Eastern Suburbs Consultation

Leonie Gill pathway. Part of a bigger Eastern Suburbs network?
Leonie Gill pathway. Part of a bigger Eastern Suburbs network?

The official consultation period for the Eastern suburbs cycleways begins today, closing on the 23rd of May. Some details on the consultation from the council:

Between now and then, our team will be busy populating the Cycleways website [http://cycleways.wellington.govt.nz/where/eastern/] with all the information, ready to ‘go live’ on 26 April. Alternatively, you can  go to the ‘Have Your Say’ section of Wellington City Council’s main website [http://wellington.govt.nz/].

The two Council-run community drop-in sessions (held at the ASB Sports Centre) have been rescheduled to:

  • Wednesday 4 May (4:30pm – 7:30pm)
  • Saturday 7 May (9am – 3pm)

In addition to this, we are liaising with the Miramar and Kilbirnie BIDs in regard to them hosting additional community drop-in sessions. I will advise when these have been scheduled.

There’s been talk about one of the options involving four sets of traffic lights along Miramar Ave. Obviously, no one would like to see that happen, so it’s important the public check out the options, and any alternatives, and talk to the Council and their community about what they want.

Cycle Aware Wellington will have a presentation from Council officers after our AGM on the 3rd of May. Keep an eye on our facebook group for details about that. The meeting generally starts at 6pm and is held at the Sustainability Trust on Forresters Lane.

Some thoughts on the options for the Eastern suburbs (as a mother, fair weather cyclist/currently frequent driver and sometimes commuter):

Note, these are my personal thoughts not the views of CAW!

  • there is no one obvious stand out option or route or type of infrastructure
  • there are certain criteria which the approved designs need to meet. Hopefully there will be more information about this shortly, but my understanding is that the cycleway needs to be part of a network and increase commuter cycling primarily (it isn’t necessarily to improve safety, although it should do that and if it also increases recreational cycling that would be a bonus, but again isn’t the aim).
  • the airport tunnel route works well on paper, and links both Seatoun and Miramar to Kilbirnie, but in practice, it’s unlikely many Miramar people would take such an indirect route.
  • the three routes that have most need i.e. go to the CBD, (as agreed by the stakeholder working group) have been ruled out for one reason or another but perhaps this needs reviewing?
    • Round the bays is too expensive ($10m)
    • Hataitai has a bottle neck at the Mt Vic tunnel which won’t be resolved until the tunnel is duplicated
    • A route from Kilbirnie to Newtown works until you get to Newtown, but getting from Newtown to the CBD will be delayed by decisions on BRT and the Basin Reserve, so it doesn’t get Eastern residents to the CBD.
  • some “easy win” options* include;
    • building a tunnel (or the more expensive bridge) over Cobham Drive to connect the shared path to the ASB centre and Kilbirnie. WCC is hoping for additional NZTA funding for this.
    • Widening the shared path along Cobham Drive and Evans Bay Parade (part of the ‘Great Harbour Way‘)
    • Traffic calming and 3okm/h zones around schools, shops and community/sports centres – schools improvements could come out of a different budget
    • Linking the Leonie Gill shared path to the airport tunnel and to the Kilbirnie shops
    • Providing a completely off-road (shared path or separated) cycle lane from the airport tunnel to the airport, including safe crossings.
    • Providing wider shared (for ‘slow’ cyclists or children only) footpaths along busy recreational areas, such as Lyall Parade.
    • Improving safety at roundabouts and intersections. Roundabouts can have tighter ‘European’ designs to slow traffic down (and more education for cyclists and drivers to guide them on correct lane positioning), and intersections may be improved by better visibility, ‘Stop’ signs replacing ‘Give ways’ or traffic calming (speed bumps or textures, narrowing lanes, pedestrian crossings, etc)
  • Other options I’d like to see thrown in the mix, but not necessarily as part of the main cycleway works, are:
    • Removing on street parking on the uphill side of Crawford Road, and possibly Moxham Ave and using ‘sharrows’ on the downhill lanes (if separated lanes aren’t yet possible here).
    • Changing the parking around Kilbirnie Park (Kilbirnie Crescent and Evans Bay Parade) to make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Evans Bay Parade already has a shared path but it’s not well marked or well used with plenty of driveway hazards. Kilbirnie Crescent is the main access way for community facilities such as the pool, the library, recreation centre, Plunket, the playground and the sports fields. It has high numbers of families visiting, often crossing the road in heavy traffic. Many of these families are likely coming from out of the area, so not within walking or cycling distance, but many are also choosing to drive because of safety concerns. Parking is in high demand, but this could be reduced if other modes were more accessible.
  • Miramar Ave is seen as a difficult bit to get through and the Miramar cutting is a blackspot for cyclists, so this area needs careful thought. One option brought up by members of the working group was using Tahi St rather than Miramar Ave. This solves some problems for commuters but not for those wanting to go to the shops. Here’s my idea (NB. not CAW’s!) based on not too frequent peak driving around Miramar. I’d be interested to know what issues I’ve missed and/or if this is a workable idea. ES UCP IDEAIt adds a necessary set of lights at the cutting and one set on Tauhinu. Also a few crossings (either zebra or pedestrian refuge islands) and an enhanced slow zone for the shops and Tahi St.

(* By “easy win” I mean that it will be safer or more convenient for cyclists, hopefully also so for pedestrians, and have negligible effects on other modes of transport or parking.)

 

What other options are there? Or have the Council got it right with one of their draft designs? Are there other problem spots that need addressing urgently? Head on over to the CAW facebook group to discuss, or better yet, get along to a Council open day or make a submission to the council.

New road rules

Q: What do you never have, but can always give?

A: The right of way.

That’s a defensive driving joke. I didn’t say it was funny.

The give-way rules for intersections in NZ since 1977 are… Well… They were never any good. New Zealand, once again on the cutting edge of world’s best practices in road safety, is finally amending trashing the 35 year-old rules which “coincided with a 2.5 percent increase in casualty crashes at intersections in the three years following the change.” Coincided??? Sure, it’s a coincidence. Whatever. At least the old rules are finally going in the bin. Better late then never, huh? Seriously, every other country in the world has ended that failed experiment over the last few decades, and NZ is dead last in getting rid of those give-way rules.

“The give-way rules, prior to this amendment, have placed complex demands upon road users, which can result in compromised road safety at intersections. Intersection crashes currently account for 20 percent of fatal and serious injury crashes.”NZTA (of reported injury collisions involving cyclists, more than 75% are at intersections or driveways – thanks Glen!)

 
New road rules

The new rules go into effect on Sunday 25 March 2012, at 5am, to be precise. Don’t wake me, I’m sure the new rules will still be there when I get up. The new rules are better, the rest of the world has proven that, but there will certainly be confusion as the new rules take effect. Confusion at intersections is usually bad, especially for bicyclists. So as the date approaches, and after the new rules take effect, be extra careful at intersections. As time goes on I’m confident that the new (and improved!) rules will be better for everyone, but the transition could be tricky.

Full details of the new give-way rules are available from NZTA. Key points:

  • The rules apply to ALL vehicles, including bicycles
  • There will be confusion leading up to the official change date
  • There will be confusion following the official change date
  • When in doubt, you can always yield the right of way – A friendly wave makes this intention clear

That only took 35 years to get sorted. Maybe, before the Earth crashes into the sun, NZ will objectively consider Idaho Stops and repealing the mandatory helmet law.