It's well documented that Wellington's July 2018 bus network changes have been tough on bus passengers but they've also had a negative impact on some of the transport network's most vulnerable users - people on bikes.
According to data obtained from Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) there has been a 60% increase in complaints about poor bus driving around people on bikes since the bus network changes.
In January this year I suffered a close pass by a bus, which was not for the first time. I had it on film so I tweeted the video and made complaints to Metlink (GWRC) and the Police.
In both cases the response to my complaints amounted to nothing more than "the driver has been spoken to" which seems to be the standard response to all but the most serious injury-related incidents. While I honestly believe that the driver in this case should suffer more severe consequences than just being spoken to what frustrates me more is that these complaints are always treated as one-off isolated incidents of poor driving rather than a systemic issue. In particular, why don't GWRC seem to monitor the level of complaints about bad driving and have greater powers via their contracts with bus operators to hold them accountable? You can read the entire Twitter thread discussing this here (this links to the last tweet in the thread so you will need to scroll all the way back up to January 2).
I decided to find out more about the level and type of complaints that GWRC are getting about poor bus driving around people on bikes and what kind of monitoring occurs. In February of this year I made a Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA) request for a list of all complaints made by cyclists about poor driving by bus drivers for the last 3 years.
By April I had a useable data set [Note 1] and what I found within it was quite alarming. Over the two year period between January 1 2017 and December 31 2018 there were nearly 400 complaints made via the Metlink Customer Relationship Management system (Resolve) about poor bus driving around people on bikes. That's an average of 16 complaints per month or roughly one every two days. However, in the 18 months before the network changes in July 2018 the average was only 14 per month. In the six months afterwards it rose to 23 per month. That's an increase in complaints of 64% after the network changes. There were also 22 complaints in January 2019, so the trend continues into this year. In my view a complaint every two days about bad driving around cyclists is a big enough problem, but the fact it has risen since the network changes to be closer to one every day is shocking. Don't forget these are only the reported incidents so they are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg [Note 2].
So which bus operators are the complaints about? Prior to the network changes almost all of the Wellington Region bus routes were operated by NZ Bus under the Go Wellington brand, so most of the complaints were about them. As a result of the network changes nearly 60% of the routes are now operated by Tranzit under the Tranzurban brand so they are now the source of the majority of complaints, although NZ Bus still feature heavily. There are also a significant number of complaints where the complainant was not able to identify the bus route or operator and a small number of complaints about other operators.
Who do the complaints come from? One of the few positives in the data is the revelation that a third of all complaints about poor bus driving around people on bikes come from a witness, usually a passenger on the bus involved. People on bikes often feel under siege on the roads so it's heart-warming to know that so many other people are prepared to speak up when they see a bus driving dangerously near somebody riding a bike.
The story told by the data is damning enough but the data set provided to me also contained the full text of the complaints themselves (with redactions to protect privacy). I've read them all and it had an impact on me. Some of the stories are terrible and I sincerely hope that the drivers involved are no longer on our roads. Here's a few examples. I intend to keep publishing these via Twitter because these voices deserve to be heard and they add a powerful and personal dimension to the story told by the data.
Bus driver hit a cyclist and then became verbally abusive towards cyclist, screaming "you're a f**king idiot mate" repeatedly at cyclist. I believe cyclist took a photo of driver. The driver then stopped the bus and made everybody get off at Kilbernie. My fare was not refunded and I had to walk to town carrying several bags. Driver was unapologetic. As a passenger, I was scared at the level of aggression shown and by the fact that the driver didn't check the cyclist was OK. This was totally unprofessional. This incident has made me scared to use metlink. Bus services
Cyclist was near marsden village, customer watched driver overtake cyclist and someone pressed button to get off. Bus then almost crashed into cyclist. Cyclist then got onto path to stay look you nearly hit me and be more careful. Driver told him to f** off and that she was bigger and he needed to watch out for her. So then they went to get off a few stops later and said to the driver look you were wrong, and the driver told them to f** off as well.
I was cycling along Rintoul road and could hear a bus behind me. The bus drove straight past me and the bus stop where an elderly woman was waiting. The driver must have seen the elderly lady at the last minute, as he then decided to stop about 20m down the road. He swerved towards the footpath past the bus stop, despite a row of parked cars, meaning that I was cut off and had to brake suddenly. Despite me braking, he still clipped me as he drove past. It was terrifying and I thought I was about to be squashed against the parked cars with no way to get out. He clipped me pretty hard and then drove on to wait for the elderly lady to walk down to where he had parked. I cycled up to the window and said to him 'you just hit me' and he shrugged.
My message to people on bikes and other members of the public who have logged complaints is please keep it up. It may seem pointless at the time but the data does gets captured and with a little bit of work and a little bit more focus it can and will be a powerful agent for change.
As part of my LGOIMA request I also asked what kind of monitoring and reporting of complaints about driving by bus drivers is going on within GWRC and the answer appears to be 'very little'. An important thing to understand here is that Metlink's Resolve CRM doesn't currently capture what type of transport network user the report is from so it makes no distinction between complaints from passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, motorists or others. That means the type of analysis I've done here can only be done in a one-off, laborious way by looking for search terms like "cyclist" or "bike" within the data.
As far as I can tell GWRC councillors only receive the most high level reporting about the overall level of complaints being received. Here's an example from the March 2019 Sustainable Transport Committee agenda:
According to the response to my LGOIMA request GWRC management receive weekly reporting by operator that shows the type of complaints (e.g. is the complaint about driving, lateness, cancellations etc) but not in a format that allows trends to be easily identified or comparisons made to previous time periods. Also, as highlighted above they aren't able to drill down into the data to find out what type of transport network user is making the complaints because that data isn't collected in a structured way. Although there appears to be regular meetings at an operational level between GWRC staff and the bus operators it's obvious that these conversations are never as specific as "there's been an increase in the level of complaints from cyclists about your drivers" because GWRC staff don't have that information available to them.
My hope is that by highlighting this issue GWRC will start paying some attention to it. In particular I have the following suggestions for them:
My recommendations stop short of suggesting how they could or should make the bus operators more accountable because I'm not a lawyer and the contracts with the operators are very long and complicated. However, even a cursory scan of the contracts suggests there are things they could probably be doing to increase the pressure on operators to make people on bikes safer. It's also a fact that regardless of what the contracts say under section 36 (2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 "a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of other persons is not put at risk from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking" [Note 3].
I'm also stopping short of making any substantive comments about the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM) and driver wages and conditions. It's really not my area of expertise but surely anyone can see that we need to be able to attract the very best drivers possible to the job and have sufficient drivers wanting to do the job that we can get rid of the ones who are clearly compromising public safety.
