A Do Nothing for Cyclists Mayor?

10 08 2010

With the new trains coming the Greater Wellington Regional Council is reviewing its policies for bikes on trains. There’s an article about it on the Dom Post today.

From the Dom Post article:

Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast said the priority had to be improvement of the commuter service – and carrying cycles could be sorted out later. “Then the capacity won’t be such an issue and we can relook at the issue.”

Presently there’s hardly any bicycle lockers at many of the stations in the Wellington Region and there’s only 12 at Wellington Station, and they’re for annual or monthly rent and not for casual use.

Well why not now Mrs Mayor? Why can’t we work out where we can make it better for cyclists now? And after 3 terms as Wellington Mayor how come we still can’t ride our bikes in safety from Wellington to Petone? Maybe Kerry Prendergast does have some cycle friendly policies, but I don’t know.

Perhaps she, and all the Wellington (and other Wellington Region) mayoral candidates (and candidates for other seats) could tell me what their walking and cycling policies and initiatives are and I’ll publicise them here on this blog. I know some of them read Wellington Regional Cycleways.

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10 responses

10 08 2010
Kerry Prendergast

I was a large part of instigating, and firmly support, our Council Cycle Policy which you can see on the WCC website.
We will have a capacity problem with the new trains until they are all in service. Our priority is to get commuters out of their cars and into these new trains (with, hopefully, much better quality and timetable service levels). Once the trains are operating then there will be capacity for bikes and I’m sure you will be happy. I gave this to the DomPost reporter but it did not make it onto paper…. Kerry

11 08 2010
Matthew

Thanks for commenting Kerry, and the policy makes for interesting reading (http://wellington.govt.nz/plans/policies/cycling/pdfs/2008-cycling-policy.pdf ) and I am aware of some useful plans like the off road route through Tawa. All new safe infrastructure is welcome, and I’ll make use of the Tawa route. I’m also aware of WCC cycle promotions and think they are worthwhile. But the policy as written has lots of words and no actions. Why is riding north from the Gorge into and through Johnsonville so scary? Why is riding to and from the Hutt so bloody dangerous? Why are there unrideable spoon drains on the track up the hill from Ngauranga to Newlands? Where are the blue lanes painted on the waterfront? Where are the advanced stop boxes? Why isn’t there more yellow paint on the road to control on-street parking and make safer routes like up Aro Street and Raroa Road to get to Karori? Why are there no plastic screens to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists in the Mt Vic tunnel? Where’s all the secure bike parking that the policy promises? Where are the Wellington sections of the National Cycleway going to be? Is Wellington Bike Share on the horizon? What’s the time frame of the Great Harbour Way? We want specifics about projects, not just some words that look good in a policy document. For instance the GWRC and the KCDC have gone on about a commuter cycleway through QE Park for years (or at least 7 of them), but not one sod has been turned. It’s only lip service. We need concrete actions. Please feel free to let me know of real planned cycling projects, and of any achievement (other than just a pretty policy document) you feel proud of, and I’ll publish it in big letters. Same goes for Celia and any other candidates. My impression is that there are some progressive cycling cities in NZ, like Palmie and Hastings/Napier, but Wellington is not one of them.

I also think the policy for bikes on trains for when the new trains come in should be made abundantly clear now. It’s not a trifling matter for the future. True it’s probably not the highest priority, but it’s not an irrelevance either.

11 08 2010
andy foster

Hi Matthew – good questions all.

I’m not standing for Mayor this time. I am a regular cyclist and runner.

As Transport Portfolio Leader I was responsible for pushing to get Walking and Cycling Policies (Wellington’s first ever), and following consultation personally made a lot of changes (check out the drafts versus the final), picking up a lot of great ideas from submitters to make them much more positive for cycling and walking. I must say that the several hundred submissions on the two policies were all really really positive.

Those policies were passed in November 2008, when of course we just had a change of Government. The Labour Government approach was – if something is in your policy then it’ll get funding support (which at 53% is of course really important). National changed the rules completely, focussed very heavily on Roads of National Significance, and NZTA is only now almost in a position to start funding cycle projects. Wellington City certainly has some bids in for specific projects, in fact we had some of those in many months ago.

Backing up the Policy I got the budget for the ‘basics’ lifted in 2009 from $70,000 to $225,000, and then got $250,000 in 2009/10 and $500,000 every year thereafter for ‘Strategic Cycleways/Walkways’ which specifically means the Tawa/Porirua stream project, Great Harbour Way and Middleton Road. So there is real money waiting for what I hope/expect is imminent support from NZTA. Tawa – Porirua Stream is ready to go. That budget bid incidentally passed 9 votes to 6 (voting for Andy Foster, Celia Wade-Brown, Ngaire Best (who lead the original work to get the Tawa feasibility study done), Helene Ritchie, Hayley Wain, Bryan Pepperell, Rob Goulden, Stephanie Cook, Iona Pannett)

We (Celia, myself, Positively Wellington Tourism and the other TLAs) did rescue a bid for a Tourism cycleway from Marlborough to Martinborough. We thought it was a great bid, PWT did a brilliant job, and it had a lot of options to add on – eg round Lake Wairarapa. Unfortunately it wasn’t selected from among something like 70 applications. I will look forward to checking some of those new cycleways out !

