Let our elected representatives know what we think.

The email

Dear Bryan

I am writing in relation to your walking and cycling portfolio on Wellington City Council.

I live and work in Wellington, and mainly travel around town by bicycle. In the 18 months I have been cycling I have noticed a big increase in the number of people cycling as a means of transport. However I see very little in the way of infrastructure development to support  increased participation in cycling. I have read the councils cycling policy document. While there is little in this I wish to disagree with, as far as I can tell it  amounts to words only, with very little action.

I am aware that the council is reviewing parking policy. I see parking, and the volume of private motor vehicles in the city as very closely linked to the perception of Wellington as a dangerous place to cycle. Cheap and lenient parking regulations will simply encourage more cars into the city centre. This is not the vision I have as a clean, welcoming, liveable and visitable city.

I would like to suggest that the changes in parking policy could be coupled to improvements in cycling infrastructure. There are several busy roads where I feel kerbside parking should be removed completely and the space used for a dedicated cycle lane. These streets are: Kent and Cambridge Terrace, Riddiford Street, Courtenay Place, for starters.

Another suggestion is to switch the position of parked cars and cycle lanes so that the cycle lane is next to the footpath. Parked cars are a real hazard to cyclists, as drivers commonly open doors into the path of cyclists without looking. Our current road lay out sees cyclists placed between the parked cars and the traffic stream. Why not position the cycle lanes between the footpath and the parked cars, and allow the parked cars to protect cyclists from moving vehicles? We are currently using cyclists to protect the parked cars from the moving ones!

I don’t believe that buses and cyclists sharing the bus lanes is safe at all. The vehicles on the road that I feel most threatened by as a cyclist are buses.

I know so many people who would love to cycle for short trips or commuting, but are discouraged by the apparently dangerous roading environment. The City Council has a real opportunity to show great leadership here, and create a great pedestrian and bicycle friendly city.

Please would you let me know what you, and the council will be doing to create a pedestrain and cyclist (i.e. people) friendly environment. I have read the Cycling Policy document, so would appreciate a considered response.

Regards

Lesley

 

The response

Hi Lesley,

Thanks for your email. As you may be aware this is a new portfolio and as I’m also chair of the Funding and Activities working party, I will respond in more detail once we have completed our review but in the mean time I will be talking to the Mayor and fellow Councillors about your concerns.

Regards

Bryan Pepperell

 

City Bike Routes

Over the last month or so, I’ve been struggling to figure out the best way to ride around town without relying on the waterfront. Like, you know, sometimes I like to actually bike INTO town and cruise the streets.  Crazy thought.  Even more insane is the notion that I do it on the street and not on the footpath.  As far as I can tell, there’s really no way to ride from Willis Street to, let’s say, Taranaki and Cable Street without hopping on the footpath or riding against traffic for a second unless I go well out of my way, which is cool, just a little weird and inconvenient.  Even the Journey Planner seems to want me off the street for at least a few meters.

I’m going to figure it out, and I’m going to commit to staying on the street, darn it.  In the meantime, I always welcome suggestions and words of encouragement and in that vein, I’d like to send a shout out to everyone to sign the e-petition demanding that the Wellington City Council incorporate the 2008 Walking & Cycling Policy to all road projects at the planning phase.  I just signed it and noticed that there are only 10 signatures so far.  I think we’re going to need more than that.

By the way, doesn’t the Mayor ride?  Does she have to cruise the footpath too?  Didn’t we chat about DIY options a while back?

While we’re on the topic, check out this insane city ride.  At least the bike path is clear.

Bike racks on buses, redux.

Hello Wellington Magic-makers!  By magic, I’m talking about sensible urban policy, not the stunning effects of those Weta artists.  That’s right, this is directed at those in a position to make those changes that make our lives a bit better.

Last October, a discussion was started on this blog encouraging the implementation of bike racks on Wellington buses.  Consider this a check-in.  How’s that process going?

Go Wellington! Unless you have a bike with you.

We all know that Wellington presents the occasional cycling challenge.  Whether it’s a gusting headwind, a long haul home to Brooklyn, or the simple giddiness of a good night out, every Wellington cyclist has likely faced a leg of her journey that just didn’t seem surmountable.  Strong-willed pedalers that we are, we keep pushing because, absent a good friend with a van, there’s really no other choice.

After a raucous Sevens, accessed by bike around Evans Bay into a killer northerly, I wasn’t too concerned about riding the wind home.  But, let’s say the wind shifted, or I injured myself, or my tire blew out.  I’d have had no choice but to leave my bike behind in town, among the cast of Pac-man, a herd of gingerbread men and questionable ballerin(o)as.  Not that the crowds aren’t trustworthy, but Wellington is pretty limited when it comes to bike parking and who doesn’t prefer to keep important possessions in their possession and not locked up to street poles in the middle of a drunken revelry?

The simple solution, already implemented by Christchurch, is to install bike racks on buses. Bike racks on the front of buses are a common sight in cities across North America and Europe.  They’re easy to use and are used often.  Ensuring access to public transportation to cyclists AND their bikes complements the existing public transportation system by encouraging greater use of the transit system, improving access to stops, decreasing journey time, and diminishing safety concerns for late night transit users worried about a dark walk home.

Regular cyclists get a boost to the distance they can travel and some relief if they want to shorten their trip.  More importantly, potential new riders discover a world of possibility.  Maybe the bus stop is a tramp and a half from home. By bike, that slog is not only manageable, but enjoyable.  Maybe you like the sound of a morning ride into work, but by evening, after the weather’s shifted and the boss made you work late, you don’t even know if you can grip your bars.  Maybe you just like the idea that there’s a bus out there for you should you need it.

Racks on buses enable public transportation to complement the clean, green efforts of committed cyclists.  In the previous post, the issue of price was raised as an obstacle to their use.  According to a great resource created by Cycle Action Network, the per rack cost of about $2000 seems like a pretty low cost investment in Wellington’s cycling infrastructure.  They come from Sportsworks, the go-to bike-rack maker for many municipalities worldwide.  Or, maybe the racks can be sourced locally.  After all, if those Weta magicians can make these, they can probably build a better bike rack too.

Get on board, Wellington.  It’s time we all get rolling together.