Of course the bigger picture here (and getting back to taking a systems perspective) is that buses and bikes just shouldn't be sharing the same bit of road. While they are both essential components of a modern sustainable transport network - and actually complement each other really well in that regard - they simply don't mix together well. Both GWRC and Wellington City Council (WCC) need to be much more focused on getting the infrastructure in place that means buses and bikes are physically separated. That means more separated cycleways, and more bus priority lanes and/or light rail. It also means taking a deep breath and removing on-street parking from arterial routes where necessary to make room. Let's hope that prioritising active transport and public transport are at the heart of upcoming announcements about Let's Get Wellington Moving. And let's make sure that every candidate in the upcoming local body elections (for both GWRC and WCC) knows that we just aren't going to put up with this crap anymore. My message to candidates is either fully commit to prioritising active transport and public transport or don't bother running.
GWRC ran search queries on their Customer Relationship Management system (Resolve) using my requested keywords "cycle", "cyclist", "cycling", "bike", or "biking" for the time period between June 2016 (when the Resolve CRM was introduced) and 11 February 2019 (the date of my request) and excluding rail services. Results were as follows:
Once duplicate case results were removed, this resulted in 815 unique cases with whole or partial text string matches to one or more of the requested search terms. These results include a number of complaints, inquiries and comments about more general cycling issues such as bike racks on buses, folding bikes, cycleways and so on. Personal or identifying details of individuals were removed.
I then refined the dataset further to focus purely on complaints related to 'driving' which is an identifiable sub-set of complaints in the database. I then manually reviewed the dataset to remove a number of complaints relating to motorbikes. I further refined the dataset to include only the years 2017 and 2018 as they were the only complete years in the dataset. This resulted in a final dataset of 392 individual complaints.
I also went through the dataset and coded each complaint as being either received from a cyclist or from a witness e.g. a bus passenger based on the information in the free text fields in the complaints.
GWRC also provided the following notes:
It needs to be acknowledged that the network changes made in mid-2018 were extensive and involved major alterations to the number of routes, buses, frequency etc. In that respect it's very hard to compare apples with apples. It's possible that the rate of complaints per bus kilometre traveled (or any number of other measures) hasn't changed to the same degree. The sort of deep-dive analysis that would be required to unpick this is beyond the levels of time and expertise I have available but is something I hope GWRC might do. However, it doesn't alter the fact that the absolute number of complaints has still risen and that reflects a greater number and/or frequency of cyclists being exposed to bad bus driving.
There are numerous free-text reports within the data of a cyclist being hit by a bus. Were these all treated as Notifiable Events by bus operators and reported back to GWRC (under the contracts) and to Worksafe (under the law)? I intend to follow that up.
If you're thinking about financially supporting the Island Bay Residents Association's judicial review you might want to read this first...
Residents of Island Bay and Berhampore have probably received this flyer from the Island Bay Residents Association (IBRA) in the last few days.
IBRA are well within their rights to seek a judicial review but collecting money from the public to fund it requires a level of transparency and accuracy that, in my opinion, this flyer and the associated information on their Givealittle page doesn't meet. If you want to donate to IBRA that's up to you but at least be aware of the following...
The judicial review has a very low chance of 'success'
I've written previously on why I think the judicial review is an absolutely terrible idea that I support anyway. I suggest you read that blog post in full but in summary:
Some of the information in the flyer and on the Givealittle page is misleading
The claim that "Four times now, 80% of submitters have been clear on what they want for The Parade" isn't true. I'm not even sure what 'four times' IBRA are referring to but what's absolutely clear is that was not result of the 2017 consultation that came at the end of the Love the Bay process. According to the September 2017 The Parade – Island Bay Design Option Refinement report (page 6) the quantitative consultation results actually looked like this:
It's also worth noting that IBRA's 'Option E' solution has not been consulted on four times as implied by the flyer. 'Option E' was only developed by IBRA in late 2017 in response to the four options arrived at by WCC and their consultants as a result of the Love the Bay process.
IBRA's Givealittle page also states that indicative costing for Option E is "to be confirmed but would be no more than $750k". This claim is false and IBRA has known it is false for at least 18 months. In the September 2017 Design Option Refinement report the cost of Option E is estimated to be $3.8m (page 8). Even accounting for the fact both these numbers are estimates that's a massive disparity that IBRA should have acknowledged.
There are questions about IBRA's legal status
IBRA continue to describe themselves as incorporated society, including on their Givealittle page. However, they haven't held an AGM or approved any financial statements since Oct 2017, which is a breach of their own rules. In October 2018 they announced they were delaying their AGM until February 2019 despite there being no provision in their rules to do this. This also means that they haven't published any information about their finances beyond March 2017, which is almost two years ago.
This failure is probably also a breach of the Incorporated Societies Act 1908, although in reality the Registrar of Incorporated Societies (the Registrar) is very slow to remove societies from the register for non-compliance, and the Act is so antiquated (it's been due for review for years) that it's barely enforceable.
However, the High Court might put more emphasis on IBRA's legal status and whether they can legitimately take anyone to court right now. If the court date is set for May IBRA are running out of time to hold an AGM and submit financial statements to the Registrar as per the Act, assuming the High Court would even accept that. Their rules require them to seek nominations for the committee 30 days before the meeting so the earliest they can now hold an AGM is mid-late March. Of course, they will also need a set of April 2017 - March 2018 accounts by then, which would need to be submitted to the Registrar within a month of being approved at the AGM.
Despite the fact that it might suit WCC I'd be very disappointed if the judicial review was delayed while IBRA did some of the basic house-keeping associated with being an incorporated society. As I outlined in my previous blog I'd like to see the review get through court as quickly as possible and bring a much needed conclusion to the whole saga. Any delays are also likely to cost more money in legal fees, which IBRA are funding out of the pockets of donors. In addition, if IBRA lose the judicial review and have costs awarded against them they will almost certainly then become bankrupt. That would mean the council's legal costs will fall upon ratepayers, so we all have an interest in the council's costs being kept to a minimum.
We've been here before
Many of the same people behind IBRA were behind the Democratic Voice for Island Bay (DVIB) group who threatened a judicial review back in 2015. They quickly backed down but not before they had raised approximately $15,000, of which nearly $4,000 was via this Givealittle page. If you are considering giving to IBRA this time around you really should read the Q&A are make sure you are happy with the answers given to some of the questions. The key question, of course, is what happened to the money?
