Don't forget to read our first blog on The Parade design options which discusses the carriageway
The design options for The Parade are now posted on the Love the Bay website. You have until 9pm Sunday 28 May to provide feedback.
This blog assesses the shopping centre design options against the design statements. Thanks to James for doing most of the heavy lifting on this one. The following document shows the five cross sections for the shopping centre options side by side (four new plus the current/original). This is a much easier way to compare the options against each other and spot consistent issues or themes.
Option 1B is the clear winner for cyclists, with protected space to cycle. It also maintains a comfortable roadway width for traffic, and keeps footpaths dedicated to pedestrians. The only downside is the reduction in roadside parking as parallel parks fit slightly fewer cars per distance than angle parks.
There will no doubt be a loud and negative reaction from many business owners regarding any reduction in parking. That would be a real shame and hopefully retailers will try to keep an open-mind and consider two things:
Bike customers live locally, they bike locally and they are much more likely to shop locally. They shop more often, for longer and they leave parking free for customers in cars
Of the other options:
It should also be noted that every single one of these options (including the current layout) will require a significant change in mentality by all users to make the shopping centre work as a truly shared space, which is the clear intent of the design statements. It is anything but a shared space at the moment.
Let's look at each option in turn, starting with Option 1E - the current layout.
Option 1E - current
Sharrows painted through the shopping centre are only partly successful at helping cyclists take the lane. Drivers often overtake cyclists through this area, and typically expect them to move out of the way (rather than overtaking in the other lane when there’s a gap in the traffic).
The traffic volume means that despite the 30km/h limit, sharrows aren’t enough to make this section of road feel welcoming for anyone but a confident cyclist.
The removal of traffic calming cushions at the southern end of the shopping area means that speeds are often over 30km/h in that area, just where people on bikes need to merge with traffic.
Angle parking means drivers leaving a park need to back out part way into the traffic before they can clearly see around other vehicles - especially when a van, ute or truck is parked to their left. This causes a particular problem if cyclists are forced to the left rather than taking the lane where they are more visible. People searching for an angle park may spot one at the last moment as they pass a long parked vehicle ‘hiding’ a space. These sudden left turns can be dangerous for cyclists.
Many vehicles turn into and out of Medway Street - a movement across the path of people cycling along the Parade. Pedestrians suffer from the lack of crossing priority. Better priority for people on foot or on bikes across this intersection would improve safety and make the area feel more welcoming to people not in cars.
Overall, these features mean someone using the cycleway encounters an abrupt drop in comfort and safety when they reach the shopping area. The knowledge of this may deter families or less-confident cyclists from using the whole cycleway. This option performs poorly against the design statements on safety and separation.
1A provides a protected path for cyclists through the shopping area and is generally well aligned with the design statements on safety and separation. However, keeping the angle parking (for capacity?) reduces the width available for adding the bike lanes, and the sub-2m footpaths are likely too narrow to allow for bins, post boxes and other facilities. Vehicles using the angle parking will be over a metre closer to the traffic flow - a hazard for passing traffic or cyclists on the road, and more stressful for drivers leaving parks. Longer vehicles may not even fit those parks - a double-cab Hilux ute, for example, takes up over 5.6m of corridor width when angle parked, so it would stick out over half a metre into the 3m traffic lane. Other comparable parking/lane-width situations in Wellington often result in parked utes or vans sticking out into the traffic lane. Passing vehicles then swing into the oncoming traffic lane to pass them.
Implementation detail will be important - determining whether the cycling area feels like a separate path (height and colour - difference would both be important) or part of the footpath. If there’s not much separation, mixing of cyclists and pedestrians would reduce safety and comfort for both.
The protected path is narrower than the current cycleway, at 1.5m. If the cycle path is vertically separated from the footpath there’s not much space for cyclists to avoid pedestrians who move into the protected path, for example when loading or unloading a car or van.
1B has the same basic benefits for cyclists as 1A. The change from angle to parallel parking is the most significant. In return for reducing the number of parking spaces, all users have more space which aligns well against the design statements on safety and separation. A 1.8m bike lane allows more room to comfortably bike past, for example, someone loading a car. The footpath and roadway are both wider. The road lane width is the same as today - without a median, but also without angle parks to worry about.
There will no doubt be a loud and negative reaction from many business owners regarding any reduction in parking. That would be a real shame and hopefully retailers will try to keep an open-mind and consider two things:
It's worth noting that the layout proposed in Option 1B is basically identical to the new layout proposed for Karangahape Road in Auckland, which has met with widespread approval. The only difference is that on K Road the parallel parking will be used as bus lanes during peak hours.
1C relies heavily on a shared path arrangement to make room for angle parking. A shared path is likely to have poor outcomes for pedestrians and cyclists in such a busy environment. Without separated space, people cycling could be moving in either direction and could be anywhere across the path, including right next to business doorways or parked cars. Retaining the angle parking makes the road unwelcoming despite the sharrows, so even competent cyclists may try to ride on the shared path, probably too fast for comfortable sharing.
Option 1C effectively allows cycling right across the road and the path, without making either of them suitable environments. On the road, cyclists are mixed among traffic. On the footpath, the roles are reversed and pedestrians would suffer. Shared paths are The Hunger Games of urban transport. Pedestrians and cyclists are thrown together in a hostile environment to fight over the breadcrumbs left by cars and see who survives. They are effectively a self-sabotaging form of infrastructure. The more popular shared paths become the worse the level of service gets for both modes, which then undermines uptake.
1D suffers from many of the same drawbacks as 1C, but adds a new hazard. The on-road painted cycle lanes appear to give cyclists some dedicated space, but they are narrow and beside minimum-width traffic lanes. There’s no room to move if a wide vehicle encroaches into the bike lane, and large vehicles like buses would often pass centimetres from a cyclist's handlebars.
With Option 1D, drivers would not be happy to share the main roadway with confident cyclists even though that would be a safer position than in a narrow unprotected bike lane.
The bike lane passes behind the short angle parks, so as with 1C vehicles would likely protrude into the bike lane, forming a pinch point for riders. The proposed 0.6m buffer between the bike lane and angle parking also goes against NZTA guidance to have at least a 2m buffer between angle parks and a cycle lane. This is a complete fail against the design statement that "the look and feel reinforces and highlights road rules and protocols".
James and Regan
Don't forget to read our first blog on The Parade design options which discusses the carriageway
A big thanks to everyone who has already read my blog post The Parade design options - carriageway, which takes an in-depth look at the six design options proposed for main carriageway along The Parade. If you haven't had time to read it yet here's the shorter tl;dr (too long, didn't read) version.
