Safer Speeds – 30km/h is the stepping stone to a central city for people

As a partner in the Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme, Wellington City Council is committed to making the city safer and more attractive. Introducing a 30 kmh speed limit across the central city is a key element. A few arterial streets are excepted, the Quays, Kent and Cambridge Tces, and SH1 on Vivian St.

The Council will consult on the plan early this year, and plans to introduce changes in mid-2020.

There’s more detail at https://lgwm.nz/our-plan/our-projects/central-city-safer-speeds/

30km/h on Featherston?

Safer speeds on central city streets could be a stepping stone towards a city that works for people travelling on all modes. By restricting most streets to 30km/h it is possible that more drivers will choose those streets that are still at 50km/h, reducing the traffic volumes on those streets at 30km/h. The LGWM programme will be assessing the impacts of changes, which will allow recommendations to be made on redesigning streets like Featherston and Taranaki, reducing the number of car lanes and allowing more space for people on foot and on bikes, buses and rapid transit. An even bolder approach would be to move one step further, closing off more streets to through-traffic. Birmingham has announced plans based on earlier tactics employed by Groningen in the Netherlands and Ghent, Belgium to make their city centre slightly more difficult to drive around, reallocating space to public and active transport in the process:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/carltonreid/2020/01/13/birmingham-reveals-radical-ghent-style-plan-to-cut-car-addiction/#214e9a69760f

The idea here is to create quadrants, or zones, dividing up areas of the central city. Private vehicles are not permitted to cross between these zones, but people on foot, buses or bikes can. The result is that places in Ghent that are 1km apart on foot or bike become 3km apart by car, making the bicycle the fastest way to get around, meaning more people opt to use a bicycle. Driving isn’t a particularly slow option, it just takes a bit longer and you need to drive further. People who need to drive still can, and the way the city is laid out pushes them onto outer roads that are more capable of handling cars, leaving those central streets free for people.

Wellington could apply similar thinking. It already has a ‘ring’ road of sorts. Imagine a car journey from the Michael Fowler Centre to Pukeahu Park didn’t involve going up Taranaki Street because it was now a no-through road. Your alternative route would be via Cable St, Kent Terrace and the Basin. Perhaps you’d decide to cycle there instead because now, Taranaki St is a residential area with fewer car lanes, a 30km/h speed limit, more seating, street trees and a cycle lane and you’d be there just as fast, (raging southerly wind notwithstanding!)

Taranaki St – unrecognisable

These ideas are almost incomprehensible at the moment because Wellington’s central city has so many lanes for cars that it can be very difficult to imagine where they would all go. However 30km/h streets will start to push us towards a Wellington where walking, shopping and living in our central city becomes much more pleasant. Driving will become just one of the ways you can get around easily, comfortably and conveniently, but not quite as quickly as by bike.

Quieter, slower streets become much more attractive to people on bikes and escooters where fewer cars pass and at slower relative speeds. Of course, crashes can still occur at 30km/h, but the outcomes are vastly improved for people of all ages. Cycling on slower streets will also ‘feel’ more comfortable and natural, which will attract more people to give bikes a go where currently the road conditions can feel more risky and scary.

Cycle Wellington fully supports the plans for 30km/h streets and looks forward to safer riding throughout our central city.

Let’s Get Wellington Moving

There’s some incredible stuff coming out of LGWM at the moment, with the first two rounds of in-depth consultation focusing on changes to make the central city much more people-friendly. This consultation closes this Sunday, 15th December. Have your say to make sure that the LGWMers know that this is what Wellingtonians want.

NZTA have gone with their funky map-based feedback machine to get feedback on Let’s Get Wellington Moving, which is amazing if you have a while to spare poring over maps of Wellington. However, it’s Kirihimete/Christmas so if time is not on your side there’s a TL;DR version

Hit these links which jump you straight through to the easy form-based feedback sections:

https://lgwm.nz/goldenmile/#e55

http://lgwm.nz/saferspeeds/#e56

These are great for overall feedback. The simplest comment you could put here is “Yes, do it already!”, both for improving the Golden Mile and for bringing city centre speeds down to a safer 30km/h. Two minutes and you’re done.

Still reading and have time for an in-depth submission? Here are some pointers, please let us know in the comments if you spot anything we’ve missed:

Golden Mile

This consultation gathers your ideas but doesn’t set out any concrete plans.
They say:

We want to make it better for people walking and on bikes, and give buses more priority

We say:

  • Separated cycle lanes to keep less confident riders away from buses, with well signposted, comfortable alternative routes where space is limited
  • Intersections are too intimidating for vulnerable road users and these people need safer means to change lanes and turn into other roads with clear right of way to drivers behind them. A suggestion is to make protected intersections with dedicated space and priority lights for people on foot, bikes, and scooters.
  • Giving people riding e-scooters and bikes a safer road space helps to keep pedestrians out of harm’s way
  • Make the Golden Mile for buses, bikes, scooters and people on foot
  • Allow goods deliveries in time windows outside of peak hours
  • If the Golden Mile is made car-free then design and enforcement will need to work together to make this a reality
  • Continuous walking along the route wherever possible – by closing side-street ends like Bond and Grey streets, and where a street crosses with through traffic give green walk signals with minimum interruption (like some of Featherston side streets)
  • Changing flow around Boulcott/Willis/Mercer/Victoria somehow to make life better for everyone

Te Aro Park, Golden Mile – what would make you more likely to ride here?

