Oriental Parade: The two way path in the proposal is… a bit narrow at 2.5m for such a busy route (Christchurch’s Cycle Design Guidelines recommend 3.5m, with a minimum of 3m) . And for what, to keep both angle parking and a median strip? Which doesn’t seem all that bold. The parking in question mostly has a TEN HOUR limit (yup). On the city’s premier waterfront boulevard. Why not just set better time limits and pricing, so it’s available for some better purpose than commuter parking. And the median? It makes it easier to get cars into and out of garages. BUT the proposed bike path is separated from the walking path at last. It just seems a pity to have a solution that is compromised by the needs of cars rather than people.
Evans Bay Parade (south of Cobham Drive) has a proposed path which is pretty good. Serves the school well, links to the waterfront path. As with the Oriental Bay bike path, it’s a bit narrow for a two way path. Needs better visual separation, and maybe a centreline. Needs a better crossing on Cobham Drive though – get rid of a slip lane maybe? The stuff around the new bus hub looks like a nice way to deal with a tricky road layout. Lots to like there.
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.
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’.
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
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):
Courtenay Place and Dixon Street
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.
Here are some top tips for your feedback on the Kilbirnie and Evans Bay bike path projects. Get yer submissions in folks, by 5pm Monday 11 December! There are great plans in the mix. We think some changes would make things even better. Help make it so! Support the plans and ask for these tweaks… http://transportprojects.org.nz/
Turning from Coutts into Te Whiti looks dangerous. Provide for safe two-stage (hook) turns. Avoid the need to merge with traffic next to parked vehicles.
The roundabout on Tirangi Road is a big gap in 2 paths that will affect both routes. Consider a Dutch-style protected intersection, or at least use raised tables and crossings – to slow traffic and give a safe way to cross that follows pedestrians’ desire lines.
Then, for Evans Bay (and this looks REALLY GOOD overall but the devil is in the detail):
The 2-way path narrows to 2.0m for a few long stretches. 2m with no runoff area is too narrow! Please keep the width to at least 2.5m by one of:
Widening the footpath with a small cantilever section
Narrowing the buffer kerb where there is no parking
Narrowing a road lane
The transitions at the start and end could be better – dooring risk if riders leave the road for the path opposite Carlton Gore Rd, and a bit of a do-or-die moment opposite NIWA if someone’s driving behind you.
…and lastly, at Kio Bay the road widens just before retained car parks – a pinch point hazard for roadies (and for drivers!). Extend the wider buffer around to those parks to avoid a sudden pinch point.
We hope Phase 2 (on round to Cobham Drive) follows quickly, because Greta Point is not nice to ride through at the moment.
Kilbirnie to Newtown
Crawford & Constable looks great in a pragmatic way. Tweaks: Add a raised table across Alexandra Rd entrance, & extend protection past the previous driveway to stop people cutting the corner & slow turning traffic. Paint the bike lane all green so it’s obvious!
And in general:
Planned ‘Quiet Streets’ like Te Whiti and Yule need measures to slow or reduce traffic (eg no-through-road bollards).
Use raised tables and sharper corners at side streets to slow turning traffic.
Add more pedestrian crossings.
[You’ll spot a few streets missing – there are a few where our general comments are enough, or where everything in the proposal is ka pai already 🙂 ]
[Note: this post was originally made on FaceBook by James Burgess]
While Wellington’s Cycling Framework promises a network of protected cycleways through the city there are already a lot of cycle friendly routes that we can use to navigate the CBD. These are the laneways – small connecting streets between the busy arterial streets. Although they may not be as direct or as fast as the arterials, they can feel a lot more comfortable, particularly if you’re new to city cycling. This post reveals three of these “secret” routes – there are plenty of others to discover.
Note that some of the routes are on private property, or are primarily for pedestrians. Be considerate, and be prepared to get off your bike and walk. While the laneways are quiet, the routes may involve crossing busier roads – take care!
Waterfront to Marion St via Opera House Lane and Leeds St. From the waterfront, cross Jervois Quay at the traffic lights by St Johns Bar. Cross the Michael Fowler carpark to Wakefield St and cross to Opera House Lane, just by the pedestrian overbridge. At Manners St, cross Te Aro (Pigeon) Park to Dixon St, and pick up Eva St which leads through the Hannah Factory Laneway to Leeds St and Ghuznee. You can turn right to Cuba St, or left to Marion St (check out the coffee and bike bling at Bicycle Junction)
Vivian St to Karo Drive via Dunlop St and Wigan St. To the west of the VUW Architecture School, Dunlop St leads down to a parking area that exits onto Wigan St, handy to Lighthouse Cuba with its bicycle corral. Wigan St takes you to Abel Smith St. Turning left and then right takes you on to Kelvin Grove which has a ramp at the end leading on to the Karo Drive shared path by Third Eye Tuatara Brewery, leading east to Pukeahu park, or west (with a crossing to the south side at Cuba St lights) to the Aro Valley and Brooklyn.
