Thorndon Quay: a u-turn design

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Last year the Wellington City Council initiated a project and established a community stakeholder working group to find options for creating safe cycling along Thorndon Quay as part of the Urban Cycling Programme.   The various people on the working group represented local businesses, residents, walkers and cyclists.  Together they came up with a vision that would change Thorndon Quay from the current day ugly industrial looking commuter route to a boulevard-style destination.   A number of objectives were agreed to enable that vision including avoiding impacting on the local businesses, but also ensuring a safe traffic design.   The working group were on the same page and getting close to agreeing design options.

That is till the business representatives decided to approach the Council directly because of concerns that the parking changes for the design options would in fact impact on their businesses.  After escalating this to a couple of the Councillors, our mayor was brought into the conversation.  Justin Lester decided to pull the plug on the project (and effectively the working group) and instead go with a very watered-down design that would have painted cycle lanes at the south end of Thorndon Quay.  

The cycling representatives from the now-defunct working group met with the Mayor to discuss their concerns and understand Justin’s motivations.   This was what came out of that meeting, and our observations of that conversation:

  • Justin said that Aotea Quay was an alternative option that should have been considered by the project.  (That despite the fact that the project was asked to clarify this a number of times, and that David Chick – WCC Chief City Planner – categorically confirmed that Aotea Quay was not a consideration as it would be years away if it ever got agreement from the different authorities along that route. For more details, see the WCC document Why Thorndon Quay.)
  • He had a concern that the design options would not get the backing from the majority of his Councillors.  (It is understood that he never talked to his team to get confirmation of this).
  • He was concerned that this could turn into another Island Bay situation.  (Understandable, but this project was following a much better community engagement approach, and the working group had made good progress).
  • He felt that the Council was making great progress with the other cycling improvement projects, and did not want to put all of this at risk.  (A fair statement).

The key messages that we left him with is that his decision does nothing to address the risk of vulnerable road users on this dangerous route, but also that his action undermined the trust in the engagement process.

The Council has recently published the revised proposed design for Thorndon Quay for public consultation.   The design only deals with the section of road between Davis and Mulgrave Street.   A key aspect is that it changes the angle parking to parallel parking along the Westpac Stadium side of the street.   You can see the proposed design and get access to the online feedback form on this WCC transport project page.

Thorndon Quay hero image

Meanwhile the cycling representatives who were part of the working group have set up a “Fix Thorndon Quay” Facebook page to encourage people to have their say.   But also to highlight that this revised design proposal does nothing to address the risk to vulnerable road users along the busiest and most dangerous part of Thorndon Quay, between Davis Street and Tinakori Road.

With the darker and wetter winter months, the danger from cars pulling into or reversing out of the parking is unacceptably high.  The angle parking forces cyclist on to the main road in the path of cars, trucks and buses; particularly with a number of cars now too long for the parking space.   There is a real risk of a cyclist being seriously hurt or killed.   

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But also for walkers this part of Thorndon Quay poses a significant challenge and risk, with the lack of pedestrian crossings.  Often we see people dashing between angle parked cars, cyclists and traffic on the road.  Again an accident waiting to happen.

Pedestrian crossing TQ

We have waited for years for the Council to resolve this situation.  We don’t want to wait longer.  Even if an alternative route via Aotea Quay would become a reality, then Thorndon Quay would still be used by a high number of cyclists and walkers as the most convenient route to get to their work or to get to the local shops.

We urge people to submit their feedback to the Council.  Tell your own story, how the proposed design may help to address your concerns, and what concerns it does not address.  Guidelines on writing your individual submission can be found here.

Have your say!

Writing an individual submission

The Council relies on advocacy groups but also individuals to make submissions on design proposals like for cycle ways.  Below are some tips on how you can put together an effective submission.

  • Introduce yourself and explain why the particular route or location is important to you personally, e.g. for your daily commute, or getting your kids to school.
  • Give your story that best describes the key concerns are that you experience today, e.g. cars pulling in and out of parking spaces.
  • Explain how the proposed design will help to address your concerns.
  • Detail what concerns it does not address, or what issues the proposed design may create for you.
  • Give your view of what more can be done to make this a great solution not for you right now, but for the future and for others.

Below is an example.  Don’t copy and paste, but use this to create a submission that is uniquely yours.

“My name is Shirley Bessy.  I can be classed as a concerned but keen cyclists, and I use Thorndon Quay most workdays as the most direct route to get to or from my work on The Terrace, and sometimes to visit one of the shops on Thorndon Quay.   Cycling has helped me enormously with my fitness.

Thorndon Quay is the most dangerous part of the route.  I have had a few too many close calls where cars pull in and out of car parks, and each day I am really worried that someone will suddenly reverse out of one of the angle car parks and force me into the path of other traffic.   I am sure that if I have an accident or too many more close calls that I will stop cycling for my commute.

The proposed Thorndon Quay changes will go a little towards making it safer.  It will avoid the illegal angle parking along the clearway that currently continues to happen between the VTNZ building and the lights by Mulgrave streets.  The road side painted cycle lane will however probably do little to make my commute in the event any safer as drivers will no doubt still pull in and out of car parks without looking for cyclists.

