The final consultation on the Island Bay Cycleway closes on Sunday 13 August at 9pm. If you haven't had your say yet please make sure you do! You can go straight to the online submission form by clicking this button:
If you support safe, comfortable cycling for all ages and abilities then the choice is clear. I recommend ranking Option C first, then B, then D. Any of those options would be a significant improvement on the current cycleway and make a big contribution to growing the number of people making active, sustainable transport choices. If you are concerned about the impact of lost parking at the Island Bay shops then you might want to consider ranking Option D first because under that option most of the parking is retained. You can read my full rationale in this blog: The final four options - analysis & recommendation. If you have time I also recommend reading the full Design Report and the Frequently Asked Questions.
The choice is clear. Are we going back to this?
Or do we move forward and build on this?
Choosing any other option than C, B or D would be a step backwards. Roadside bike lanes are not appropriate for a road with the volume of traffic that The Parade has and do not adhere to current NZTA guidelines. Implementing bike lanes that place a person on a bike within the 1.5m minimum safe passing distance recommended in the road code should be completely unacceptable. Just because that situation already exists in places around Wellington is no excuse. New projects must be built to current standards if there is the opportunity to do so. In most other situations we wouldn't even be questioning whether nationally recognised standards and the advice of technical experts should be ignored.
What happens in Island Bay will set a precedent for what happens across the rest of the Wellington Urban Cycleways Programme. While each area has its own set of circumstances that prevent a standard design or solution, we should always strive for the solution that maximises safety, comfort and the potential uptake along a route. Let's make sure that's what happens in Island Bay.
Thanks for your support. Let's do this!
Kia ora Councillor Eagle,
I trust this letter finds you well.
I am writing to you as a husband, a father of 3, a Wellington resident living in Island Bay, and citizen of our beautiful country.
I am eager to see more Wellington streets transformed to address what I see as unbalanced and unsafe conditions, and for more space in Wellington become more equitable public spaces for living and travelling.
I imagine a day our urban streets are safe enough to not have to worry, as a parent, about my children walking or cycling more freely about our communities. I hope for a day a majority of people prefer to walk or cycle or use public transport over jumping in their cars to get around.
I look forward to the day Wellington joins the growing number of cities around the world enjoying the benefits of a more livable city, where the human experience of our public spaces is clearly highly valued. Streets are public space.
There are many pressing reasons for these hopes, and why they need dedicated attention from politicians in all New Zealand cities.
I am motivated for these changes on behalf of many other people I talk to who consider our streets unsafe to ride bicycles. I am motivated to make the city more appealing and accessible to more people who want to incorporate more active transport in their lives, but feel excluded or unsafe.
There is a significant inequality problem due to the historic failure to adequately provision safe active travel infrastructure as well as we possibly can. Biking is vastly cheaper than most other transport modes, both to build for and partake in.
New Zealand has consistently low numbers of people riding bikes as percentage of trips. If you are used to driving already, learning to cycle appears too dangerous and street space is rarely designed to intuitively prioritise vulnerable road users.
With better facilities to safely include more people riding bicycles, walking, scootering, skateboarding around, we will be effectively addressing one of the biggest health crisis facing this country in our history. With 30% of the population currently obese, New Zealand desperately needs to make more active lifestyles a priority. This won't happen by getting more sports activity, we are already doing more than most on that front. It will happen by integrating more active travel into our everyday lives.
Air pollution from motorists is also a very large contributor to poor health around the world. With such high car dependency, New Zealand is no exception. We are being poisoned inside our cars as well as outside.
I am extremely concerned about the spectre of climate change. New Zealand is not doing enough to combat climate change. Not by a long way. We are missing out on a huge opportunity to become a relative carbon sink with our natural resources, innovative businesses and already high renewable energy sources. Lower car dependency will help reduce our energy needs, and bicycles are the most efficient way to do this.
We won’t do this, however, if our infrastructure continues to compel people to depend on car ownership or hope for some miracle self-driving car fantasy future. Even with electric, self-driving cars, we will be impacting heavily on the environment thanks to their extremely high manufacturing impacts. A recent study shows that the manufacturing of batteries for a Tesla car has GHG emissions equivalent to average driving of a regular car for 8 years.
We desperately need to see a large scale shift away from dependence on large motor vehicles. E-bikes are comparable to regular bicycles in their environmental footprint, which is encouraging.
