The end of the Love the Bay process is now in sight. Here's an update from Wellington City Council on what the the final consultation stage will look like.
The end of the process to determine how The Parade should function is now in sight
"A mailout will go out early next week to properties advising of the consultation, its start date and where to access information. The mailout uses the Council’s property database for address information, and includes the areas within a broad triangle of Berhampore, Owhiro Bay, Houghton Bay and of course includes Island Bay. Approximately 4,300 letters will go to occupiers of properties within that area, and approximately 1000 letters will go to ratepayers of properties in the area, but who live outside the area.
A hand delivery to commercial properties will be made, recognising that getting mail to some businesses can be problematic. At the same time the question will be asked of the businesses whether they will want to host submission forms and supporting documents in their business premises.
Later next week, media will be provided information which they will use to publish their stories.
The Council’s website – wcc.govt.nz/theparade will go live with the supporting information, at this stage planned for Saturday 29 July.
An FAQ page will be available, updated as immediately as possible but within 24 hrs.
Consultation will open on Monday 31 July, with the Council website (not the Love the Bay website) hosting the consultation.
Consultation will run for 2 weeks, closing 9pm, Sunday 13 August 2017.
The Council website will be the central source of information and we want to encourage its use for information retrieval and making submissions. However we also want to respond to people’s restrictions or preferences on how they want to engage with information and provide feedback so hard copy will also be available.
An important point of access to information, is the drop-in shop at 132 The Parade. The options will be on display and an independent contractor (who has not been involved thus far) will staff the shop. Councillors will also be at the shop on a yet to be determined schedule. The shop hours will be:
Monday - 4pm to 7pm
Tuesday - 11am to 4pm
Wednesday - 11am to 7pm
Thursday - 9am to 3pm
Friday - Closed
Saturday - 10am to 4pm
Hard copies of documentation and a submission box will also be available at the Council Service Centre at 101 Wakefield Street and the Island Bay Community Centre.
A site visit by councillors is being planned for the 1st week of consultation. Councillors will be supported by officers and engineers so they can get a fuller understanding of the implications of each option. This visit will not include participation with stakeholders or groups.
A facebook event is planned for the 2nd week, of which we are still working through the details.
The working party and officers are available to attend stakeholder group meetings on invitation. We are attending a meeting of the Island Bay Residents Association on 31 July, and Cycle Aware meeting on 1 August. We understand there is also interest from other stakeholders – to be worked through.
The results of this consultation will be presented to the City Strategy Committee on 14 September 2017. The Council (Mayor and Councillors) will consider the consultation feedback along with the outcomes of the Love the Bay process, NZTA and engineering best practice and guidelines, budgetary implications, and council strategy when making their decision.
The Council will then agree on the preferred option with the intention for implementation to begin in spring 2017. Implementation will require detailed design and construction plans for the entire length of The Parade. A traffic resolution and accompanying consultation will also be required before construction can get underway, a process scheduled for late 2017/early 2018. The detailed design phase may also identify quick wins and small improvements that could be implemented before the traffic resolution is agreed by Council.
It needs to be reinforced that the consultation submission process is not a vote that will solely determine the outcome – however it does aim to give councillors a good sense of people’s preferences and feedback on options. Ultimately councillors will consider a broad range of information (including feedback from the many different communities interested in the outcome), decide what weight they apply to officers’ recommendations and hold responsibility for the final decision."
The next steps in the Love the Bay process were confirmed at Thursday's Wellington City Council (WCC) City Strategy Committee meeting. The main news is that a new councillor working party will oversee the rest of the process, which seems sensible. Another round of consultation on up to four options for The Parade will begin in late July, with the intention of making a final decision by September. Here's the full WCC media release: Island Bay cycleway – next steps decided.
The next steps to determine the fate of the Island Bay Cycleway have been decided
The Dominion Post also reported on Friday that an Island Bay cycleway solution is expected by September. Reading the article raises some concerns, however, mostly about the Island Bay Residents Association (IBRA) interpretation of events.
First of all, there is a serious factual error in the article, which is most likely to be a mis-quote. IBRA does not have anywhere close to 2,000 members, as stated. Although I have asked them on several occasions to confirm the size of their current, active membership they have always refused to do so. However, an educated guess is that the actual number is at best, in the low hundreds and maybe fewer than that. A quick scan through their published meeting minutes shows the average attendance at their monthly meetings is around 40-60 people (that's certainly true of the few meetings I've attended) and the attendance at their AGM was "approximately 50" with 3 apologies. If IBRA would like to be transparent about the actual number of people they currently represent they are welcome to do so in the comments below. The likely explanation for the mistake is that the reporter confused discussion about IBRA's membership with the number of people who participated in IBRA's February 2016 survey on the cycleway. That brings us to another serious issue.
