Dreams for the future and the dangers of the Golden Mile

 

Cycle Aware Wellington meeting, 4.10.2011

Cycle Aware Wellington is Wellington’s local branch of CAN, the national Cycling Advocates Network. This hard working and friendly bunch of people hold meetings on the first Tuesday of each month at the Library Bar on the corner of Tory St. Beers are consumed, minutes are taken and the hub of cycle advocacy in Wellington ticks along.

A happy surprise

October’s meeting held a surprising and exciting development! Martin Hanley, from Red Design Architects in Newtown and Victoria University’s School of Architecture, presented us with a plan for a beautifully designed cycleway connecting Island Bay to the city. It sounds like students at the School of Architecture have been beavering away on the idea for years and years and now they’re gearing up to release it to the public! Wellington City Council have contributed some money for the final planning stages. Martin explained that they are going to put the plan on the web to get grassroots support for the cycleway, building up momentum to get the funding to build it.

And what does it look like? Pretty fantastic. The students have done a super job of catering to cyclists’ needs. The route is to be suitable for “seven and 77 year olds” and designed for maximum safety. The main cycling ‘motorway’, or the ‘Bike Pass’, runs from Island Bay beach to Te Papa. It’ll follow an off road route behind the Berhampore golf course, down Hanson, Tasman and Tory streets to the water. Smaller ‘tributary’ routes will give access to it. Martin stressed that the cycleway won’t just be green paint on the road; there will be fully segregated facilities all the way. They’ve also made sure it won’t be next to parking, so there’s no chance of getting doored!  The idea is that no carparks will have to be lost. Most of the space will come from road narrowing; Martin says that motorists are happy with a kind of two-way courtesy system down very narrow streets like Devon Street, so they’re applying that idea here. Commuters will be happy to know that the cycleway will be paved and suitable for riding in street clothes.

The cycleway is designed to connect up several schools, the southern primary schools as well as Wellington High, Massey University, and the Te Aro campus of Victoria University. It’s particularly designed to work well with Option X. That’s the Architecture School’s concept for the Basin Reserve that is currently being considered by the council as an alternative to the NZ Transport Authority’s plan to stick a flyover through the area. Option X would see the flyover ditched for a cut and cover tunnel and the area made into a park. Imagine riding through a park on your way to work or school! How great would that be?

But unfortunately Option X is still up in the air and goes to a council vote on Thursday. The ball hasn’t even started rolling for the cycleway. Who will be prepared to put up the money? Wellington City Council sound interested but the project hasn’t yet been costed. At the CAW meeting however, optimism reigned. The project holds so much promise for Wellington’s development as a forward thinking city. It’s expected that the full cost-benefit analysis will be positive; think of the tourism opportunities! The health savings! The relief on congestion! Maybe we can swing it. And I’m sure Wellington cyclists will give the plan the full support it needs when it goes public.

 

Meanwhile, at the other end of town…

Other things discussed at the CAW meeting included the bus interchange at the Railway Station. The main message, which hopefully you’ve got already, is don’t go through there! It’s dangerous and it annoys bus drivers. There was some talk about advocating for Bunny Street as an alternative route through to Lambton Quay. Simon Kennett also got some feedback on the new Regional Cycling Maps. There was discussion of who to nominate for CAN’s upcoming Cycle Friendly Awards. A suggestion was made that the Wellington City Council could be nominated for their purchase of cycle friendly wavy sump grates. But it was also considered that the Victoria University School of Architecture could be nominated for their development of the Island Bay cycleway, although it hasn’t been built yet. If it’s already won awards, it might get some good attention from people who are capable of funding it!

Also, Beca Infrastructure Ltd. have done a safety report on Wellington’s Golden Mile. It came back suggesting that the area is not good for cyclists and recommends signing bus lanes also as bike lanes and highlighted the danger of angled parking. CAW is considering how best to use the results of the report to advocate for better facilities for cyclists in the area. Finally, the plans for Go By Bike day were discussed. It’ll take place on February the 1st next year and will include the regular breakfast through funding from the regional and city councils. It’s expected there will be lots of ideas for fun activities to do at the event! I’m sure I’ll see you all there.

 

Cycling for everyone – how it’s done

Are you:

– Thinking of riding a bike in your ordinary clothes?

– Considering ways to bring your colleagues/boss/company on board for the cycling ‘revolution’?

– Wanting to improve road safety for bike riders and everyone else?

– Wondering how to get your council/government to commit to better great cycling infrastructure?

Allow me to provide you with this delightful piece from the Dutch Cycling Embassy.

Cycling For Everyone from Dutch Cycling Embassy on Vimeo.

Thanks to Simon for sending it over!

 

 

Well exactly 2

As the name suggests, this post is a followup to “Well exactly” as posted here by Lisa on Wednesday, April 6, 2011.

I suggested in a comment to “Well exactly” that I would measure and categorise the cycleway infrastructure that exists in Wellington City. Someone has to do the good jobs!