The design options for The Parade are now posted on the Love the Bay website. You have until 9pm Sunday 28 May to provide feedback.
Assessing the carriageway options against the design statements it seems clear that options 2b and 2e (current) provide the best mix of 'something for everyone'.
Who gets what?
The table below highlights the amount of space that's dedicated to a specific use under each option. It's sorted by the average amount of space allocated to each use across all the options to give a sense of which uses are consistently consuming the most space. The green highlighting indicates the best option(s) by use and the red highlighting indicates the worst option(s) by use.
If your eye is immediately drawn to option 2b it should be. Looking purely at dedicated space the two options that appear to have the best mix of 'something for everyone' are 2b and to a lesser extent 2e (current). Option 2b is the best possible option for cars (moving and parked) and bikes. It's also the second best option for pedestrians. Option 2e (current) is the best possible option for pedestrians, bikes and parked cars and the third best option for moving cars (but only 40cm less space than the best option). If we decide to prioritise pedestrians and bikes above cars then the current layout (Option 2e) should be preferred.
Are shared paths the answer?
Options 2b and 2e (current) don't require pedestrians and cyclists to share space. Shared paths are a poor solution because they mix pedestrians and cyclists moving in different directions and at quite different speeds. If there is any aspiration at all that the new design should increase active transport numbers then shared paths will become an increasingly sub-optimal solution, and may actually end up having the opposite effect. Shared paths do not score well against the design statements on safety, separation and "accommodating all current and future users" .
If it's not OK to walk it, why is it OK to cycle it?
Options 2b and 2e (current) are the only options that provide cyclists with full separation from moving traffic. This includes not requiring cars to cross the bike lanes to get to street parking. Lack of separation from moving traffic dramatically increases both the likelihood and consequences of a cyclist having a crash. More significantly, it's also the main cause of the 'near misses' that are proven to make cyclists feel uncomfortable and suppress uptake of cycling and there is a mountain of research to support this point. NZTA guidance also requires complete separation between cyclists and moving traffic on roads with more than 7,000 vehicles per day, which is nearly the entirety of The Parade.
In the three options where cyclists are required to ride in an unprotected bike lane next to moving traffic (2a, 2d and 2f) the bike lanes are 1.5m wide, which is too narrow. This means there will be many occasions where a cyclist is being passed by cars that are well within the 1.5m minimum safe passing distance recommended in the NZ Road Code and the 1m distance under 60kph recommended by the Cycling Safety Panel as the legal minimum. It should be unacceptable to even consider implementing a design for The Parade where cyclists being close to, and often within, a metre of moving traffic is actually built in. It is an obvious fail against the design statement that says "the look and feel reinforces and highlights road rules and protocols" as well as the design statements on safety and separation. In short, if it's not OK to walk it, why is it OK to cycle it?
Is parking really more important than mobility and safety?
Only one option - 2a - considers a reduction in the amount of parking. This is despite council data that shows parking occupancy on The Parade is in the region of 50-60%. It's also noteworthy that the design statements make no mention of needing to preserve the current amount of parking, or even retain a minimum amount of parking, except at the shopping centre. Parking uses up a large amount of space that could be used for mobility. It also interrupts sight lines, which creates safety issues, and creates visual and physical clutter. If completely removing parking from one or both sides is just too hard for people to swallow then at the very least it should be possible to remove selected car parks to improve visibility at intersections and driveways, and reduce visual and physical clutter, which aligns very well with the design statements.
Overall, options 2b and 2e (current) both appear to be well-aligned with the key design statements and I'd like to see the designers focus on a design that builds on the best elements of both of those options. Options for the carriageway that use shared paths or on-road bike lanes should not be developed further.
I hope you find this analysis helpful. When submitting your own feedback on the carriageway options I suggest focusing on options 2b and 2e (current) first and clearly describing what you most like about those options. Then go to the other options and focus on what you most dislike about those options. I'll stop short of actually providing template answers to the specific questions because pro-forma responses are not that helpful to the designers and you should really try and explain why you like or dislike a particular option in your own words.
Update: This is a pretty detailed analysis and a long read. If you haven't got time I've now posted a shortened version.
The design options for The Parade are now posted on the Love the Bay website. You have until 9pm Sunday 28 May to provide feedback.
In this blog I'll be assessing the carriageway design options against the design statements. I'll be doing this at a global level, rather than option by option. That's partly because of space and time considerations but also because the key themes and issues are consistent across multiple options. In fact, there are issues that are really only revealed by comparing the options against each other. I think it's useful to analyse these issues at a higher level first before drilling down to individual options. Analysing the options in this way also acknowledges that they are not discrete or set in stone. As explained on the Love the Bay website the designs are not exhaustive, but rather are intended to illustrate a range of feasible options for The Parade in order to prompt discussion and provide context for feedback. The process is not tied to just these options and our job in providing feedback is not to try and whittle down these options to just one. This is not a vote and the designers at Tonkin & Taylor are looking for quality not quantity of feedback.
Hopefully this analysis might also help you to provide your own feedback on the options. Even if you disagree with me you can use this analysis as a straw man to conduct your own. After all, the more feedback on the options, and the higher quality it is, the better for the process overall.
Before looking at the options themselves I think there's an issue with the design statements that needs to be addressed. As I pointed out in my previous blog Love the Bay - back on track! there's at least two key design statements that I think aren't fit for purpose.
The first is the design statement that deals with safety:
It is safe for pedestrians, safe for cyclists, safe for motorists, safe for children, safe for the elderly, safe for people with disabilities, safe when exiting/accessing vehicles while parked, safe for exiting driveways, safe for parking, safe at intersections
The problem with this statement is that it doesn't differentiate or prioritise between different types of users. It simply states the obvious, that all users should expect a minimum standard of safety. However, it offers no assistance at all in regard to whether certain users need to be prioritised because they are more vulnerable than others, or more likely to be at risk. Neither does it consider whether there are certain users who should be made to feel even safer than others, or simply more comfortable, to achieve a policy goal such as increasing active transport use. For these reasons I am suggesting that as long as an acceptable level of safety is in place for everyone the safety of pedestrians and cyclists should be prioritised above motorists because of their vulnerability and the higher level of risk they face. I'm also taking it as given that the safety of children, the elderly and people with disabilities is the highest priority within each of those groups but that, for example, the safety of a motorist with a disability is not a higher priority than a cyclist without. This prioritisation is consistent with NZTA guidelines and the safe system approach, and also Wellington City Council's sustainable transport hierarchy, which is central to the Urban Growth Plan and the Low Carbon Capital Plan. For the purpose of this analysis it's this revised design statement that I'll be referring to.
