In Island Bay, designs for both kerbside and traffic-side bike lanes required the removal of some on-street car parking spaces around driveways, intersections, bus stops and pedestrian crossings. Will this be the case in the eastern suburbs too?
In the eastern suburbs there were three community working groups – for Evans Bay, Kilbirnie, and Miramar.
A separate working group has explored options for Miramar Avenue led by Enterprise Miramar Peninsula, a group of local business people forming the Miramar business improvement district. The Miramar Avenue group followed the same process as the community working groups to identify the issues and come up with a range of options to discuss with the wider community.
Working group members almost all either lived in the areas they were looking at, or were involved with a local business, residents association or group. In addition, each had a representative from Cycle Aware Wellington and pedestrian advocacy group Living Streets Aotearoa.
In each group there were people who own cars and drive, walk, catch public transport and cycle. The groups included people who regularly ride bikes and others who seldom or never ride.
Participants had a mix of views, hopes and concerns but also a willingness to consider all perspectives and work together to find solutions.
In March 2017, two open days were held at the ASB Sports Centre to gather initial thoughts about these eastern connector roads. Locals identified safety concerns, talked about things they valued, made suggestions, and some registered interest in being part of a community working group.
Key organisations, for instance business groups and residents associations, were invited to participate, along with a mix of people who had said they were interested.
Three community working groups were set up in the east to look at different parts of the network:
In addition, there were community working groups established for Oriental Bay (looking at the narrow section of shared path between Waitangi Park and Freyberg Pool), the central city and Thorndon Quay.
We followed the same process as the community working groups to explore cycling options for Miramar Avenue.
The difference is that there was already a group working to develop the town centre and investigate transport demand. Miramar Avenue is at the heart of Miramar town centre and a key transport route.
Enterprise Miramar Peninsula was set up under the Council’s business improvement district (BID) policy specially to work with the Council on projects like this that benefit the community. They have been working with the Council since 2016 on ways to improve Miramar Avenue, as part of furthering economic development for the area.
Like the other eastern suburbs projects, we’ve asked for feedback from the wider community, to consider the street layout options and help us refine plans.
In 2016 – following community open days, discussions with local residents and online feedback – Councillors confirmed the routes and roads that would be used to develop better biking connections in the eastern suburbs.
The routes in the east, including the coastal route to the city via Evans Bay Parade, are a key part of a planned citywide network and the city’s cycleways programme.
The programme was independently reviewed by consultants Morrison Low at the request of the NZ Transport Agency, then reconfirmed by Councillors in August 2016. In December 2016, following the local body elections, the newly elected Council considered and again confirmed the cycleways programme. This included the roads and routes where changes are proposed.
The three eastern suburbs community working groups all met at least five times between April and July 2017. During these two- to three-hour evening workshops they worked together to look at the Council's and Government’s investment objectives for the funding on offer, developed their own community objectives, and came up with a long list of possible options.
The number of these varied from project to project – but a large number of possibilities and variations were considered in each area. In Kilbirnie and Miramar, more than 100 options were explored.
With the help of the transport planners/engineers and urban design consultants employed on each of these projects, the working groups, and Council and NZ Transport Agency staff, a list of criteria was developed based on all the objectives.
The long list of options was then assessed against these to come up with a short list of options, which were then further scrutinised.
Working group members spent many hours poring over plans, asking questions, looking at things from a range of different perspectives, debating the pros and cons, grappling with challenges and trade-offs, and whittling down the alternatives to come up with the most practical options to go out to the wider public.
Enterprise Miramar Peninsula worked through a similar process for Miramar Avenue, but began in 2016 and met on even more occasions.
Among other things, the groups talked about parking, the needs of residents and businesses, trees, heritage features, lane widths, safer speeds, painted median strips, driveways, pedestrian crossings, intersections, bus stops, and options for solving existing safety issues.
Each community working group developed their own set of community objectives, and also took the Council and Government’s investments objectives into account.
To qualify for the Government funding on offer, new facilities for people on bikes must be of a standard which will encourage more people to ride. That means planning for inexperienced riders and people who don’t have the confidence to ride on our roads the way they are at the moment.
Over time, improvements must also help create a connected cycle network.
The Government is investing a lot of money helping to make New Zealand cities easier places to get around by bike. To take pressure off other transport modes and achieve health benefits, it wants to see improvements that can be used by the widest number of people.
This fits perfectly with our aim to make Wellington an even more people-friendly, attractive and sustainable city.
Wellington City’s population is growing and there will be increasing pressure on our roads. To help manage congestion, we need to encourage more people to take public transport, walk or ride a bike.
Investing in making biking safer and easier is one of ways we can give people more choice in how they get around. The Government is willing to fund two-thirds of the cost of improvements that will help us develop a connected cycle network.
There are few places in Wellington City at the moment where beginners or less confident riders can cycle and feel safe. We know more people would like to ride, but choose not to because our roads are often narrow and busy with fast traffic. Legally, people cannot ride on the footpath, and shared paths can create conflict between people on foot and those on bikes.
We want people to have good transport choices – and this includes having safer ways to get places by bike.
The Government is willing to fund two-thirds of the cost of putting in these improvements towards a connected cycle network – however, to get our share, we have to move quickly. To qualify for the money, projects must be approved by mid-2018, and built by mid-2019.