If IBRA claimed in front of the council that 2,000 people participated in their survey then they are guilty of some fairly generous rounding up. The actual number was 1,792. More importantly, by continuing to claim that the survey showed 87% of Island Bay residents are against the cycleway IBRA are wilfully mis-representing the results. The problems with the IBRA survey are well-documented and include the fact that as a non-random, self-selected survey the survey results cannot be inferred to the entire population of Island Bay. That is a simple mathematical fact. The only factually correct statement that can be made about the survey results is that the vast majority (65%) of the population of Island Bay eligible to take part in the survey chose not to.
Let's be absolutely clear here. Every single member of IBRA is entitled to express their opinion. IBRA are also entitled, as per their objects, to say what they think the "wishes and relative priorities" of their members are. However, what they are not entitled to do is knowingly misrepresent the results of a badly designed, 15 month old survey as being what the majority of Island Bay wants now. To continue to do so is being dishonest.
IBRA's representatives at the meeting also criticised the two research reports recently released by WCC, telling the councillors they were "factually incorrect". They went on to say "this is a lot of money to pay if [the reports] are not factual, unbiased and objective. Going forward, I urge that information is reflective of the community and that's how you get community acceptance". You could now be forgiven for thinking you're at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party because that is some truly Alice in Wonderland level of logic. I noted in my blog on the research reports how valuable it is to finally have some independent, professional research that clearly shows there is still a very wide range of views within Island Bay, that those views sit along a whole range of intensity, and that those views are still in a state of flux. Anyone reading those reports with an open mind can be in no doubt that there is not a clear majority in Island Bay either for or against the cycleway and that the issue is far more complex than that anyway. Sorry councillors, but when you read those reports you will realise you are not going to get the solution handed to you on a plate.
In psychology, dissociation is a detachment from reality. That IBRA would criticise these reports as not being reflective of the community demonstrates a complete unwillingness to accept reality, or even that there might be a different reality. It's the kind of intransigent reliance on 'alternative facts' you might expect from climate change deniers or anti-vaxxers. It also shows an incredible amount of hubris and is insulting to all the Island Bay residents who participated in the Love the Bay process and expressed their views in good faith. It seems that as far as IBRA are concerned your views don't count unless they reconcile with theirs, which is disappointing when one of their objects is to "ensure all viewpoints can be heard and represented". I also have to wonder what Global Research and Empathy Design think about their work being publicly disparaged as "factually incorrect"?
Who's representing all the people who support the cycleway or are neutral? Not IBRA
As I've already stated IBRA members are absolutely entitled to express their opinions. IBRA are also entitled to express an aggregated view on behalf of their membership, if they are confident one exists. I honestly believe it's important that IBRA are an intelligent, articulate and representative voice in this conversation. But one of the key principles of the Love the Bay process was to be willing to change your mind in light of new information. IBRA members* would do well to reflect on that before they lose all individual and collective credibility.
I've actually been trying to join the Island Bay Residents Association for the past couple of months. Despite sending a couple of emails with the required information to email@example.com and also filling in a form on their website, I've yet to receive any acknowledgement, let alone confirmation that I'm a member. I certainly don't seem to have been added to a mailing list. IBRA seem happy to lecture others on what democracy looks like, but not so good at practicing what they preach.
I also realise that when I refer to 'IBRA' or 'IBRA members' in reality I'm probably referring to the IBRA Committee. I have no idea how well or how much the IBRA Committee consult with the wider membership before they take a position on anything.
Wellington City Council have just released two fascinating pieces of research related to the Love The Bay process:
The first report from Global Research is a largely quantitative analysis of all the public input received through the Love the Bay process, including the website, drop-in shop and workshops 1-3. At 100 pages it's a long read and is really more of a stock-take of all the information that was gathered. However, it does contain an Executive Summary and a qualitative analysis of all the comments received via the website and drop-in shop (page 90 onwards) that are worth reading.
The second report from Empathy Design is a qualitative 'deep dive' analysis into what people in the community think and feel, and most importantly, why. It focuses on a much smaller group of residents but aims to gather much richer insights. The report is 50 pages long but it isn't dense and it's well worth reading the whole thing.
No matter what you think about the Love the Bay process, or what your position on the cycleway is, both reports are challenging. Empathy Design in particular have not held back on including 'warts and all' quotes from interviewees. Whether you are a member of "the grandmother mafia" or one of "those lycra guys" be prepared to be confronted with points of view from well outside of your own bubble. Of course once you get over the initial discomfort that's a good thing, although there's no doubt that some people will still read the reports and cherry-pick information to confirm their own bias. That would be a shame because there's a lot to learn by keeping an open-mind.