This is important as an historical milestone (sic) in our pursuit of improved facilities. One day we will look back and remember the old days when…

To make these measurements I first had to locate all the candidate cycleways. I started at the WCC website, but it was too vague and only listed five cycleways. Then at the suggestion of SimonK, I planned a short trip on journeyplanner and compiled a list of the “shared paths” and “cycle paths” shown on the resulting journey map.

I limited the “paths” I measured to all-weather sealed type cycleways. These are the cycleways used by everyday commuters (like me),  so:

  • no forest tracks (need to get to work on time);
  • no downhills (gulp);
  • and no bus lanes, although there might be the odd useful one…

Finally came the fun part of pedalling and sightseeing.

Image credit: Nigel Prentice

Here is what I recorded.

 

Route name Date prepared: August 2011 Shared Path (m) Cycle Lane (m)
Kaiwhara’ Expressway Bottom of Ngauranga Gorge to Railway Station 3500 1600
The Waterfront Railway Station to Herd St 2000
Civic Square Branch 440
Jervois Bridge Branch 130
Queens Wharf Branch 150
Whitmore Branch 30
Waitangi Park Branch 180
The Oriental Herd St to Carlton Gore Rd 1200
Evans Bay Carlton Gore Rd to Cobham Dr (Zephyrometer) 1700 2400
Cobham Cobham Dr (Zephyrometer) to Maupuia Rd (Miramar Cutting) 1620
Coutts Cobham Dr (Zephyrometer) to Broadway/Miro St/Airport 1860 890
Island Bay Reef St to Medway St (IsBay shops) 1100
The Tunnel Taurima St to Brougham St 950
The Bypass Buckle St to Buller St 200 1000
The Basin Beside the cricket pitch 350
Aotea Quay Beside the Westpac Stadium (estimate due to RWC works) 400
Cable Car Link Cable Car to Salamanca Rd (feature picture) 440
TOTALS 15150 6990

 

So there we have it, a grand total of 22.14km, with most of the cycleway distance on shared paths (68%).

One commentator to the original Well Exactly (Malcolm) made a comparison with the grand total in Christchurch. On the face of it, these figures would bear him out. However Wellington is a compact city so comparisons have to be pro rata. The factors here include land area, population base, hilliness, and wind! But even that could be stretching credibility a bit too far, yeah right, and well exactly.

It looks too little to me, or did I miss something?

Nigel

 

Bus lanes – buses love ‘em! But they could be better for bikes.

Wellington City Council are currently consulting on their bus priority plan. They’re doing some good things over there in terms of improving transport and creating more bus lanes is another one for the list. Hooray for bus lanes!

Now, I hate to be that annoying person that follows positive statements with a ‘but’ -….but……

This plan has some major implications for cyclists – here’s why. (Have a read and then submit your own thoughts here ). Submissions due Tuesday Sept 6, 5pm.

The bus lanes are sensibly planned for the key arterial roads into the CBD, where the busiest traffic exists. This network of roads is also known as the strategic cycling network, and has been recognised in the Regional Cycling Plan as the focus for making improvements to cycling as a mode of transport. These bus lanes are Wellington City Council’s plan for improving cycling on these routes, with no significant plans for alternative routes currently on the agenda.

I’m sure most cyclists would be very supportive of off-road or separated facilities for cyclists on these routes, and Cycle Aware Wellington will continue to advocate for these. However, if these bus lanes are what are proposed in lieu of separate facilities, we really need to give more thought to how they’ll affect all of the users in the shared user arrangement.

A survey Cycle Aware Wellington undertook earlier in 2011 indicated that most cyclists do not currently see bus lanes as a cycling solution – it just feels unsafe. For new cyclists on the road, riding in a bus lane is kind of reminiscent of that Tyrannosaurus Rex chasing the jeep in Jurassic Park (or, you know, something else big and scary).

Attitudes between bus drivers and cyclists are sometimes strained and while efforts to improve these are afoot, road design, rather than education campaigns, is best placed to ease this strain.

So here are a few ideas for getting the best bang for our cycling buck out of these bus lanes:

  • Review of best practice for sharing. Cycle Aware Wellington hasn’t had time do a comprehensive review of best practice for sharing bike/bus lanes, but we really think WCC needs to do one.
  • Signage. If the bus lanes are also going to be the bike lanes – we need them to say that! Signing bus/bike lanes as ‘Bus and Bike lanes’ both on the road and on signposts is common practice overseas and would be a great improvement on the current situation. See how they did it here?

This would give cyclists much more confidence sharing these lanes with buses and would make us slightly more comfortable with them being referred to as the cycle network. Yes, taxis and motorcycles are also allowed in these lanes but by signing the two most extreme users, the most vulnerable and the largest vehicle, everybody will win in terms of safety.

