Monthly Meeting – September 6

Tuesday 6 September, 6-7:30pm, Sustainability Trust, Forresters Lane

Image result for cycling historic

Items on the agenda for this month are

  • Rants & raves
  • An update and discussion on the Island Bay community engagement
  • Where things are with the Hutt Road improvements
  • Prototyping the first bit of the Petone-Ngauranga route
  • Fundraising updates
  • And a further look at the CAW strategies.  We’ll have a bit of a follow up exercise to see what things we need to focus on to put these strategies into action.  Below is the updated model, and here’s the hyperlink to the larger image

20160830 CAW motivation model

 

Tailwinds and Trackstands: Councillors’ cycling votes

WCCvote

Coming into October’s local body elections, we want to know how candidates stand on cycling. In this post, I’ll look at how Councilors standing for re-election voted on cycling issues during the past term. In following posts, we’ll be looking at the responses to a cycling questionnaire that has gone to all WCC and GWRC candidates.

Despite the impression of discord that sometimes emanates from Council, in practice Councillors try to reach a consensus, and often amend resolutions so that a unanimous decision can be made. This is nice for democracy, but makes it a bit harder to figure out where people really stand. Going back through the minutes of the Transport and Urban Development Committee of the Council, and the Council itself, I found 9 non-unanimous votes on cycling related issues, which enable us to get an idea of Councillors’ positions on cycling. I’ve only included the Councillors who are standing – Councillors Ahipene-Mercer, Peck, and Mayor Wade-Brown are not standing again.

It’s not quite fair to characterise any Councillors as “anti” cycling. All Councillors are in favour of cycling, voting unanimously for the Cycling Framework, for example. But some councilors vote against specific projects, such as the Island Bay cycleway. They would argue that this was because they objected to that particular project, rather than because they were against cycling. For example, Jo Coughlan voted against the Hutt Road improvements because she wants to see a route along the shore. Nicola Young says she voted against the Island Bay cycleway because she felt development should start in the CBD. And to be fair she did organise some nice bikestands outside the Aro Valley community centre.

Bike stands at Aro Community Centre

So rather than labelling votes as pro or anti cycling, I’ve characterised votes as “tailwind” if they progressed cycling; “trackstand” if they tended to perpetuate the status quo.

The votes were:

2014-05-20 TUDC: Agree to option 2 cycle lanes next to footpath for IB cycleway… Yes=Tailwind: Foster, Lee, Lester, Pannett; No=Trackstand: Coughlan, Woolf, Young.
2014-08-27 Council: Decisions on IB Cycleway to be by full Council. Yes=Trackstand: Coughlan, Eagle, Marsh, Ritchie, Young; No=Tailwind: Foster, Free, Lee, Lester, Pannett, Sparrow, Woolf
2014-08-27 Council. CBD Safer Speeds. Yes=Tailwind: Foster, Free, Lee, Lester, Pannett, No=Trackstand: Coughlan, Eagle, Marsh, Ritchie, Sparrow, Woolf, Young.
2014-12-03 TUDC. Note, rather than agree, IB cycleway goes ahead. Yes=Trackstand: Coughlan, Woolf, Young, No=Tailwind: Foster, Lee, Lester, Pannett
2014-12-03 TUDC Note serious safety concerns with design of IB Cycleway. Yes=Trackstand: Coughlan, Woolf, Young, No=Tailwind: Foster, Lee, Lester, Pannett
2014-12-03 TUDC Agree decision on IB cycleway wait for external safety review. Yes=Trackstand: Coughlan, Woolf, Young, No=Tailwind: Foster, Lee, Lester, Pannett
2015-04-30 Council Agree to support routes in Cycleway Plan. Yes=Tailwind: Foster, Free, Lee, Lester, Pannett, Ritchie, Sparrow, Woolf, No=Trackstand: Coughlan, Eagle, Marsh, Young.
2015-06-24 Council Proceed with IB cycleway. Yes=Tailwind: Foster, Free, Lee, Lester, Pannett, No=Trackstand: Coughlan, Eagle, Marsh, Woolf, Young.
2016-08-11 TUDC Hutt Road improvements. Yes=Tailwind: Eagle, Marsh, Foster, Free, Lee, Lester, Pannett, Ritchie, Sparrow, Young, No=Trackstand: Coughlan, Woolf.