While there are some positive projects and intentions being progressed by WCC, I have been dismayed by the exhaustive and long running consultation marathon that has been plaguing Island Bay. The adaptation to a carbon free future must happen faster than this. We cannot waste time!
I appreciate the complex challenge of our democratic system and it’s value for improving our city. I hope future projects will be smoother and more straightforward.
I am sure you are committed to a healthy and prosperous Wellington, where people can all get around more easily without having to budget up to a quarter of their incomes to do so in a car. The Wellington brand has long identified positively with its compactness, walkability, and accessibility. Without dedicated and serious investment in reshaping many of our roads to be more equitable for active travel modes, we will lose this and will damage it's reputation.
Please help make Island Bay an example of an equitable, sustainable, and human focussed future. Please keep the cycleway in a protected, separated configuration. On road bike lanes have proven they fail to attract or safely accommodate people of all ages and abilities. Separated infrastructure is safer after all.
I was dismayed by the behaviour of many residents at the meeting last Monday night and call on you to use your influence to encourage more respect and maturity. I find your allegiance to the Island Bay Residents Association to be disturbing, and not fair to the wider community where a much broader range of views exist.
My wife, 3 children and I all very much enjoy (and frequently use) the separated kerbside cycleway and will all be submitting in favour of Option C for both the residential and business areas. The new designs look very impressive. I am very happy to see the raised intersection treatments and think Tonkin+Taylor and council officers have done an amazing job. We’re looking forward to the shops being a more pleasant place to visit more often.
Kia ora koutou!
It takes 60 seconds to provide feedback on the Island Bay Cycleway. Could you please do it? Here’s the link.
I’m a cyclist, and so is everyone in my family, including my kids. So, I am here pleading for the protected kerb side Island Bay Cycleway. The outcome of the #LoveTheBay consultation on the cycleway will shape all future cycling infrastructure in Wellington (directly or indirectly).
Don’t ask the council to build cycling infrastructure for me. I am (barely) brave enough to share the roads with cars. Instead, please ask the council to build cycling infrastructure that will work for people of all ages and all cycling abilities.
My 5 year old daughter, who just learned how to ride without the training wheels. My 8 year old son who loves to go on Mountain Bike trails with me. My mum who loves biking but is terrified of the traffic. They all love cycling. And they are all vulnerable riders when they are on the road. However, they are also hazards for pedestrians when they’re cycling on footpaths.
My vision for Wellington is for an inclusive city, with complete streets that offer multiple transport options including active transport (i.e. cycling and walking facilities) for all ages and all abilities.
Did you know that recent surveys indicated that 76% of New Zealanders would cycle if they had access to segregated cycling infrastructure? So, here’s your chance to start giving it to them.
My favourite design options for the cycleway are C, B and D (in that order). All design information about the cycleway is on the Wellington City Council website if you would like to know more about it.
Tēnā koutou katoa,
In a recent Dominion Post article on the cycleway representatives of the Island Bay business syndicate expressed concerns that the final four options for the cycleway would "have a detrimental impact on businesses already struggling to stay afloat". Businesses often worry about the impact that more cycling will have on them, particularly if it involves the removal of parking to make room for cycleways. In reality the evidence shows that increasing the amount of cycling is more likely to have positive effects on the local economy. Walking and cycling are local by default, unlike driving, and active transport users are much more likely to shop locally. They also shop more often, for longer and they leave parking free for customers who really need it.
The New Zealand Transport Agency's research report 530 found that sustainable transport users account for 40% of the total spend in shopping areas and account for 37% of all shoppers. The data indicates that pedestrians and cyclists contribute a higher economic spend proportionately to the modal share and are important to the economic viability of local shopping areas. The study also identified that retailers generally overestimate the importance of on-street parking outside shops. Shoppers value high-quality pedestrian and urban design features in shopping areas more than they value parking and those who drive are willing to walk to the shopping precinct from other locally available parking areas. You can read many more examples of how bikes are good for business here. Cycle Aware Wellington also recently summarised the research in their post: Cycleways "support local".
I was at the Island Bay Residents Association meeting on Monday night where representatives of the Island Bay business syndicate reiterated their concerns. Fair enough, but as I said at the meeting please don't be fooled by confirmation bias. 200 angry people can definitely make a scene but they are not your entire customer base. The two recently released research reports on the Love the Bay process certainly point to there being a much broader spread of opinion about the cycleway, and transport issues in general, than was represented at the meeting. As another example, did you know that at the 2014 general election 26% of Island Bay voters gave their party vote to the Greens? (Rongotai and Wellington Central are the two greenest electorates in the country by far). That means that on average every 4th customer you get through the door voted Green. Your customers are actually an eclectic bunch and many of them will happily shop local if you encourage them to do so.