The second statement that I find problematic deals with the need for separation:
There is clear separation between fast moving things, slow moving things, and parked things (motorists and fast cyclists / slow cyclists and pedestrians / parked cars)
The problem with this statement is that it only considers speed and doesn't account for vulnerability or traffic volumes, as I fully explained in my blog Love the Bay - back on track!. It also fails to consider something incredibly important in relation to speed. There is a much greater range of speed differential between pedestrians, cyclists and motorists than simply fast and slow. Pedestrians typically move at an average speed of around 5kph and would very rarely get above a speed of 10kph, at which point they are jogging. At the other end of the scale cars in an urban environment typically drive at, or close to, the speed limit of 50kph, occasionally dropping to speeds lower than that. Bikes typically travel at a speed of around 20kph on the flat but depending on the rider can easily range between a constant speed of 10kph and 30kph, and on hills can go even slower or faster than that. It's actually a key part of the utility of bikes that they suit such a wide range of users and needs. However, this means that bikes and their riders can't be categorised as just being fast or slow. Also, the speed at which bikes typically travel, between 10kph and 30kph and an average of 20kph, puts them right between the top of the range for pedestrians and the bottom of the range for motorists. Essentially, most bikes are going too fast to be sharing with pedestrians and too slow to be sharing with cars as I've illustrated in the graph below. The graph also highlights the issue of vulnerability and the vast difference in mass between pedestrians and cyclists, and cars, trucks and buses (which weigh a minimum of one tonne and can go up to 15 tonnes or more).
For these reasons I'm suggesting that this design statement be revised to simply say that there should be clear separation between pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles. For the purpose of this analysis it's this revised design statement that I'll be referring to.
To aid this high level analysis I've also created the following document which shows the six cross sections for the carriageway options side by side (four new plus the current and the original). I find this a much easier way to compare the options against each other and spot consistent issues or themes.
The first point to note is the continued dominance of cars over other modes. In every single option cars are allocated the most space, particularly when parking and median strips are included. Highlighting this issue isn't just abstract, tree-hugging, "cars are bad" rhetoric. My family owns a car and we use it quite a lot. However, it needs to be acknowledged just how dominant the private motor vehicle has become in our urban transport ideology and infrastructure so that a greater degree of status quo bias than already exists doesn't creep in. Cars are currently so far ahead in their dominance that if we are sincere about wanting a 'balanced' transport network walking, cycling and public transport need to be prioritised for a long time in order to get even remotely close to equity.
The table below quantifies how this issue affects The Parade by showing the amount of space that's dedicated to a specific use under each option. It's sorted by the average amount of space allocated to each use across all the options to give a sense of which uses are consistently consuming the most space:
On average cars consume nearly three times the space of pedestrians and cyclists when parking and median strips are accounted for. There's also a much greater range of space allocated to pedestrians and cyclists across the options than there is for cars. The range of possible outcomes for pedestrians goes from no dedicated space at all under option 2c up to 5.2m of dedicated space under options 2e (current) and 2f (original). The range of possible outcomes for cyclists goes from no dedicated space at all under option 2c up to 3.6m of dedicated space under options 2b and 2e (current). However, the range of possible outcomes for cars only varies from 6m to 6.4m, or from 9.8m to 11.8m if taking into account parking and median strips. This reinforces the view that dedicated space for cars is considered not-negotiable, while dedicated space for pedestrians, and cyclists in particular, is a 'nice to have'.
In terms of dedicated space the best option for each mode of travel is:
If your eye is immediately drawn to option 2b it should be. Looking purely at dedicated space the two options that appear to have the best mix of 'something for everyone' are 2b and to a lesser extent 2e. Option 2b is the best possible option for cars (moving and parked) and bikes. It's also the second best option for pedestrians. Option 2e (current) is the best possible option for pedestrians, bikes and parked cars and the third best option for moving cars (but only 40cm less space than the best option). If we decide to prioritise pedestrians and bikes above cars then the current layout (option 2e) should be preferred.
Option 2e (current) in action
There's also an over reliance in the options on shared paths as a panacea. Three of the four new options - 2a, 2c and 2d - all rely on shared paths. Shared paths are a poor solution for both cyclists and pedestrians because they lower the level of service for both modes. As explained above they do not align well with either of the design statements regarding safety and separation because they mix pedestrians and cyclists who are potentially travelling at quite different speeds. Remember, an average pedestrian is travelling at 5kph while an average cyclist is travelling at 15-20kph. Options 2b, 2e and 2f are the only three options where pedestrians and cyclists don't have to share the same space. This further strengthens the case for options 2b and 2e, or some variant of, to be considered the preferred options.
Options 2b and 2e are also the only options that provide full separation for bikes. Bikes are required to ride in unprotected lanes in three options (2a, 2d and 2f) and fully in the traffic lane in option 2c. There are multiple issues with on-road bike lanes:
The multiple problems with the on-road bike lanes in options 2a, 2d and 2f can be neatly summed up by asking a very simple question: if it's not OK to walk it, why is it OK to cycle it? Cyclists are just as vulnerable to motor vehicles as pedestrians so if you wouldn't want to walk on the road between parked cars and moving traffic why would you expect cyclists to bike there? Options 2b and 2e (or some variant of), which separate cyclists from moving traffic completely, make another strong showing here.
It also sticks out like a sore thumb that only one option - 2a - even considers a reduction in the amount of parking. This is despite council data that shows parking occupancy on The Parade is in the region of 50-60%. It seems surprising that the removal of at least some parking doesn't feature more heavily among the options especially when parking would score very low against the design statements. In fact, it's noteworthy that the design statements make no mention of needing to preserve the current amount of parking, or even retain a minimum amount of parking, except at the shopping centre. Parking uses up a large amount of space that could be used for mobility. It also interrupts sight lines, which creates safety issues, and creates visual and physical clutter. Even The Economist magazine recently pointed out that cars are parked 95% of the time and parking is mostly "a public resource being allocated highly inefficiently".
I realise that some residents rely on street parking but if we are really saying parking is more important than safety or mobility then I think we've got our priorities wrong. The fact is that the parking occupancy stats indicate parking could be removed from one side of The Parade without creating a huge problem. There are also tools such as residents' parking schemes and the rise of park-sharing apps that could help mitigate the impact.
Unbelievably, in option 2a the space freed up by removing parking on one side is allocated to a median strip but it could be much more usefully deployed to make the footpaths, bike lanes or traffic lanes wider. If completely removing parking from one or both sides is just too hard for people to swallow then at the very least it should be possible to remove selected car parks to improve visibility at intersections and driveways, and reduce visual and physical clutter, which aligns very well with the design statements.
