Let’s Get Wellington Biking

The Let’s Get Wellington Moving project has four scenarios out for consultation. The outcome of the project will shape Wellington’s transport network. Have your say before the 15 December deadline! Yes, that’s 15 December, pretty soon huh. Get to it!

Here’s our take on what needs to be in the mix for a city that moves people around effectively and supports comfortable and convenient biking to and through the CBD.

TL;DR version:

  • FIT’s ‘Scenario A+’ is a great start: LGWM’s scenario A plus light rail to link major destinations AND introduce congestion charging.
  • Add in a downtown biking network of protected cycleways.
  • Back it up with links on quieter traffic-calmed streets and safe, quick ways to cross SH1 and other arterial roads.
  • Make a bigger deal about how biking can contribute to transport and placemaking.

FIT’s ‘Scenario A+’ is a great start

We were disappointed to see the LGWM scenarios are ‘more or less change’ options instead of a range of different approaches and priorities. We want to see a higher priority for PT and active transport than for driving.

We shouldn’t have to suffer Moar Roadz to earn decent biking, and indeed any improvements to arterial roads will just feed more traffic into the CBD’s other streets, making biking worse and offsetting the ‘biking bonus’ of the expensive roading schemes. BUT! LGWM can mix and match aspects of the scenarios.

FIT and Congestion Free Wellington have proposed a ‘Scenario A+’: LGWM’s scenario A plus light rail to link major destinations AND introduce congestion charging. Good stuff: high-quality public transport through the CBD makes a good carrot. To build ridership, it must have full priority over other traffic. Congestion charging is the stick to match. Rather than loosening its belt, Wellington can give road priority to tradies and others who need to drive through the CBD at busy times. Just a few percent reduction in driving would make every day a ‘school holiday dream commute’.

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Add in a downtown biking network of protected cycleways

LGWM mentions improving biking, but doesn’t set out an inspiring plan. We want an obvious, all-new CBD biking network with a consistently high level of service. A grid of north-south and east-west connections that:

  • don’t mix with traffic (sharing with buses can be OK for access but doesn’t give a good level of comfort for key routes)
  • don’t rely on the waterfront (great for cruising but not a proper transport link)
  • feel more efficient than main motor traffic routes (less waiting) so you get the benefits of concentrating bike traffic where it’s best catered for.

Some CBD streets are narrow; others nice and wide. Narrow streets aren’t necessarily a problem for biking when you have a good plan of which streets are prioritised for which modes of transport. A proper network approach should decide which CBD streets to prioritise for biking.

We’ve set out some ideas for a primary and secondary biking network for the CBD.

Here are some obvious candidates for the primary network (key routes with protected bike lanes; could be 1-way, 2x 1-way, or 2-way):

  • Kent and Cambridge / Adelaide Road
  • The Quays
  • Taranaki St
  • Featherston & Victoria St
    (Featherston St could hold a 2-way protected bike lane, freeing up Lambton Quay for access, walking and public transport; Victoria and upper Willis Sts complement each other and a variety of configurations of the two streets could work)
  • Oriental Parade and Evans Bay
  • a connection from the Mt Vic Tunnel to Cobham Drive.

…and some candidates for the secondary network (supporting routes with protected bike lanes or traffic reduction and calming):

  • Willis St
  • Courtenay Place and Dixon Street
  • Tory Street
  • The Terrace
  • links to Massey and Victoria universities
  • connections to the primary network and the waterfront
  • links to suburbs:  Brooklyn, Aro Valley (inc access to Polhill mtb tracks).

The focus here is on the CBD – other links like Berhampore-Newtown-CBD will play an important role too. And other transport decisions could create their own opportunities, opening up new corridors or reducing the volume of traffic on busy roads to open up biking possibilities.

Make biking links using quieter traffic-calmed streets

Managing traffic speeds and volumes on specific other streets would provide quieter biking links to complement the main biking grid.

Scenario A mentions managing speeds, but traffic volumes needs to be low as well to share comfortably – probably too low for most CBD streets to work well as key routes. Unless… you remove through-traffic from some side roads while allowing access. For example, during the construction of Pukeahu war memorial, upper Tory Street was a quiet bike-friendly street. Now it’s back to a rat run. Do we really need through-traffic driving through the park?

Provide safe, quick ways to cross SH1 and other arterial roads.