While these issues, and the reasons for the votes are complex, we can do a rough evaluation of the Councillors with a “Tailwind” score – the percentage of their votes that progressed cycling. Here’s the rankings:

  • 100%: Andy Foster, Sarah Free, David Lee, Justin Lester, Iona Pannett
  • 75% Malcolm Sparrow
  • 50% Helene Ritchie
  • 22% Simon Woolf
  • 20% Paul Eagle, Simon Marsh
  • 11% Nicola Young
  • 0% Jo Coughlan

Note that these are the proportion of contested votes. All these councillors were part of unanimous votes on a number of cycling issues.

Obviously you shouldn’t base your vote in October just on this. But use the voting record as a basis for questioning candidates (do roll up to meetings and ask hard questions about cycling) and evaluating their public statements.

Wellington’s winds are a feature of cycling in the city – if you want the tailwinds of good cycling infrastructure, vote for the Tailwind candidates; but above all VOTE!

Your survey feedback on the Refreshed Cycling Network Programme

Screenshot from 2016-08-03 20:25:56

So we did a survey asking peoples thoughts about what routes should be given what priority and consideration for the refresh of the Wellington Cycling Network Programme.  Less than 3 days, and it got 157 responses.  Awesome!  You people really rock.

But boy, did it prove a challenge to go through all the individual responses!  I had only a couple of days to collate the information and submit it to the chair of the Urban Transport and Development committee.  So to be honest, I only got half way!   But by that stage some common feedback had started to emerge.  And enough material to go back to the committee with.

Unfortunately it won’t reflect everyone’s specific comments but the reality is that a survey like this was not going to gives a clear consensus.  Again to be honest, I realise now that there is a real art in putting a survey like this together and that I didn’t do a great job.  So my apologies.

Here is the link to the presentation file that I provided to the Council committee.  Who knows how much of an influence it had as part of their workshop this week? We will find out when the proposed refreshed programme gets published this Friday.    There was a leak to the Dominion though that resulted in today’s article that the focus is on developing a key part of the Great Harbour Way between Miramar and the CBD.

The shared cycling and pedestrian path along Evans Bay Parade.

CAW’s position is that we support that as a pragmatic choice.  We need a big cycle infrastructure win to get past the Island Bay situation.  A large part of this Great Harbour Way route can hopefully be done without the ire of local residents or businesses.  It won’t be without its challenges and there cannot be short cuts if the aim is for a wide enough route that can be safely shared by cyclists and pedestrians.  The result will be a great asset for Wellington however, no doubt.  And a nice commuter route for people living in the Eastern suburbs, specially on those sunny and not so windy days!

At the same time we hope that the Council will tackle some of the high risk routes as well.  It is already committed to fixing the Hutt Road and together with the NZTA will implement the seaside shared path between Ngauranga and Petone (another part of the Great Harbour Way) that hopefully will be all completed between next year and 2018/19.  There is however an urgent need to sort out for example Thorndon Quay where on a daily basis lots of commuters are at risk from angle parked cars and buses crossing the path of cyclists.

There will be a consultation on the refreshed cycling programme, and CAW will definitely use all of your survey feedback to make our submission.  And we urge you to make your own submissions when the time comes.  Thanks for your passion in wanting to make cycling a safe and enjoyable option for all of our community!

Ron Beernink
Cycle Aware Wellington chair

 

 

 

Island Bay Cycle Way Revisited

Screenshot from 2016-07-30 14:13:53

Why another engagement process on the Island Bay Cycle Way, and why should Cycle Aware Wellington support this?   

Many lessons have come out of the Island Bay Cycle Way situation and everyone agrees that the process could have been a lot better.  A recent NZTA-commissioned report by consultancy firm Morrison Low recommended that the Wellington City Council re-engage with the community.  

At the last WCC Transport & Urban Development committee meeting the councillors agreed that “Re-engagement with the Island Bay community commence as soon as practical and be community-led with the detailed engagement approach to be developed by representatives from the Island Bay Residents’ Association, local businesses, Cycle Aware Wellington and interested stakeholders together with council.”   David Chick, WCC’s Chief City Planner, spoke at a couple of recent meetings of the Island Bay Residents Association and said that this is about “starting with a clean sheet of paper”.

Does this mean that the cycle way could be scrapped?  While most cyclists and CAW would not want that,  many locals see that as the only acceptable outcome.  We need to put the polarised views to the side.  The re-engagement / community consultation is about working together to determine the right solution.  This means using an engagement process that asks the community what it sees as a vision for Island Bay, looks at the various options and determines what will work best to achieve the right outcomes.  

