was presented in person to Wellington City Council during public participation in the Annual Plan/Long-Term Plan Committee Meeting on 18 February 2021.

  • Investing properly in streets for people of all ages and abilities to make active everyday journeys is a critical part of successfully delivering Te Atakura and addressing the Climate Emergency we are in.
  • WCC needs to keep its promises and Get Welly Riding.
  • This is the time for Councillors to stand tall and support what they were elected to do.
  • Please continue lifting the vision for mobility in this city. We love the great facilities that WCC have been creating these last few years. Don’t lose this precious momentum.
  • The recommended investment to develop healthy streets is incongruous with many of the priorities outlined in this LTP.
Kirsten, Mia & Nico with their big blue family station wagon they started using a day before L4 lockdown.
Pic: Julia Hilgenfeldt

Lifting the vision

We all have a vision for a Wellington that is full of people who enjoy living and moving about. Especially those choosing to ride bikes, walk, and take public transport.

Everyone should be able to enjoy the wellbeing of healthy, active, community enhancing mobility.

I envision a city of people who are empowered by their mobility environment. Where children can travel safely and independently about their own neighbourhoods.

I yearn for the quiet, clean air filled with birdsong that we all enjoyed during Level 4 lockdown, more greenery, and places to dwell.

I look forward to a time when people’s response to urban cycling is no longer “I’d like to do that, but it’s far too dangerous!

I look forward to more households being able to get around without owning a car.

I am excited by the potential of healthier streets to increase connectivity and reduce loneliness in our communities.

WCC must invest properly in streets for people

Just as Wellington water infrastructure has been neglected to a state of disrepair, so too we have seen an unacceptable degradation of the way people can travel around.

Decades of focus on journeys by car has resulted in our streets breaking and becoming clogged with an unsustainable volume of vehicles. Addressing transport in Wellington is as key as “fixing the pipes”.

Human-scale mobility systems are critical to our health and wellbeing. Investing in our streets to perform better for people, not cars, is essential to enable this.

Incongruous priorities

The draft LTP says that safe transport infrastructure and accelerating a zero-carbon transition are priority objectives. The suggested recommendations in this draft plan are putting on the brakes.

This council has declared a Climate Emergency. Delivering a reduced programme of cycleways goes against the objectives of the plan and the commitments that this council has made to reduce emissions.

Healthy streets enabling active travel are critical infrastructure for our future.

That this LTP aims to cut the important cycling corridors to Get Welly Riding significantly undermines the impression of an organisation prioritising safe, zero-carbon, waste-free, resilient, reliable, critical / core transport infrastructure.

Not funding The Parade Upgrade means that you are walking away from the consultation and commitments made to the people of Island Bay. Councillors need to respect that contract to maintain the council’s social license and trust that it will do what it says it will. 

There are many residents and ratepayers in Wellington who are happy to pay higher rates to properly fund essential projects. Bike lanes are essential for addressing transport equity, climate change, public health, improving Wellington’s appeal, and saving ratepayers money. Cutting bike lane projects because of rates pressure is compounding the problem for our children’s generation who don’t have a voice.

I, and many others feel this way as ratepayers and are eager to pay more to make our mobility environment healthier. Space that is safe for walking, cycling and other forms of active transport is one of the most sustainable economic developments we can invest in. 

Your own website lists evidence that every dollar spent on cycling by this council would save Wellington ratepayers $20 in the form of fewer injuries, reductions in emissions, health benefits and less spending on fossil fuels. More people on bikes means less money spent on repairing damage caused by heavy vehicles. We can’t understand why such a valuable return on investment hasn’t been utilised as part of the cost savings in this plan.

What to do?

So what do we think this draft LTP should look like regarding cycling?

We don’t think that a draft LTP put out for consultation should include options that are contradictory to the council’s priorities, climate targets and legal obligations such as those in options 1, 2 or 3.

We think that the recommended option should at a minimum fulfill the entire programme of works promised in previous plans and deliver promised improvements to the Island Bay Cycleway.

Furthermore, we think that Wellingtonians should be consulted on the option of the council delivering an increased and accelerated programme. The consultation will not allow Wellingtonians to truly express their views if the best option they can ask for is that which has previously been promised. We consider that progress in Wellington is not being made fast enough, and we are being left behind Auckland, Christchurch, and cities overseas, such as Paris, that have made transformative changes under visionary leadership.

It is clear that Wellington City Council has the capability to deliver an ambitious long term plan if you choose to. 

This LTP prioritises the cutting of rates over the cutting of emissions. The same misplaced priorities left us to clean up the pipes previous generations should have maintained. We hope that you will make a choice to deliver on a Long Term Plan that ensures a Wellington and a world worth living in for our children and future generations.