You can view the cycleway and the other changes proposed for The Parade as either a threat or an opportunity. I've actually been surprised, and a little disappointed, to see how little effort there has been from local businesses to try and leverage the opportunity presented by increasing levels of active and sustainable transport. Who's going to be the first business in Island Bay to try and attract customers with new bike racks or street furniture? Who's going to be the first business to purchase a cargo bike and offer deliveries? You could also contact Bikes Welcome, a really cool organisation whose mission is to help connect bike users and businesses, and who will have heaps of good ideas.
So please think carefully about the opportunity being presented before you make a submission, either as individuals or as a group. If you really can't stomach the thought of losing 17 car parks in the shopping centre, then submit in support of Option D. Or you could submit in favour of Option B or C but make a suggestion to use the business zone layout from Option D. You actually have some really exciting options open to you if you choose to see them that way.
One final thing, it's not clear to me who the 'Island Bay business syndicate' actually is. I know that there are businesses in Island Bay who are supportive of the cycleway and that there are others who are very keen to stay neutral, so it is clearly mis-leading to say, or imply, that you represent all businesses. It would be great if you could bring greater clarity to that so feel free to post a comment below. If you make a group submission it will obviously be important that there is full transparency about which businesses you are submitting on behalf of.
Thanks for reading.
Nāku noa, nā
The consultation on the final four options for The Parade is now open. Here's my take on the four options and how they stack up. I've tried to make things as simple to understand as possible but if you have time I highly recommend you also read the frequently asked questions and the summary of the proposed design options, which should take you about ten minutes each. You could also read section 4.1 (pages 18-19) of the design report which provides a good analysis of the main issues raised in the Love the Bay feedback and the designers responses. The design report is actually excellent and fully explains how the designers have used the feedback gathered during the Love the Bay process and combined it with previous community engagement, NZTA best practice guidelines, engineering guidance and council strategies to come up with the four options.
Remember - you have until 9pm on Sunday 13 August 2017 to make your submission so don't waste any time. The council have been absolutely clear that the submissions are not a vote but it is still important that no matter what your preferences are you let the council know. If you have time please explain to the council why you selected your preferred option(s) and why you would make any amendments.
The "I really don't have time for this" summary
Options B, C and D are all good and will all be a significant improvement on the current kerbside cycleway. Option A is sub-standard and will be a backwards step. It reverts back to roadside bike lanes and is only in the four options because councillors insisted that there had to be an option similar to the original layout. The designers note that Option A doesn't adhere to NZTA guidelines and it won't provide the levels of service that make it safe and comfortable for all ages and abilities to ride a bike. If you really don't have much time my advice is to go to the online submission form, fill in your details and then rank Option C as 1, Option B as 2 and Option D as 3. Don't bother giving Option A a ranking but you might want to add a comment that you don't want roadside bike lanes because they don't give cyclists enough protection from traffic and that's what makes cycling feel less safe and less comfortable. That you should take you about two minutes. Go!
The Love the Bay process has probably been the longest and most thorough council consultation in recent years. The design report written by Tonkin & Taylor and Studio Pacific Architecture is very comprehensive and does a great job of explaining how the designers used the feedback gathered during the Love the Bay process and combined it with previous community engagement, NZTA best practice guidelines, engineering guidance and council strategies to come up with the four options. The four options are a real step forward from the draft options presented at the drop-in sessions in May, which demonstrates that the designers have really listened to the feedback from those sessions.
Here are the main points of interest:
Overall, Options B, C and D are all a significant improvement on the current kerbside cycleway and any of them would be acceptable. Option C probably comes out on top for me because it gives cyclists a little bit more room to maneuver, provides for 3.2m traffic lanes and gets rid of angle parking at the shops. It also retains generous footpath widths. Option B comes next because it also maintains generous footpath widths and gets rid of angle parking at the shops, but it has slightly narrower traffic lanes and doesn't give cyclists quite as much wriggle room. Option D comes next because it provides room for cyclists to maneuver and provides for 3.2m traffic lanes, plus a 1.0m median strip. However, it significantly reduces the western side footpath width and retains angle parking at the shops.