Most walking or biking trips into or out of the CBD involve a long wait to cross SH1 or the quays’ arterial roads (remember how the urban motorway was supposed to free up traffic there?). For a short trip, a couple of peak time waits can double your journey time. Long waits sever communities, and encourage risky crossing by people who are in a hurry.

Walk/bike underpasses would speed up crossings and extend connections beyond the CBD to connect to the main suburban routes. Compared to road underpasses, walk/bike underpasses are smaller and much cheaper. And they are lower effort to use and less exposed than bridges.

Candidate spots: Cobham Drive, Wellington Road, Vivian Street, and Karo Drive at Taranaki, Victoria and Willis. In other places, crossing-signal timing changes beyond today’s motor-prioritising guidelines could reduce the worst-case waiting times.

Make a bigger deal about how walking and biking can contribute to transport and placemaking

To recognise and measure the benefits of mode shift to biking and walking, they should be quantified in scenario comparisons – not just how many people are biking as a ‘nice thing’, but the transport and health contributions that makes too. We’d also love to see more in the scenarios about how different the CBD will feel and how much nicer a place it could be to, well, be in.

More commitment and detail on the biking and walking, and models that better recognise induced demand, would help make the case for a thriving Wellington that isn’t choked in traffic.

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Proposals for Hutt Road and Wellington CBD – a quick run-down

WCC have 2 proposals open for submissions until Monday 16 October – extension of the separated path work for Hutt Rd, and a whole set of minor changes for the CBD.
Please make a submission on anything you are interested in. The council would love to hear your individual opinions; here are some starter points to consider.

Hutt Road

We think:
  • The transition to the road opposite Tinakori Road needs to be safe for travel in both directions – bus conflict heading south and crossing difficulty heading North both need improving.
  • Here (and for the whole Hutt Rd project) take care to separate biking and walking areas well. A height difference of planted / tactile boundary would help – different colours may not be enough.
  • The on-road clearway/parking arrangement sounds a sensible way to give businesses parking off the path – but MUST leave enough clearance around business driveways for good visibility between drivers and people cycling on the path.

CBD minor improvements

These cover Featherston St (the block just south of the station), Post Office Square, and crossing Kent & Cambridge Tce near the Basin Reserve.
Some context first – these minor improvements obviously don’t make a big difference to interested-but-concerned potential cyclists, or a connected network across the CBD. That has to wait for the frustratingly slow Lets Get Wellington Moving project – UNLESS someone runs a nice temporary trial…more thoughts on that soon. In the meantime, these minor changes should make a slight improvement for people who already bike around the CBD.
Now to each proposal in turn.

Featherston St

Basically, this replicates the current layout on the previous block, and shares its pros and cons. It’s preferable to what’s there the moment. However, we see this as an interim solution only.
We think:
  • The narrower traffic lanes may help to slow traffic slightly. And the green cycle lane will help to endorse cyclists’ right to claim some space on the road. We’re pleased to see the painted buffer zone to protect cyclists from the ‘door zone’.
  • WCC should add a ‘hook turn’ waiting box at the far corner of the Whitmore/Featherston intersection, clearly signposting it. This will allow a safer right turn from Featherston into Whitmore. This page has more detail: https://www.nzta.govt.nz/walking-cycling-and-public-transport/cycling/cycling-network-guidance/designing-a-cycle-facility/intersections-and-crossings/signalised-intersections/cycle-storage-facilities/. The proposal doesn’t yet provide any solution for the many cyclists needing to turn right into Whitmore Street. They still have to cross two lanes of fast moving traffic.
  • Cars entering and leaving the parallel parks on the left of the road are still a hazard.
  • The way the cycle lane leaves the left of the road to travel between two traffic lanes (at the approach to Whitmore Street) is a design that’s proven to be problematic, both further north on Featherston (at the approach to Bunny Street) and on Victoria Street (on the approach to Vivian Street). This is not a design that we want to see replicated around Wellington. It puts cyclists between two lanes of moving traffic, which can be more dangerous than ‘claiming’ the lane (where vehicles have to follow cyclists rather than pass). With moving traffic on both sides, a 1.6-meter lane seems narrow — there’s little room for error, especially considering the strong side winds that frequently gust around the streets adjacent to the waterfront.
  • Car drivers frequently block this type of cycle lane while trying to change lanes. 
  • This style of cycle lane will be a mild improvement for the cyclists who currently brave the traffic in Wellington – and who deal with having no cycle lane on the next blocks of Featherston St. But it won’t encourage many new riders.

