Laneways – Wellington’s secret bike network

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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?

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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

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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!

How contrary is contraflow?

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Proposed contraflow lane in Cuba St

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.

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Possible contraflow lanes in the CBD

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).

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.

 

Shelly Bay – what will it mean for cycling on the Miramar Peninsula?

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What will it be like sharing this road with 4700 vehicles a day, and construction traffic?

People like biking and walking around the Miramar Peninsula – it’s part of the Great Harbour Way/ Te Aranui o Pōneke, and when part of the road has been closed to motor traffic for a Ciclovia, thousands of Wellingtonians of all ages have cycled, walked, and skateboarded around the peninsula.

WCC is planning changes for the Peninsula. In conjunction with Shelly Bay Ltd, the Council intends to create a residential and business development at Shelly Bay, with a hotel and 350 homes. What are the implications for cycling?

There’ll be public space such as a “village green”, with a walkway/cycleway through Shelly Bay. However this doesn’t appear to be continuous. At the bend by Shed 8, there is a pinch point where it looks like cyclists and walkers will have to join the road.

ShellyBay

Between Shelly Bay and Miramar cutting, there’ll be relatively little change. A “collector road” like this should be 14m wide with an 8m berm. But it’s hard to widen the road, so there’ll be two 3m vehicle lanes, with a 1.5m footpath. People biking will share the vehicle lanes. The traffic is expected to go from 1200 vehicles/day to 4700 vehicles/day. This would make the road similar to SH58 on the south side of Pauatahanui Inlet (9200 vehicles/day). Most people no longer find this a pleasant cycling route. For the 13 years of development at Shelly Bay, there will be significant construction traffic.

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Proposed road between Miramar Cutting and Shelly Bay: cyclists will use the vehicle lanes

WCC is committed to reducing the climate change impact of transport, so a new development like this should minimise the use of private cars, emphasising public transport. However there are no plans for public transport, other than the possibility of a ferry service (which GWRC is not proposing to fund). The wharves are likely to be demolished, and there are no specific provisions for replacement. The development encourages residents to use cars, contributing to fossil fuel emissions, and congestion on the route from the eastern suburbs to the CBD.

What are the alternatives? One is to develop the Miramar Peninsula as a recreational area, which aligns with WCC’s intention when it bought Shelly Bay land from the Defence Department in 2000 (before then, access was restricted, and picnicking families were ordered off the beach by Air Force staff). This is the vision of the Miramar Business Improvement District (BID) group, who have produced a video [small, medium, large].

Another option is to create a car free suburb, with limited parking and car access, but a frequent shuttle to Miramar to connect with public transport, or to pick up a car from a parking building. The road could be reconfigured to prioritise pedestrians and walkers, perhaps by using the “two minus one” layout common in Europe, where motor vehicles negotiate the use of a single central lane, with bike lanes on either side.

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Two minus one road layout

Over the time of the development, it’s likely that autonomous vehicle technology will have developed for shuttles, and a new generation will prefer shared use vehicles rather than car ownership. Parents will be glad to live in a suburb where children can roam without fear of cars, and active transport will be a real possibility.

Read the material on the WCC website, go to the open day (Sunday 30 July, 11am–3pm, Shelly Bay), and above all get your views in by 14 August.

Other sites:

Cycleways “support local”

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Lee, A. 2008. What is the economic contribution of cyclists compared to car drivers in inner suburban Melbourne’s shopping strips?

A recent news story features business owners concerned about the impact of the proposed southern cycleway – particularly the loss of parking.

Should they be worried? As it happens, a lot of research has been done into the effects of cycleways on business. The conclusion is that cycleways have little or no impact on local business, and may have a positive impact.

A Los Angeles study found no difference in retail spending between an area with bike lanes, and an identical area without. Salt Lake City found that a street with cycle lanes had an almost 9% increase in retail activity, compared with a 7% increase city wide. In Seattle, sales increased dramatically after a hotly contested bike lane was put in.

SeattleBikeLaneSales
Jump in sales after a bike lane was constructed and parking removed, compared with unchanged areas (Rowe, K. 2013 Measuring the Economic Impact of Bicycle Facilities on Neighborhood Business Districts)

People shop differently by bike. On a bike you may buy less than if you’re in a car, but you’ll shop more often, partly because it’s so easy to stop on a bike.

A Portland study found that “bicyclists, transit users, and pedestrians …for all businesses except supermarkets, spend more, on average than those who drive”. A Toronto study showed that most cyclists spent over $100 a month, while most car drivers spent under $100 a month. In Melbourne, the hourly spend from a car park was $27; if the same space was allocated to bike parking, it would generate $97 an hour.

But, you cry, these are Overseas Studies, not applicable to Aotearoa! Well, despite the little known clause in the Tiriti requiring waka space outside every marae, there are NZ studies that support the view that cycleways are good for business. An NZTA study concluded that “cyclists contribute a higher economic spend proportionately to the modal share and are important to the economic viability of local shopping areas” and “that retailers generally overestimate the importance of on-street parking outside shop”. A study of our very own Tory Street showed that removal of car parks would have little impact on business: the on street parks constituted only 2.5% of the available parks in the area, and only 6% of shoppers used the on street parks.

ToryNewtown
Where would you want to shop by bike? Where would you want to shop by car?

It makes sense that cycleways encourage people to shop locally. If you’re in a car, you’ll head across town to a big box retailer, with a couple of hectares of parking. If you’re on a bike, you’ll shop nearby, particularly if there’s a comfortable cycling route and convenient bike parking. Certainly, some businesses are dependent on car parking. If I’m going to Placemakers to pick up a load of timber for a construction project, I’ll take the station wagon. But Placemakers provide parking for their customers, rather than relying on ratepayer subsidised parking on the street.

The motto of Natty Art Studio, one of the Adelaide Road businesses featured in the story about the cycleway, is “Shop small, support local”. The good news is that the southern cycleway will achieve both of those objectives.

[Note: Natty Art Studio state on Facebook that the Dominion Post article misrepresents their views: “would love to see more cycleway improvements but they need to slow down the traffic so that bikes and pedestrians can be safe”]