So what concrete is happening ?
Thorndon Quay – 2nd time of trying we’ve just put in a morning peak clearway to address one of the most dangerous – high crash rates in the city.
Trial (working well) route up through the Botanic Gardens (Met Office to Cable Car) which has a grunty approach but is a safe route up to the Western Suburbs. Baleana Bay and allowing uphill cycling on the footpath into Birdwood St (Karori) are going through the traffic resolutions right now. We’re about to start work on the rest of Waterloo Quay down to the cruise ships. Speed limit reductions (Golden Mile and the first suburban centres) are strongly supported by CAW.

What’s coming up as soon as funding is released ?
Tawa Porirua Stream walkway. I’ve talked to Porirua City and they’ll connect in so over time that’ll get a good route all the way from Takapu Station to Pukerua Bay, as well as improve internal links within Tawa.
Hutt Road footpath – cycleway. We have $225,000 budgeted for that and Thorndon Quay. If the Nguaranga to Aotea capacity changes (motorway) occur then we have the opportunity to grab some space on Hutt Road itself – that’s a bigger later project.
Celia’s been part of an excellent group championing the Great Harbour Way (Pencarrow to Wgtn South Coast right round the harbour) and we both use every opportunity to push for its recognition. You will if either of us have anything to do with it see a lot of progress on that front. The hardest bits will be Petone – Ngauranga (some small but helpful changes made by NZTA at Petone overbridge recently), and getting through/around the Port.
Part of our bid to NZTA includes cycle grates. There’s a whole lot more in there too including Advanced cycle stop boxes, Diamond indicators at signals, Installation of grab rails on islands, Route marking signage, Coloured road surfacing at key locations, Changes to road markings, Use of permanent and/or peak hour parking prohibitions.

When NZTA briefed Councillors a few months ago about options for the Basin, they got a lot of feedback, even from councillors who normally aren’t cycling supporters, that we wanted to see how cyclists and pedestrians are catered for. There’s probably a lot of water to flow under this bridge but the Ngauranga to Airport Strategy specifically says that whatever happens at the Basin it’s first priority is separating NS from EW traffic (ie buses, cycling, walking from traffic). That – not capacity is supposed to be the key objective for the Basin changes. We’ll wait and see !

You mention Johnsonville. The ward councillors (Ngaire, Hayley, Helene) and I specifically got a paper on the Council agenda (SPC 17/11/09) having worked with officers to improve the roading plans for the Johnsonville triangle so that when the new Mall development and associated roading changes occur, pedestrians and cyclists are better catered for.

I’ve also been doing some exploring into a Bike Central facility. Cafe/Cycle storage/Repairs/Showers etc. Celia and I have also been working with an interesting bike hire company (Next Bike) who are in Auckland but for the moment the economy is a barrier to expanding into Wellington.

One thing I should add is the multi award winning Makara Peak. I’ve been a supporter and member since before the Park started. It is probably the best example of a community group doing a lot of fantastic work, for recreation, conservation, physically work and advocacy. Council’s been a supporter and our rangers do a brilliant job too. I’ve been proud of helping get the land in the first place, later buyng the land in the middle of the Park that at one stage threatened to become a gap splitting the Park. Makara Peak was recently judged one of the 10 best MTB destinations – on the Planet ! Awesome ! Of course most Council reserves are now open at least in part for mountain biking.

So some things are being done Matthew, and a whole lot more – bigger stuff (I’m sure I could’ve added more) is on the way. We’ve got our money approved. We now need NZTA confirmed. Cycling in Wellington is on the rise. The Stats prove it (Commuter cordon counts up about 250% in the last decade). There area what seems a huge increase in the numbers of people recreational cycling. When we did a Council reshuffle I kept Cycling and Walking part of Transport because I wanted to keep progress going.

It is really important to make cycling safer and more attractive, and I believe that as we do, more people will take up cycling as a sustainable, healthy and enjoyable form of getting around, and recreation. Please do let others know. The more people who are advocating for improvements for cycling the better. Thanks Matthew.

Pedal on !