Kent/Cambridge crossing

Info and easy submission form at: http://transportprojects.org.nz/current/central/kent-cambridge-terrace/

As an interim solution, this looks like a good improvement on what exists at the moment. However, we expect to see much more comprehensive solutions for cycling around the Basin and on Kent and Cambridge Terraces as a result of Let’s Get Welly Moving. In particular, we want to see separation between cyclists and pedestrians, as forcing them to share the same space causes conflict.
We support Living Street Aotearoa in saying that shared paths are not a good solution for busy central city routes. We recommend separated paths for cyclists and walkers, which should be do-able with the space available in this area.

Post Office Square

We think:
  • This gives you a way to get from Post Office Square to Queens Wharf  and the waterfront – at the moment you have to ride on a few metres of the square’s pedestrian space.
  • The proposal doesn’t seem to include clear marking – probably more important than the technical right/wrong difference here.
  • The dropped kerbs will smooth out your ride across the Quays road, and probably will help keep people on bikes to an alignment that avoids getting in the way of people on foot.

What will the revised Island Bay cycleway look like?

You may have heard Wellington City Council this week approved a concept design for a revised cycleway along The Parade in Island Bay. The approved concept is based on the options presented for consultation. But it combines aspects of different options (as the council said it might), and also includes amendments introduced by the Mayor after discussions with Island Bay Residents Association.

To understand the concept that was approved, you need to combine two descriptions:

  • the recommended design council officers presented to the councillors ahead of the meeting, as a result of the Love the Bay and The Parade public engagement and consultation process [page 167 of the meeting agenda and report – warning, 40MB+ PDF to download]
  • the amendments introduced by the Mayor, which match the announcement the council made.

The basic cross-sections in the residential and village areas look like this (pic from WCC):

This is roughly similar to Option D from the consultation, but with wider traffic lanes. and a wider western footpath in the residential zone.

Compared to today, the biggest changes for cycling are:

  • the cycleway will continue through the village
  • the cycleway will be raised above road height
  • cars will be parked against a kerb – easier for parking without encroaching into the cycleway.

We’ll post again soon, looking at the features you can’t see in the cross-section and giving some of our thoughts and hopes for the detailed design.

 

Love the Bay: Which option is best for the Island Bay Cycleway?

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We’re into the consultation on the options for improving the Island Bay Cycleway. The consultation period is short, closing on Sunday 13 August. Luckily filling in the consultation form is quick and easy. Please do!

Here’s the 30-second version on what we like:

  • Option C is our favourite (with some design detail to ensure it doesn’t feel like a shared path)
  • Options B and D are OK (but both compromise cycling or walking)
  • Option A is rubbish.

We’ll be ranking C, B, D as our favourites in order. You should pick the option you like best, and give a few clear reasons with your feedback. Say why you like your favourite, and why you don’t like any options that you particularly dislike.

For some great in-depth analysis head along to Regan’s blog post on the options at Island Bay Cycle Way. Here are a few notes of our own.

Option A would be worse for cycling than today. It takes away the protection from moving vehicles – with narrow traffic lanes, trucks and buses would be right at your shoulder and unable to give you extra space. It doesn’t pass the ‘8-80’ test of being suitable for all ages and abilities. The engineering report says the whole Parade would need a lower speed limit for this option to meet NZTA guidelines, and that would likely cause motorists to ‘rat-run’ through quiet back streets.

Option B is most similar to today’s cycleway. As with all the options, Option B improves intersection safety and continues the cycleway through the shopping area. Riding between kerbs could feel like you are trapped in a narrow channel though, and will make it difficult for people to pass each other. If someone steps into the cycleway right in front of a cyclist without looking, there’ll be nowhere for the cyclist to go.

Option C raises cyclists slightly above road level, good for seeing and being seen. And you won’t feel trapped in a channel – there’ll be more room to pass, or to avoid any obstacles. It needs a tweak to keep walkers and cyclists separate though. A slight height difference with ‘friendly’ mountable angled kerbs, or a smooth drainage channel, would do this well.

Option D trades off footpath space to make room for a median (in the residential area) and more parking in the shopping area. Footpaths will be narrow. Counterintuitively, retaining angle parking could hurt some businesses – for example, there’ll be no space for outside tables outside Bluebell café. And reversing out of the angle parks into the 3m-wide traffic lane won’t be much fun.