The re-introduction of median strips to options 2a and 2f (original) is also very disappointing. In my view median strips and right hand turn bays generally reflect an old-fashioned attitude that traffic flow is more important than anything else. This is a view that simply isn't necessary or appropriate in a modern suburban environment. When it's been proven that narrower traffic lanes slow traffic down and make streets safer overall narrow lanes should be considered a feature in the suburbs, not a problem.
Let's also not forget that Wellington City Council's own policy is to reduce the number of private fossil fuelled vehicles on the road. This recently published and well researched article End of the road? Why it might be time to ditch your car argues that "peak car is upon us, and with it comes the opportunity to choose new models of urban transport that better match our current needs for quality, sustainable living". So when one of the design objectives is for The Parade to "accommodate all current and future users" that's the future we should be planning for.
Prioritising traffic flow also isn't consistent with a more progressive view of how urban environments can be designed to make them more liveable and people-friendly, a desire that is reflected in many of the design statements. The 'futurementary' below from Bike Te Atatu is a brilliant example of the kind of 'complete streets' or 'complete community' that we could be aspiring to be in Island Bay if we had the vision, imagination and optimism.
In summary, options 2b and 2e seem to provide the best mix of 'something for everyone'. Out of all the options they provide the greatest amount of dedicated space for pedestrians (2e), cyclists (2b, 2e), moving cars (2b) and parked cars (2b, 2e). They don't require pedestrians and cyclists to share space and they provide cyclists with full separation from moving traffic. This includes not requiring cars to cross the bike lanes to get to street parking. Options 2b and 2e also retain parking on both sides of the road. However, this is one area where the options could be developed further. Removing some parking could create more space for pedestrians, cyclists and moving cars. It could also increase visibility and reduce visual and physical clutter. Overall, options 2b and 2e both appear to be well-aligned with the key design statements and I'd like to see the designers focus on a design that builds on the best elements of both of those options.
If time permits I'll try and blog about the other elements of The Parade sometime over the next two weeks. If you are pushed for time to give feedback I suggest focusing on the carriageway options first and Options 2b and 2e in particular. The carriageway options will dictate what you see on the ground along the bulk of The Parade and if we get that right then to a large extent many of the other elements will fall into place.
Here's a few thoughts on the recently completed Love the Bay drop in sessions.
On the bright side the sessions were pretty well attended, especially compared to the workshops. I would guess that approx. 150 people went along on a wet Wednesday night and even more than that on Sunday, with maybe 200+ people coming through. However, there were a lot of familiar faces from the workshops so it's hard to know how many new people the drop-in format brought out. Even with making some generous assumptions about that it's hard to see how the drop in sessions have increased the overall engagement of Island Bay residents in the Love the Bay process much above the 5% mark. It's clear that while people at the more extreme ends of the debate have been well involved the process simply hasn't engaged the vast majority of the community.
Active transport was a popular option at both drop in sessions
The downside of the reasonably good turnout was that it was quite crowded on both days and difficult to get a look at all the information on display. That problem was compounded by the sheer volume of information to look at and provide feedback on, most of which was quite technical. These were not "drop in" sessions by any stretch of the imagination. There were five different stations around the room each with four or more options to assess against the 32 design statements. For every option the feedback forms asked you to consider the advantages (what about this option will work well?), the disadvantages (what about this option will work poorly?) and ideas (how could this option be further developed?). Even if you didn't bother with trying to assess every option against every design statement you still faced filling in 20+ feedback forms and answering 60+ questions. It was obviously just too much for many people who I suspect defaulted to trying to push their preferred outcome without any real regard for the information being presented. That's a massive missed opportunity.
Island Bay residents working their way through a large amount of information
Unfortunately this was just the wrong format for what was being asked and it reinforced my view that the workshops phase of the Love the Bay process has been prematurely concluded. This is the part of the process where the rubber hits the road (no pun intended) and the hard work of deciding priorities and making trade-offs, including financial ones, needs to occur. Getting groups of residents together to discuss the all the pros and cons of the various options with facilitation and guidance from technical experts could have worked really well. At the very point where the real value of a participatory process should have been most evident it feels like it's been cut off at the knees.
There also appears to be some confusion about what will happen with the feedback that was collected. Many people still seem to be under the impression that this is a numbers game and that the feedback forms are effectively 'votes'. However, the council staff I spoke to were absolutely clear that this is not the case and it's quality not quantity of feedback they are after. That's really important because...
There will be another opportunity to provide feedback online. If you weren't able to attend the drop in sessions or you want to supplement the feedback you've already given, you can. Keep an eye on www.lovethebay.nz over the rest of this week. Given the volume of information to consider taking some time to work through the options in the peace and quiet of your own home is probably the way to go. Hopefully the feedback period will be long enough to give the kind of quality feedback being asked for.
The Love the Bay process is back on track with drop in sessions this week to look at design options for The Parade
The latest update on the Love the Bay process contains a lot of information. The most important thing you need to know is that there are drop-in sessions coming up on 3 May (7-9pm) and 7 May (1:30pm-3:30pm) at the Island Bay Baptist Church. The sessions will be an opportunity to provide feedback on the design options that have been created for The Parade and assess their pros and cons against the design objectives and underlying design statements that emerged from the workshops. You only need to attend one session but put one of those dates in your diary now! The update also helpfully provides an overview of the process so far for those who may be getting involved for the first time.
This is the first time anyone has seen the design objectives and design statements so here are some of my initial thoughts. Overall I think the Love the Bay team have done a good job of trying to summarise all of the feedback received from the community via the workshops and online engagement. The design statements cover a lot of ground and at first glance appear to cover most of the things you would expect them to cover. It's also very hard to disagree with any of the specific design statements, they are all things you would want to see reflected to some degree or another in an overall design for The Parade. However, that's where I think the first real issue arises.
The design statements are all a bit 'motherhood and apple pie'. There's certainly no suggestion of how to resolve some of the obvious conflicts and trade-offs that will need to be made if everything on this 'wish-list' is to be accommodated in the limited space available on The Parade, and within a limited budget. At this stage there's no mention of prioritisation at all. For example, the first design statement is:
It is safe for pedestrians, safe for cyclists, safe for motorists, safe for children, safe for the elderly, safe for people with disabilities, safe when exiting/accessing vehicles while parked, safe for exiting driveways, safe for parking, safe at intersections.