Option A doesn't provide the separation from traffic that is needed to make all ages and abilities feel safe and comfortable while riding along a busy road. Even the design report admits that Option A doesn't adhere to NZTA guidelines for a road with the volume of traffic that The Parade has. If the intent of the Wellington Cycling Master Plan & Framework is to increase the levels of cycling by all ages and abilities then it simply shouldn't be acceptable for Option A to proceed.
Here's my take on the individual options. I've included a brief description of each option from the design report and then my own commentary. I've focused largely on the differences between the options and how I think the options stack up against each other. Factors which are common to all the options such as extending the cycleway through the shops, and the reduction of parking are not discussed in any depth.
"Prior to the construction of the Island Bay Cycleway, The Parade south of Medway Street had kerbside parking, a roadside cycle lane, and traffic lanes separated by a central flush median. Option A proposes a layout that, as close as safely possible, reflects the original design. Changes have been made to reflect the recommendations of the 2016 post-construction safety audit and peer review, and current NZTA and engineering safety guidelines that the original design did not include. It is these requirements that preclude a return to the exact original layout."
Let's be absolutely clear here. The only reason we are talking about Option A and roadside cycle lanes is because when councillors initiated the Love the Bay process they made an amendment that a design similar to the original design had to be included (along with the current design). This was nothing more than political interference in the process, before it had even started, to placate a section of the community. It also demonstrated a lack of confidence in the process itself to identify roadside cycle lanes as appropriate, which is telling. The fact that the two options the designers came up with where they were free of any constraints are just variations of the current design speaks volumes, and is a huge endorsement of the work originally done. The designers are effectively saying that the only appropriate cycleway treatment for The Parade is kerbside cycle lanes. In fact, the proposed design options document actually states on page 14 that:
"Option A, the original layout option with roadside cycle lanes on The Parade, would not adhere to the most recent recommended guidance above. However, the guidance would suggest Option A could potentially be appropriate if operating speeds and traffic volumes were reduced to around 30km/h and less than 9,500 vehicles per day along the whole route"
The council could drop the speed limit to 30km/h all along The Parade but that would be hugely controversial in itself and would likely require an entirely new round of consultation. The proposed design options document also points out on page 48 that reducing the speed limit:
"may however lead to the related transfer of traffic to side road routes and would need to be considered in regards to the road function of The Parade as a high volume Principal Road. The facility also may not appeal to the target market of “interested but concerned” cyclists and may not have the same effect on increasing cycling uptake as alternative options"
In short, Option A is a lame duck that comes with so many other issues and problems that it is unimplementable. I've included some more information about why roadside bike lanes should be avoided in Appendix 1 below.
"Option B retains the current layout of a separated kerbside cycleway at road level. Design refinements include a raised concrete kerb separator between the cycleway and parked vehicles, and a consistent layout and design of the cycleway between the residential and business zones to achieve route continuity.
This option requires the conversion of the current angle parking to parallel parking on the western side of The Parade, within the business area between Medway Street and Avon Street, and removal of the flush median."
Option B is the option intended to be similar to the current design, and it is, but it is significantly better. The kerbside cycleway stays at road level and the main improvement is the introduction of a raised concrete traffic island between the cycleway and parked cars, which replaces the existing painted buffer zone. This will give cars a kerb to park against and stop cars encroaching into the cycleway. The islands will be 0.9m wide, a significant improvement over the existing buffers, which are only 0.6m along most of the cycleway. That should keep cyclists well away from open car doors and give people getting into and out of cars plenty of space.
One downside with Option B is that the cycle lane is only 1.5m wide. That's just about the minimum possible width and won't easily allow two cyclists to ride side by side. A cyclist riding the cycle lane won't be able to veer in either direction without hitting a kerb. A 'forgiving' or angled kerb design could lessen the impact but at times it could feel like riding down a channel and over-taking will be difficult. However, because of driveways and intersections (where there won't be any concrete islands) there should be plenty of places where overtaking is still possible.
Option B is my second favourite option.
"Option C also provides a separated kerbside cycleway, with the cycleway above road level, either at mid-height between the roadway and footpath or at footpath level. A kerb will separate the cycleway vertically from the roadway (and footpath if at half-kerb height), and a horizontal buffer space separating the cycleway from the adjacent parking door zone is provided by a 1.0m kerbside safety strip.
The design provides a consistent layout of the cycleway between the residential and business zones to achieve route continuity.
This option requires the conversion of the current angle parking to parallel parking on the western side of The Parade, within the business area between Medway Street and Avon Street, and removal of the flush median.
