Newtown state of mind

We’ve been reading up on the Newtown Connections project. Feedback is open until 11 December; please take a moment to have your say today.

There’s heaps of information online, from technical and background info to good ideas in comments from people who have already made a submission. Here’s what we think.

Our preference: Package C+ (the Healthy Streets Option)

To succeed, the network must be:

  • Connected – go where people want to go
  • Convenient – easy to use (avoid hills and indirect routes)
  • Comfortable – for all ages and abilities.

We don’t have a preferred option out of the three packages proposed. BUT with a little change, we support a combination of Package C routes (best balance of ‘connection’ and ‘convenience’) with Package A ‘2x 1-way’ paths (best for ‘comfort’ and safety) where possible.

Rintoul Street’s a must-do route, as the least steep route south of Newtown. It serves SWIS directly. There’s less parking impact as it runs beside Village at the Park, and Wakefield Hospital. And it provides the best connection to Newtown shops. The steep section on Adelaide Road north of Luxford Street, and the steepness of the western off-road option through MacAlister Park, rule them both out as ‘all ages and abilities’ routes.

Our preference more or less matches ‘Package C+’ identified by Regan for Island Bay Healthy Streets (love the new name!), and we think of it as the Healthy Streets Option as it best fits the objectives of that approach.

We want to stress that at this stage in the design process, our preference for a specific package is less strong than our desire to see a good outcome overall. We recognise that the viability of some combinations of route and path type depends on more detailed design to be done later.

We’ve highlighted some particular preferences:

  • Prioritise protected bike lanes
  • Yes to off-road routes, but only in addition to more direct routes
  • Avoid two-way cycleways in most cases
  • Include the flattest option
  • Mitigate reductions in parking
  • Think of the scooters!

We also have some ideas for making the most of the detailed design stage, and an overall plea: be bold!

Prioritise protected bike lanes

Wellington will see the greatest health, economic and efficiency benefits if the network both keeps people safe and also makes them feel safe. You can do this best with protected lanes. Avoid ‘on road’ cycle lanes or areas where people on bikes mix with traffic on busy main roads — this type of treatment becomes the weak link in the chain that puts more vulnerable people off giving cycling a try. Even a few metres of danger (such as through an intersection, or through a shopping area) are enough to undermine the benefit of good bike paths either side. Despite best intentions, 30km shared zones don’t work well on main arterial roads with lots of trucks and buses, such as through Berhampore shops or Newtown shops.

Good protected lanes don’t depend on good driving behaviour as much as shared zones or paint-only bike lanes. Businesses need to load goods, and in practice delivery drivers will often stop wherever is easiest. To work with this, protect bike lanes from parking and provide loading zones that are more convenient to use.

Protected intersections can help maintain comfort for cyclists and other road users. Tight spots can make physically protected bike lanes difficult to fit in. At these pinch points, and at junctions, separate cyclists from conflict with other traffic using time instead of space, with dedicated stages in the traffic light sequence.

Yes to off-road routes, but only in addition to more direct routes

Off-road routes are great, but must be in addition to (not instead of) paths that follow the most direct routes. Off-road routes are typically not the most direct, flattest, or most connected to destinations. Providing a variety of routes is important because connectivity is important! The more connections the network provides, the better the uptake will be.

If you can pave and light the off-road routes, so they become viable options all year round, at any time of day, do it! Motion sensors could allow the lighting to respond to the presence of people, saving energy when the paths aren’t in use and adding a ‘wow’ factor when they are.

Avoid two-way cycleways in most cases

We absolutely understand the desire to use two-way cycle lanes to mitigate effects on parking, but we can’t endorse this approach if it results in greater risk for people riding bikes.

Two-way cycleways don’t work well on roads with lots of intersections or driveways — the risk of being sideswiped by a driver who didn’t look both ways before crossing the cycleway is high. Two-way cycleways are also risky on steep hills, because of the speed differential between uphill and downhill cyclists. Taking both of these things into consideration, we don’t think two-way cycleways are appropriate for many of the places you’ve proposed them, such as on Rintoul Street and Adelaide Road in Package C.

Let’s not end up with stories like this on Stuff:
City of Ottawa chooses less safe option for O’Connor bikeway to make room for cars 

That said, a two-way cycleway may be appropriate for Riddiford Street, in the low-speed shopping area, as long as intersections and transitions are handled very carefully. Drivers are already used to slowing and looking both ways for pedestrians when turning into most of the side roads through Newtown, which lowers the risk for people on bikes. Lowering the speed limit to 30km/h through there would also help.

Include the flattest option

Whichever route or mix of routes you choose, include a less steep route to attract the most people. Not everyone wants to climb the Adelaide Road hill.