Safety for everybody! Sadly, I think it probably is necessary to make this statement and to be honest I actually feel relieved to see cyclists given the same status (at least at face value) as other road users. The problem is that this statement doesn't actually help the designers. Safety, and what it actually means (actual vs perceived vs experienced vs relative), is an incredibly complex and emotive subject. I tried to dig much deeper into that in a couple of earlier blogs; The hypocrisy around cycleway safety needs to stop and Crash facts. Hopefully the effective and fair reconciliation of the safety needs of different modes will be a focus of the drop-in sessions. At least we now have 2016 crash statistics to take some of the subjectivity out of the discussion.
Another issue is that council policy is not reflected in the design statements at all and nor is NZTA guidance. These things can't simply be ignored so surely it's better that they are dealt with now than introduced later in the process. To not do so risks raising the community's expectations and then creating the sense that the community's wishes have been over-ruled by technocrats. Surely it's better to challenge the community up front to take ownership of the fact that we live within a regulated environment, and mostly for very good reasons.
For example, the sustainable transport hierarchy is central to the council's Urban Growth Plan and Low Carbon Capital Plan and both plans make it absolutely clear that walking, cycling and public transport will be prioritised over motor vehicles. Mayor Justin Lester went as far as saying in a recent blog The sustainability opportunity – a Wellington story that "we’ve identified getting people out of private fossil fuel powered motor vehicles as a top priority. That’s why we’re supporting walking and cycling and public transport". That's the Mayor of Wellington talking about Wellington City Council policy and Island Bay is not an autonomous local fiefdom. I also know for a fact that prioritising walking and cycling was in the feedback received from the community because I included it in my own online submission and mentioned it several times during workshops but for whatever reason it didn't filter through to the design statements.
We’ve identified getting people out of private fossil fuel powered motor vehicles as a top priority
Maybe this will somehow get resolved in the drop-in sessions but on this particular issue it's my view that the participatory part of the Love the Bay process (the workshops) has been brought to a premature conclusion. The need to take into account local and central government policy and guidance is something that the community should have been given the opportunity to discuss and take ownership of. For example, a great discussion topic at a workshop could have been "should the design of The Parade help to grow active transport? If so, how?", or "how can the design of The Parade encourage users to make sustainable transport choices?". I think these kind of questions would have given the community the opportunity to explore some of the challenges that councillors and council officers face in balancing the general interest (or 'the greater good') against very specific local and individual interests.
Responsibility for the community not getting that opportunity sits with the Love the Bay syndicate and in particular, the Island Bay Residents Association (IBRA). It was IBRA who included "no more workshops" in their recent list of demands to the council and it's clear that they want to see the Love the Bay process concluded as soon as possible. So when the technical experts and council officers are inevitably forced to align "the community's wishes" with council policy and NZTA guidelines before making their recommendations to councillors I expect to hear nothing but silence from IBRA.
The Island Bay Cycleway has now been in place for over a year
In my view there's also a bias in the design statements towards what could be called a traditional road layout. There are numerous references to the road, the footpath, pedestrian crossings and even parking but not a single mention of the cycleway or dedicated cycling infrastructure (unless you count bike parking). This is despite the fact that the current cycleway has now been in place for well over a year and even the half-arsed, on-road, painted bike lanes that previously existed along sections of The Parade appear to have been forgotten. It seems that the default layout between private property boundaries is assumed to be footpath > parking > road > parking > footpath and that anything else is a 'nice to have'. Whether it was intended or not the implication is that some elements of the built environment for transport are not negotiable but others, like cycling infrastructure, are.
It's also noticeable that there's more detail in the design statements around the specific needs of motorists and pedestrians compared to cyclists. For example, there's a statement that "footpaths are wide enough for two adults and a dog to walk side by side". That's lovely, but there's no acknowledgement that cyclists might ever want to do the same thing, with or without a dog. In fact, the only specific mentions of cycling in the context of the design objective "The Parade accommodates all current and future users" are "children may cycle on the footpath" and "faster cyclists who prefer to ride on the road". You'll notice that in both those situations the implication is that the cyclist can be accommodated as a 'guest' in somebody else's 'space'. It's as if cycling, in and of itself, simply isn't considered a valid and viable mode of travel, and certainly not one worth dedicating any space to.
I also have some concerns about this design statement, which in my view is too simplistic and not consistent with current NZTA guidance about when separation is needed:
There is clear separation between fast moving things, slow moving things, and parked things (motorists and fast cyclists / slow cyclists and pedestrians / parked cars).
This statement assumes the need for separation is associated only with the relative speed of the different actors. While relative speed is important at least two other factors should also be considered; vulnerability and traffic volumes. It should be clear to anyone that pedestrians and cyclists are both vulnerable road users. NZTA's Road Safety Audit Procedures for Projects certainly treats them that way and according to those procedures a pedestrian or cyclist hit by a car travelling at 50km/h has an 80% (approx.) chance of being killed, which is far higher than someone travelling in a car.
The design statement is also isn't clear about what "clear separation" means. Is a painted on-road bike lane considered clear separation? Or does it mean physical separation, using parked cars or some other form of barrier? The key factors in NZTA guidance on when cyclists should be completely separated from traffic are traffic speed and traffic volume. Did you know that the traffic volumes and speed along almost the entirety of The Parade (ranging from 7,000 - 11,000 vehicles per day) mean that under NZTA's criteria the physical separation of cyclists from motor traffic is needed?
While this design statement might accurately reflect what came through the public feedback I think it is a great example of how "the community's wishes" ultimately have to be moderated against technical expertise. As I've already pointed out I think it's a shame that the community weren't given the opportunity to participate in these types of discussion in the workshops but so be it. I think this particular design statement needs to be re-written and that's one message I'll definitely be taking to the drop-in sessions. I also hope and trust that the professional designers and engineers who will now be taking this process forward are well aware of their responsibilities in this regard.
Let's also not forget that Love the Bay has already been probably the longest, deepest and most expensive council consultation in years. Despite being very well advertised participation in the workshops represents about 4% of Island Bay residents, so we need to be very careful about extrapolating "the community's wishes" from this process anyway. It will be very interesting to see what attendance at the drop-in sessions is like and perhaps the promise of actually seeing some designs on paper will prove more enticing to some people. Please do come along if you can and encourage other friends and family to do so. If you can't make the drop in sessions, there will be other opportunities to give feedback on the Love the Bay website and elsewhere in the community.
Good news! the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) have finally finished recording 2016 crash reports in their Crash Analysis System (CAS) and it can now be confirmed that 2016 was a below average year for crashes on The Parade.
As noted in a previous blog, Crash Facts, over the 10 years from 2006-2015 there was an average of six crashes on The Parade per year reported in NZTA's CAS [Note 1]. In 2016 there were just three [Note 2]. Two of these incidents involved cyclists. The first was the February 25 crash at the Mersey Street intersection prior to the cycleway being finished. The other was a crash near the Medway Street intersection sometime around Queen's Birthday weekend (but this crash can't possibly be blamed on the cycleway because the cycleway doesn't continue through the shopping centre). The third crash in 2016 occurred sometime in the second half of the year on the section of The Parade between Humber and Mersey Streets but did not involve a cyclist [Note 3].
