The Low Hanging Fruit of the Kapiti Coast

14 10 2013

I had to go do something at Coastlands and it was a nice day for a ride so I thought I’d ride down and take some photos of the new bike lanes around Rimu Road. I started from Waikanae Beach and crossed the bridge to Otaihanga, which now a sign says it is ok for mopeds to use if they dismount. Well I can vouch mopeds use it, and they don’t dismount. (And yes I did this ride the day I wrote The small Engine Menace and what we can do about it. That’s just the way the universe works).

I rode through the newish subdivision and down Manly St to Paraparaumu Beach and got up on the shared path built by the Rotary Club leading south. My impression was that it is a nice walking path, but it’s a bit too narrow to be a shared path. It is impossible to ride more than a few metres before having to go around the clueless pedestrians and onto the grass. My advice here for cyclists is to ride on the road. It is a nice place to bring a kid on or just off their training wheels though.

It's not quite wide enough

It’s not quite wide enough to be a shared path.

Then I rode up the Wharemauku Tack up to Coastlands. The track was muddy and puddled in parts. There’s a newly landscaped and wetland section that finishes on Rimu Rd just opposite the bike shop.

Wharemauku Stream

Wharemauku Stream

The painted green lane on Rimu Road is discontinuous, but is painted green where there is likely to be conflict with vehicles)

Rimu Rd bike lane

Rimu Rd bike lane

The path isn’t necessarily that wide, and it feels like cyclists have been shoehorned into the gutter. But the important dotted yellow line meaning no parking is a great thing where it exists. At the intersection of Kapiti Road this is one place that would have benefited greatly from an advanced stop box. It is always heavy traffic on this part of Rimu Road and almost impossible to get out to the right lane.

Kapiti Ride (11)

The path west on Kapiti Road is similarly narrow and in the gutter. I suppose it is all better than no painted lane at all.

I swung back past the new aquatic centre and the library and got back onto the Wharemauku Stream Track. The bike stands at the aquatic centre are quite nice. I think a new bridge across the creek at the western end of the library would be a great thing.
Kapiti Ride (1)

I took the branch around the west side of the aerodrome. The track quality deteriorates, but it joins up to streets back in Paraparaumu Beach.

So here is what I think is low hanging fruit. All the Wharemauku Stream tracks and the tracks around the west side of the aerodrome should be paved and formed so they don’t suffer from puddles. (The land around the airport is owned by the airport, but they seem to be good corporate citizens in that they already allow access). Solar powered lighting could light the track for the first few hours of darkness each night. The benefit would be linking Raumati and Paraparaumu Beach to what effectively is the town centre, Coastlands and the train station. Yes it already does link it already, but improving it into a commuter class cycleway to me is a no-brainer. Why would anyone not want a community asset such as a high quality off road cycle track linking the villages?

SignModified2But of course there is a giant bloody motorway getting built. But here is a picture I knicked from the NZTA project website:

Looking East

Looking East

There is no reason that the Wharemauku path can’t be paved now. It is just going to go under the bridge, and the new path on the northside of the motorway is going to cross it. On the map above the motorway is shown in blue, and the red lines are bits of cyclepath.

Funny how they can spend billions on roads, but find it hard to fund even the most basic of cycle facilities. The paint is nice, (but not always) but it really seems to be more a sop to motorists rather than doing something for cyclists.

Other low hanging fruit of the Kapiti Coast – Paving the Waikanae River Paths (or at least one side of them) again to turn it into commuter standard cycleway and making a decent commuter cycleway across Queen Elizabeth Park.

Paraparaumu Beach cyclists

Paraparaumu Beach cyclists

 

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Some good election results for cycling

12 10 2013

There are some good results for cycling in the region with Celia Wade-Brown re-elected as Mayor in Wellington. This term is hopefully going to be more productive than the last since there are some fresh faces on council including new Greens councillors Sarah Free and David Lee. Well done to them all. Cr. Paul Bruce has been re-elected to the Greater Wellington Regional Council, again good news, and Sue Kedgley, another Green, has returned to politics joining Paul at the GWRC.

Congratulations to Celia, Sarah, David, Paul and Sue. Congrats to the other new councillors too. Now you’ve got some work to do.

With a Wellington council that, as I’m reading it is, a bit friendlier and more inline with Celia, and with more cycle spending approved by the outgoing council, then all those plans might find some traction. The new council may also be less inclined to be pushed around by the NZTA on Wellington roading projects. Hopefully with a change of the national government in 2014, with David Cunliffe as Prime Minister, we can apply the brakes to the craziest parts of the RoNS scheme.

Hopefully we’ll see work begin on the Kaiwharawhara to Petone waterfront cycle path and some kind of scheme for joining J’ville and Tawa as well as action on various cycle routes around the city.