The are some important questions that need to asked. What are alternative / additional safe and enjoyable options to encourage more people, young and old, to bike?  Which options will make it better for walkers as well as the people who use buses?  What design options will make sure that local businesses don’t suffer? How can it be made to feel  be safe for everyone as well as looking good?  The solution needs to work for today, as well as future generations.

There is no doubt that there will be challenges ahead.  We need to ensure that all the different voices are heard including children, unemployed, retirees, as well as those who want to ensure sustainable solutions.    The needs and ideas from all perspectives are important, and it should not be about majority versus minority views.   

A vacant shop at 132 The Parade will be converted to a community space where over the next weeks / months people. Everyone is invited to go in and discuss ideas, look at what design options others have come up with, and add their own ideas.  There will be volunteers on hand to help with questions and to guide people.  We ask CAW people who live or have in an interest in Island Bay to pop in and contribute to the discussion and ideas.  Listen and see what others have to say, and share your thoughts.  

Cycle Aware Wellington needs to get behind this, not just to help to ensure the right outcomes for people who want to cycle and who live in Island Bay.  More importantly, this is an opportunity to establish a community-led approach when looking at changes like these, it is our chance to help to  guide the Council with design options / ideas.  We are part of the community and together we can make it work better.

 

CAW August Meeting: workshop the year ahead and an update on Island Bay

 

Get excited!  We’re going to try out a different approach for our monthly meeting.  We’re going to listen to you..

Last month the CAW committee got together to review our vision statement and the objectives of what we want the future to look like.  We now would like to hear your feedback on what we came up with.  But we also want to workshop with you what our focus should be for the year ahead.

Below is shown an illustration of the so-called ‘motivation model’ that we will use as a framework.  Don’t worry, I’ll explain what it all means. The important thing is that we discuss the content and agree what is right, what should be added, and what can go.   All of this will help to ensure that CAW is effective in making cycling a safe and attractive option for our communities.

CAW new motivation model
Higher resolution copy available here.

We will finish up with some short updates, including the upcoming community re-engagement at Island Bay; what it means and why we should support it.

So looking forward to seeing you all there:

  • When: 6-7:30pm Tuesday 2 August
  • Where: Sustainability Trust, Forresters Lane (off Tory Street)

Ron

2WALKandCYCLE Conference 2016

Light path at night
Auckland’s Te Ara I Whiti/ Light Path

I was very lucky to be supported by CAW and Frocks on Bikes to attend the 2WALKandCYCLE conference again this year. There were some great speakers and events. It was also great to see some of Auckland’s amazing infrastructure close up. They’re fast becoming a bike-friendly city and Wellington has much work to do to catch up.

Some key takeaway messages from the conference are noted below. For more quick snapshots, check out the twitter hashtag 

Keynote speaker Gil Penalosa was super inspiring. His presentations are worth a post on their own (or a visit to youtube) but some key points here –

  • Quality = safety & dignity
  • change is not unanimous (otherwise you end up watering it down to much)
  • When the stars are aligned, do as much as possible! As good as possible and as fast as possible.
  • “CAVE people – Citizens against virtually everything!”
  • When you say ‘no’ to something, you’re also saying ‘yes’ to something else, i.e. if you say no to bike infrastructure, you are saying yes to more congestion, poor health and environmental outcomes.
  • “The forbidden is fun” open streets, open minds
  • “NZ is unique…just like everyone else”

Other speakers discussed a range of topics, including:

  • Auckland has a policy which puts young people first, I am Auckland, which builds a better city for everyone. What does Wellington have?
  • NZTA: Tell the ‘why’ story – make links to what people are passionate about
  • Elizabeth Claridge from NZTA: Cycling makes more sense as part of an integrated transport approach.
cmuftaduiaauedw
Rebecca Cunniffe, NZTA presents “Building the ‘why’ story of cycling”
  • Debbie Lang from AT: *infrastructure* is the key behaviour change tool.
  • Jodie Lawson from Rotorua Council: low social license is not insurmountable
  • Sharleen Hannon from GHD: Is it true that if you “build it, they’ll come”? No. Well, some might but you *need* to promote it. Lots of work to be done behind the scenes before infrastructure goes in.
  • Liz Beck from Let’s Go, New Plymouth: We consult and consult and consult; it takes far longer than you can imagine
cmt6kngusaash7s
shared by Chris Bowie from Opus

[If you want to know more, check the abstracts and papers and the presentations from the conference]

CAW meeting report June 2016

Here’s what we discussed at the CAW meeting 7 June 2016.