Safer speeds

This consulation proposes a 30km/h limit for the city centre – effectively everything within Karo Dive/Cambridge Terrace/the Quays apart from Vivian Street, extending North as far as the station.

We say:

  • This should be implemented for non-arterial CBD roads, and is already or is becoming the norm for cities around the world
  • Lower speeds make it feel safer or will make it more feasible for people on bikes and e-scooters to share the road
  • This needs to go hand in hand with road design features that naturally slow down the speed and clearly tell drives to give priority to vulnerable road users
  • Clearly there is a push for priority bus lanes through the CBD and this is where we expect separated cycle lanes
  • No easy suggestions how to deal with this but consideration needs to be given to people on bikes (e.g. road and electric bikes) and e-scooters who can and typically will try to travel faster than 30km/hr. This will give frustration to other road users who are keeping to the speed restrictions
  • Some roads feel too fast for 30km/h today, but these streets also have plenty of people living on them, walking on them and biking on them. They deserve safety too, and road design changes will help the lower speeds feel more natural here. The LGWM programme needs to show that these streets will be used for living, working, shopping and playing in future, so lower speeds are appropriate.
  • For central streets that remain at 50km/h (eg Quays, Kent & Cambridge, Vivian) use protected bike lanes to achieve 2 things – safer biking, and more separation between footpaths and moving traffic
  • Enforce new speed limits with cameras at high traffic volume / high risk places – do the same on the 50km/h arterial roads too
  • Green-waves for traffic lights so that people travelling below 30km/h don’t need to stop as often – making speeding futile

Taranaki Street – lots of space for living, working, playing, eating, partying – 30km/h makes sense to pave the way for new uses

Stay positive!

It’s tempting to use a consultation exercise as an opportunity to vent. However, we think a good submission should be really positive and future focused, try to imagine the Wellington you’d happily take your mates for a ride around next summer!

From all of us at Paihikara ki Pōneke/Cycle Wellington, Meri Kirihimete, Merry Christmas and enjoy riding your bike over the holidays. Looking forward to an amazing 2020!

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.

Wellington City Cycle Forum – 1 May 2013

How happy are you with cycling in Wellington? The Council wants to hear from you.

Her Worship the Mayor of Wellington Celia Wade-Brown invites you to the Wellington City Cycle Forum. The Forum is to discuss cycling and issues affecting cyclists in the city. Existing and prospective cyclists will have an opportunity to find out more about what the Council is doing and to join the discussion about what more needs to be done.

The forum will be in the Council Chambers, 101 Wakefield Street on Wednesday 1 May 2013. The forum will begin at 5.30pm, with light refreshments provided from 5.00pm.

Agenda:

1 – what Council has done

2 – what Council proposes to do – including updates from recently completed feasibility studies investigating the Great Harbour Way, Island Bay to the city and the South Coast

3 – key cycling routes – have we got our understanding of the network right ?

4 – new initiatives cyclists would like to see

Registration is essential for catering and venue purposes. Please RSVP to cycling@wcc.govt.nz by 24 April.

Vote Bike for Wellington

Unity has had this really good idea for Auckland. I rather think Wellington deserves some too. If the following sounds good to you, click the link and add some weight.

I want to be able to ride my bike around Wellington and feel safe and accepted; I want children to be able to ride their bikes to school; I want cycling to be mainstream; I want riding a bicycle to be a simple, practical choice for my friends, family and whanau.

The Vote Bike for Wellington petition is now live. Spread the word!

Wellington 2040 – transport cycling success

Next week Wellington City Council’s Strategy and Policy Committee will consider the recommendations contained in the nattily titled report Wellington 2040 City Strategy and Central City Framework: Feedback from Public Engagement. OK so that’s not actually a natty title.

Excitingly (yes, Council reports can be exciting), recomendation 1(b)(v) is that WCC alters the 2040 plan to “Strengthen focus on mixed modal transport options, including support for… safe cycling… infrastructure.” The report’s recommendations grew out of public consultation that expressed a number of common themes, including “desire for commitment to and improvements in public transport and cycling and walking accessibility in the city”. See, I told you it was exciting!

I haven’t read the public submissions, but I’d be interested to know whether they focussed on improving cycling infrastructure or whether there was a general desire for easier cycling and Council officers have thought “I know what that means, that means infrastructure!”

While I’m a big supporter of generous amounts of high-quality cycling infrastructure – and no-one is better placed to implement that than a council, I’d also like to see councils in our region step up to the cycling culture challenge. Infrastructure is great once you’re on a bike and riding to work or school or the shops or wherever, but what gets people on bikes is being able to identify with other people who ride for transport.

So what could councils do to give people that opportunity to think “I could do that”? How can councils work towards the cultural utopia pictured below? Suggestions so far include putting in some fun, attention-getting bike parking, and passing a bylaw making helmets optional. But what else is there? Answers on the back of a postcard, or in the comments box.

By Apoikola (Own work) [CC0 (creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

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 

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.

How to trigger the traffic lights with your bike

CAN is working on a Respect: Stop at Red campaign.

It’s a campaign to reduce crashes and improve the status of cycling in the eyes of the public and policy-makers, and to tackle the attitudes of those cyclists whose behaviour perpetuates the image of cyclists as irresponsible.

At yesterday’s inquest into the death of Steve Fitzgerald, the Coroner noted CAN’s request for changes in road user training and behaviour, then mentioned the unfavourable impression caused by bikers who run red lights.

I’d appreciate any feedback on this video (also at at stopatred.org.nz).