2016 crash statistics confirm what Island Bay kids and their whanau already know - the cycleway is safe
It's important to note that there were at least two other crashes on The Parade in 2016 that were reported but not recorded in CAS. One was the crash on June 13 that prompted the blog The hypocrisy around cycleway safety needs to stop. The second was the crash on November 9 that prompted the blog Crash facts. The reason these crashes are not recorded in CAS is because they are non-injury crashes and in the case of the June 13 crash the Police did not attend so no report would have been made anyway. NZTA have not been reporting non-injury crashes in their publicly available CAS data since mid-2016 because they currently have a large backlog that they do not expect to clear for over a year [Note 4]. However, even if the two crashes above were included in the data it would still be a below average year for crashes on The Parade.
Even when comparing injury crashes only 2016 was still an average year. Over the 10 years from 2006-2015 there was an average of 2.4 injuries per year (0.4 serious and 2 minor) and in 2016 there were just 3 minor injuries. Two of those injuries were sustained by cyclists. One at the Mersey Street intersection before it was actually completed and the other in the area of the shops, where there isn't any cycleway.
Of course, it needs to be noted that any analysis of crash statistics should be approached with caution. As Professor Alistair Woodward noted in his blog The Island Bay Cycleway – Terribly Important and Nothing New crash data are often "insensitive, partial and slow to come to hand". Yes, there were probably some unreported incidents during 2016, but that's also true of any other year. Also, I don't doubt that some people are now far more alert to crashes and 'near-misses' happening (but that's pretty much the definition of confirmation bias).
A discussion about safety and what is or isn't 'safe' is also complex and something that I explored more fully in my blog The hypocrisy around cycleway safety needs to stop.
Regardless, a first full year of crash stats is an important milestone for the cycleway. It's obviously great news for everybody that there's no evidence to suggest the cycleway has caused more crashes on The Parade or made it any less safe overall (unless you're so blindly opposed to the cycleway that you would like to see people get hurt just to prove a point). I'd fully expect to see this data taken into account as part of the Love the Bay process.
So if safety is no longer an argument against the kerbside parking protected cycleway design then what's left?
Love the Bay! We've been saying it since way back in 2014 when we put it on some stickers. We had Tapu Te Ranga in the background and everything. So we were very happy and flattered when the coalition between Wellington City Council, Cycle Aware Wellington and the Island Bay Residents Association (the syndicate) also adopted the phrase as the name of the Island Bay re-engagement process. We certainly didn't make any fuss about it or expect any acknowledgement. Nobody asked us about it but hey, it's not like we were the first ever people to say love the bay, right?
Island Bay Cycle Way's original 'Love the Bay' design (first 3 photos) and the new design on the right
Imagine my surprise then when I received the following email from the Love the Bay syndicate relating to my recent blog post What's happening with Love the Bay?
The syndicate is writing in reference to your use of the Love The Bay logo to headline an opinion piece you have published on the status of the Love the Bay process.
The syndicate does not think that this is an appropriate use of the logo and respectfully request that you remove the logo from your post(s).
Love the Bay is a community centred and owned project and the syndicate’s view is that the logo should only be used when supporting official LTB communications by including an excerpt from or link to them, e.g. notices of upcoming workshops. In such cases, the logo’s use needs to be suitably attributed to the LTB project. Providing an opinion under the LTB logo dilutes the intent of the logo, and runs the risk of being mistaken for the LTB project or syndicate position when that may not be the case.
We would like to emphasise that conditions of use of the LTB logo applies across the board. We are well aware that there are many channels on social media with many different views and as much as is possible we will try to ensure that the integrity of the LTB logo is preserved in all cases.
Thanks for your understanding on this matter.
Love The Bay syndicate"
Whaat? Sounds like someone's been watching too many episodes of Suits. It's probably not a surprise to anyone that I'm going to respectfully decline to do what they ask. Frankly, I think it's a silly request and their reasoning is a bit specious. Why was it even necessary to write this email? I would have hoped the syndicate has much more pressing and strategic matters to be discussing. And let's not forget the actual subject matter of the blog in question - without being too harsh throwing stones from glasshouses comes to mind. The blog is clearly an opinion piece about the Love the Bay process hosted on the Island Bay Cycle Way website, so there shouldn't be any confusion about my words being those of the Love the Bay project or syndicate. Please let me know if you're confused about that or what website you're currently reading though.
But hey, it's no biggie and I want the Love the Bay syndicate to know there's no hard feelings. I will continue to put time and effort into promoting Love the Bay events and posting Love the Bay updates on social media. That includes occasionally paying to boost Love the Bay related news on Facebook out of my own pocket, which I have now done several times because I believe its important to get the message out and try and get more people involved. And yes, I will also continue to put time and effort into engaging with the process and contributing to the discourse with my views and opinions.
They say every moment is a teachable moment so while I've got your attention here's a link to the latest update on the Love the Bay project. Click on the link! It's a good update! There's information! You'll be glad you did!
Have a lovely long weekend everyone.
The Love the Bay process is suddenly back in the news this week. After a long period of relative calm, mostly due to council staff being diverted away from the process onto earthquake recovery, Wednesday's Dominion Post reported that Island Bay residents want final say on controversial cycleway to be 90pc theirs. The Dom Post explains that "at 2017's first meeting of the [Island Bay] residents association (IBRA) on Monday night, chairwoman Vicki Greco, who is also a syndicate member, said a proposal had been put to the syndicate - known as Love the Bay - to give residents a weighted 90 per cent of the vote, with 10 per cent going to other Wellington City Council constituents". Vicki Greco is also quoted as saying most members want to see The Parade returned to its pre-cycleway layout with full implementation by September. Deputy Mayor Paul Eagle, who was at the IBRA meeting, says he supports residents getting the bulk of the vote on the cycleway's final layout.
Will Island Bay's kids get to vote on the cycleway?
As it turns out IBRA actually presented a list of concerns and requirements/expectations to Wellington City Council's Chief Planner David Chick in a meeting on Feb 1. The list includes the items reported by The Dominion Post but also goes much further. The list was discussed at the first Love the Bay syndicate meeting of the year on Feb 15 and is attached to the minutes of that meeting as an appendix.
Reading the syndicate minutes and IBRA's list there's definitely some cause for concern about what the residents association are doing and asking here.