Andy Foster
Wellington City Councillor

12 08 2010
Alastair Smith

Thanks for that summary, Andy! It even sounds good from Vancouver, where I am now, and where there is a city wide bike route system, bike racks on buses, etc

To come back to the original theme of the post, Kerry’s support for the Cycle Policy is much appreciated, but mayoral candidate Celia Wade-Brown has much better pro-cycling credentials – as Andy notes, Celia voted for the Strategic Cycleways initiative, Kerry against. Celia has demonstrated both a commitment to active transport, and an ability to do the hard yards to get measures through council.

13 08 2010
Simon Kennett

“For instance the GWRC and the KCDC have gone on about a commuter cycleway through QE Park for years (or at least 7 of them), but not one sod has been turned. It’s only lip service.”

That’s a bit unfair. I suggested the development of cycle tracks all those years ago and ended up working on a concept plan for GWRC, but things then got quite complicated. First there was the possible development of an Expressway, which it turns out will go across the route we suggested for a commuter route. So the next idea was to make a compromise with one of the main recreational routes and make it work for commuters too. Compromises take time, especially when there are many different stakeholders involved. Now I work at Greater Wellington and can tell you the commuter route is still on the agenda, but funding is not available at present. It will get sorted, eventually.

Cycle parking at railway stations is also on the agenda (and is likely to get upgraded once funding is available).

13 08 2010
Matthew

Simon,
If you’re the same Simon who wrote the book with your brothers then I have your book on one of my shelves (in the loobrary).
Progress is slow, and the expressway will be further east than the cycleway surely, especially between Paekakariki and the Whareroa Beach road. The coast track and the inland track are fun to ride, but they definitely aren’t commuter cycleways. A commuter cycleway surely has a bitumen surface and some lighting to make it usable after dark. Currently the park is shut after dark. Here was my take on it: https://wellingtoncycleways.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/queen-elizabeth-park-commuter-cycleway/

Progress on cycle infrastructure seems very slow in the Wellington Region, and there are still some scary unsafe bits to ride, and not a lot seems to be being done in any great hurry. I’m thankful for all the steps forward, but more needs to be done.

15 08 2010
Simon

Eekkk. I’m trying hard to block out any thoughts of my book being keep in a ‘loobrary’!

The commuter track we planned was to be along the eastern edge of the park – we figured the closer to SH1 it was, the better the chances of it getting NZTA part funding.
It was to be fairly direct and have a smooth, crushed lime surface. There were no thoughts of it having lighting – aside from the expense, that doesn’t fit so well with the aesthetics of a regional park.

If the compromise route goes ahead (and some preliminary work has actually been done) it will be just east of the main dunes – relatively flat, rolling terrain with some some shelter from a nor’wester.

21 09 2010
Mike Mellor

As an independent candidate for Wellington City Council Eastern Ward, I strongly support walking and cycling – as you’d expect, since I’m Vice-President of Living Streets Aotearoa and the environmental sustainability representative on the Wellington Regional Transport Committee.

Properly implemented, the WCC walking and cycling policies will be pretty good, but the Greater Wellington/WCC/NZTA corridor approach to transport planning has one major flaw – it’s good at looking along corridors, hopeless at looking at getting across them, which pedestrians and cyclists need to do.

A case in point is the new Indoor Community Sports Centre, right next to Cobham Drive but with no safe means of crossing the four-lane 70km/h road to get to the Evans Bay walkway/cycleway (and future Great Harbour Way). At the Evans Bay candidates’ meeting on Sunday the mayor was proudly pointing out that the ICSC was making provision for walkers and cyclists to get to it, omitting to note that WCC have provided any such facilities because I took them to the Environment Court.

It’s still the case that the ICSC will be well-nigh unreachable from nearby Miramar except by vehicle, and that’s something I want to sort out.

Mike Mellor
Independent candidate for WCC Eastern Ward

8 10 2010
Electric bike share « Wellington Region Cycleways

[…] it will be safe to ride from Petone to Wellington in 10 years time. The weather is kind of rubbish, the local politicians are kind of rubbish too, and there are more progressive places to hang out. If living in and about Wellington has taught me […]

12 10 2010
National’s road building is an expensive white elephant « Wellington Region Cycleways

[…] The Hawkes Bay and Kapiti local election results were disappointing. In Kapiti the mayor was re-elected, and promising to work on all the things she didn’t manage to get done in her first term. Surely her first priority must be fixing the very poor winter (and autumn and spring) air quality in Raumati, or banning needless polluting rural fires. Surely a so called environmentalist politician must actually do something about the environment in this term of her office. Supposedly the whole country went “left” in the local elections. I don’t quite see that myself. Kapiti’s vote were all largely results that were the opposite of what I wanted, and 2 of the 3 worst candidates got up and are ready to promote air pollution. There could be some good news in Wellington, with Celia, a pro-bike candidate, almost over the line, rather than Kerry Prendergast. […]

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