Further afield pro-Transmission Gully Nick Leggett is back as Porirua Mayor. Ross Church is the new mayor of Kapiti, and Brendan Duffy is further entrenched in Horowhenua.

CongratsDuffy

On the whole, with some exceptions, steps in the right direction.





There just aren’t enough bicycle lockers in Wellington

27 08 2013

You may be familiar with the style of bike locker that is used across the Wellington rail system.

They are double ended, with a plywood divider diagonally across each block, hence what looks like 6 lockers can actually store 12 bikes. You can apply to hire one on a long term basis and here is the info of how to do it.
Bike Lockers
But what might surprise you is how very few there actually are. Most stations don’t have any. There might be another style of bike racks, but you’d be pretty brave to lock up any nice bicycles for a whole day on one of the mushroom style racks.

Bike Racks

Here’s a list of how many bike lockers there are in Wellington at each train station by line:

Crofton Downs – zero
Ngaio – zero
Awarua Street – zero
Simla Crescent – zero
Box Hill – zero
Khandallah- zero
Raroa- zero
Johnsonville- zero
Total Johnsonville Line — zero

Takapu Road- zero
Redwood- zero
Tawa- zero
Linden- zero
Kenepuru- zero
Porirua -4
Paremata- zero
Mana- zero
Plimmerton – 4
Pukerua Bay- zero
Paekakariki – 4
Paraparaumu -24
Waikanae- zero
Total Kapiti Line – 36

Otaki – 4
Levin – zero
Shannon – zero
Palmerston North – zero
Total Capital Connection (beyond Paraparaumu) – 4

Petone- 8
Western Hutt- zero
Melling – 4
Ava- zero
Woburn- zero
Waterloo -22
Epuni- zero
Naenae- zero
Wingate- zero
Taita- zero
Pomare- zero
Manor Park- zero
Silverstream- zero
Heretaunga- zero
Trentham – 4
Wallaceville – 4
Upper Hutt – 26
Total Melling and Hutt Valley Line – 68

Maymorn- zero
Featherston- zero
Woodside- zero
Matarawa- zero
Carterton- zero
Solway- zero
Renall Street- zero
Masterton- zero

Total Wairarapa Line (beyond Upper Hutt) – zero

And Wellington Station has 12.

That is a total of 120 bicycle lockers across the whole of the Wellington Region. Or there is 1 bicycle locker for every 3330 people. That’s not very many especially since for many years people (and councils) have been talking about integrated transport policies, and you think the words may have translated into some kind of action. How many years have transport planners been talking about the last mile problem?

There is a particular shortage of them at Wellington Station, where perhaps they would be the most useful to add them. A lot of people would love to keep a bike at the station, especially since there isn’t any bike share in Wellington.

There’s plenty of car parks around the station that could be given over to bike lockers or if that’s a bridge too far then there’s plenty of room on the Cake Tin concourse to have many bike lockers installed. There’s probably demand for a couple hundred lockers. 12 is definitely way too few.

Taking myself as an example I’d keep a bike (and helmet) in town and like many others I’d pay for the privilege to do so. Presently sometimes I bring my bike on the train (but it’s a hassle). Sometimes I bring my foldable kick scooter (but it’s a hassle too). Sometimes I walk on from the station (but it’s too slow), sometimes I’ll get on a bus (and that’s even slower), and sometimes I drive into town (and add to the congestion). But having a bike in town means my preferred way of getting to work would be by train and then I’d ride my bike onwards along the waterfront or down Featherston St.

And just about every station in the region would have the demand for a few more than they’ve already got.

It’s probably time for the GWRC to add many more bike lockers across the network. Really Porirua only has 4 !!!!

Post a comment if there is a station you’d use a locker at.





A walk for deaf botanists

9 11 2012

On a train ride home I read over someone’s shoulder an article in the NZ Geographic magazine which detailed that a part of the Paekakariki Escarpment walk had been opened, so I got off my bum on another trip home and had a look.

The Paekakariki Escarpment walkway will eventually be part of Te Araroa replacing the noisy footpath along the Coast Road between Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki. At the moment only the first mile or so at the northern end has been finished.

If you want to walk it start near  the SH1/Ames St intersection and walk over the railway overbridge on the western side and go down the new set of stairs and then under the road.

The track is rather overrun with weeds. It seems that every Paekakakariki garden escapee from the last 150 years has taken root and decided to multiply.

In fact it was very Day of the Triffids, and a bit like other 1950s sci-fi where the plants eat everyone:

I had hoped that the escarpment track would be built way up high, but it isn’t. The bit built so far is not that high above the road or the train tracks. So if you are hoping for a peaceful walk then you’re not going to get it. It’s all within the noise cone of the highway, which makes it unpleasant.


Presently at about a mile along there is a gate, beyond which they are still building the track.