Submissions:

  • Eastern suburbs – oral submissions on 8 June.
  • Hutt Road – WCC have gone for phased approach, GHW endorsed. CAW survey to see what parking etc is a problem. We also discussed options for a shoreline route from Ngauranga to Aotea Quay, but this will be a long term goal, and there is still a need for a Hutt Rd cycleway for  people from Ngaio, Khandallah etc. Submission led to good collaboration with Living Streets.

Recent infrastructure issues:

  • SH2 – logging trucks at Ngauranga creating issue for cyclists, NZTA / WCC stopped operation
  • Temporary closure of eastern lane on Waterloo quay north of Whitmore. James has referred to Council. Good opportunity to see what a lane on the Quay would achieve?

CBD network planJames is on working group, delayed by Get Welly Moving.

Committee items:

  • Ron Beernink and Timon (from Hutt Cycle Network) met with Paul Barker of WCC.
  • Ron met with Ciclocivica who are to help NZTA engage on Urban Cycling Programme.
  • Bikes on buses is being progressed as part of new bus tenders.
  • James attended Vulnerable Road Users group meeting at WCC. Chat about procedures for reporting incidents.  James will do post for CAW blog.
  • A Committee planning workshop is being scheduled

Review of cycling project implementation in Wellington: Has been interpreted in a number of ways. Best thing is NZTA is more involved. Need to get wins on the board.

Open spaces plan: Call for submissions, could allow eBikes on selected routes, and new tracks for mountain bikes. Wellington MTB club meeting to discuss 19 Jun.

Road User Behaviour: Ben is progressing some ideas.

Local Body Elections: discussed ideas to get cycling on the agenda in a positive way.

2 Walk and Cycle conference. Hilleke, Patrick, and Alastair going. CAW will support financially.

Rants & Raves

  • Ron: Acknowledged James’ efforts as chair.
  • Ben did the the Korokoro walkway.
  • Hilleke: Started Bike KREW promoting kids riding.
  • Frocks on Bikes planning film night, progressive dinner for Wellington on a Plate.
  • WCC taking on Go By Bike Day. Frees CAW up for other events?
  • Patrick: work being done on minimum passing distances.
  • Alastair organising lobbying Webinar for CAN, 28 Jun.
  • Andy: need for garage door Bike Fixup location, UK looking at legislation on passing distances.

Eastern Suburbs Cycleways – Cycle Aware Wellington submission

WCC_eastern_survey
Response from WCC Submissions

Key points of our submission:

  • A link to Newtown is sorely missing
  • Minor improvements can make a big difference
  • We’d rather see something new than an upgrade of what’s already working okay
  • Please do not create more shared paths
  • Fix obvious gaps in existing infrastructure, no matter what
  • A safe way to cross Cobham Drive should not swallow the whole budget
  • Slow zones and quiet streets could make cycling safer without affecting parking
  • Improving intersections can make things feel safer
  • Use space creatively rather than using the same approach everywhere
  • We recommend doing some trials to see what works

Email to cycling@wcc.govt.nz

Well done on a great process for investigating options for safer cycling in the Eastern Suburbs. We’re pleased that you’ve involved the community from the start, and got local business owners on board. We hope this approach will make implementing the project relatively easy when it comes to the construction stage.

Your process has revealed that there are many possible options for making cycling safer in the Eastern Suburbs, but no obvious winner. This project addresses a very wide area, and clearly cannot transform it all at once. Consequently, it’s hard for us to advocate strongly for one corridor or route over another. Instead, we’ve collected our most pressing thoughts and ideas about the project in general.

A link to Newtown is sorely missing

We understand that your process for deciding on possible routes eliminated the route to the CBD via the bays (too expensive) and the route to Newtown (too hilly). But we feel that creating meaningful links between other parts of the future network is an essential first step. Encouraging local trips (including school travel) is really important, but across-town links are essential to encourage work commuting and help reduce car congestion at peak times. Creating safe cycling in the Eastern Suburbs with no safe link to the rest of the future network seems shortsighted.

There’s already a sort-of cycle route around the bays to the CBD (by no means perfect, but something that can be upgraded in time), but no safe link between the Eastern Suburbs and Newtown. At the initial reference group meetings, the desired destinations included Newtown, the hospital, and the schools around the Basin Reserve.