Ghuznee to Aro Valley via Buller and Palmer. Although Victoria St has bike lanes, some people find the multiple lanes of traffic daunting for heading south from the CBD. A quieter alternative is to head up Ghuznee to Buller St, just west of the motorway. This leads to Oak Park Ave which has a shared path heading towards the Karo Drive shared path at Willis St, or if you’re heading for the Aro Valley, a short detour through a car park at Inverlochy Place, crossing Abel Smith St to a narrow lane to Palmer St and the Aro Valley Community Centre (If you want to know what really goes on in this innocent seeming complex, check out Danyl McLauchlan’s Mysterious Mysteries of the Aro Valley!). Through the park, you can get on to Aro St at Garage Project Brewery. You can also access this route from the Karo Drive shared path.
That’s just three possibilities. Next time you’re planning a route, have a close look at the map for laneways that might go where you want, or just keep your eyes open for interesting alleyways that might lead to where you want to go.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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]
Cycling is an essential part of modern, successful cities. The government and councils are responding to strong public demand, and are investing in safe and attractive cycling all over New Zealand. The discussion has moved on from “why”, to “where and how”.
The Stuff film reviewer is entitled to his opinion on how best to provide for cycling, but that’s no basis to make decisions that affect the whole community. In our democratic system we elect councillors to weigh up expert advice, council policy, best-practice guidance and community views before making decisions.
For a decade Wellington people have been consistent in voting for mayors and councillors who are committed to improving cycling. It’s time to move forward.
Who is the council designing cycleways for? It has always been clear that it’s not only to cater better to existing cyclists, but to make cycling an easy and attractive option for the many people who would like to ride.
Cycling Action Network agrees that cities need to build streets for all ages and abilities. We call this AAA cycling. The evidence is clear that when cities build convenient, connected and comfortable cycleways, people love them.
A network effect multiplies the benefits once routes are connected up. Since protected cycleways were built in Auckland three years ago there’s been a 62 per cent increase in cycle trips in the city centre. Likewise, cycling grew by an impressive 600 percent in Toronto when a cycling network was completed.
Build it, and they will come.
Perhaps the biggest misconception about cycleways is that they are just for people who ride bikes. The benefits are much broader, however you choose to get around. Drivers and people on buses face less congestion. Parents can ditch the school run. Parking is easier. Pedestrians don’t have to compete for space on paths. Local businesses have more customers.
Regarding the Island Bay cycleway, there’s never been a project subject to such extensive community engagement. Everyone who wants to has had a say. The important thing is that valid concerns are addressed and we get on with it.
In Island Bay that means building kerbs to make parking easier, extending buffer zones to reduce risk from parked vehicles, and continuing the cycleway through the shopping area. The road surface would benefit from a reseal to erase ghost markings. The temporary construction period will result in a street we can all be proud of.
Connecting eastern suburbs
Much of Miramar, Strathmore, Rongotai and Kilbirnie are flat: perfect terrain for easy cycling. It makes sense to build high-quality cycleways to connect these suburbs. This reduces our reliance on cars, expands the reach of public transport, and enables people of all ages and abilities to get around.
Hills or wind? Not a problem, thanks to gears, muscle and e-bikes. Rain? Wear a coat. Groceries? Use a bag and carrier. No bike? Borrow or rent one.
Sooner or later the sceptics will run out of excuses, and embrace cycling.
Bike to the Future
With cycleway construction now underway on Cobham Drive, along Hutt Road and much more to come, I predict the future is bike.
An observational cycling experiment in Wellington.
In my experience – not very well. Just how bad is it out there? Am I imagining it’s as bad as often as it seems? Surely there’s only a few inconsiderate motorists making my ride in the city more dangerous than it needs to be…
It turns out my safety is at least partially compromised by motorists at a majority of stops involving advance stop boxes (ASBs) when riding my bicycle.
There are some ASBs at intersections throughout central Wellington. When I say ‘some’, I mean I joked once that I wondered if we had the highest number of ASBs per capita in the world, there are so many.
Maybe there aren’t actually all that great a number in reality, but when there is so few other forms of bicycle facility provided in a city, it’s hard to not notice them. Very few Wellington ASBs have any form of bike lane to feed people riding bikes to them safely for instance.
The dominance of ASBs throughout Wellington’s central business district (CBD) are only recently challenged for bicycle ‘paintfrastructure’ supremacy by the addition of numerous sharrows – another example of bicycle facility that means well, and wants to be seen to be achieving, but really isn’t.
I wanted to know how often things were good, challenging, or impossible.