 

  • Adequate lane width. A bus lane width of 4m is recommended as the minimum width for shared bus/bike lanes with 4.5 recommended in other places. Lane widths of between 3.1m and 4m are the worst for cyclists as it feels like its safe to pass, but its not. If these bus/bike lane widths cannot be provided, we need to think of something else for cyclists along that route. Where lanes are less than 3.1m (as most of them are planned), there’s even more reason to sign them as shared on the roadway.
  • Let’s do something AWESOME for Kent/Cambridge Tce. “Wellington streets are too narrow for cycle lanes”. Really? Kent and Cambridge are amongst the widest streets in Wellington with parking on four sides, bus lanes, at least two lanes of traffic in each direction and significant space running down the middle. They are the perfect location for Wellington City Council to implement a showcase piece of roading, serving all transport modes using best practice techniques. The image used to illustrate WCC’s 2040 vision had it all figured out.

 

Imagining this street makes my knees shake with excitement.

So basically, bus lanes are a stellar idea and can provide benefits for cyclists by creating convenient routes with less traffic. BUT! Where bus lanes provide benefits for cyclists, careful consideration of their design and implementation to accommodate cyclists has taken place – so let’s make sure that happens.

Don’t forget to give your feedback on the bus priority plan by Tuesday Sept 6, 5pm at: www.wellington.govt.nz/haveyoursay/publicinput/buslanes/2011-08-traffic-buslanes.php

Claire Pascoe

Chair, Cycle Aware Wellington 

Road Rights & Responsibilities – get street-savvy in salubrious surroundings!

From 5.30pm, Ti Kouka Cafe, 76 Willis St (by Metro New World)

Stop at Red“ is easy, but it’s still a jungle out there on the roads…. but when are we actually within our rights with cheeky manoeuvres that speed us up or make us feel safer, and when are we actually breakin’ the law?

Every Frocker needs street-savvy – to know where to draw the line between pragmatic decisions to get around safely, and avoiding downright dodgy deeds that deserve a dressing-down.

Back by popular demand, Frocks On Bikes brings you Road Rights & Responsibilities!

At 6pm, road-savvy guru and everyday stylish cyclist, Marilyn Northcotte, will answer all your curliest questions about your rights and responsibilities, doing real riding on Wellington’s …ah… unique roads.

And all in the  stylish, cosy environment of Ti Kouka cafe with its delicious food and drink being served to you!

RSVP to frocksonbikes@gmail.com with “I want to get smart on my Road Rights and Responsibilities”, and if you bring in our reply on the night the fabulous guys at Ti Kouka will honour it as a Buy One, Get One Free voucher for delicious house wines and Mac’s Gold.

By http://www.flickr.com/photos/faceme CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

WCC consultation on Courtenay/Kent/Cambridge bus lanes proposal

Wellington City Council would like your views on a proposed traffic resolution to extend the city’s network of bus lanes along Courtenay Place, Kent and Cambridge terraces and Adelaide Road.

Bus lanes can be used by cyclists, so have your say at www.wellington.govt.nz/haveyoursay/publicinput/buslanes/2011-08-traffic-buslanes.html Closing date 6 September.

Hooray for the NZTA!

LucyJH at Cycling in Auckland reports that the NZTA has decided, as part of the Waterview motorway project, to include an $8 million cycleway linking the currently disconnected North-Western and South-Eastern cycleways. There are also some other wins for riders, including a separated cycle bridge across the Whau River. Cool or what?

Well done NZTA, and well done Cycle Action Auckland for all their hard work and negotiation.

Now, what do we want in Wellington?

Copenhagen’s 2010 Bicycle Account

Every year Copenhagen publishes a report on how well it’s doing with bikes. The document sets out what the city wants to achieve in terms of bike-friendliness and why, and asks it’s residents how it has done. One of the intro paragraphs from the Mayor reads “Copenhagen’s vision is to be one of the world’s most livable cities. A key element of this vision is being the best cycling city in the world.” I’m a firm believer in this concept, as is Jan Gehl, who produced this excellent, highly pictorial report for Wellington City Council on how to make Wellington a more attractive, livable city.

The Copenhagen report also highlights new initiatives undertaken that year – my particular favourites are the bicyclists rubbish bins and the bike butlers. It’s a very readable report – a few words, a couple of graphs, and lots of pictures of people riding in ordinary clothes, without helmets, and on excellent cycling infrastructure to green yourself with envy over. Enjoy!

Copenhagen Bicycle Account 2010

Well exactly

Back in Australia, it was clear that we had a problem with width and protection. We had cycle lanes but they were skinny, unprotected, on-road cycle lanes, on busy highways, often less than one metre wide. ‘Normal’ people — women, children, seniors, families, tourists — weren’t riding bikes and so in an attempt to ‘get more people cycling more of the time’, we were building more skinny, unprotected, on-road cycle lanes and not surprisingly the vicious cycle of people not riding was continuing.

Crikey via ksuyin

 

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By Jim.henderson via Wkikimedia Commons