Interestingly DVIB is still a registered incorporated society. According to the societies register it held an AGM on 30 September 2017 at which 8 of the 15 members were required to be present to form a quorum. At the meeting they approved annual accounts for the year ending 31 March 2016 and the year ending 31 March 2017, which is more sloppy house-keeping. It's not clear whether DVIB ever held AGMs by 30 September 2016 and 30 September 2018 in accordance with its rules. It certainly hasn't lodged any financial records past 31 March 2017 with the Registrar.
According to the societies register between September 2015 and March 2017 DVIB raised $14,168 in donations and spent $10,093 on legal fees, $379 on printing & stationary and $75 on bank fees. As at 31 March 2017 they still had $3,622 sitting in an ANZ bank account. Because they haven't lodged any annual accounts since then there is a two year gap in transparency over what happened to the money.
Basically all DVIB ever achieved was to threaten a judicial review and then almost immediately back down, and they somehow managed to spend over $10,000 on legal fees doing it. As of March 2017 they were still sitting on nearly $4,000 and it's not at all clear who's currently in control of that money and what's going to happen to it [Note 2]. The press release announcing they were giving up on a judicial review said any funds left after paying legal expenses would be "put towards initiatives in Island Bay", which is consistent with their rules, but as of March 2017 that hadn't happened.
Both DVIB's and IBRA's Givealittle campaigns are 'open goals' which means they get any money donated without having to meet a target and regardless of the outcome of their cause. Basically, if you make a donation then your money's gone no matter what happens. Of course, that's also true if you donate directly to their bank account. This time round IBRA are promising "you will get a percentage of your money back when we are successful, and if the court awards us costs" if you donate over $500.
If you were one of the people who donated to DVIB I think it would be quite reasonable for you to feel pissed off at the outcome. If you still feel inclined to financially support IBRA's judicial review but don't want to see the same outcome again then maybe ask some questions first. I'd suggest the best place to do that is IBRA's Givealittle page where Givealittle's terms and conditions at least create a minimum requirement for transparency, accuracy and completeness of answers.
Note 1. If residents are really determined to "get our wonderful wide Parade back" then a far more likely solution is for all on-street parking to be removed. That will actually create a more wonderful and wider Parade than ever before. It's worth noting that's a solution that is actually in the hands of residents right now and needs no intervention from the council. If getting a "wonderful wide Parade back" is so important, just stop parking on it.
Note 2. If anyone associated with DVIB or IBRA wants to provide information such as minutes of AGMs, up to date copies of annual accounts, names of current committee members etc I'd be happy to publish that in a subsequent blog.
Liz Springford is a resident of Berhampore. This is her submission to Wellington City Council on the Newtown Connections consultation
I believe improvements are very important for people of all ages and abilities walking and biking (and scooting) around and through the Newtown Connections area.
I have lived in Berhampore for 30 years now.
1. I recommend that WCC ask Tonkin & Taylor to develop Package Z – which combines the best of Packages A, B & C, with some new possibilities.
Package Z is based on Package C ROUTES:
BUT the TREATMENTS are these: (NB: cyclepath is level with footpath – despite design tool limits)
3. More detail re “think outside the concrete mixer”
A. Reduce DEMAND for car parking:
B. Increase SUPPLY of car parking:
4. Do we have to go Green?
Sometimes “green” (painted cycleways) is over-rated – use natural colours to welcome into the heart of our Berhampore Village – or quirky bright colours? (But today’s bright quirky colours may date – so maybe leave these for features that are faster to recolour). Caramel coloured cross pavers clearly mark the space for cycling, but enable either walkers or cyclists to flow across if need-be and if clear. Also makes the shopping space more attractive.
I support Berhampore Village and Berhampore Community Association submissions calling for a Berhampore Village Project to give our shopping heart some well overdue love and attention – at the same time as developing safe cycling and walking infrastructure that is consistent with WCC’s Sustainable Transport Hierarchy in the Low Carbon Capital Plan (best updated to “No Carbon Capital Plan”?)
I recommend this 10 minute video: vimeo.com/13499122 for an inspiring vision of how Wellington could grow as a people-friendly city, and meet our challenges of projected population growth, housing crisis and climate changes.
Read more about the feedback received during the most recent phase of the Newtown Connections consultation here: Newtown Connections packages engagement data analysis
The Berhampore shops on Adelaide Road might be the trickiest part to get right in the entire Newtown Connections consultation
Back in April 2015 the Dominion Post ran a story on the boutiques of Berhampore which focused on the 1st anniversary of a handful of new businesses in the area. The various business owners who were interviewed, including my partner, spoke optimistically about being "a collection of people here all trying to do the same thing" and how they hoped for Berhampore to develop a greater sense of identity. Two things specifically mentioned were getting some 'Welcome to Berhampore' signage and a 30 kph speed limit.
Three years later things haven't exactly gone wrong but it's hard to see how they've really progressed either. At least four of the businesses mentioned in the story have now gone out of business or moved on. The Gooseshack, Rinski Korsakov's, Celie's and the tattoo parlour are all gone. The Paperboat has closed and the building is now for lease. The only dairy on that stretch of road has also closed and the building was recently for sale. Natty, Baker Gramercy, Baron Hasselhoff's and Adelaide Trading Co. are still going strong and doing their best to maintain a local, artisanal vibe while older, more established businesses Europe Modes Tailoring, Hair by Ange and the Golden Sun Takeaways keep doing what they do. The BP petrol station sells petrol.
The property on the left was sold in June but the business is now for sale. The property on the right is also for sale.
A 30 kph speed limit was implemented in early 2016, not that it seems to have made much difference. No sign of any signage yet, unless you count the 30 kph one. To be brutally honest, and with the benefit of hindsight, dropping the speed limit and putting up some signs fall woefully short of what Berhampore really needs to carve out its own identity. Even Berhampore's own residents describe it as a "forgotten, in-between suburb" which is seen as "that place you go through to on the way to Island Bay, or just part of Newtown". Berhampore actually has a rich and interesting history and is genuinely one of Wellington's up and coming suburbs but it suffers from one huge issue that is going to take some imagination and determination to overcome: it is an absolute traffic hellhole, especially the narrow stretch where the Adelaide Road shops are.
Adelaide Road is a very busy, very narrow arterial road
Here's the problem. There are 18,000 vehicle movements a day through the 100m long, 10m wide stretch of Adelaide Road between Britomart Street and Luxford Street. For comparison, around 10,000 vehicles per day move through the Island Bay shops (and there's 14m of road width to work with). The problem is that Adelaide Road is a major arterial and the characteristics of the surrounding streets mean that the 100m stretch between Britomart and Luxford is a classic bottle-neck. It has to deal with far more traffic than it was ever intended to and a lot more traffic than the other sections of Adelaide Road immediately to the north and south. There is no way you would ever deliberately set out to design what's happened in Berhampore.
