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

 

Advertisements

Southern Ward candidates views: active transport & cycling

bike_the_vote

WCC is holding a by-election for Southern Ward Councillor. If you’re in the Southern Ward, we encourage you to vote. To help you, we asked Southern Ward candidates three questions relating to active transport and cycling:

[A] In order to tackle the problems of carbon emissions, congestion, and obesity, we need to make more trips by cycling, walking and public transport. Do you agree, and what would you do in the Southern Ward to achieve this?

[B] How do you feel about shifting the balance between parking and movement of traffic (including bicycles) on Wellington’s roads?

[C] Do you agree with reducing speed limits to increase safety in urban areas?

We present their responses, with some edits for brevity and clarity, below. We encourage you to read their responses, and their candidate profiles. However for the really time challenged, we’ve provided a very subjective rating as to how candidates’ responses reflect support for active transport and cycling: penny farthing penny-farthing-2744762_960_720sm, 10 speedBHPROForceMedOrgSm, and eBike e-bike-green- small.

Vicki Greco and Merio Marsters did not respond.

Fleur Fitzimmons [10 speedBHPROForceMedOrgSm]

[A] I would support a balanced approach to investment in transport infrastructure for the future. We need to invest in roads, cycleways, walking tracks and public transport which meet the differing needs of all members of our community. Walking and cycling is important and I’d like to ensure that we encourage people to do it when possible. I agree that we must focus on reducing carbon emissions and that investment in different modes of transport plays a role in that. There is also a role for the Council in supporting households to do their bit to reduce emissions, this could include programmes in schools where children are encouraged to learn to cycle. I want us to ensure that we un-block the Basin Reserve which is an important issue for the Southern Ward and which requires significant investment including from central Government.

[B] My main focus is investment in transport infrastructure to ensure that all modes are fit for purpose, congestion is reduced and that safety for all users is a priority. The lessons of the Island Bay cycleway are that there needs to be significant discussions within the community including with businesses and schools before decisions are made and I support the Council learning these lessons in future projects.

[C]  Yes, if the evidence in the specific case points to that occurring.

Laurie Foon [eBike e-bike-green- small]

[A] I agree! One of my overarching commitments is to keep pushing for greater, safer transport choices. I would work with Living streets Aotearoa to find new ways to promote walking-friendly communities and get more people out walking and enjoying public space. I would find incentives for our local schools to keep promoting walking buses to get kids to school. I would explore Bike Bus initiatives to support those who are keen to commute by bike but are unconfident on the road or unsure of the best route. I would investigate the possibility of an electric bike subsidy, grant or incentive as Norway has done. I would develop a strategy on how to increase Wellingtonians’ use of public transport further. We are already some of the highest users of public transport in the country – how can we do better?
And of course I support the implementation of safe cycleways that will enable all ages and stages to choose a more active mode of transport.

[B] Arterial roads are mainly for moving people and freight efficiently. Where space allows, provide on street parking. Any changes to street design needs careful community engagement and to be well designed. Recognise when parking is important to businesses and work toward solutions for this.

[C] Yes I agree with reducing the speed limits to increase safety in urban areas – especially around our schools with traffic lights like Berhampore and Newtown.

Rob Goulden [10 speedBHPROForceMedOrgSm]

[A]  Yes I agree with this. I will actively promote other forms of transport such as buses, cycling and walking. I have always done those things myself.  I have voted on Council decisions to support those means of transport including an increase in cycling budget.The nature of my personal work doesn’t allow the use of those modes all the time as I sometimes  have to use alternatives with the difficult hours that I work.

[B]  I am not so concerned about the balance of parking but more where those carparks are located which should be by the curbside.

[C]  I agree with lowering  speed limits to increase safety and reduce both the impact and severity of accident s, that might occur in urban and rural areas. We all know that speed causes more damage and more serious injuries and damage to people and property.

Don Newt McDonald [10 speedBHPROForceMedOrgSm]

[A] Climate sorely vexed. [We’re going in the] wrong direction. Need to restore climate of the planet. Ao moana awa. [Solutions include] Buses, Paika cycles for ages 11-71.

Mohamud Mohamed [10 speedBHPROForceMedOrgSm]

[A]  Firstly I am a total supporter of the need for exercise.  Those of my children who are old enough to cycle do so regularly and are very keen cyclists.  While I do not cycle myself I am a keen walker.  I am also a firm believer in the need for an efficient and effective public transport network preferably electric whenever possible.

[B]  I recognise the need to cater for all our citizens including those that use cars for whatever reason.  I am supportive of more sharing of private motor vehicles and would consider the possibility of preferential parking for those who do so.

[C]  In some areas, such as Newtown, I support the idea.  Safer roads and greater use of bicycles and public transport should reduce the number of areas where there is the need to reduce speed limits.

Thomas Morgan [penny farthing penny-farthing-2744762_960_720sm]

[A] I am wanting to ask the community if commuter bicycling in Wellington should be banned i.e. none, at all!  Having said that I’m an ardent fan of cycling and spent most of my youth doing it and think it’s great and a great way to stay fit and get about, just not on Wellington streets. I’m very much in favour of creating purpose built cycle tracks and cycle ways away from roads as an alternative.  I’m all for anything that makes the activity safer and certainly can’t see how the Island Bay cycle way, of which I got a bit fixed, ever saw the light of day.  Although there may well be some (eventually) well worked cycling corridors in the city a tremendous number of other residential feeder roads and streets are completely unsuitable by either being too steep or narrow or both. To me that makes the wider concept so unworkable for so many people that it is essentially unsuitable to pursue the idea for the Wellington city population.