I commute by bike. Every day. Every type of weather. I cycle roughly 6km into the CBD from Island Bay (Island Bay Cycleway RULZ!), through Berhampore, Newtown, around The Basin, Kent and Cambridge, and through the city to Boulcott Street.
There are plenty of times I stop at an intersection and have some difficulty with the ASB being blocked in some way. In my experience I am lucky if I don’t have some difficulty with several ASBs on a journey. So I decided to start counting what went wrong and what went right.
I wanted to know how often things were good, challenging, or impossible. I wanted to be able to show that, while there are some positive sides to ASBs, they are under-performing – usually because of consistent infringement by some motorists. This is probably no surprise to anybody, but I hope it helps to understand more about just how bad it is as a cyclist out there and if there are any patterns to these infringements. If there is anything that can be done to improve safety that would be great. This article does not provide any suggestions about how we might go about that.
For more about how Wellington cyclists view the effectiveness of our impressive ASB density check out this great post by Alastair.
The experiment I ran is just me, my rides, routes, and riding ability. I tried to use a little scientific method to gather observational data to provide a little insight into how effective, or not, ASBs are. It would be interesting to source data from more riders, at different times of day, different bike types, and more routes than I take. Obviously more data would enable more reliable conclusions to be made.
I recorded observations on my bike journeys (mostly commuting) over 26 days during March and April 2017.
Along each journey I evaluated the conditions at each intersection or pedestrian crossing I stopped at. I did not include any times I stopped on fully separated areas like footpaths, shared paths, or cycleways etc.
I evaluated only times that I stopped in the road and in traffic, where I would have made use of an ASB if I could reasonably expect to get to it. I did not count the rare occasions I was held up in particularly dense congestion mid-block. For each evaluation, I counted a number against one of four criteria, which were:
No obstruction by any motorists.
Able to comfortably access and wait in the ASB
Able to access and wait in the ASB
Motorist/s encroaching into or over the ASB – even a bonnet overhanging
Motorist/s may have encroached into the ASB in any of multiple lanes
Motorcycles / motor scooters included but not eBikes
Completely obstructed by motorist/s
Unable to access the ASB
Forced to stop before or past the ASB
The particular lane I needed to use was completely obstructed
There was no ASB marked at the stop
I made evaluations of ASB used on 56 journeys over two calendar months – March and April this year.
During those 56 trips there were:
a total of 484 stop evaluations made, an average of 8.64 per journey
136 stops with comfortable and safe access to an ASB
182 stops had no ASB facility
120 times I was partially blocked
166 instances where I was partially or completely blocked
46 times I was completely blocked, an average of 0.82 per journey.
Or in other words: I experience an ASB as completely inaccessible, on average, once every 4 out of 5 journeys.
Stop evaluations with ASBs
When not including stops where there was no ASB marked, over half (55%) of evaluated ASB stops were partially or fully blocked by motorists.
Including stop evaluations with no ASBs
There are fewer intersections with ASBs outside of the Wellington CBD but it is still worthwhile to show as having nothing is generally worse than anything when it comes to space for cycling. So showing the proportion of stops with no ASB shows that even with the overdose in the CBD, there are large parts of Wellington without even this low hanging fruit.
Morning vs evening
Let’s have a look at the breakdown of the stops of morning vs the evening rides. I’m going to exclude the no ASB numbers to better focus on how stops with them were performing.
ASBs were completely blocked by motorists nearly twice as often on my evening journeys.
This could be the result of the particular design of the ASBs used by the routes I take, or the mental state of motorists in the morning vs the evening, or the degraded marking of many of them (they’re not being maintained to an acceptable standard in general). Who knows?! Whatever the cause, it is bound to be a combination of factors.
Curiously, the increase in fully blocked ASBs seems to be at a roughly even expense of both good and partially blocked stops. It is interesting that partial blocks has not shown a similar rise like fully blocked.
I interpret (at least part of) this as a greater proportion of motorists completely disregarding ASBs in the evening, whereas a majority are keeping to their usual habits – whether good or inconsiderate. What do you think it might be?
Encouragingly, there are new ASBs being installed in Newtown which is welcome. I intend to run this experiment again around the same time next year to see if the data changes.
I think it is fair to say that there is some habitual abuse by some drivers consistently ignoring or encroachment on the ASBs. I have also observed a growing number of drivers distracted by digital devices. This problem is especially problematic at city intersections as these are the most dangerous places on our roads and demand a driver’s undivided attention. I did not gather any data on distraction. Maybe that will warrant separate experiment.
Regardless of the cause, I think the higher rate of infraction by motorists in the evening is of great concern as it points to potentially greater dangers to vulnerable road users at that time. If my observations through this limited experiment on one form of bicycle paintfrastructure are suggesting this, I wonder what other heightened dangers cyclists and pedestrians face from generally reduced compliance of motorists on our roads at various times of the day?