First, the IBRA syndicate members seem to be having some difficulty managing the obvious conflict of interest between their roles as IBRA committee members and Love the Bay syndicate members (as noted in the syndicate meeting minutes). It was inappropriate, and a breach of the syndicate's Terms of Reference, to have a syndicate member (Vicki Greco) briefing the membership of IBRA on matters that had not yet been fully discussed by the syndicate, and clearly expressing an opinion on what the outcome of the discussion should be. Not only does this raise expectations among IBRA's membership that might not be met, but it creates obvious equity and fairness issues for the vast majority of Island Bay residents who are not IBRA members.
By approaching the council directly with their concerns IBRA have also created the impression that they are trying to by-pass, or maybe even abandon, the Love the Bay process. That would be incredibly disappointing when IBRA members have two of the four seats on the Love the Bay syndicate reserved for community stakeholders (Cycle Aware Wellington have the other two) and have been involved in the design and governance of the process from the very start. If they have concerns about Love the Bay why didn't they take them directly to the syndicate? And going public with their requirements/expectations also makes it look like IBRA are trying to pressure the syndicate into making the decisions they want. It's hard not to conclude that IBRA are trying to have an influence over the outcome of Love the Bay that goes far beyond being the neutral "custodians of the engagement process" described in the syndicate terms of reference, and despite the fact that they represent only a tiny fraction of Island Bay residents.
The substance of IBRA's requirements/expectations is also concerning. In short, they are demanding that:
Again, it looks like IBRA want to abandon the Love the Bay process and go straight to a popular vote. Apart from the fact that attempting some kind of local referendum would be logistically difficult, expensive and set a terrible precedent it would also completely undermine the whole point of having a participatory planning process like Love the Bay. In fact, the Participatory Village Planning Strategy on which Love the Bay is based explicitly states: "residents need to take the approach that this is not a process to choose one option over another, but rather an opportunity for everyone who wishes to participate to design a solution that as many people as possible are as happy as possible with". At best, IBRA members don't seem to understand (or have forgotten) what they signed up for. A more cynical view is that they do understand but just don't like where Love the Bay seems to be heading. You can't ask people to invest their time and energy in participating in workshops and then throw the decision back to the vast majority of the community who haven't. I estimate that around 200-250 individual people have participated in the workshops at most, and it could actually be fewer than that (it would be great if WCC could confirm). There are nearly 7,000 people living in Island Bay so that's a participation rate of around 4%. If you really want to talk about voting then I think its reasonable to argue that Island Bay has already voted with its feet, and the vast majority of residents (~95%) just don't care.
Personally, I've found the Love the Bay process to be extremely well planned, advertised and run. I think the council staff and contractors involved have done a great job under difficult circumstances. There's been a full range of views expressed during the workshops but overall they've been very constructive and I'm looking forward to participating in Workshop 5 - Designing The Parade.
Another concern raised by IBRA is that "Wellington City Council [are] now publicly pulling back on any commitment to funding the community’s decision about what changes are required". This relates to a statement made by David Chick on Jan 10 that "money would be a factor in the final decision and needed to be carefully considered because it was uncosted and had no budget allowance". Cost is a factor, of course, and David Chick is just being a responsible public servant by pointing that out. Whether we like it or not council budgets are finite and as an Island Bay resident who bikes to the CBD and back every day I also have an interest in knowing that council funding for cycling is being fairly allocated to places other than Island Bay. In fact, funding is another very good reason why decisions around the Island Bay cycleway can't be made exclusively by Island Bay residents. I'd even like to see the design options for Island Bay costed at a high level so that everybody can factor that into their thinking. It's one thing to say "get rid of the cycleway", but what if you know the next best option will cost $3m?
The nicest thing I can think of to say about the rest of IBRA's concern's are that they are very... interesting. I'll just leave them here without comment:
Finally, I had the opportunity to speak with Mayor Justin Lester on the phone on Wednesday night about all this. He assured me that the council remains committed to the Love the Bay process. That's good to hear but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. I guess we will all await the outcome of Tuesday's Love the Bay syndicate meeting with interest.
Wellington City Council's Low Carbon Capital Plan 2016 - 2018 was unanimously approved by councillors in June 2016 as part of the adoption of the 2016/17 annual plan. Despite its significance it has attracted relatively little attention or comment until the new Mayor Justin Lester wrote a blog on Wellington's sustainability opportunity at the end of last year. The blog is well worth reading (as is the plan) because it's a bold statement of intent from the Mayor about his vision for a resilient and sustainable Wellington.
The Low Carbon Capital plan lays out a three year pathway for climate change mitigation activities across the Council and the City with three areas of focus – Greening Wellington’s growth, Changing the way we move, and Leading by example.
We’ve identified getting people out of private fossil fuel powered motor vehicles as a top priority
In regard to changing the way we move the Mayor says "our calculator tool has shown us where our efforts are best placed to achieve the highest emission reductions and as a result we’ve identified getting people out of private fossil fuel powered motor vehicles as a top priority. That’s why we’re supporting walking and cycling and public transport and remain committed to compact urban development with most of our forecast population growth going into the CBD. We’re also focussed on installing electric vehicle charging infrastructure across Wellington and supporting the growth of car share and have committed up to 100 car parks across the City for these activities over the next three years."
The Low Carbon Capital Plan stresses the importance of walking, cycling and public transport to a resilient and sustainable city and notes that "Wellington’s Urban Growth Plan supports our sustainable transport hierarchy by encouraging walking, cycling and public transport over other modes of transport."
The Urban Growth Plan (which was also unanimously approved by councillors back in 2015) explains that "like other well-connected cities, we plan to support our sustainable transport hierarchy by encouraging walking, cycling and public transport over other modes of transport. However, cars will continue to be a necessary option for many people in a balanced transport system. The car can provide flexibility for many journeys but can also be inefficient, requiring parking space and creating congestion, especially at peak times. Our role is to make sure these transport choices are balanced and integrated to support the way we want the city to grow."
The sustainable transport hierarchy is confronting for some because it places private motor vehicles at the lowest level of priority despite the fact that cars are still the way most Wellingtonians get around. Prior to the local body elections Wellington Scoop put the following question to all the mayoral candidates: "In Wellington’s Urban Growth Plan 2014, there was a transport hierarchy where some people inferred cycling would be given higher priority than public transport and roading. Do you agree with that transport hierarchy?"
Councillor Andy Foster explained it best with a very unequivocal answer: "Absolutely, as I had a very large hand in writing the plan. It was incidentally agreed unanimously by councillors. However the interpretation needs clarification. To those who seem to now want to rewrite the balance, one of the things we are saying very clearly in the plan is that the balance, which for decades has been strongly tilted towards the private car, has to shift. Wellington is very much the leader in New Zealand. What we now need to do is focus on moving people, so the person on foot is not subservient to the person in a motor vehicle, but equal."