An incredible 18,000 vehicles per day travel through this short stretch of road (data via mobileroad.org)
From the point of view of a business motor vehicle traffic is good, until it is very, very bad. Business owners like cars because they bring customers from far and wide to their business. As long as there is somewhere to park, of course, and there's not much parking near the Berhampore shops (approximately 10 car parks on that stretch, 5 x P10 and 5 x P60). However, there's a tipping point where there's simply too much traffic, the carparks are full and the sheer volume of traffic is ruining the attractiveness of an area, maybe even making it dangerous. Businesses tend not to want to lose motor vehicle traffic and carparks though because it takes a leap of faith to believe that customers arriving by other modes will pick up the slack (despite an increasing body of evidence that they will). Part of the problem might be that businesses don't tend to be open at the times when traffic is at it's worst, when commuters are trying to get to and from work and kids are trying to get to school. As a result businesses may genuinely believe the problem is not as bad as it is. One thing is for certain though, the Berhampore shops just aren't humming at the moment. Despite the optimism shown in 2015 there's too many empty shops and too many businesses failing. Something needs to change.
Notice I haven't even mentioned cycleways yet? OK, here it comes. The current Newtown Connections consultation is great but one of its limitations is that it's largely focused on cycling and "making biking safer and easier for more people". I think the reason for that is the usual boring legal and administrative stuff. Councils have appropriations of money to do certain things. They are legally obliged to spend money on the things they say they will and then report on it. If 'cycling' is one of those things then a consultation on spending that money gets framed as being about cycling, when maybe it could or should be framed as about transport or urban design. Making biking safer and easier for more people is a very worthy aim but it's really just one part of the picture when you are looking at a problem as tricky as the one facing the Berhampore shops. Berhampore doesn't need a discussion about cycling as much as it needs a discussion about transport. And it doesn't need a discussion about transport as much as it needs a discussion about identity. What does Berhampore want to be? Only then can we explore how transport can help it get there.
The good news is there are already some pretty big clues about what Berhampore wants to be. Let's take a look at the last census, for example:
Berhampore has a lower percentage of households that own a car than the rest of Wellington. 22% of households not owning a car is significantly higher than neighbours to the south Island Bay (8%), but lower than neighbours to the north Newtown (26%).
Berhampore has a much lower percentage of people driving to work than the rest of Wellington and a higher percentage catching the bus and cycling. 33% of people driving to work is much lower than neighbours to the south Island Bay (52%) but higher than neighbours to the north Newtown (25%).
And what about the last general election? Berhampore is much more progressive than its neighbour to the south Island Bay and maybe even a little bit more progressive than its neighbour to the north Newtown. A 26% party vote for the Greens is easily one of highest in the country. At the 2014 general election the Green Party actually won the party vote in Berhampore with 35% against Labour's 32% and National's 22%.
These are just three examples but you can see where this is going. Berhampore is already a pretty progressive place that has a strong foothold in non-motor vehicle transport modes. And yet it has 18,000 cars per day going through its shopping centre, largely going to and from other places. For example, in the 2013 census over 2,000 people from Island Bay drove themselves to and from work, accounting for approximately 4,000 of the 18,000 vehicle movements per day in Berhampore. If I lived in Berhampore I'd be pretty concerned about that. I'd also be a big supporter of Island Bay residents getting on the bus or cycling to work. More importantly I'd be thinking "this isn't who we are" and "what can we do as a community to control our own destiny?"
It seems to me that if Berhampore wants to play to it's strengths one of the things it should do is consciously make a decision to embrace other modes of transport and say "we're not going to contribute to this problem". That doesn't have to mean going car-free but it might mean deliberately making some moves towards being significantly less car-dependent. Here's a slightly random list of things Berhampore could consider doing, or ask the council for help to do:
Park-sharing apps like Parkable can help get parking off the street by making more efficient use of parking available on private land
These are just my thoughts and I'm sure there are many other things that could be done, both large and small. Of course, the most immediate thing for residents and businesses to do is participate in the current Newton Connections consultation in an open-minded, optimistic and constructive way. Don't be fooled by the fact that it is notionally a consultation about 'cycling'. Newtown Connections is paving the way for a potential $32m investment into the Southern Suburbs. That's a lot of money and it represents a once in a generation opportunity to fundamentally change the urban design of Newtown and Berhampore for the better.
Regan was born in Newtown and raised in Brooklyn. He lived in Berhampore for a couple of years before moving to Island Bay. He genuinely loves the Southern Suburbs and believes that everywhere north of the Railway Station is "not even in Wellington anymore".
A super snarky response to Graeme Tuckett's half-baked reckons on Wellington cycleways
Dominion Post movie reviewer Graeme Tuckett had an opinion piece published yesterday that suggests some Quick and simple steps Wellington can take right now to help cyclists. Unfortunately it includes so many terrible reckons that it demands an immediate and very snarky response of counter-reckons. Before anybody has a moan about me being mean, consider this - Graeme has been given a massive platform from which to spout his views. This is a blog that I will be happy with if it gets half a dozen retweets and 20 Facebook likes. He's also got some previous form having demanded in his near-identical September 2017 piece that the council rip up expensive cycleway follies. To be perfectly honest Graeme looks like a man who can take a bit of criticism. It's what he dishes out for a living after all.
I'll start with the one truly excellent point that Graeme makes "the council has the opportunity to do a lot of simple, effective stuff immediately, while it works on getting the design of the proposed new paths right". I certainly agree that we could do with more short-term, tactical trials of street changes that would benefit vulnerable road users. Unfortunately it's all downhill from there. Graeme's idea of what constitutes "simple & effective" falls desperately short of mine and the way he gets there is just riddled with errors and half-formed ideas.
Let's take it from the top:
Graeme says: "Island Bay is a dangerous mess that hides cyclists from following traffic and forces us into contact with car doors and pedestrians, with no way to swerve around them."
I ride the Island Bay Cycleway every day and I don't agree this is a significant problem. Even if it is The Parade re-design mitigates this by raising the cycleway to footpath height, which also allows cyclists to swerve onto the footpath if needed. This is much safer than swerving into traffic if you're riding on the road.
Also, only 1/3 of all car journeys have passengers which greatly reduces the risk of encountering a car door opening on the passenger side anyway. It's just maths. Plus, the Parade redesign includes pretty generous 0.9m doorzone buffers which is basically the width of an open car door.
Yes, everybody agrees that the original consultation around the Island Bay Cycleway could have been a lot better and that the current cycleway can be improved. But we went through a year long re-engagement process called Love the Bay to get to the Mayor's compromise solution. Does Graeme even realise The Parade is being upgraded?