We therefore feel that this project must create this link to Newtown — we recommend via Crawford Road, Coromandel Street, and Wilson Street. Crawford Road is not as steep as Grafton Gully in Auckland, which has seen a big uptake by cyclists.

Minor improvements can make a big difference

Something visible and iconic that we can be proud of (for example Auckland’s pink path or Wellington’s Great Harbour Way) would be great, but minor improvements are also really important. For example, on the Hataitai side of the Mount Victoria Tunnel, a tiny little bump to slow car traffic makes it feel a lot safer for cyclists.

A huge amount of small tweaks, as part of ordinary works, can cumulatively and cheaply make cycling safer. Yes, we want our cake and to eat it too. We’re burning enough calories, after all — we’re biking!

We’d rather see something new than an upgrade of what’s already working okay

For example, as part of the Cobham option, you suggest widening the existing Cobham Drive shared path or creating a two-way cycleway and a footpath. We support this in theory (and expect it to be essential in future once many more people are cycling). However, at this stage we’d prefer to see you spend the money on changes elsewhere to make cycling safer across a much wider area.

Please do not create more shared paths

We’re dismayed to see you suggest the possibility of more shared paths. While these can work in places, especially where the number of walkers or bikers (or both) is very low, in general they are not a good solution for either party.

In a few places (for example, along Cobham Drive, which has relatively few walkers) shared paths might be acceptable in the short term. But please do not start building more, unless you can very clearly and effectively separate the two types of user. People walking and people biking need to be separated. Just look at Wellington Waterfront to see the conflict that occurs when walkers and bikers are forced to share limited space.

Fix obvious gaps in existing infrastructure, no matter what

Some great biking and walking infrastructure already exists in the Eastern Suburbs, such as the Leonie Gill Pathway and the tunnel under the airport. No matter what route you decide to develop for this project, it makes sense to also fix the missing links between these pieces of infrastructure.

A safe way to cross Cobham Drive should not swallow the whole budget

We agree that a bridge or tunnel to cross Cobham Drive is needed to link Miramar to Kilbirnie more directly. But please don’t let this swallow the whole budget. This alone will not create the desired uptake in cycling. Cobham Drive is managed by NZTA, so perhaps NZTA could pay for the bridge or tunnel across it.

Slow zones and quiet streets could make cycling safer without affecting parking

Arterial routes with heavy traffic need separation between cycling, driving, and walking. But on more minor roads, other treatments can create a similar sensation of safety without affecting parking.

Slow zones (30km or less)

Put slow zones where they make sense. Outside schools and shops. At destinations, like Kilbirnie Park, playgrounds, Lyall Bay Beach. Make them organic and effective. Make them desirable places for people to be. Add plants, seating, and artworks. Have ‘gated’ entrances which signal ‘this bit of road is different’. Look to Lambton Quay, Allen, Blair, and Lower Cuba Streets for places where you’ve done this well already.

SlowZoneLQ
An effective slow zone on Lambton Quay. Pedestrians feel safe here, even with a high volume of buses

 

Quiet streets

Creating a ‘quiet street’ means allowing access from either end by all traffic, but only allowing through-traffic for people walking and biking. Residents can still easily access and park their cars outside their houses, but the street is no longer used as a thoroughfare to other places, thereby reducing overall traffic.

ThroughTrafficPuriri

Through traffic for walkers and bikers only at Puriri St, Lower Hutt.

In the Eastern Suburbs, this treatment could work really well on streets like:

  • Hobart or Chelsea
  • Miro and Kauri
  • Strathavon
  • Te Whiti, Yule, and Ross
  • Freyberg, Endeavour, and Cockburn
  • Ludlam and Burnham.

Improving intersections can make things feel safer

Make roundabouts safer

Roundabouts are awful for people on bikes, since motor vehicles are not encouraged to slow down. While experienced cyclists can ‘take the lane’ through a roundabout, this is daunting for the ‘interested but concerned’ cyclists that the cycleways project hopes to attract.

Let’s make roundabouts safer. This could be a gradual transition — every time work needs doing, you redesign the roundabout to lower speeds. Evidence shows that when you increase the angles at roundabouts, you lower speeds and make them safer. Make it a mission to redesign all Wellington roundabouts to the ‘European’ style.