Overall the views are quite nice, but it’s a walk really only for deaf botanists. Otherwise take your earplugs.

Enjoy your walk with the help from our sponsor





National’s White Elephant

18 08 2011

I should be writing bicycle posts, but I feel like I have to fight a rearguard action against stupidity, so I got out the Microsoft Paint. I got one of those stupid electorate junk mail thingies from Nathan Guy today, and not only was it brazen enough to announce a previously built railway as something that the government is going to fund, but it proudly announced it was going to piss $2.2 billion dollars up the wall building a Road of National’s Stupidity from Wellington Airport to Levin, including Transmission Gully.

Someone needs to stand up and say it: Transmission Gully is the biggest stinking pile of transport planning poo ever. It has a BCR of 30 cents in the dollar. i.e. only $300 million dollars of economic benefits for every billion dollars spent. And that is if it ever delivered on budget, which it won’t be. And a lot of those benefits would be of a couple saved minutes for Kapiti commuters getting home before dinner. Those kind of economic benefits shouldn’t even be measured, as those people made the mistake of  buying or renting in Kapiti and working in Wellington which is miles away, and why do we owe them extravagant sums for their bad decisions?

Can anyone tell me why a Pukerua Bay bypass and more frequent service on the Kapiti Line isn’t a better idea than spending a billion dollars plus?

Nathan Guy I won’t be voting for you, as you will be wasting money that the country doesn’t even have. Why doesn’t Mr Guy do something useful like creating jobs in Levin and Foxton which are still suffering from the loss of industries years ago? Or how about cleaning up air quality in Kapiti and Horowhenua by banning rural burnoffs?

And if you live in Porirua next time don’t make the mistake of voting in Nick Leggett as Mayor, a booster for the motorway barely out of nappies.

We want spending on safe separated bicycle infrastructure, not motorway boondoggles for mates in the trucking and construction industries. Did anyone hear what the people of Christchurch want for their rebuilt cities when they were asked? Cycleways, light rail and parks. That’s what everyone wants. Funnily enough the people of Christchurch didn’t ask for a stinking big useless motorway.





Sandhills Motorway cycleway provisions

30 05 2011

The NZTA has released a video with a fly-through of the proposed Kapiti Expressway/Sandhills Motorway/ Mackays to Peka Peka route:

Here are my observations of what I can see in the video with regards to the cycling provisions:

  • The cyclepath seems to follow close to the motorway along the bottom of the Raumati Escarpment north of Mackay’s Crossing. That seems to be a bit of a clueless option. Putting a decent cycleway through Queen Elizabeth Park as previously stated on this blog would be a much better proposition. Any cycleway out of the noise cone of the motorway traffic has got to be better than one that follows it closely. The cycleway shown in the video follows the road closely, but it’s got a whole park to use, so why not build a decent paved, well-lit commuter cycleway away from the road? It’s not high conservation land, but gorse filled paddocks, and with the new road and a new cycleway the paddock in the north east corner of the park could be remediated and turned back into wetlands with native flora planted.
  • It’s hard to see what the Poplar Ave crossing would look like. An underpass would be preferred, but as long as it is safe.
  • Just north of Poplar Ave it follows the motorway designation, but the now unused road reserve further west could be used for the cycleway and could link up with a cycleway through the park.
  • Then there seems to be some new lakes and it looks like the cycleway leaves the road and goes through the dunes. Yeay! And it looks like an underpass under Raumati Road. Cool.
  • Then some more new lakes and the cycleway meets up with the Wharemauku Stream paths. That’s good. And the path leading north from there starts a bit further away.
  • Then at Kapiti Road it looks like an at grade crossing, presumably with no provision to stop the traffic. That’s bad, bad, bad. Why Raumati Road would appear to have an underpass, and not the busier Kapiti Road, I dunno.
  • The next bit between Kapiti and Mazengarb Roads will be boring and noisy, and there’s another at grade crossing for Mazengarb Road. It’s not as busy a road so that’s probably OK.
  • North of Otaihanga Road the cycleway goes missing before magically appearing from a lake on the other side of the motorway.
  • A cyclists’ bridge over the Waikanae River is very welcome. The current SH1 road bridge is deadly to cyclists. However there seems to be very poor connections with the Waikanae River paths, which is surely an oversight.
  • Then north of the river the cycleway disappears again, before having the most circuitous route through the Te Moana Road interchange roundabouts (wow that looks overengineered) and going back to the western side of the motorway.
  • Then it follows too close to the road noise cone all the way to Peka Peka Road. Presumably north of Peka Peka Road any cycle traffic will go along the to be built  local road, but the local road surely is going to be signposted at 80 or 100km/hr, and won’t be the safest road for cyclists to ride.
  • If you’re not sick to death of doing so there is currently a public consultation til June 27th about the road, and presumably the cycle provision, on the NZTA website.