At the end of the day if visibility is that big a problem then the most simple and effective solution is actually to remove the on-street parking. Or are we only screaming about something being "a dangerous mess" until it might affect our ability to park right outside our house? Island Bay Cycleway critics please take note; every time you complain about visibility you are helping to build the case for removing on-street parking.
Island Bay kids who are much braver than Graeme Tuckett ride the cycleway he calls "a dangerous mess"
Graeme says: "I've tried riding [the Island Bay Cycleway] a couple of times and gave up in disgust"
A couple of times? You're a quitter Graeme. I live in Island Bay and have ridden the cycleway well over 1,500 times over the past 3 years. You're entitled to your opinion but far from feeling disgusted it makes me feel safe and happy. It also makes me feel much more relaxed about my kids riding their bikes on The Parade. They are 10 and 12 and have used the cycleway hundreds of times. Maybe you should save the hyperbole about "giving up in disgust" for the latest Adam Sandler movie*
Two super-chill Island Bay residents ride the cycleway that made Graeme Tuckett "give up in disgust"
Graeme says: "The Parade was already safer for cyclists than most. Wide shopping streets with 30kmh limits enforced by gentle speed humps are about as benign an environment as any Wellington cyclist (or pedestrian or car driver) ever hopes for."
This is factually incorrect. Most of The Parade is still a 50kmh zone and with 10,000 vehicle movements a day it is well over NZTA's threshold for where separated cycleways are recommended, as pointed out in Section 3.1.2 of the Sep 2017 Island Bay Design Report.
The same report points out in Section 5.1 that the current road layout (including the cycleway) has successfully reduced 85% percentile speeds to the posted speed limit. That means that previously more than 15% of drivers on The Parade were speeding! And 15% (every 7th car) are still going over 50kmh!! That's 1,500 cars still going over the speed limit on The Parade every day.
Let's be clear that if that's what Graeme thinks is 'safe' then that is entirely his own point of view and not the experience of many other people on bikes (and people who don't bike because it doesn't feel safe or comfortable being on the road).
Here's the old layout of The Parade that Graeme is so nostalgic for
Let's look at Graeme's ideas for "quick and effective cycle safety measures that could be implemented immediately"
Graeme says: "Any cyclist heading into the city from Berhampore will take Stoke St on to Hanson St and then King St instead of riding on Adelaide Rd at all, if they know that route exists. So signpost it."
Any cyclist? Speak for yourself. I don't take that route, not on my way in to town anyway. I prefer to carry on straight down Adelaide. It's more direct and I can ride at the same speed as traffic. But that's just me. On my way home I use part of the same route Graeme is suggesting but not the rest. Other cyclists prefer to use Rintoul St or other routes.
There's a theme emerging here. Graeme seems to think every other cyclist is like him and has the same needs as him. He also seems to think that this is just about improving the safety of existing cyclists when it's not. Sign-post your preferred route if you want but I don't think it will make even a modest contribution to making cycling a viable and comfortable choice for many more people, including kids.
Graeme says: "Declaring the footpath on Adelaide Rd from Berhampore to Stoke St a shared path for uphill cyclists would be a no-brainer. It runs alongside a park, and cyclists going uphill are no faster than pedestrians anyway"
You're right it's a "no-brainer" Graeme but not in the way that you think. Shared paths are just about the only way you can make things simultaneously worse for pedestrians and cyclists. They are the Hunger Games of transport infrastructure, forcing pedestrians and cyclists into a hostile environment together so they can fight over the scraps left by cars and see who survives. Besides, the steepest part of that stretch of Adelaide Road has houses on it and the footpath is narrow. There's also a steep downhill section before getting to Stoke Street. Nope, nope, nope. Can we please just forget about shared paths and focus on getting decent separated cycleways in place?
Graeme thinks this would make a good shared path
Graeme says: "30kmh speed limits – enforced by shallow road humps – are great for pedestrians, businesses, drivers and cyclists. Implement them now in every suburban shopping area and outside every school. They create a safe environment without the expense, controversy and disruption of a cycle lane."
OK, but there's already 30kmh speed limits in many Wellington suburbs, including Island Bay and Berhampore (and a 40kmh limit in Newtown). Yes, more 30kmh zones would be welcome, especially near schools, but they fall well short of "creating a safe environment without the expense, controversy and disruption of a cycle lane". For one thing they still require people on bikes, including kids, to ride on the road. They also typically exist over short stretches of road which is no good for actually going anywhere. They help prevent crashes at those sites but people want to move between those places too. Comparing their utility to a cycle lane is a false equivalence.
Graeme says: "I've been saying for years that the median strip between Kent Tce and Cambridge Tce would convert simply and easily to a shared cycle/pedestrian path, with no loss of parking."
There's actually half of a good idea there but not as a shared path. The fact that Graeme would promote this idea as being "simple and effective" while calling the Island Bay Cycleway a "dangerous mess" actually goes beyond being laughable into 'the awkward silence after laughter when you realise they are serious'. Cycle lanes along the middle of Kent and Cambridge Terrace would be good but let's do it once and do it right and put them in place of the on-street parking. It could be trialed very quickly and easily too (I'll help put out the road cones) although there would be some work to do at the intersections because actually, it's not quite that simple.
Sorry Graeme, your conclusion that "the council has the opportunity to do a lot of simple, effective stuff immediately, while it works on getting the design of the proposed new paths right" is a good point but unfortunately it's buried under a pile of terrible ones. In your September 2017 opinion piece you confidently claimed that "I am the very definition of the person [cycleways] were designed for". Actually mate, as an experienced, middle-aged, male cyclist you're not the primary target for separated cycleways and your failure to understand that seems to be a big part of the problem here. You're just one of a large group of users and potential users of cycleways, all with their own particular views and needs. It would be great if you could remember that before the next time you use the massively influential platform you have to spout off.
And for that reason your piece has been certified rotten on the Tomatometer:
*I actually like some Adam Sandler movies and my kids love them. Which is the point right? Different strokes for different folks.
The Newtown Connections packages are good but they could be a lot better
The next stage of Wellington City Council's Newtown Connections project is now underway. Newtown Connections is part of a programme to develop a connected citywide cycle network so people of all ages and abilities can safely choose to make more trips by bike. The council is asking for feedback on three different packages of routes and possible street changes in Newtown, Berhampore and Mt Cook by Tuesday 11 December. You can read the council's media release here. The Dominion Post also produced a reasonably balanced overview of what's happening despite the slightly reductive headline: Options revealed to connect Wellington's Island Bay cycleway to Basin Reserve.