The proposal sadly does nothing to make the main part of Thorndon Quay any safer and I am really disappointed that I have to continue to risk my safety on the evening commute back home, particularly during the darker and wetter winter days when I’ve come closest to having an accident and feel really worried.

I am desperately waiting for a Thorndon Quay that is safe enough for less confident cyclists like myself.  I understand that the Council is considering Aotea Quay as an alternative option, but I would not use that as my commute option as it would add considerable distance and time to my journey.  I am not sure why the Council would want to force me to do so, when in fact in should encourage cycling by providing a network of convenient routes.    I see Thorndon Quay as an important connection for people commuting between Wellington and the northern suburbs and the Hutt Valley.”

It does not need to be perfect.  The important thing is that you have your say!

February meeting report

Go By Bike Day: A successful, well run event, though numbers seemed a bit down, perhaps due to the public holiday, and lack of publicity through banners etc. But thanks to WCC for taking on this annual event. CAW needs to think about how to get more members signed up – topic for future meeting.

CAN Survey: Jill reminded us that Cycling Action Network is launching a major road safety campaign, the first stage of which is a survey of cyclists views. Take a few minutes to respond, if you haven’t already.

Love Cycling Awards: nominations close 13 March: quite a few nominations, but Jill would like more. Event will be 27 March at Bicycle Junction, tickets a mere $10. As well as support from Bicycle Junction, Garage Project and WCC are sponsoring.

EBikes in open spaces: Joel de Boer from WCC talked to us about the trial of allowing eBikes on selected tracks. Joel is preparing a report for Council, and welcomes feedback. People were generally relaxed about eBikes on appropriate tracks, feeling that they should in general be treated as ordinary bikes.

Lessons from the Wisconsin Bike Fed: Michelle is visiting NZ and talked about initiatives undertaken by the Wisconsin Bike Fed. They have good relations with police, who are active in enforcing laws relating to cyclists, including a mandatory 3 foot passing rule. They visit workplaces and do presentations on green lifestyles, including biking. We discussed getting Wellington Police more involved in cycling safety.

Zero Carbon Act. Ellie spoke about this campaign to make zero carbon emissions a legal requirement. There’ll be a ride from Pomare to Parliament on 1 March.

WCC infrastructure initiatives: Ron met with WCC. The modifications to the Island Bay Cycleway are expected around May. Council is hearing submissions on the Kilbirnie connections in local groups: James and Eleanor are going. The Hutt Road shared path is expected to be largely complete by March, and there are plans to extend the shared path to the northern end of Thorndon Quay.

Bits and Bobs: Peter suggested that Strava could be used to get more insightful bike statistics. Jill talked about how horrible the John St intersection is, but we’ll probably have to wait for the Berhampore cycleway project to resolve this. Peter (the other one) agreed with residents who oppose shared paths.

CAW February Meeting

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Welcome to our first CAW meeting for what will be an exciting year with lots of cycling related initiatives happening around the city.  But also challenges.  So some of the hot topics for this month are

 

 

  • How did Go By Bike Day go?
  • Celebrating cycling: the upcoming Love Cycling Awards
  • e-Bikes on tracks around Wellington
  • Share and be Aware: a Wisconsin perspective
  • Lessons learned from 2017
  • Giving CAW a fresh voice
  • Holiday raves, thumbs up, thumbs down

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday 13 February, 6-7:30pm, Sustainability Trust, Forrester Lane.

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’.

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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.

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Submissions: Make your voice heard

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Making personal submissions on cycling related improvements is important!

That is the clear message that we have been hearing from initiatives like Let’s Get Wellington Moving and the various Wellington Urban Cycleway programme initiatives such as at  Kilbernie and Evans Bay.

We are against voting by numbers as this will always disadvantage the needs for minority groups, and we are all for voting through good reasoning.  The more reasonable submissions by individuals, the better the outcome for all.

CAW obviously makes submissions on behalf of all of you, but that doesn’t mean that you should not have to submit your own comments.   Whether it is to explain why the proposed improvements are important to help your own cycle journeys more comfortable, convenient and connected.  Or what aspects you feel are a concern and can be done better.

It only needs to take a few minutes, but can make a long term difference.  So be heard!

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Let’s get Wellington Moving: have your say

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WCC Transport Projects: Have your say on Evans Bay phase 1, and Kilbernie Connections

Kilbirnie & Evans Bay consultation tips

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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.

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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

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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.

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…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]

End of Year CAW meeting

St Nic on bikeLet’s make this a fun final one!

  • PechaKucha-style stories of overseas cycling experiences
  • CAW photo competition results
  • Highlights from 2017 and,
  • Our wish list for 2018

Who knows, Saint Nicolaas (the original Santa Claus) may put in a guest appearance!

Come dressed for the occasion (e.g. lycra santa costume).  All welcome!

Tuesday 5 December, 6-7:30pm, Sustainability Trust, Forrester Lane

Southern Ward candidates views: active transport & cycling

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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.