Thorndon Quay: a u-turn design

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Last year the Wellington City Council initiated a project and established a community stakeholder working group to find options for creating safe cycling along Thorndon Quay as part of the Urban Cycling Programme.   The various people on the working group represented local businesses, residents, walkers and cyclists.  Together they came up with a vision that would change Thorndon Quay from the current day ugly industrial looking commuter route to a boulevard-style destination.   A number of objectives were agreed to enable that vision including avoiding impacting on the local businesses, but also ensuring a safe traffic design.   The working group were on the same page and getting close to agreeing design options.

That is till the business representatives decided to approach the Council directly because of concerns that the parking changes for the design options would in fact impact on their businesses.  After escalating this to a couple of the Councillors, our mayor was brought into the conversation.  Justin Lester decided to pull the plug on the project (and effectively the working group) and instead go with a very watered-down design that would have painted cycle lanes at the south end of Thorndon Quay.  

The cycling representatives from the now-defunct working group met with the Mayor to discuss their concerns and understand Justin’s motivations.   This was what came out of that meeting, and our observations of that conversation:

  • Justin said that Aotea Quay was an alternative option that should have been considered by the project.  (That despite the fact that the project was asked to clarify this a number of times, and that David Chick – WCC Chief City Planner – categorically confirmed that Aotea Quay was not a consideration as it would be years away if it ever got agreement from the different authorities along that route. For more details, see the WCC document Why Thorndon Quay.)
  • He had a concern that the design options would not get the backing from the majority of his Councillors.  (It is understood that he never talked to his team to get confirmation of this).
  • He was concerned that this could turn into another Island Bay situation.  (Understandable, but this project was following a much better community engagement approach, and the working group had made good progress).
  • He felt that the Council was making great progress with the other cycling improvement projects, and did not want to put all of this at risk.  (A fair statement).

The key messages that we left him with is that his decision does nothing to address the risk of vulnerable road users on this dangerous route, but also that his action undermined the trust in the engagement process.

The Council has recently published the revised proposed design for Thorndon Quay for public consultation.   The design only deals with the section of road between Davis and Mulgrave Street.   A key aspect is that it changes the angle parking to parallel parking along the Westpac Stadium side of the street.   You can see the proposed design and get access to the online feedback form on this WCC transport project page.

Thorndon Quay hero image

Meanwhile the cycling representatives who were part of the working group have set up a “Fix Thorndon Quay” Facebook page to encourage people to have their say.   But also to highlight that this revised design proposal does nothing to address the risk to vulnerable road users along the busiest and most dangerous part of Thorndon Quay, between Davis Street and Tinakori Road.

With the darker and wetter winter months, the danger from cars pulling into or reversing out of the parking is unacceptably high.  The angle parking forces cyclist on to the main road in the path of cars, trucks and buses; particularly with a number of cars now too long for the parking space.   There is a real risk of a cyclist being seriously hurt or killed.   

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But also for walkers this part of Thorndon Quay poses a significant challenge and risk, with the lack of pedestrian crossings.  Often we see people dashing between angle parked cars, cyclists and traffic on the road.  Again an accident waiting to happen.

Pedestrian crossing TQ

We have waited for years for the Council to resolve this situation.  We don’t want to wait longer.  Even if an alternative route via Aotea Quay would become a reality, then Thorndon Quay would still be used by a high number of cyclists and walkers as the most convenient route to get to their work or to get to the local shops.

We urge people to submit their feedback to the Council.  Tell your own story, how the proposed design may help to address your concerns, and what concerns it does not address.  Guidelines on writing your individual submission can be found here.

Have your say!

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Writing an individual submission

The Council relies on advocacy groups but also individuals to make submissions on design proposals like for cycle ways.  Below are some tips on how you can put together an effective submission.

  • Introduce yourself and explain why the particular route or location is important to you personally, e.g. for your daily commute, or getting your kids to school.
  • Give your story that best describes the key concerns are that you experience today, e.g. cars pulling in and out of parking spaces.
  • Explain how the proposed design will help to address your concerns.
  • Detail what concerns it does not address, or what issues the proposed design may create for you.
  • Give your view of what more can be done to make this a great solution not for you right now, but for the future and for others.

Below is an example.  Don’t copy and paste, but use this to create a submission that is uniquely yours.

“My name is Shirley Bessy.  I can be classed as a concerned but keen cyclists, and I use Thorndon Quay most workdays as the most direct route to get to or from my work on The Terrace, and sometimes to visit one of the shops on Thorndon Quay.   Cycling has helped me enormously with my fitness.