Still here? Go and make your submission. Add in any thoughts you have – the Council are looking for useful comments as well as your preference.

 

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!

CAW meeting report April 2016

Sorry for the super-late meeting report and thanks Peter for the notes. We discussed:

The Urban Cycleways Programme cycling improvements for the Hutt Road, CBD, and Eastern suburbs

Eastern:

  • work done so far by ‘working group’ of stakeholders including resident and business associations
  • plan to look at routes first (demand, feasibility etc) and then later what type of infrastructure
  • consultation coming up in late April – and new staff joining the cycling team at WCC to improve the consultation process

Hutt Road:

  • consultation
  • overall options the council looked at and why this was the only feasible high-level option
  • the good and bad in the proposal

Central:

  • work done so far by ‘working group’ of stakeholders including resident and business associations – only as far as important destinations and journeys – no routes picked yet.

Bike Film Festival

Planned by Ngā Taonga for April: http://www.ngataonga.org.nz/about/news/nzbff with special panel session after Bikes Vs Cars.

Planning for the AGM

AGM Tuesday 3 May at our normal meeting place/time, 6pm at Sustainability Trust. We need a new Treasurer (well before the AGM) and other committee roles will be up for grabs too.

WCC will talk us through their Eastern cycleways consultation after the AGM part of the meeting.

CANdo debrief

Regional groups presented stories, progress and ideas they had encountered. Cycling NZ came along and presented about some of their programmes such as a new one training people to bunch ride safely. They are keen to have a wider role than high performance sport. Good preso from NZTA about the Urban Cycleways Programme.

Winter is coming

We shared tips for safe and comfy cycling when commutes get get dark and wet. Great lights are getting cheaper – worth an upgrade even if yours are not terrible.

 

Awards – a closer look at ‘Most improved’

Our ‘Most improved’ category is new this year. What’s the biggest improvement you’ve seen this year: a new bike path, a great new initiative, or a change of heart?

This category replaces both our best and worst bike-infrastructure categories. We’re seeing great stuff starting to happen around the city, but it isn’t quite there yet. If we stuck to bike facilities we’d be celebrating the small improvements we’ve seen completed, or maybe calling out crap infrastructure that’s about to be replaced…

So instead we’ve opened things out — as well as bike infrastructure like parking and paths/trails, you can nominate new initiatives or people/organisations that have changed their approach to become much more bike-friendly.

Vote for someone or something you think has improved hugely in the last year.

Oh OK I know, you wanted to see what the previous best/worst winners were. In 2014, the waterfront won ‘best’, edging out Polhill MTB tracks and minor improvements around the Basin Reserve. The essence of ‘can’t beat Wellington on a good day’.

waterfront

And the gong for worst went to the Hutt Road shared path through Kaiwharawhara. It’s still there, and still injuring cyclists on a regular basis, but the improvement-vultures are circling and we should see changes in 2016. Not a moment too soon!

hutt

Watch out for our next post — and go and vote!

Awards – a closer look at ‘Most bike-friendly shop or café’

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Votes are rolling in for this year’s Roll On Wellington Awards. (what, you didn’t vote yet? Now’s your chance!)

Here’s a closer look at our ‘Most bike-friendly shop or café’ category. It’s a new category this year, bringing together our categories for bike shops, other shops and cafés that go out of their way to make people feel welcome when they arrive by bike, sell your favourite bikes or accessories, or do other great stuff to support Wellington’s biking community.

The competition’s tough — from restaurants and cafés that provide great bike parking, to bike shops that fund and support trailbuilding and kids’ biking initiatives, to cafs that are also bike shops (or should that be the other way round).

Last year’s winners were:

Moore Wilson, for ‘A large lobby in the grocery waiting for bikes, and a bike veranda in the main entrance’ mw
Floyd’s, for ‘Friendly service, bike art and lots of help with community trails projects’ fc
Bicycle Junction, for ‘Friendly staff. Lots of help for the cycling community and a focus on utility cycling’ bj

Past winners also include iRide (and their café Pura Vida), La Boca Loca, and Commonsense Organics.

Who do you fancy for the crown this year? An old favourite? A new kid on the block? Get your vote in, and watch out for Awards night and the announcement of this year’s winner.