This option results in a reduction in the existing pedestrian footpath width to 2.4m on the west side of the residential area. Within the business area, the west side pedestrian footpath reduces to 5.2m width, the east side increases to 3.5m width."
Option C shares many features with Option B but with two really key points of difference. The first is that the height of the cycleway is either at mid-height between the roadway and footpath or at footpath level. This will mitigate against some of the issues highlighted in Option B regarding riding between two kerbs. If the cycleway is at footpath level, or even at mid-height but with a 'forgiving' angled kerb, a cyclist will be able to use the footpath or safety buffer to avoid a collision or for overtaking if it is safe to do so. The downside of this arrangement is that it may look and feel more like a shared path, which the design report makes clear nobody wants. However, the cycleway is will be clearly demarcated and if properly designed and implemented there should be no real issues. This is actually a design that is quite commonly used overseas.
The other main point of difference in Option C is that the traffic lanes in the residential areas are increased from 3.0m to 3.2m. This results in a minor reduction in the width of the western side footpath, but at 2.4m it is still fairly generous.
Option C is my favourite option, just edging out Options B and D.
"Option D is similar to similar to Option C, providing a separated kerbside cycleway, with the cycleway above road level, (either at mid-height between the roadway and footpath, or at footpath level). A kerb will separate the cycleway vertically from the roadway (and footpath if at half-kerb height), and a horizontal buffer space separating the cycleway from the adjacent parking door zone is provided by a 900mm kerbside safety strip (600mm at the angle parking area).
The design provides a consistent layout of the cycleway between the residential and business zones to achieve route continuity.
The footpath width is significantly reduced to 1.6m on the western side in the residential areas. Within the business area, the west side pedestrian footpath is also significantly reduced to 3.4m, resulting in a loss of space for footpath tables and seating.
A central flush median and wider traffic lanes are provided in the residential area. The majority of the existing western kerbside angle parking remains between Medway Street and Avon Street."
Option D shares many features with Option C including the key points of difference from Option B of the cycleway either at mid-height between the roadway and footpath or at footpath level, and 3.2m traffic lanes in the residential areas.
However, Option D has two major downsides. The first is that it reintroduces a 1.0m median strip in the residential area. This creates more space for cars, in addition to 3.2m traffic lanes, but results in the footpath on the western side being reduced from 3.0m to 1.6m. This really isn't necessary or acceptable.
The other downside is retaining angle parking at the shops which requires the footpath on the western side of the shops to be reduced from 5.5m to 3.4m. Business owners are obviously going to have mixed feelings about losing parking but angle parking is dangerous and also creates a lot of visual pollution. I'd encourage business owners to read this blog from Cycle Aware Wellington, Cycleways "support local", before they make a submission.
Option D is my third favorite option.
The proposed design options report signals in several places that the parking arrangement from Option D could possibly be used within other options. This is obviously to placate business owners who might be nervous about losing parking and some of their customers might have sympathy with that. It could mean adding the Option D business section to the residential sections from Option B or C, which would then avoid the loss of residential footpath space that Option D requires. If you feel strongly about this being considered you don't have to rank Option D higher than you would otherwise but make sure you mention using the Option D business design as part of Option B or C in your qualitative feedback.
In conclusion, I can't emphasise enough how much of an upgrade any of Options B, C, or D would be over the current cycleway. The end result will be truly best practice and provide safe, comfortable cycling for all ages and abilities, not just a hardcore few. It will put active and sustainable transport on an equal footing with motor vehicles and be utterly transformational in terms of the liveability of Island Bay.
Regardless of your point of view I hope you've found this analysis helpful. Remember to make your online submission supporting Option C, B or D before 9pm on Sunday 13 August.
Appendix 1 - why roadside bike lanes should be avoided.
There are multiple issues with roadside bike lanes:
The multiple problems with roadside bike lanes 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?
This blog from Dutch-based cycle advocate David Hembrow argues that on-road cycle-lanes are not the best way to keep cyclists safe and concludes:
"On-road cycle-lanes are not the best way to keep cyclists safe. They are also rarely, if ever, the best way to improve convenience for cyclists. If on-road lanes are a preferred option in your part of the world then your planners are aiming for something rather lower than the best standard possible. Aiming for a lower standard of infrastructure means aiming for a cycling modal share which is lower than the highest possible given your demography and geography. You set a ceiling on what is possible by building inadequate infrastructure."