Thorndon Quay is the most dangerous part of the route.  I have had a few too many close calls where cars pull in and out of car parks, and each day I am really worried that someone will suddenly reverse out of one of the angle car parks and force me into the path of other traffic.   I am sure that if I have an accident or too many more close calls that I will stop cycling for my commute.

The proposed Thorndon Quay changes will go a little towards making it safer.  It will avoid the illegal angle parking along the clearway that currently continues to happen between the VTNZ building and the lights by Mulgrave streets.  The road side painted cycle lane will however probably do little to make my commute in the event any safer as drivers will no doubt still pull in and out of car parks without looking for cyclists.

The proposal sadly does nothing to make the main part of Thorndon Quay any safer and I am really disappointed that I have to continue to risk my safety on the evening commute back home, particularly during the darker and wetter winter days when I’ve come closest to having an accident and feel really worried.

I am desperately waiting for a Thorndon Quay that is safe enough for less confident cyclists like myself.  I understand that the Council is considering Aotea Quay as an alternative option, but I would not use that as my commute option as it would add considerable distance and time to my journey.  I am not sure why the Council would want to force me to do so, when in fact in should encourage cycling by providing a network of convenient routes.    I see Thorndon Quay as an important connection for people commuting between Wellington and the northern suburbs and the Hutt Valley.”

It does not need to be perfect.  The important thing is that you have your say!

CAW February Meeting

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Welcome to our first CAW meeting for what will be an exciting year with lots of cycling related initiatives happening around the city.  But also challenges.  So some of the hot topics for this month are

 

 

  • How did Go By Bike Day go?
  • Celebrating cycling: the upcoming Love Cycling Awards
  • e-Bikes on tracks around Wellington
  • Share and be Aware: a Wisconsin perspective
  • Lessons learned from 2017
  • Giving CAW a fresh voice
  • Holiday raves, thumbs up, thumbs down

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday 13 February, 6-7:30pm, Sustainability Trust, Forrester Lane.

Submissions: Make your voice heard

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Making personal submissions on cycling related improvements is important!

That is the clear message that we have been hearing from initiatives like Let’s Get Wellington Moving and the various Wellington Urban Cycleway programme initiatives such as at  Kilbernie and Evans Bay.

We are against voting by numbers as this will always disadvantage the needs for minority groups, and we are all for voting through good reasoning.  The more reasonable submissions by individuals, the better the outcome for all.

CAW obviously makes submissions on behalf of all of you, but that doesn’t mean that you should not have to submit your own comments.   Whether it is to explain why the proposed improvements are important to help your own cycle journeys more comfortable, convenient and connected.  Or what aspects you feel are a concern and can be done better.

It only needs to take a few minutes, but can make a long term difference.  So be heard!

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Let’s get Wellington Moving: have your say

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WCC Transport Projects: Have your say on Evans Bay phase 1, and Kilbernie Connections

End of Year CAW meeting

St Nic on bikeLet’s make this a fun final one!

  • PechaKucha-style stories of overseas cycling experiences
  • CAW photo competition results
  • Highlights from 2017 and,
  • Our wish list for 2018

Who knows, Saint Nicolaas (the original Santa Claus) may put in a guest appearance!

Come dressed for the occasion (e.g. lycra santa costume).  All welcome!

Tuesday 5 December, 6-7:30pm, Sustainability Trust, Forrester Lane

CAW October Meeting

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  • Updates on WCC initiatives / projects
    • Island Bay cycle way decision
    • Shelly Bay master plan decision
    • Miramar / Kilbernie / Oriental Bay / Thorndon Quay working groups
    • Hutt Road improvements & consultation
    • Other consultations
    • Updates from monthly meeting with WCC cycling project team
  • Shared view on shared paths
  • Reflections from overseas cycling experiences
  • Getting ready for Roll On Wellington cycling awards
  • Thumbs up / thumbs down

Tuesday 3 October, 6-7:30pm, Sustainability Trust shop, Forrester Lane (off Tory St).

CAW August Meeting

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Which way for Island Bay?

Another month has flown by, and yet so much to discuss already since our last meeting!

  • Island Bay back on the front page.   Councillor Diane Calvert, and WCC officer Phil Becker will join us in a discussion about the final Island Bay community engagement and consultation process.
  • People’s thoughts on contraflow and bi-directional bike lane designs.
  • Have your say on Shelly Bay.
  • Feedback from Bike Sydney about how to start a discussion about cycling improvements.
  • Update from the monthly catch up with WCC network improvement planning manager, Paul Barker.
  • Other hot topics, thumbs up and thumbs down.

