Thorndon Quay

Safety for people on bikes cannot be compromised

Background

Last year WCC formed a Thorndon Quay Working Group (TQWG) that was made up different community stakeholders including business, cycling, walking, public transport representatives together with WCC project staff.    The TQWG worked successfully together to agree a vision and objectives for TQ.

Ron Beernink represented CAW as part of this group.  Here’s is a presentation that Ron put together to help other stakeholders understand our perspective as vulnerable road users, but also to show how we try to understand the concerns of other stakeholders.

There was a concern on the lack of clarity of what alternative options had been considered.  WCC confirmed that it had looked into the option of using the railway corridor but that KiwiRail had rejected this because of the logistics and costs involved.  Likewise the option of using Aotea Quay was rejected as this was a longer term proposition that was dependent on a range of things like getting agreement from harbour land owners including the port and ferry operators.  The WCC Transport Projects website has a discussion on these options.

The TQWG narrowed down a number of options for creating safe cycling along this route.  But the business representatives felt that the agreed objective of minimising impacts on them was not being addressed by the shortlist of options, and stepped outside the TQWG process to raise their concerns directly with a couple of Councillors, who in turn got the Mayor involved.

Justin Lester decided to stop the project and essentially this meant the end of the TQWG.  Instead the Mayor came up with an ‘interim improvement’ to provide on-road ‘bike lanes’ for both sides of Thorndon Quay between Davis and Mulgrave streets.  This will involve parking changes, in particular changing angle to parallel parking on the south bound side.

CAW made a written and oral submission to the Council that it did not support this ‘interim improvement’ because

  • As per the NZTA cycling infrastructure guidelines this type of on-road bike lanes are not appropriate for a road with this volume and type of traffic, and for the number of cyclists with different confidence levels.
  • It sets a wrong precedence, and essentially would be the same design that was in place for the Parade in Island Bay before the decision was made to implement separated cycle lanes for that route.
  • Worse, it ignored the serious dangers for the rest of this route.
  • Thorndon Quay will continue to be the preferred route for most cyclists as the connection between the CBD and the northern suburbs and the Hutt.

The Council however ignored our submission and similar pleas from a number of other parties and voted to go ahead with the ‘interim improvements‘.

What is next

The Council is waiting for the outcome of Lets Go Wellington Moving (LGWM) to will include getting a clear direction and agreement on improving public transport, walking and cycling facilities for Wellington.    LGWM is also likely to focus on Thorndon Quay and the waterfront quays.  What this means for a safe and convenient cycling network that connects key areas like the waterfront but also Lambton Quay and The Terrace remains to be seen.

CAW will continue to fight for improvements to Thorndon Quay, particularly to urgently address the risk caused by angle parked cars.

We are involved in the Thorndon Quay Action Group (TQAG) alongside other cycling representatives who were part of the TQ working group.   TQAG is looking at the following actions

  • Raise our concerns with Julie Anne Genter, the Associate Minister for Transport.
  • Clarify with MoT and NZTA the legal situation of large / long vehicles ‘over reaching’ the angle park space.
  • Advise cyclists to take the lane in a safe way in the meantime.  This is in fact recommended by the Police after a recent incident in Auckland, and they clearly state that “The cyclist has every right to use the lane on the road”.
  • Get people to record incidents and crashes using the Fix Thorndon Quay Facebook page.
  • Potentially we may organise a protest ride at some point, particularly once WCC is clearer on how it will act on LGWM recommendations.

The reality is that Thorndon Quay will continue to be the preferred route for most cyclists.  A quick survey on the Fix Thorndon Quay Facebook page confirms this:

Thorndon Quay poll

What are the concerns

Angle parking.  The number one issue, particularly with more and more over sized vehicles causing cyclists to have to merge into the traffic lane.

TQ - large ute sticking out from angle park

Clearway not working.  Each morning there’s cars angle parked, forcing cyclists into the lane.   Then there’s cars, motorbikes and buses using the clearway as a way to get past queued up traffic.   Watch this video that illustrates the problem (thanks to Patrick Radomski).

IMG_4298

Drivers dashing into parking spaces.  Some will simply not see the cyclist, others will just try to quickly try to turn in front of cyclist.  Either way, a recipe for disaster.  Just watch this video to see a close call (thanks to Michael Ellis).

TQ - driver pulling into angle park

Walkers having few options to cross safely.  Cyclists are not the only vulnerable road users being put at risk along Thorndon Quay.   There’s few pedestrian crossings, so often they have to dash across the road trying to avoid vehicles and bikes.

IMG_4390

Dangerous intersections.   There are only the two intersections with Moore St and Davis St.  But with busy traffic conditions, cars sticking out too far, buses pulling into the bus stops, cyclists being cut off by turning traffic it is chaos.

IMG_4327

Trying to get across to the Hutt Road path.    A dangerous manoeuvre involving having to look over your shoulder while going closely to angle parked cars and picking just the right moment to move across to the medium street just before the Tinakori Road intersection.

TQ - crossing at north end

The Council has been ignoring these growing problem for years now.  And are happy to keep sitting on their hands.  The fear of another Island Bay saga is clear.  Yet they only need to look at other cities around the world that have had the same sagas when starting on these cycle infrastructure improvements that involve changing car parking.  Once in place everyone adjusts and benefits become clear.

Where to find more information

How can you help?

  • Write to or email your local Councillors (see https://wellington.govt.nz/your-council/mayor-and-councillors/councillors for contact details) and our Associate Minister of Transport (JulieAnne.Genter@parliament.govt.nz) to push for quicker action on Thorndon Quay.
  • Report incidents and crashes on the Fix Thorndon Quay Facebook page.
  • Also report crashes at the local police station if the police were not involved at the crash itself.  Yes, it is a pain having to go through that process but it is really important to ensure we have the right statistics and understanding of crashes on this route.

What you can do

  • Keep yourself and others safe!
  • Don’t cycle close to the parked cars.   Be prepared to ride a meter into the lane; just enough to force drivers to pass you properly instead of squeezing past.  Most motorists will understand and will be help you to stay safe.
  • Understand that it is hard as well for drivers backing out of the angle car parks.
  • Walkers are at risk too.  They only have a couple of pedestrian crossing along that whole route.  Stop for them.  And look out for walkers having to cross the road at for example the north end of Thorndon Quay.
  • Slow down.
  • Ensure you have good lights and bright clothing.
  • Share this dangerous piece of road with care.
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