In September 2017 we asked for early feedback over two-weeks on the possible options for streets in the east. Formal consultation on the detailed plans for these streets was held over four weeks in November.
The exception in September was for phase 1 of Miramar Avenue where only one option was proposed and the community had four weeks to provide feedback (four weeks is the standard consultation period).
Money is tagged to areas all around the city – the upgrade of the Hutt Road cycle path is well under way; we have been talking with people along Thorndon Quay; and we are looking at small improvements for the central city.
Engagement with people in Berhampore, Mt Cook and Newtown has just started. So it’s not just about the east.
Our aim is to develop a citywide connected cycle network.
The east is a great place to start because much of the area, and the coastal connection to the city, are flat. Work on Cobham Drive is under way and we want to connect this to other parts of the planned network.
The more we can develop a connected network, and safer facilities for less confident riders, the more people are likely to make some trips by bike.
It’s no good just doing the route around Evans Bay. People need to be able to get there safely from their homes to make it a viable route for more commuters.
There is a national proposal going through Government, which if approved, will allow children under 12 and adults over 65 to ride on the footpath. It is against the law at the moment.
Other young people and less confident riders of other ages would still have to ride on the road.
We aren’t building bike paths for confident road cyclists. They will most likely bike on the road anyway and are able to keep up with traffic. The investment is being made to encourage more people to ride bikes, especially less confident riders, so it’s easier and safer for them.
Better infrastructure will benefit people who already ride, but the biggest gains will come from attracting new riders.
Yes, some parking will need to come out. Like other cities, we need to adapt and find more equitable ways to share the space on some of our streets so everyone has safer ways to get places by bike.
It’s important to create a connected cycle network around the city – this is just one of the ways to encourage more people to ride bikes, so they know which routes are the safest and easiest. We’re not proposing that every street should have separated bike lanes as part of the network; on quiet streets it may be enough to make changes to slow traffic down.
No – we’re not proposing that every street should have separated bike lanes as part of the network; on quiet streets it may be enough to make changes to slow traffic down.
The final detail is yet to be developed, though some of the working groups did have a preference for footpath level paths on some streets, which has been reflected in the options we've consulted on.
The feedback we've received will be looked at as part of the more detailed design phase. For cost and other reasons, it may be that initially lanes are constructed at road level, and then as footpaths and kerbs are replaced through our city maintenance programme, we raise them above road level.
This kind of bike lane provides some protection from moving traffic. The lane can be designed in a range of ways – including with raised buffers, marker poles, parking lanes, or a combination of measures.
These vary from street to street depending on the width of the road and the other demands on the space available. The diagrams for each street indicate how wide the buffers will be.
In some cases, we have compromised and reduced the width of the buffer to meet community working group desires to include options which retain parking and footpath widths.
Once we have received feedback, we will develop detailed plans and more accurate costings.
Some options will cost more than others and we may not be able to do everything within the current budget. If this is the case, we will look to phase the projects in the most sensible way so that we develop as much of the network as we can in this first stage.
No, not yet. Safety audits will be completed on the more detailed plans for the various streets before Councillors consider whether to approve the projects.
The working group concluded that there is only one viable option for a cycle path along this part of Miramar Avenue. Most people on foot and on bikes travel along the harbour side of Cobham Drive so the bike path through the Miramar cutting needs to link directly to this route, on the Maupuia side.
As there is only one viable option for the section of Miramar Avenue through the cutting, we asked people whether or not they agreed with the proposal.
There is not enough money to do the whole project at this stage. Enterprise Miramar Peninsula has therefore taken a longer-term view of improving the town centre, with designs that can be implemented in stages.
The changes are designed to improve traffic flows in the future for Miramar. The proposal includes traffic lights at the intersection of Miramar Avenue and Tauhinu Road, to replace the roundabout. The roundabout is not working well at peak times now and will become more of a problem as traffic volumes grow in terms of traffic flow and safety.
We understand that some people are keen for the roundabout to remain, and so we carried out a special analysis to see if the roundabout could be kept. But roundabouts work best with lower volumes of traffic. The roundabout at the intersection of Miramar Avenue/Tauhinu Road is likely to need traffic lights in the near future because of existing high demand, regardless of any new development of bike lanes.
Queue lengths and waiting times are already causing traffic delays. Sometimes in peak morning traffic, the queue extends almost as far as the Park Road roundabout.
We are concerned too for the safety of people riding bikes. Roundabouts can work well for bike riders if traffic is light. They are not bike-friendly when the road is busy and there is more potential for conflict.
The Shelly Bay development proposal has been taken into account by the designers. Traffic lights would have little impact and make it easier for people on bikes and on foot to cross Shelly Bay Road at the intersection.
At this stage we are not proposing to put in traffic lights at the Miramar Avenue /Park Road intersection. But this will also depend on what types of bike lanes are decided on for Hobart Street, Park Road and Miramar Avenue (east of Park Road). These projects are not likely to be developed until 2019-2020.
The community working groups talked about the need to protect parking as much as possible for residents and businesses. However, there are always trade-offs to be made when it comes to finding more equitable ways to more safely share the road space.