Make priority clear

Side streets should be used only by people who need to use them, rather than through-routes. Make it less desirable to take ‘shortcuts’ through them by installing ramps on the entrance of side streets. This slows down turning traffic, adds height to give better visibility, and changes the feel of the street into quiet neighbourhood streets / cul-de-sacs where pedestrians and cyclists have priority over motorists. Good (but old) examples of where you’ve already done this are Cockburn and Cruickshank Streets. Even better is Vivaldistraat, Den Bosch, Holland.

CautionVivaldistraat

Caution and a slow speed are clearly needed when leaving Vivaldistraat.

Add more pedestrian crossings

Pedestrian crossings increase safety for pedestrians, of course, but for cyclists as well. They slow traffic and make people driving more aware of having to look out for others. Pedestrian crossings should be moved away from intersections, for a start (for example, at Wha St and Childers Terrace).

Use space creatively rather than using the same approach everywhere

There are many ways to design safe cycling routes. Build safer communities and the cycling will follow.

Use ‘access’ roads parallel to arterial roads

In this scenario, the arterial road carries two-way motor traffic and buses. The ‘service’ road has parking, very slow motor traffic, and bike priority. Places where this might work are Rongotai Road and Kilbirnie Crescent. Examples where this is already working are Arthur Street (the service lane off Karo Drive), or Pettelaarseweg, Netherlands (see below).

SlowPettelaarseweg

A slow and safe access road beside Pettelaarseweg.

Use one-way streets

One-way streets reduce potential conflict between cars and bikes without affecting parking. You could trial a street with a cycle lane on either side but only one-way motor traffic.

ContraflowGlenwood

A proposed contra-flow bike lane on one-way Glenwood Avenue in Edgewater, Chicago.

Use green space where it exists

Potential for this exists along Kilbirnie Park and Miramar Golf Course/Scots College. And also along the coastal routes. But make them safe (busy/visible and well lit).

Put in lights only where needed

Really only at the Miramar cutting (Shelley Bay Road/Miramar Ave intersection).

Where there are lights, make the lanes work better for cyclists. A perfect example of what not to do is the John Street lights (see below), where the left lane should be left turn only. Instead, cyclists are forced to play a guessing game with motorists who aren’t sure if they should signal or not. Simplify things. One lane = one direction.

RightTurnJohn

Right turning traffic should use the right lane only at the John Street intersection.

We recommend doing some trials to see what works

New York trialled roading changes with great success. Try something new and see if it works. Promise to put it back if it doesn’t. Don’t spend huge amounts on it — use cones or water drums to temporarily change the road layout. Leave it for a month, or six, get feedback, then adapt and make some permanent changes.

A final note about what Cycle Aware Wellington wants

Cycle Aware Wellington isn’t fixated on kerbside bike lanes. We believe that each area and road needs to be carefully thought through, with a design that suits it without inconveniencing too many people. We’ll sometimes (possibly often) advocate removing some parking to ensure cyclists’ safety. But we also understand the need for compromise to reduce the impact of roading changes on other road users.

We’re also not about ‘bikes before all else’. We’re about transport choice. An argument bound to come up is that some Eastern Suburbs roads are already reasonably safe, but that’s not the point. The point is that they don’t feel safe, so people choose not to bike. If more people choose to bike, it’ll reduce congestion and have awesome health and environmental impacts, meaning benefits for everyone.

Hutt Road Improvements get the green light. Or is that Orange?

How long before the Hutt Road obstacle course will be resolved?  The good news is that some of these obstacles like the lamp posts will soon be gone.  That is fantastic.  But we will have to wait till next year to see the illegal car parks removed and a proper cycling and walking commuter route created.  Or perhaps longer?  No end date has been confirmed for this project.

20160519_072154

As reported in Scoop the WCC Transport and Urban Development Committee today voted in support of the recommended staged approach to implementing the cycleway and other transport changes along this busy route.

The first stage will involve not just removing the lamp posts, but also shifting the bus stop from outside Animates to south of Spot Light, and improving the path surface.  All of these are significant improvements in their own right.  But it doesn’t solve the problem that both pedestrians and cyclists have to share a 3 metre narrow path, with motorists regularly crossing this to park alongside or over the path.  The Council admitted that this parking is in fact ‘technically’ illegal.

The first phase of the project will give the Council time to investigate alternative options.  That is fair enough as there will be a real impact on some of the businesses, but also for the number of people of who park along the route in order to walk or cycle into town.  What will the Council do if it cannot find alternative options is the question?   Will it still commit to removing this illegal parking?  Or will it silently keep its fingers crossed that the initial improvements are enough to keep everyone happy?  Which is very unlikely.