Tuesday 1 August, 6-7:30pm, Sustainability Trust shop, Forrester Lane (off Tory St).

 

CAW June Meeting & AGM

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Roll on up for our meeting!

AGM items

It’s that time of the year again for our annual general meeting.  Nothing to painful.  We’ll keep the official stuff short!

  • Reflecting back on the year that has been
  • Our financial state of affairs
  • Confirming the committee
  • Our key focus for the year ahead

Other items

And then back to the business at hand of discussing what cycling changes are happening

  • UCP updates
  • Sharrow shenanigans
  • Cones kerfuffles
  • Thumbs up, thumbs down

Tuesday 6 June, 6-7:30 pm, Sustainability Trust, Forresters Lane (off Tory St)

 

 

 

Notes from 2 May CAW meeting

A well attended meeting with good discussions.  Here’s the highlight

  • Alastair Smith has been nominated for an Absolutely Positively Wellingtonian Award!   Well deserved as Alastair has been a long time calm & collected champion for our cause.
  • AGM to be held next meeting, 6 June.
  • The first CAW meeting for Catarina who has just come down from Christchurch where she was the Bicycle Major!  She is working at Bicycle Junction, who will be moving larger and more central premises in Marion Street.
  • Let’s Get Wellington Moving
    • Concern about this being a smoke screen for NZTA to push through with the 4 lanes to the planes motorway
    • Save The Basin and others are running a public meeting
    • Needs to address concern that principles are not being upheld
    • Patrick to front CAWs concerns
  • WCC annual plan submission
    • Eleanor & James to check the plan
    • Suggestion to submit that the plan needs to address the issue of poor sealing for existing roads
  • Tender for new buses will include bike racks. Post meeting note: On Tuesday 9 May the Regional Council is considering whether to roll out bike racks on more bus routes. http://www.gw.govt.nz/committee-meetings-calend…/detail/7403
  • Update on the Island Bay community re-engagement (Love the Bay)
    • Wednesday evening 3 May and 1:30pm Sunday 7 May
    • Tonkin & Taylor will be using the feedback on design options / aspects to finalise a minimum of 3 possible options including going back to what was there before, or what is there now with some improvements
    • Note that they are on the WCC panel for roading engineers)
    • Important that people go along to give their feedback on what is good or bad about the design options / aspects
  • Updates from monthly meeting with WCC cycling team (Paul Barker)
    • Team has expanded with new officers responsible for sustainable transport, and communications.  And two replacements.
    • Hutt Rd work has started on installed triggered LED warning lights at Caltex (trial basis), path upgrade working north from Aotea Quay off ramp, installing final new lights and testing all lights (may have to retain and reposition excisting lights if new lights do not give the coverage expected)
    • Aimed to be completed by November.  Ron to confirm what is happening about the next stage to remove / reallocate car parking, and to follow up with GWRC about re-opening Kaiwharawhara railway station to help minimise need for parking.
    • Upgrade at Ngauranga Interchange now not happening till Ngauranga-Petone shared path goes in.  WCC will look at improving the path / seal, but won’t change the kerbs / bus stop.
    • Incorrectly placed new sharrows are being removed immediately and will be properly painted as soon as weather allows.  Caused by an individual who didn’t follow the contractor’s instructions.
    • No re-sealing of Evans Bay road.  The Councillors did not allocate the extra funding needed to adhere to their 2008 policy to ensure smooth surfaces for routes with high number of on-road cyclists.  In fact, a push to minimise cost of road seal maintenance.  Issue is that the Council has degraded from the quality of service that was there before.  New infrastructure will have the opex to ensure proper maintenance.
    • The team is working on the consultation material for the CBD quick win improvements, all of which will need traffic resolution.  won’t be visible till November.
    • Consultation for Featherston St North cycle path (Bunny St to Mulgrave St) has been advertised.  Will include allowing a right turn into Bunny St West for south bound cyclists.  Paul happy to consider Ron’s suggestion to have advance bike lights at the Mulgrave intersection to allow south bound cyclists to get into the right hand lane for the Bunny St turn.
    • Councillors very much aware of the need for good cycling and walking infrastructure as part of the Shelly Bay developmenment.  [Note that CAW will push for this as part of the public consultation]
    • All current UCP projects will have a final engagement over a 4 week period
      • 3 options per project
      • Aimed for July, to go back to the September Council Committee
      • Back to the community for final feedback / objections in November
      • Committee approval in February will construction starting in July after a 3 month [detailed] design.
    • Also initiating a working group to look at Berhampore, Newtown and Mt Cook options
      • Will take on board material from the previous Citizens Advisory Panel that proposed options for Berhampore and Newtown.
      • Will extend to Basin Reserve and Pukeahu Park this time.
      • Half the budget (4.5M) for an extended scope.  Will impact on options to address parking.
    • Report on the February Wellington bike count is still being finalised
      • Indications are a drop in numbers of cyclists
      • Follows a drop in the previous year (which could have been contributed to poorer weather than summer)
      • Does show more cyclists heading out of the city
      • Contradicts general observation that there seems to be more cyclists
  • There was a general discussion about the various WCC cycling projects working groups that CAW is currently participating in
    • Kilbernie connections, Miramar connections, Evans Bay, Thorndon Quay
    • Overall going well but obviously each with its own challenges
    • CAW has its own challenge how it resources each of these working groups / engagements
      • Opportunity to tap other working group members on the shoulder
      • CAW to put together a mentoring framework / material
  • Other initiatives / projects
    • CBD quick fixes [see WCC meeting notes]
    • Southern Corridor (Berhampore-Newtown-Mt Cook)
      • Ron to confirm timeframes with WCC so that Island Bay people have an answer on when there will be a full IB 2 CBD route
    • Melling-Petone
      • Engagement / consultation happening now
      • Build planning to start end of the year
    • Petone-Ngauranga
      • Public engagement to start
      • Planned for implementation in 2019/2020
    • Karori
  • Things to discuss at our next meetings with NZTA, WCC etc
    • Ngauranga situation getting worse
    • Truck accidents [Note that Patrick is discussing this with the ministry]
  • Thumbs up, thumbs down
    • TU – Patrick – old ghost road
    • TD – Cars not aware the extra time it takes to pass a faster ebike.  More converted e-mountainbikes
    • TU – Women on bikes exhibition at Thistle Hall (Cuba St south)

