You might not believe it but Island Bay isn't actually the centre of the universe and there has been lots of other good news for cycling in Wellington this week.
At the same time as the Island Bay cycleway was getting the go-ahead on Wednesday the council also unanimously approved the Wellington Cycling Framework. The framework puts in place the principles and thresholds that will guide decisions about building Wellington's cycleway network. The framework also confirms where the key routes will be, including Island Bay. In addition, the council put a budget of $58m into their Long Term Plan for cycling infrastructure over the next ten years. $35m of that will be spent in the next three years - a massive programme of work that will transform urban cycling in Wellington. Read more here: http://wellington.govt.nz/…/safe-cycling-framework-for-the-…
As if that wasn't enough good news the Government then announced a massive $333m package of urban cycleways across New Zealand using the Urban Cycling Fund, the National Land Transport Fund and contributions from local government. The package takes the total spend on cycling in the Wellington region for the next three years to approximately $65 million. Read more here: http://www.nzta.govt.nz/about/media/releases/4267/news.html
What this does is completely change the context for the Island Bay cycleway discussion here in Wellington. Cycleways are coming and they are being driven from the highest levels of Government. At the Urban Cycling Fund announcement the Chief Executive of NZTA said "Getting more New Zealanders cycling will relieve congestion during peak travel times, connect people with a greater range of employment, education and social opportunities and contribute to a more environmentally sustainable future for our transport network. Put simply, cycling is good for our cities, it’s good for the environment and it’s good for our health". Far from being an exception, or a "cycleway to nowhere", the Island Bay cycleway is now just one part of a huge, rapid and nationwide cycle network implementation. So much work needs to be done in Wellington over the next three years that the issue for the council is no longer where to start but where not to start. Councillors, council officers and citizens are also going to have to work together to find ways to massively speed up consultation and decision-making processes. It will require a lot of goodwill and a focus on putting the greater good ahead of individual interests, but the rewards for all will be significant.
Very pleased to report that the Island Bay Cycleway traffic resolutions were passed 8:6 by Wellington City Council today. The cycleway is going ahead!
Thank you very much to everyone who has shown their support for the cycleway over the past 18 months. This simply wouldn't have happened without you.
A genuine thank you also to those who have had concerns or been opposed. Even though we may not have always agreed your input into the process was still important and valuable and has ensured that the final proposal is much more robust than it would have been. Hopefully some of your concerns have already been addressed and the rest of your concerns will gradually melt away after the cycleway is implemented.
Now that we have some certainty let's hope that we can work together as a community to make the cycleway the best cycleway possible, and for the benefit of everybody.
If you read The Wellingtonian you may have seen a comment made a couple of weeks ago by a local real estate agent that a cycleway planned for Coutts Street in Kilbirnie would have a significant impact on house prices: "The impact to the value of 169 Coutts St will be severe and in the range of $50,000 to $75,000. There is a massive impact on buyers when they can't park outside". This week an angry letter writer to the same paper claimed that residents of The Parade in Island Bay should be "really alarmed" about this and that "ratepayers and homeowners are to be financially punished".
So is it true? Do residents on The Parade have anything to worry about? According to the evidence the answer is no, they don't. In fact, the proposed cycleway in Island Bay might even increase property values slightly.
A recent report published by Smart Growth America looked at the impact of 37 'Complete Streets' projects. A Complete Street is a multi-modal travel corridor that usually includes bike lanes i.e. very similar to what is proposed for The Parade. They found that: "Ten projects reported before-and-after data for property values. Of those ten projects, eight reported increased property values, while the remaining two reported no change. In six of these ten projects, we were able to take an additional step and compare property values along the Complete Streets project to an unimproved corridor or to citywide trends (or both) before and after the project’s completion. Of those six projects, four outpaced both the comparison and/or city. In the two remaining projects, the differences are negligible".
These results are consistent with other studies. For example, in 2013 students at the University of British Colombia performed a literature review and found that residential properties near bike paths were generally "positively affected" and showed "relatively small increases in housing value". A 2006 study by the University of Delaware concluded that proximity to bike paths "either increases property values and ease of sale slightly or has no effect".
Of course, trying to attribute movements in property values to any one variable is almost impossible but what these studies seem to show is that in the worst case bike lanes don't affect house prices at all and in the best case they might increase them a little. There certainly doesn't seem to be any evidence to back up the slightly hysterical claims being made that house prices near bike lanes will be negatively affected.
Let's also not forget that in the case of The Parade only 34 out of 265 on-street car parks will actually be lost (with some added in nearby streets) and that only around 15 out of approximately 190 houses on The Parade don't have their own off-street parking.
You can read an article that summarises the Smart Growth America report here: http://www.phillymag.com/…/how-bike-lanes-shared-streets-p…/
You can read the full Smart Growth America report here:http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/…/safer-streets-stronger-…
There's also a good discussion in this article about how new cycleways have had a positive effect on property prices in Sydney:http://thisbigcity.net/how-bike-lanes-can-boost-the-economy/