I also wonder how often enforcement of encroaching on ASBs by the New Zealand Police is encouraging Wellington motorists to adhere to the law. Apparently you may be fined $60 for encroaching into the cycling paintfrastructure. Who knew?
WCC is consulting on a raft of proposed cycle routes in the eastern suburbs. There’s not much time left to give feedback about these. If you’re reading this, the chances are you’re pretty comfortable about biking. But the proposed routes are not about you: they’re about attracting new cyclists who may be intimidated by a stream of cars and buses behind them as they pedal up Crawford Road to get from Kilbirnie to Newtown, for example. If the new routes get people doing more trips by bike, we reduce congestion and carbon emissions, and improve our health, benefiting everyone.
There are 25 different routes proposed, each with a couple of options for implementing them, arrived at by community consultation. While this seems a lot to sift through, there are clear images of the different options, and it’s easy to give online feedback. If you’re time challenged, just give feedback on the routes that are important to you. I’m not going to tell you which options to choose (though in general option A will be a reasonable outcome), but here’s some things to think about as you give feedback.
Will the option encourage more trips by bike? There’s no point in implementing the route otherwise.
Is it an 8-80 route – in other words, will people from 8 years old to 80 years old be comfortable biking the route? Obviously some proposals (for example Crawford Rd) may not pass this test, but will still be worth doing because overall more people will be encouraged to bike.
Protected bike lanes are more likely to encourage new users than bike lanes next to traffic, or sharrows. However on “quiet routes” such as Wilson St in Newtown, and Yule St in Kilbirnie, a high level of protection may not be necessary.
In general, one way cycle lanes on each side of the road are preferable since bikes will always be travelling on the correct side of the road. However in some cases, such as Evans Bay, a two way cycle lane on one side of the road will work because the cycle lane crosses few entrances or intersections.
Where a bike lane runs by parked cars, is there an adequate buffer zone so people can alight from a car without intruding on the cycle lane? Hint: 0.3m (the length of a shoe) is not enough.
Are the driving lane widths safe? In general driving lanes should be about 3m, or over 4m. Lanes 3-4m wide tempt drivers to speed and overtake bikes even though there’s not enough space to do so safely.
Could the route be improved by blocking or discouraging through motor traffic? This might be a possibility for Wilson St for example. This could also benefit residents bothered by rat-running commuters.
Parking is naturally a concern. However the important thing is that people can find a place to park when they need it. Even if the number of car parks decreases, tools such as time limits, residents parking zones, etc can ensure that parks will always be available to those who need them.
It’s preferable that pedestrians aren’t disadvantaged by narrower footpaths.
Will the growing numbers of people using eBikes affect the uptake of the route? For example the Crawford Rd route is a bit steep but is a breeze on an eBike.
When WCC unveiled plans for bike lanes going the opposite way on one-way streets (“contraflow lanes“), there was a collective intake of breath. The first one way street was designated in 1617, but so shocked the London citizenry that it wasn’t until 1800 that the next one was established. However now we’re so used to one way streets that going the wrong way on a one way street seems unnatural, even for the nimble velocipede.
One way streets are a hassle for bikes. In a car there’s a reasonable payoff for having to go around three sides of a square, but on a bike one way streets add significantly to travel time and reduce safety by increasing the number of intersections to be negotiated. Many cities have used contraflow lanes to increase the permeability of the city for bikes, and encourage bike use. Auckland and Christchurch have introduced contraflow, and I’ve ridden contraflow in cities as different as Cape Town and Tokyo. In France and Belgium, one way streets are by default contraflow for bikes.
There’ll need to be a bit of adjustment – pedestrians stepping out into the street will need to be reminded to look both ways, but the green “bike lane” treatment and arrows should do this. The contraflow lane in Cuba is next to parked cars, but bike riders and car drivers will be facing each other so the risk will be low.
Ideally contraflow will be introduced on a number of streets at once, so people get used to the concept. As well as Cuba St between Ghuznee and Vivian, contraflow is being planned for Lower Cuba Street between Manners and Wakefield, Bunny Street West, and Willeston Street between Willis and Victoria. It would be good to see contraflow on more one way streets, for example Jessie St, Dixon St, Waring Taylor St and Stout St.
Contraflow isn’t a silver bullet by any means – it will help confident cyclists rather than attract novices, and the proposed contraflow lanes are “quick wins” rather than part of a city wide network. But the changes will help people on bikes to traverse the CBD more efficiently and make biking more attractive. If you’d like to see this happen (along with some other quick wins) give WCC your feedback by 11 August. Contraflow is enabled by TR77, TR78, TR80 and TR82; other bike friendly measures are in TR79 (Grey St bike parking), TR81 (Rugby St bike lane) and TR106 (Wakely Rd shared path).