One thing for sure is that any claim that the "Island Bay Community" has a particular view, or that there is a "majority view" within the community, is now stone cold dead. Both reports make it very clear that there is still a very wide range of views within Island Bay, that those views sit along a whole range of intensity, and that those views are in a state of flux. This really shouldn't be news to anyone. In fact it's now over two years since I concluded my blog post Twisted Statistics with this:
"There are two clear lessons here. First, both sides of the debate need to stop making unsubstantiated statements about what they think "the Island Bay community" wants. Second, our city councillors need to keep the feedback that they are receiving from the community in perspective. Just because actively engaged minority groups on both sides are noisy and persistent doesn't justify their views being presented as the view of an entire community. This will be a particularly important lesson for councillors to learn if they are to have any chance of delivering the vision for cycling in the Wellington Cycling Framework without every single project descending into the kind of protracted to-and-fro we have seen in Island Bay"
Having read both these reports I think any individual or group continuing to claim to speak for Island Bay or even the majority of Island Bay is being disingenuous and, quite frankly, dishonest. It also brings into sharp relief just how one-sided and reductive much of the political and media discourse has been up to this point. I've always said that I don't believe the cycleway divided Island Bay, it simply brought to the surface the diversity that already existed. Let's hope we never have to read another press release or media report about what the mythical Island Bay community hive-mind thinks.
The reports actually raise important questions about the very idea of 'community' and whether a single Island Bay community even exists. Wellington City Council acknowledged this in their September 2016 Island Bay Re-engagement paper (page 255 onwards) when they began to talk about the multiple "communities of place and interest" in Island Bay (paragraphs 15-21). I'm also reminded of this from the Stanford Social Innovation Review - What Is Community Anyway?:
"When a funder or evaluator looks at a neighborhood, they often struggle with its boundaries, as if streets can bind social relationships. Often they see a neighborhood as the community, when, in fact, many communities are likely to exist within it, and each likely extends well beyond the physical boundaries of the neighborhood"
A discussion about the contested concept of 'community' and how it impacts on consultation and engagement processes in a representative democracy is probably best kept for another day. However, I do know that Wellington City Council has already learned a huge amount from this process and is still learning. That might yet be one of the biggest positives to emerge from this saga.
My understanding is that both reports are being considered by the team at Tonkin & Taylor as part of the next steps alongside all the other research, evidence, policy, plans and best practice guidelines that have been identified as relevant during the course of the Love the Bay process. Good luck to them!
It's official - the Island Bay Cycleway is one of New Zealand's top 10 urban bike rides!
The New Zealand Transport Agency recently announced the winners in their 2017 Favourite Places to Ride competition. What wasn't included in the official press release was amazing news for the Island Bay Cycleway and Wellington. The cycleway has finished 9th in the urban category nationally and 2nd in the urban category here in Wellington - a fantastic achievement!
Looking at the top 10 list what's obvious is that many of these rides are semi-urban at best. The majority are actually scenic harbour or river rides. It could be argued that Island Bay Cycleway is actually the only truly urban ride in the top 10. The cycleway also beat many other well known urban rides from around the country, including Auckland's Lightpath and North Western Cycleway, and Christchurch's CBD cycleways.
Here's a reminder of why the Island Bay cycleway is one of New Zealand's favourite places to ride
Nominators were asked to make a comment about their favourite place to ride. You can read the full list of comments below, but here they are summarised into a word cloud. Tumeke!
Thanks to everyone who nominated Island Bay Cycleway. It's a great validation of what's been achieved so far. Of course there's still lots of work to be done and the Love the Bay process is ongoing, but let's hope that the outcome gets us to Number 1 next year!
Here's the full list of comments. It's heart-warming and powerful to hear so many people articulating what they love about the Island Bay cycleway:
Just because it is right in my neighbourhood!
It's right at my back door!
It's an oasis from the ordeal of riding in traffic
An awesome place to get around by bicycle IN THE SUBURBS!!!
Use it every day!
I feel safe! Cycling home from work in the city, it's always a relief to reach the comparative protection of the cycle way after the nervousness of narrow Adelaide Road. I have started cycling more with my children (my youngest was on it as a 4y old) because it's safer for them than the road or footpath
Shows what can be done with a protected cycleway. Just needs to be continued on into the CBD
It is so nice having part of my commute where I don't have to worry about leapfrogging buses and having them pull out as I am trying to pass, or having cars pass me close by. It would be even better if the cycleway went all the way into the city!