Conditions for people on bikes in Newtown and Berhampore are far from ideal
The current stage is the second of three opportunities the community will have to help shape what happens in the wider Newtown area. More than 770 people provided their initial thoughts a few months ago during the first round of community discussion. Eighty-five percent said it was important or very important to make it easier and safer for more people to ride bikes in and around the Newtown area. All the information collected is summarised in the Community Engagement Feedback Analysis Report, which also provides a good overview of the extensive engagement that occurred. The feedback was then used to create a Community Brief that summarises the community's wishes. The planners used the Community Brief to develop the packages of possible street changes that are now being consulted on. There's more information on how the packages were developed here.
It's important to note that the packages are not discrete options and the consultation is not a vote. The council simply wants to hear what you think at this stage. As Mayor Justin Lester says “Nothing is at a detailed design stage yet, and no decisions on routes or changes have been made – so it is a very good time to get involved. The more community input we can get at this stage, the better.” Councillor Sarah Free says "we want people to look at the routes up for discussion, what’s possible, what’s likely to provide the greatest benefits, and what these connections would mean for various streets. The plan that’s developed could well be a mix of the different packages".
I have to say I think Wellington City Council have done a great job putting all this together. It's by far the most comprehensive consultation on this type of project they've done so far. There's a lot of information to look at but the website is nicely done and easy to understand. You can look at an overview of the packages and then go through each one section by section. There's also a very comprehensive summary of the parking impacts of each package.
Here's the three packages side by side (click image to enlarge):
Here's animated gifs of each package that give a better idea of what the treatments will be in different areas. Don't forget that if you go to the Newtown Connections website and click through the detail of each package you can see what the proposed treatment for every section of each package is.
The good news is that all the packages will be a vast improvement on what's there now, which is basically nothing. Every package gives someone on a bike the ability to cycle from Island Bay to Newtown and on to the Basin Reserve entirely separated from motor vehicles.
However, a bit of a problem in my mind is that two of the packages (B & C) rely very heavily on 2-way separated bike lanes. 2-way bike lanes are OK but they're really not ideal. Some cycling advocates think bi-directional bike lanes are a folly while others take a more pragmatic view that they can sometimes be justified. The main reason they appear to be used so much in these packages is to save space, and on-street parking. In principle, I think the default treatment in an urban environment should be to use 1-way separated bike lanes on both sides of the road wherever possible. What "wherever possible" means, and how that impacts parking, is going to be at the heart of the debate.
It also seems to me that the designers have tried to use one consistent treatment within a package as much as possible. This is presumably to minimise the transitions from one kind of cycleway to another i.e. from 1-way to 2-way and vice versa. I don't think we should be too concerned about transitions between different types of cycleway. Mainly because we're not going to be able to avoid this in Wellington unless 2-way cycleways become the norm, which would be dumb & significantly lower the overall level of service of the network. Transitions can be managed as long as they are well-designed. For example, anywhere where there is a set of traffic lights it should be relatively simple to design a transition from one type of cycleway to another.
So, on balance, I am leaning towards Package C as being the one worth developing further. It has the best overall connectivity and greatest number of options (both routes and types of cycleway) for people on bikes to choose to get around. Package A looks good too, but does have a big impact on parking. It's also not quite as connected as Package C and I think I agree that putting cycleways on some of the steep gradients along Adelaide Rd would not be the kind of 'all ages & abilities' infrastructure that the Community Brief demands. How well each package meets the objectives set by the community in the Community Brief is a really fundamental question. Wellington City Council have done their own analysis of that and I think they've got it about right, with Package C just edging out Package A. What do you think?
However, although I like Package C I think it is far too reliant on 2-way cycleways. I'd like to propose a Package C+, in which the entire stretch from the Basin Reserve, along Adelaide Rd (to John St) and Riddiford St (to Russell Tce, maybe as far as Waripori St) becomes 1-way separated lanes. Package C+ would look a bit like this. The pink is 1-way separated bike lanes on both sides. The orange is 2-way lanes. Yellow and green are off-road paths. Blue is quiet streets.
The key to this is that Package C+ can be done with no additional impact on parking (if I'm reading the detail of Package A correctly, where this is already the treatment along that stretch). If so, why on earth wouldn't we do it? In fact, it's the absolute minimum we should do.
Once you've done that it really does beg the question whether you go further & put in more 1-way cycleways (potentially joining up with the Island Bay Cycleway) even though it will then start to impact on parking. The focus of that discussion would be firmly on Waripori St and Luxford St to get across to Adelaide Road before carrying on from the Berhampore Shops to Dee St.
By my rough calcs the minimum parking lost under each package as presented is:
A: approximately 540 reduction in on-street parking
B: approximately 140 reduction in on-street parking
C (and C+): approximately 230 reduction in on-street parking
If we extended C+ along Waripori, Luxford & along Adelaide Rd from the Berhampore shops to Dee St I think that would add approximately 120 parks lost to Package C (approximately 350 lost in total).
We could, and should, also have a discussion about Rintoul St. Will this be the moment that Wellington City Council finally steps up and says unequivocally that mobility and safety are a higher priority than on-street parking? If so, Rintoul Street provides a more direct route to connect possible 1-way lanes in Newtown to the 1-way lanes we already have in Island Bay. However, this would result in a reduction in on-street parking on Rintoul Street of an extra 75 parks (over what is already proposed as part of Package C) and would likely push the total reduction in parking in Package C towards 400.
What do you think? Whatever it is, make sure you go the Newtown Connections website and have your say!
I attended Wellington City Council's City Strategy Committee meeting on Thursday morning to talk about their new proposal for funding The Parade upgrade by rolling it into a $32 million integrated plan for the southern suburbs, including the Newtown Connections project.
Here's what I had to say:
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you this morning in support of the Southern Connection Cycleway Development paper.
I'll get straight to the point - I think the funding opportunity presented in this paper is simply too good to ignore despite some reservations about the delays it will cause to starting work on The Parade upgrade.
When I first read the paper I was disappointed that it meant work not starting for another year, although I'm glad to see that you are planning some much needed remedial work in the meantime.
However, on further reading I decided that on balance the opportunity to roll The Parade upgrade into an integrated plan for the southern suburbs is the right way to go.
The Island Bay cycleway was always intended to be just the first stage of a safe and comfortable cycling route all the way into the CBD.
So apart from the obvious financial benefit what's pleasing to see about this proposal is Island Bay again being recognised as part of a network plan.
What's even more pleasing is the recognition that cycling networks are not just about commuter routes to and from the CBD but also the inter-suburb connections.
Largely because of geography Island Bay, Berhampore, Newtown and Mt Cook are intimately connected and good transport connections between them are really important to the people who live there.
