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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Meet "the grandmother mafia"
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