It's relaxing because you don't have to complete with cars and other traffic
I can take the kids out, with us all biking to the sea and back. They love it
It's a great safe way to cycle this busy urban route between my house and the city
Good protection for cyclists from motor vehicles. Flat and convenient for getting to the local shops, it's ideal for utility cyclists riding within Island Bay. The Pohutukawa trees along the West side provide a significant wind shadow when riding into the prevailing northerly wind
It's local, safe & protected, I can shop local, visit my local library, doctor, our children can ride their bikes to school, AND BEST of all we don't have to take the car and compete for car parking!
Safe ride to the coast!
It is so lovely having a special bike lane for the kids and I to get to tennis and cubs and the shops and the park and the beach. We love it
It’s a really exciting way of creating a safe cycle lane for NZ and it’s along a really beautiful street
It's a great connection between my home and the beautiful south coast
It means I can pop down to the shops on my bike whereas before I would've been too scared to ride my bike
It makes Island Bay so much safer for my children and I to ride - to the shops, to friends, the beach, the parks, the football fields and the skate park
It's the only separated cycleway we have in my area, an absolute gem and reprieve from traffic stress
Safe and easy to get from home to shops, and for my children to cycle to school
It has made it so much nicer for our family to make short local trips by bike. The kids can get to local parks by themselves and (most of) my ride to work in Berhampore is much more pleasant. Can't wait for Stage 2 to link to Berhampore and Newtown properly
Cause it is a safe place to get around by bicycle in the suburbs
Cause it's not on the road!
I live in island bay and it's on the way to school
Because it's safe
Just feels really safe and cruisy. Feel comfortable on it with the kids and relaxed on the commute
I live in Island Bay and this cycleway is at the beginning and end of my commute to town. It is the part of my ride where I enjoy cycling the most because I can relax and not worry about cars scooting so close they might bump my elbows, or worse knock me off my bike. I love it because I can get past buses if they pull over. I love seeing parents and their kids using it
Because I can enjoy it with my two girls, aged 6 and 7 and know that they are safely separated from traffic whilst enjoying the thrill of cycling through their neighbourhood with me - they love the freedom of going fast on the cycleway, they even ride their scooters on it. The girls often ask if we can cycle or scoot places because they know it's safe and fun to do so in the cycleway. I also know that when my husband uses it at all hours of the day and night he is safely separated from traffic
Because it creates a safe environment for kids to cycle / scoot to school and around their community. Separates cycles from traffic for safety and pushes pollution and noise from traffic further away from houses. The design also slows down traffic so that if someone is hit by a passing car then there is likely less damage
Because it is one of the very first parking protected cycleways in New Zealand and it works! It's also a suburban cycleway, making short, local trips safe and comfortable for local people of all ages and abilities. It is exactly what a surburban cycleway should be and I can't wait for it to be connected to the rest of the city
Because it's safe
Because that's how all cycle lanes should be!
Cause it's great!
Demonstrates how good protected cycleways are. Super fun to ride with the kids and mates as you can relax a bit. Awesome exemplar
Everyone is a competitive or was a recreational cyclist in my family. I no longer ride so probably don't qualify for the competition. Just wanted to say as a driver going through this area several times per week for my work, this stretch of road is peaceful. Cyclists are safely out of the way of traffic. Simple
Fantastic under-appreciated cycleway that should be expanded on
Feel protected being separated from the traffic. Started a big debate on how to improve cycling infrastructure in Wellington
Feels safe being separated from vehicles
I can ride it with my 6yr old son
It goes from the sea to the city with much diversity and great coffee places along the way
It is physically separated from moving traffic
It's a great little ride through a really nice little community with cafe's and access to the shore. The whole route is very safe and well protected from both cars and buses. Very good effort by the local community and the council
It's great to feel safe while cycling in the city. I look forward to cycling with my daughter on the cycle way
It's really the only place in Wellington where parents and children can ride safely on a suburban street, and it has a real good vibe to it for this very reason and nice to see the increase in all sorts of people and bikes using it . Feels good not having to watch your back from vehicles approaching from behind and feels good riding on Wellingtons first protected cycleway
Poor IB Cycleway! It's such a great asset that has had so much stick from a vocal few. I love it. I love that in the morning I start my day with an easy, safe pootle up a protected cycleway. Friendly cyclists and pedestrians say hi and wave. Sure, it's only a couple of kilometres but is shows what my whole commute could be like. In the evening, I breathe a sigh of relief when I roll onto it at the end of my ride. I hope that in a few years, it gets a whole heap of siblings around my city. Well done Island Bay Cycleway, you survived a year, and I see more and more people on you month by month
Protected cycleway, I can rid with my 5 years old to park, movies, BMX track....