The reality is that the number of cyclists will continue to increase on this major commuter route.  Add to that the inevitable upsurge in e-bikes (apparently 80% of bikes produced in China are now electric bikes!).  Which will put extra pressure on this shared path.  Including making life more uncomfortable for the pedestrians.  The rate of accidents between cyclists and walkers may be low, but as a pedestrian it is not comfortable to have cyclists race by.  And people on bikes cannot always predict what walkers will do.  Particularly little kids by the Play Centre.  Or dodging people who are plugged into their phones and happily daydream their way into the path of cyclists.  Not their fault.  They are entitled to their own space without having to worry about cyclists.  Which is why we need a proper 5 metre wide path that gives 2 metres to the pedestrians and a separated 3 metre two-way path for cyclists?   Urgently please.

Significantly the WCC Transport and Urban Development Committee also voted unanimously to go ahead with the Great Harbour Way.  This is fantastic news as it will create a shared path that will follow the Harbour from Pencarrow to Eastbourne.  This should be in addition to the Hutt Road cycling and walking commuter path.  But can the Council get the money together to do both.  Will it rob Peter to pay Paul?  Hopefully not.

So it will be interesting to see how all this plays out of the next couple of years.  The good news is that the WCC and also NZTA are keen to get on with it.  Which makes today’s announcements an historic day for all those people who cycle or would like to.

 

 

 

Footpath biking – should it be allowed?

Leah-and-SylviaShould children and other vulnerable users be allowed to bike on the footpath? Roger Boulter, an experienced cycling infrastructure planner, gives his view.

A petition has been presented to Parliament calling for “children under 14 years of age (and accompanying adults), seniors over the age of 65, and vulnerable users (such as those with mental or physical disabilities)” to be able to legally cycle on roadside footpaths.

Lower Hutt mother Jo Clendon, who started this petition, seems responsible and well-intentioned, but I’m appalled and saddened that some CAN members support this. The well-respected ‘road user hierarchy’ places pedestrians at a higher priority than cyclists. Pedestrian advocacy group Living Streets Aotearoa oppose this petition.

It gets more serious, though. One of the most important findings in the history of planning for cycling was the 1996 ‘Five Point Hierarchy of Measures’, stating that the most important things which would help cyclists were to reduce the volume and then slow the speed of motor traffic. This is what needs tackling – not taking an ‘easy way out’ and transferring the threat onto an even more vulnerable group, people on foot.

This proposal is not just about ‘little kids’ avoiding busy roads. The wording above includes a very wide range. 14-year-olds aren’t ‘little’. How many ‘accompanying adults’, and what relationship to the ‘children’ (it’s not just caregivers)? How does anyone know who falls into the (rather catch-all, I would suggest) “vulnerable users” category. And, at age 62, will I in three years’ time become less of a threat than I am now? No – the very old will become more of a threat.

As for safety, many footpaths aren’t wide enough for safe walking, let along cycling too. At intersections, crossing cyclists are towards the edge of a motorists’ field of vision, at just the place where motorists will be concentrating on the road traffic, so will be more liable to be hit. Cars reversing from driveways will be severely constrained from seeing footpath cyclists (sometimes they won’t see them at all), who will generally be going faster than people walking, and so less able to stop.

People (notably children) accustomed to riding on the footpath will not acquire the skills necessary to safely interact with motor traffic, meaning they will be more prone to being hit by motor traffic when they do use the roads (as inevitably they will sometimes).

There is a long and sad history of attempts to improve cyclists’ safety, and get more people cycling, through providing off-road paths. Off-road paths and ‘separated’ and ‘protected’ cycleways have a role, but they only work as part of a wider strategy, the main part of which must be reducing and slowing motor traffic. Reducing and slowing traffic is why many North European countries, Portland USA, and other places, have succeeded so dramatically, but New Zealand has not followed their lead. Places which have relied heavily on providing for cyclists off-road, like late 20th century Milton Keynes, UK, and Canberra, Australia, also invariably find strong growth of an aggressive driving culture (e.g. “get these ***** cyclists off my road and onto their paths”).

If the petitioners get their way, it will result in more danger, not less. More worrying to me, however, and very saddening, is that some CAN members, long accustomed to seeing themselves as the underdogs on the road, are becoming the new bullies in the playground against a group – people on foot – even more vulnerable that they are.