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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.
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.
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.