Relaxing and safe way to get to the shops
Safe and relaxing ride in an urban environment
Separated and safe. This route is the most comfortable part of my daily commute
Separated cycleway lets me cycle safely through a great neighbourhood, stop off at cafes and shops, and starts/ends at a great beach
The Island Bay Cycleway is an example of how to make cycling safe and attractive. It is convenient and comfortable. I love being protected from busy traffic. It will be even better once it connects to the rest of Wellington
The only fully segregated and protected cycle way in Wellington
This cycleway is a safe way for cyclists to move around the suburb and for commuters to head into the city. Having this cycleway in our suburb has meant more people are cycling. I am so pleased that children are now able to cycle to school on a safe route. If the next generation grow up cycling to school they will help reduce car use and keep fit as they see the bicycle as their chosen mode of transport as adults
Well designed, a vast improvement for cycling in Island Bay, and a groundbreaker for urban cycleways in Wgtn
Fantastic protected cycle path
Because it's beautiful
Gets me around my community safely, and my kids can ride it
It's the safest start and end to my commute into town for work. My kids and I regularly use it cycling to and from after school activities. I can happily send my 10 year old off to cycle to her tennis club (on her own) without worrying about her safety
Separated from the road feels safer and like European bike lanes
Because now it feels like the safest place to ride my bike in the entire city
This ride is my favourite as it is my local ride, in the suburb I live, and gives myself and my children easy and safe (!!) access to ride around our neighbourhood, to and from school, to the South Coast itself, to the South Coast Kids Bike Track (nominated in community section) and Wakefield Park playing fields
Right outside my door & can take me all the way to work
It's a separated cycle way so I don't have to worry about cars and buses rushing past me too close!
Separated from traffic
It's safe (though it was safer before some sections were cut out!) and our 6-year-old daughter loves that she can ride "on the road" as it were, and ride with her mum and dad. It's a great fast way to get from one end of Island Bay to the other. My husband loves feeling safer for that segment of the ride to town. It's bold, and a good start towards making Wellington a more cycle-friendly city and getting more people cycling
What a stunning finish, ending up at Wellingtons stunning South Coast and a safe place to ride for our whole family!!
Easy, safe urban ride
Relaxing and safe ride on the last part of the journey from the city to the South Coast. So nice to have a break from worrying about cars!!
First separated cycleway in Wellington. Ride it every day to and from work. It's great
It's the only place in Wellington where I can ride on a main road and feel safe and relaxed
Good layout where cyclists are protected from moving traffic by parked vehicles
Because it is safe and separated from cars - it's the only safe cycleway in Wellington. Bloody marvelous!
Because it's the longest protected cycle lane in wellington
Finally a dedicated, separated cycle lane that puts the safety and convenience of cyclists above cars
Separated cycle lane makes me feel safer and more relaxed. So nice
The Island Bay cycleway makes me feel safe and relaxed when riding like no other place! Bonus is to carry on through Island Bay to the coast, and along to Princess Bay for fish and chips on the beach on a summer evening :)
I ride for commuting purposes and it’s great to have a safe cycle way towards the end of the ride home
It is separated from both cars and pedestrians so I feel particularly safe along this route. It has really encouraged children to cycle to school too, both alone and with parents. I particularly enjoy not having to play tag with the buses that run along the main route
Much better than the shambles that proceeded it
Protected cycleway that I can use to take my kids to park, BMX track, friends
Safe and easy
I love how save it feels to cycle there with my children. I'm from Europe and love this kind of "proper" urban cycle way were parked cars shelter us from the road. I also love cycling around the Bays in Wellington
Because every time, cycling down to Island Bay lifts my mood. I love the freedom of biking here, feeling safe and active, enjoying the fresh air, and as a middle-aged mum, having fun whizzing along. It feels just as fast to bike to community centre and the shops, as take the car, and much more fun. I've just added a box on my bike carrier so it's even easier to take groceries. I'd love the commute into the city to feel this safe - and I'd skip the bus, and bike round Wellington much more often
Compared with cycle commute to the city, biking Berhampore to the Beach is a breeze. So much safer being separated from vehicular traffic. It makes the Bay sing
It's safe and great for both commuters and children
Because it means I can relax while riding, and not worry about cars at least for a few hundred metres
Actually makes riding to town a safe and viable option
I like the way bikes and cars are separated. I use it most days, and because it is safe allows my children to access activities by bike. Just wish it went through the shops and was longer
Nice safe new infrastructure
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?