My sons are 10 and 12 and they often ride their bikes from Island Bay up to Berhampore to visit their Grandma. The first part of the journey along the cycleway is sweet. The second part is a nightmare and so they ride on the pavement.
As a family one of our most frequent destinations is Newtown. That's a journey of a just a few kilometres that we would love to bike more often and which is exactly the type of short, local journey you should trying to encourage people to get out of their cars for.
Island Bay absolutely should be brought back into a strategic business case for the southern suburbs and aligned with the Newtown Connections project.
I do think there are some risks with this approach:
An obvious one is that the extended time-frame provides more opportunity for attempts at re-litigation.
There's also the risk that NZTA don't come to the party.
But with both of those risks I think whether they actually turn into issues is entirely within your power to control.
If you are divided over this plan then it's a self-fulfilling prophesy that these risks will become issues. If you are united they won't.
Even in respect to NZTA's involvement I think that if you are united behind this plan then NZTA are far more likely to come on board. If you're divided that's less likely.
So yes, there are some risks to be managed. However, there's also some really good people among the council officers in this room and there's some really good people around this council table. The bottom line for me is that I trust you.
I'm pleased to report that councillors supported the proposal unanimously.
I was also very impressed by the comments made in support of this by councillors. It was a positive, well informed and forward-looking discussion and the most united I have ever seen the council be around anything Island Bay Cycleway related. It really feels like we are all starting to understand what we are collectively trying to achieve.
Read the council's media release here: Council to work with the Government on walking and cycling
Wellington City Council have made a major announcement regarding the planned upgrade of The Parade in Island Bay.
The good news is that it is now proposed that NZTA will fund 75% of the cost of the upgrade by including it in an integrated plan for high-quality biking and walking connections from the south coast to the city. Mayor Justin Lester says "with the new government’s policy statement on transport, we have the opportunity to make more improvements in more suburbs with the same amount of ratepayer funding [approximately $8 million]. By partnering with NZTA under the new Government Policy Statement, we have the opportunity to fund up to $32 million worth of changes in these areas by 2021, with the Council paying 25 percent and NZTA paying 75 percent”. $32 million is a massive investment into improving transport options in the southern suburbs.
NZTA are coming on board with a major funding boost for the upgrade of The Parade
The bad news is that it will mean a further delay of a year before any work starts on The Parade because the upgrade becomes dependent on the Newtown Connections project. However, Wellington City Council are proposing to do remedial work in the meantime which will include removing all the ghost markings and resurfacing the section of The Parade between Dee St and Tamar St.
Councillor Sarah Free says "the key thing is that by delaying significant changes to the Island Bay cycleway until planning in Berhampore, Newtown and Mt Cook has been completed, we can potentially achieve a better, more coordinated result. It’s always been planned that the Island Bay facilities would form the southern end of a wider southern bike network. We’re now almost at a point where those wider connections can be agreed.”
Although it's disappointing to be facing yet more delay before the upgrade begins it's really hard to see how the city council could possibly turn down the possibility of such a substantial offer of funding from NZTA. In fact, it would be financially irresponsible not to integrate the two projects. It's also great to see NZTA finally recognising the Island Bay Cycleway as being part of a bigger network picture. Props to the current government for creating the policy settings for that to happen.
Read more about the announcement here:
Wellington City Council email sent to stakeholders
Wellington City Council media release
Wellington City Council City Strategy Committee paper Southern Connection Cycleway Development - Funding Opportunities (pages 15-19)
In related news in November Wellington City Council will also be be seeking community feedback on packages of options involving different routes and changes to streets in Newtown, Berhampore and Mt Cook. Read more about that here.
A recent Dominion Post story blaming the cycleway for a dairy closing was long on opinions and short on facts
I was sad to read the story in the Dominion Post a couple of weeks ago about another Island Bay dairy set to close amid claims of cycleway parking issues. I don't want to speculate on the specific reasons why this particular dairy might be closing because I honestly don't know what combination of factors led the owners to make this difficult decision. However, I do want to talk about the reporting of it and the many questions it raises.
The Mersey St dairy is set to close amid claims of a lack of parking. Photo credit: GoogleMaps
In the original print and online story the Dom Post attributes just about all of the blame to the cycleway. Admittedly, that seems to be because that's what the owners think. The owners, the owners of the dairy across the road and the President of the Island Bay Residents Association Vicki Greco are all quoted expressing pretty much the same view that the cycleway, and the associated impact on parking, have made things difficult for businesses. The story attempts to provide some context by including comments from a retail strategist about how dairies are now a marginal business and that around the country dairies are becoming less relevant.
There's one very important piece of context that the Dom Post left out, however: the parking in front of this dairy on The Parade is due to be reinstated. This isn't recent information either. The reinstatement of parking outside dairies was part of the Mayor's compromise solution that was approved 13-1 by Wellington City councillors in September 2017. Collette Devlin, the reporter who co-wrote this latest story, wrote at the time that Wellington Mayor Justin Lester proposes new solution for Island Bay cycleway, but without mentioning dairies. The information was also included in the council's April 2018 update on The Parade redesign which Collette Devlin also wrote about but again, without mentioning dairies.
The parking immediately outside the Mersey St dairy is due to be reinstated. Photo credit: WCC
To not mention that the parking is being reinstated seems like a pretty significant omission to make from a story that is about parking outside dairies and makes the story quite mis-leading. One of the dairy owners is actually quoted as saying "no-one was listening to dairy owners' concerns" which obviously isn't true. The reporter has either twice failed to note the information that parking outside dairies is being reinstated, or worse, knew the parking was being reinstated and decided not to mention that in the story.
It's certainly true that the parking hasn't been reinstated yet, and may have had an impact on business in the meantime. However, it's ironic that it's the Island Bay Residents Association who are currently threatening court action to stop The Parade redesign from happening, even threatening to take out an injunction if the council starts work. The residents association must be extremely confident of an all-or-nothing "paint it back" victory if they are prepared to delay the dairies getting their parking back.
The owners of the Mersey St dairy have made it very clear what their feelings about the cycleway are. Photo credit: Fairfax
There are other concerns with the story. The specific context for this dairy is that it is one of five along a 1 km stretch of The Parade from Medway St to Reef St. That's a lot of competition. It also faces competition from the Empire Cinema (which re-opened in 2015) and Island Bay New World (who expanded the size of their carpark in 2016). The owners of this dairy have also made their feelings about the cycleway very clear and very public, more so than any other dairy on The Parade. Has this inadvertently affected custom from the more progressive side of Island Bay? None of this was explored in the story.