Mitigate reductions in parking

  • Prioritise resident parking over commuter parking — consider introducing residents-only zones, with no fee for the first while to help residents see the value before they have to start paying?
  • Create more parking spaces on council land — for example, at the top of MacAlister Park?
  • Make the hospital own its parking problem, which currently has a major impact across Newtown and beyond. Unlike most workplaces, there really is a case for the hospital taking responsibility for providing parking for staff and visitors. Hospital support for carpooling, public transport and other behaviour change (for the staff who can) could reduce demand too. Direct bike lanes are part of the solution too.

Think of the scooters!

Innovations like Onzo bike-share and electric scooters show how rapidly transport can change. Build paths that work for a variety of users, with specifications that make them resilient to change — whether that’s the next new transport idea, or an increase in mobility scooters, or simply a large uptake in biking. For example, you could provide bike parking along the route that would be convenient for finding or leaving a dockless share bike without blocking the footpath.

 

So… to finish, two overall points:

Make the most of the detailed design stage

Pay particular attention to intersections, and to the transitions between protected lanes and other types of treatments. For example, use things like hook turns and dedicated traffic signals to avoid vulnerable people having to mix with buses, filter through lanes of traffic, or wait to turn on green spots in between lanes of moving traffic.

Be bold!

Removing parking is really hard, and we have sympathy for businesses and residents who will have parking removed near their properties. But Wellington cannot become a truly resilient 21st century city without making it possible for more people to cycle and leave the car at home. Our population will continue to grow, and we have finite space — we can’t endlessly accommodate more and more cars.  

Go and have your say — it matters!

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And more consultation: Oriental Bay and Kilbirnie

As well as Thorndon Quay, WCC is consulting on two other cycling projects: a short stretch of cycleway on Oriental Bay between Herd St and the Freyberg Pool, and a two way cycleway on Evans Bay Parade south of Cobham Drive. Please take a few minutes to read about these, and make some comments by 19 March. Have a look at our suggestions for individual submissions. If possible, draw on your own experience of using these routes.

Here’s our thoughts:

OBay-trimmed

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.

EvansBayTrimmed

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.

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’.

CeAAKDlUIAAy-QW

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.

Cn2RGZ-VMAAyyNP

 

Kilbirnie & Evans Bay consultation tips

CouttsTeWhiti

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/

Kilbirnie

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.

CouttsTeWhiti

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.

Tirangi

Roundabout

Evans Bay

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

KerbsideParking

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.

OrientalPde

EvansBayPde

…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!

Crawford

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]

Laneways – Wellington’s secret bike network

Leeds-Hannah-Eva
Eva St – one of Wellington’s “secret laneways”

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)

DunlopKaro

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.

BullerAro

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.

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.

 

Time to move forward on cycling

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.

AAA streets

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.

Better streets

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.

A British study of 250,000 people called cycling a miracle pill for its benefits in reducing heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Everyone wins when people are healthier and our air is cleaner. That’s why successive Governments have invested in cycling. Life is better when more people ride bikes, more often.

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Improving Island Bay

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.

Overcoming barriers

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.

Patrick Morgan is a project manager at Cycling Action Network.

This article originally appeared on Stuff

How well do Advance Stop Boxes work?

An observational cycling experiment in Wellington.

asb_dixon_st_01
An Advance Stop Box (ASB) at the intersection of Dixon (one-way) and Victoria Streets in Wellington – blocked by motorists in both lanes.

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.

route_map
A typical route I may cycle for my morning commute into Wellington CBD. Pic. via Strava

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.

My methodology

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:

Good

  • No obstruction by any motorists.
  • Able to comfortably access and wait in the ASB

Partially Blocked

  • 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

Blocked

  • 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

No ASB

  • There was no ASB marked at the stop

The results

I made evaluations of ASB used on 56 journeys over two calendar months – March and April this year.

Totals

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

good_bad_ugly

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

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Chart 2- The good, the bad, the ugly, and the non-existent

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.

work
Chart 3 – Morning ride stop evaluations with ASBs
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Chart 4 – Evening ride stop evaluations with ASBs

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?

asb_dixon_st_02
ASB on Dixon Street at the intersection with Willis Street. In a pretty poor state. Not surprising some motorists will ignore infrastructure that is not maintained.

Other observations

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?

Eastern cycle routes – it’s not about you

Weka-A
Is this what you’d like to see on Evans Bay Parade?

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.

So have a look at the proposed routes, and give your feedback. Now is a good time, but definitely by 17 September (2 October for Miramar Avenue (Shelly Bay Road to Tauhinu Road). All going well, this time next year we’ll have a bunch of new people biking in the east!