My verdict is that it is flawed in that it will be too noisy, and I’ll continue to ride the Kotuku Lakes, Manly Street, Marine Parade, Rosetta Road route if I pass through Kapiti on my bike. I look forward to safe cycling between Otaki and Waikanae and I’ve only ever ridden it on the beach, or sadly on the highway on a memorial ride. I really wish they’d get their act together on in QE Park and on the almost good Waikanae River paths. It will be nice to get cycling infrastructure funded and built for once, even though it isn’t filling a gap in safe cycle routes when there are gaps to fill, and it can only be funded as part of a super big bloody road, and not in its own right. And if they did link it to the Waikanae River paths on both sides of the river then Kapiti Coasters could use it as the backbone on a much more extensive cycle network than they have now.





Could the Capital Connection run 3 times a day?

7 05 2011

Auckland Trains has been discussing putting rail to Hamilton. It makes a whole lot of sense to have regular rail service between those cities, New Zealand’s biggest, and 4th biggest. The Capital Connection has been doing the same kind of service about the same distance and between smaller cities quite successfully since 1991.

Currently the Capital Connection runs only on weekdays from Palmerston North to Wellington in the morning and in reverse in the evening, but Palmerston North (pop. 75,000) is only 140km from Wellington (pop. 180,000) and it passes through Porirua, Kapiti and the Horowhenua (combined pop. 125,000). It however doesn’t stop at Porirua!!!!

Why does the Capital Connection not stop at Porirua? Even the Wikipedia entry on the Capital Connection shows the train in Porirua. I would use it more if I could get on or off in Porirua. There must be a few people living in Levin and Otaki who work in Porirua who would use the train, and I would hazard a guess maybe even some in Palmie. I’ll send a link to this post to Porirua Mayor, Nick Leggett to see if he agrees.

It is quite a comfortable train to ride on, even if I do have to ride into Wellington, or get off in Waikanae or Paraparaumu to change onto the local train that will stop in Porirua. Here’s a piccie of the train heading north as I was walking to Paekakariki one day.

The Overlander does the trip in reverse, but it is the Auckland to Wellington train and I don’t think Tranzscenic market it as a Palmie to Wellington train at all. It leaves Wellington in the morning at 7.25am, stopping in Levin at 9.05am and Palmerston North at 9.45am. It also will pickup passengers in Porirua and Paraparaumu on the way. In the evening it leaves Palmie at 5pm, arriving in Wellington at 7.25pm. Yet the fare is $31 for a super saver or $54 for a flexi fare. The Capital Connection is $24.50 or $19.80 on a ten trip and there are monthly passes to make it cheaper still.

So branding part of the Overlander trip as Capital Connection and maybe having one of the CC style carriages and charging the same fares (maybe with the scope of stopping additionally at Shannon, Otaki and Waikanae) then there is a second Capital Connection service. At the other end of the line that carriage can come into its own again and similarly provide a Hamilton to Auckland service. 2 birds with one stone, as it were.

And what does the morning Capital Connection train do all day when it is in Wellington? Nothing. It is just stabled. So why not drop the number of carriages by a few, and then make a return run to Palmie and back.Suddenly there are now 3 services in each direction between Wellington and Palmerston North.

A summary timetable would approximately be:

Palmerston North  6.15am  1.00pm  5.00pm  
Shannon           6.38am  1.23pm  5.23pm       
Levin             6.53am  1.38pm  5.40pm
Otaki             7.13am  1.58pm  6.00pm
Waikanae          7.25am  2.10pm  6.12pm
Paraparaumu       7.32am  2.17pm  6.17pm
Porirua           8.03am  2.48pm  7.00pm
Wellington        8.20am  3.05pm  7.25pm

Wellington        7.25am  10.00am  5.15pm  
Porirua           7.42am  10.17am  5.32pm
Paraparaumu       8.20am  10.55am  6.03pm
Waikanae          8.27am  11.02am  6.10pm
Otaki             8.42am  11.17am  6.22pm
Levin             9.05am  11.37am  6.42pm   
Shannon           9.20am  11.52am  6.57pm
Palmerston North  9.45am  12.13pm  7.20pm

All done without any extra infrastructure, or any extra rolling stock, except for maybe an extra carriage on the Overlander. So a thrice daily service for the price of some extra staff, and some diesel.

Apparently back in 1994 extra middle of the day services were tried but were withdrawn because they weren’t being well patronised. It could be different with a 3rd service and it all being well marketed. The midday service to Wellington allows 2 hours and 10 minutes for shopping and running errands. It’d be tempting to ride the train and not drive into Wellington (or more likely not make the trip at all) if you were living in Otaki or Levin.

Did I mention it should stop at Porirua?

Oh and Levin’s plan to build a new station closer to Queen Street could then be well justified.