Mayor Justin Lester's response was also clear: "I support a balanced approach to Wellington transport and that includes walking, cycling, private vehicles and public transport. I’ve supported the urban cycling framework, submitted in favour of more affordable public transport (and pledged to work with GWRC on this as Mayor) and transport improvements to the Johnsonville Triangle, Westchester Drive in Churton Park and the Petone to Grenada Link Road. Over the next three years we need to make the most of the Government’s cycling fund and I think this will benefit the city and in particular families and children who want to able to bike to school safely."
With the Urban Growth Plan, the Low Carbon Capital Plan and the Wellington Cycling Master Plan & Framework all in place there's no doubt that the high level policy framework and broad public agreement is there to support the delivery of a quality cycling network across Wellington. And yet, as the ongoing Love The Bay process here in Island Bay shows, we still seem to have a problem taking the medicine that we know is good for us and pushing on with actual implementation. It's the right of local residents to express concerns and even be selfish when it comes to having changes made at the end of their driveways. After all, residents are not elected representatives and don't have to accept any personal accountability for broader community outcomes if they choose not to. The Mayor and councillors don't have that same right, however. They have to take collective responsibility and, in the words of the respected urbanist Gil Penalosa, they have to make sure that the general interest prevails over the specific interest. As noted in the Review of Wellington City Council’s Urban Cycleways Programme they must "be careful to make decisions based on sound evidence and advice" and avoid indulging in the type of populist local politics that has dogged the Island Bay to CBD cycleway project so far.
The needs of future generations are too often neglected in the hectic pace of the 3-year election cycle
Mayor Justin Lester acknowledges this in his blog when he says: "ultimately we need to make these changes because morally it is the right thing to do. I want a world in which my daughters, and their children, can enjoy the same opportunities and quality of life – or better – than I have had. If we leave them with a compromised and unproductive planet we will have failed in that goal. The needs of future generations are too often neglected in the hectic pace of the 3-year election cycle. But I believe we can change that. We can reshape our future to bring both prosperity and environmental success. We can build a better and more sustainable world – and for me that starts in Wellington."
Let's hope that he's right. And let's hope that he can convince the council that it is better to make tough decisions and leave a positive legacy, than it is to play it safe in the hope of long but unremarkable career at the council table.
The Island Bay cycleway inspired guest blogger Chris to sell the family's second car and buy an eBike instead!
Electric bike riding - best thing since the wheel was invented.
Recently I bought an Ebike to commute to work and it has been even better than expected. I love it and have spent most of my small talk time talking it up to the mostly skeptical. It is a surprisingly hard sell for something so awesome.
Non cyclists are often fearful of the Wellington weather, cycling conditions on the roads and the hard, sweaty work involved in cycling in Wellington and don’t understand that this can change.
Cyclists often argue that electric bikes seem a bit like cheating. They are generally a pretty hard core crowd who have worked hard to overcome the aforementioned barriers to live a wholesome cycling lifestyle (and it does seem to be a lifestyle) and having a motor to help is anathema to this.
For many years I’ve tried to convert to cycle commuting but there have always been some of the above barriers holding me back. I have wanted to do it for many reasons. Firstly, it was for environmental reasons - to reduce petrol consumption and live greener. After becoming a dad it became important to consider environmental sustainability in my life and reducing petrol consumption by cycle commuting seemed a great area to attack.
Then there was the health aspect. I had years of deconditioning as I developed my career from my mid 20s until my late 30s. I then realised that I couldn’t take my body for granted. I started running and realised how unfit I had become and that ongoing work would be required. Running to work seemed too slow, sweaty and bad for both my laptop and my lunch as they shook around. Cycling had the potential to be smoother, quicker and less sweaty. The ability to get daily sunlight (when the sun shines) and fresh air were additive health benefits of active commuting over other options.
It also seemed that cycling would be cheaper and more convenient than both driving or catching the bus. No car parks or relying on bus timetables required.
When the Island Bay cycleway opened, I decided that this was another opportunity to reconsider cycle commuting. There was such a fierce backlash against this important positive development that it strengthened my resolve to regularly use it.
When the Island Bay cycleway opened, I decided that this was another opportunity to reconsider cycle commuting. I felt that I should just get over my barriers. One of my excuses was feeling unsafe on the roads and I thought that would only improve by supporting cycling infrastructure. There was such a fierce backlash against this important positive development that it strengthened my resolve to regularly use it.
However, when I tried cycling to work, it really was a hassle turning up sweaty each morning and needing a shower and a change of clothes before starting work. The positive aspects outweighed this in general but it was certainly an annoyance and on my more time pressured, or weaker days, I took the easy way out and drove to work - feeling like I had let myself (and the kids and the planet) down.
Then along came electric bikes. I thought about the barriers - the hills, headwinds and sweat and decided that this could be my solution. I tried several out, bought a fabulous Moustache Friday 27 from Bicycle Junction and have not looked back.
Riding it is way better than I expected.
It still rides like a bike, but with a motor which adds power at 5 adjustable levels up to 275% assistance. As a result, headwinds and hills are totally taken out of play and the interface is so smooth that it feels like I’m cycling around on steroids. Due to NZ regulations, the motor cuts out at about 25kph and is power limited to 250 Watts to ensure relatively safe speeds. An unexpected benefit is that I feel safer now because the bike has me at a more consistent speed (usually between 20-30kph). This is closer to the speed of traffic so cars don’t whizz past so quickly on the up hills. The battery requires charging after about 45km of maximum power cycling. This takes 3.5hrs and apparently it still holds 60% residual capacity after 30,000km of riding.
I love riding my Moustache Friday 27 so much that I have sold our second car, bought waterproof panniers, trousers and a good raincoat, and am riding it around rain or shine.
This is a paradigm shifting technology and if you haven’t tried one, I strongly suggest you go out and give one a go. I love riding my Moustache Friday 27 so much that I have sold our second car, bought waterproof panniers, trousers and a good raincoat, and am riding it around rain or shine. I look forward to excuses to get out on it including looking forward to my daily commute now.
To those that question whether it is cheating, I now point out that electric bikes are only cheating compared to cycling if you think that cycling is cheating compared to walking, or any other technological advantages utilised are cheating. Electric biking is just on the continuum of options between crawling and using jet packs to get around.
The way I see it, electric bikes open up cycling to a much larger target audience and that can only be good for cyclists, motorists and the environment. Give one a go - you won’t regret it.