This dairy is also an earthquake-prone building and was yellow-stickered in 2014. What impact on business has this had? In fact, 19 businesses along The Parade are in yellow-stickered buildings, including 4 out 5 dairies and the majority of the Island Bay Village Heritage Area. The potential impact of that on Island Bay seems like a pretty big story, in and of itself. Again, none of this was explored.
In the video accompanying the story two business owners from the Island Bay Village shops are interviewed. Both of them express concerns about the removal of car parks in the shopping village, which is not going to happen. Retaining the angle-parking there is actually a key element of the Mayor's compromise solution, which in reality is Option D from Tonkin & Taylor's original recommendations with a few tweaks. The detail of the agreed solution has been known for the past year and the reporter absolutely should know about this. Why was this not pointed out, either in the video itself or in the story? It brings to mind that quote doing the rounds on social media recently regarding journalism: “If someone says it’s raining and another person says it’s dry, it’s not your job to quote them both. Your job is to look out of the f**king window and find out which is true.”
The agreed solution for The Parade includes retaining all the angle parking at the shops. Why do some businesses not seem to know this?
Photo credit: WCC
It actually beggars belief that business owners could on the one hand make so much fuss about the perceived impact on the cycleway on their business but on the other hand still be ignorant of the details of what's actually been agreed. It also seems a little hypocritical for any business owner to be complaining about the safety of the cycleway while operating out of a yellow-stickered building, which both of the business owners interviewed in the video are doing. There are plenty of businesses around town in earthquake-prone buildings, of course, but it's interesting how people can have quite different views about what is or isn't 'safe'. If you're going to express an opinion on that publicly maybe you should get your own house (or business) in order first?
Most of the businesses in the Island Bay shopping village are in earthquake prone buildings. Photo credit: https://epbr.building.govt.nz/
On 27 August, five days after the story was originally published, I emailed Eric Janssen, the Chief News Director (Wellington) for stuff.co.nz including dompost.co.nz and The Dominion Post. I told him I thought the article was mis-leading and asked him to consider the above points. Over the next 10 days there was a bit of email to and fro that also included Warwick Rasmussen, the Wellington News Director. I won't go into all the detail of the emails but during that time the Dom Post moved from a largely defensive position to one where on Wednesday 5 September they finally added to the online version of the story the information that the parks outside the dairy are being reinstated. A minor victory, and a little bit late, but something at least. Eric also offered me the chance to write a Letter to the Editor, which I declined due to the length of time that already elapsed and my feeling that the Dom Post should really take ownership of correcting its mistakes, not outsource it to others.
More importantly, I asked Eric to please make sure all staff writing about the cycleway in the future are aware of the basic facts including the detail of the upgrade agreed by council, which he agreed to do. I sincerely hope they do up their game because an article as mis-leading as this one only contributes to a negative perception of the cycleway overall and the whole issue continues to roll on in a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy of doom and gloom. It's bad enough that there are still residents of Island Bay who are ignorant about what's actually planned for The Parade, let alone professional journalists (who many residents rely on to get their information, of course).
In an effort to retrieve something more constructive from the wreckage of this story I also suggested that the Dom Post could consider following up on some of the many questions that it raises:
At the end of the day the Island Bay cycleway is either an important issue or it isn't. If it's important enough to be to complaining about the impact on your business, or raising money from the community to go to court, or writing stories in the local newspaper about, then surely it's not asking too much to expect everybody to put a little bit of effort into being properly informed. Just get your facts right please.
If you haven't checked out the full detail of the planned upgrade yet, please do: The Parade redesign
This is an open letter sent to the Island Bay Resident's Association's lawyer Con Anastasiou on 26 June 2018.
Kia ora Con,
I understand you are acting on behalf of the Island Bay Residents Association (IBRA) who are seeking a judicial review of Wellington City Council's decision-making in regard to the Island Bay Cycleway. I'm writing to you as an IBRA member in order to raise some concerns that I think you need to be aware of before you advise the IBRA committee about whether or not to proceed. Full disclosure - I am a supporter of the cycleway and over the past four years have written about it extensively at Island Bay Cycle Way. I have already written specifically about the judicial review here: Why I support the judicial review (please don't be fooled by the tongue-in-cheek title).
My first concern is that the IBRA committee have not consulted with the wider membership before embarking on this course of action. There was no indication at all via email or Facebook about what they were planning. It may have been discussed at the two meetings they held between their AGM in October 2017 and announcing their intent to pursue a judicial review in May (I did not attend either of those meetings in February 2018 & April 2018) but they have certainly not gone to any great lengths to be open and consultative in their decision-making. I'm also concerned that by taking this action they are stepping outside the objects of the association, in particular object d) to ensure all ideas and viewpoints can be represented, and object f) to represent Island Bay but not to make decisions on behalf of Island Bay residents.
Another concern is that as IBRA's lawyer you are fully aware of the amount of information that already sits in the public domain regarding the council's decision-making process. IBRA's 25 June 2018 email update to members states that "At present the WCC is stalling the process. WCC have added another 20 working days to supply the information requested under the Official Information Request (Logima) [sic]. They have also stated we must pay $4k for this information." It concerns me that any unnecessary costs are incurred by IBRA on this exercise (including legal fees and LGOIMA charges) when they are currently collecting money from the public to pay for it. It's my belief that there is already more than enough information publicly available to enable you to give advice to the IBRA committee on whether or not to proceed that is consistent with your professional obligations.
I would greatly appreciate you confirming by return email that you are aware of and have read the following:
A simple Google search will also establish the full depth and breadth of consultation efforts by the council over the course of 4 years.
I am aware of several recent high-profile failures by community groups to overturn similar decisions and that the High Court will set a high threshold for this decision to be reviewed. In particular I note the recent decision regarding Chamberlain Park in Auckland in which the Court's decision clearly stated "The approach taken by the Albert-Eden Local Board (AELB) was neither perfunctory or a mere formality. It engaged in a robust process of consultation where multiple interest groups participated in an open and at times hotly contested debate concerning the best use of Chamberlain Park. Moreover, and crucially, consultation must not be equated with negotiation. The process embarked on was not one which had as its object arriving at a solution which represented some form of consensus. There was no requirement for the AELB to accept the views and preferences or even reach a compromise with those who sought the maintenance of the status quo."
You should also know that as an IBRA member who supports the cycleway and opposes the IBRA committee's current course of action I intend to support the council in defending themselves against these proceedings. Despite my blog post on the judicial review linked above I am very concerned about this review going any further. My hope is that the IBRA committee receives fully informed and professional advice from you that is consistent with the Law Society's client care requirements and minimises the costs (both money and time) that IBRA and the rest of the community are potentially exposed to.
Thank you for your consideration of these concerns.