Thank you to our cycling Mayor

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How wonderful it has been to have had a Mayor who cycled the talk!  Celia Wade-Brown has done a fantastic job at helping to set a vision and strategy for Wellington that ensures strong support for cycling and walking.  She helped to secure a$35 million budget to help deliver the Wellington Urban Cycling Plan that will make cycling in Wellington safer and more pleasurable for people young and old.  And Celia set a good example, cycling to work each day on her trusty electric bike.  How many Mayors around the world (other than in Copenhagen or Amsterdam perhaps) would have cycled to the airport to meet the United States secretary of state?  She helped to normalise the image of cyclists – moving us on from being seen as the Lycra brigade.

Cycle Aware Wellington would like to sincerely thank Celia Wade-Brown for her good work that she has done.   We wish her well for the future.

Personally, I admired Celia’s strong vision and had she kept her hat in the ring, I would have voted again for her on that basis.  Unfortunately projects like the Island Bay cycle way tarnish her legacy.  She was ultimately accountable for the impact that it has had, but it must be pointed out that she wasn’t solely responsible.  That sits collectively with the Council and the WCC operations.  Hopefully the lessons learned will translate in improved and different ways of working, including better engagement with the community over any proposed changes.

It now falls on a new Mayor and a significantly changed group of Councillors to keep the ball rolling and deliver on the strategy and plans that have been set out for Wellington.  Hopefully we will see an end to the unprofessional in-fighting and political grandstanding of recent years.  The Council can only do the hard stuff by working together.

Who of the mayoral candidates is most likely to be successful in bringing a good team together?   And which one has a real vision and the backbone to stand by it?  It is easy to dangle carrots to win votes.   For my money, I don’t think there is a stand-out candidate.  There appear to be three strong contenders.   Justin looks like someone who can harmonise the team.  He may not have a strong vision, but is probably the right person to progress the vision that Celia created.  Both Jo and Nick clearly have a vision for a motorway but are not clear on how they see this translating into cohesive transport solutions that are people and planet friendly.

Cycle Aware Wellington wishes each of the Mayoral and Council candidates all the best with their campaigning.  Whoever gets in, Cycle Aware Wellington looks forward to working with you in helping to grow Wellington as a cycling and walking friendly city.

Ron Beernink
Chair Cycle Aware Wellington