Wellington Scoop
Network

Island Bay cycleway: an open letter to a lawyer

This open letter was sent yesterday to the Island Bay Residents’ Association’s lawyer Con Anastasiou.
Kia ora Con,
I understand you are acting on behalf of the Island Bay Residents’ Association (IBRA) who are seeking a judicial review of the Wellington City Council’s decision-making in regard to the Island Bay Cycleway. I’m writing to you as an IBRA member in order to raise some concerns that I think you need to be aware of before you advise the IBRA committee about whether or not to proceed.

Full disclosure – I am a supporter of the cycleway and over the past four years have written about it extensively at Island Bay Cycle Way. I have already written specifically about the judicial review here: Why I support the judicial review (please don’t be fooled by the tongue-in-cheek title).

My first concern is that the IBRA committee have not consulted with the wider membership before embarking on this course of action. There was no indication at all via email or Facebook about what they were planning. It may have been discussed at the two meetings they held between their AGM in October 2017 and announcing their intent to pursue a judicial review in May (I did not attend either of those meetings in February 2018 & April 2018) but they have certainly not gone to any great lengths to be open and consultative in their decision-making.

I’m also concerned that by taking this action they are stepping outside the objects of the association, in particular object d) to ensure all ideas and viewpoints can be represented, and object f) to represent Island Bay but not to make decisions on behalf of Island Bay residents.

Another concern is that as IBRA’s lawyer you are fully aware of the amount of information that already sits in the public domain regarding the council’s decision-making process. IBRA’s 25 June email update to members states that “At present the WCC is stalling the process. WCC have added another 20 working days to supply the information requested under the Official Information Request (Logima) [sic]. They have also stated we must pay $4k for this information.” It concerns me that any unnecessary costs are incurred by IBRA on this exercise (including legal fees and LGOIMA charges) when they are currently collecting money from the public to pay for it.

It’s my belief that there is already more than enough information publicly available to enable you to give advice to the IBRA committee on whether or not to proceed that is consistent with your professional obligations.

I would greatly appreciate you confirming by return email that you are aware of and have read the following:

All information stored on the Love the Bay website, including the Terms of Reference, Participatory Village Planning Strategy, calendar of events, meeting minutes and workshop data and analysis.
All information stored on WCC’s Transport Projects website related to The Parade, including all background documents
All information stored on WCC’s closed consultations web page relating to previous Island Bay Cycleway consultation work (6 May 2014, 6 Oct 2014, 22 Dec 2014 and 13 Aug 2017)

A simple Google search will also establish the full depth and breadth of consultation efforts by the council over the course of 4 years.

I am aware of several recent high-profile failures by community groups to overturn similar decisions and that the High Court will set a high threshold for this decision to be reviewed. In particular I note the recent decision regarding Chamberlain Park in Auckland in which the Court’s decision clearly stated “The approach taken by the Albert-Eden Local Board (AELB) was neither perfunctory or a mere formality. It engaged in a robust process of consultation where multiple interest groups participated in an open and at times hotly contested debate concerning the best use of Chamberlain Park. Moreover, and crucially, consultation must not be equated with negotiation. The process embarked on was not one which had as its object arriving at a solution which represented some form of consensus. There was no requirement for the AELB to accept the views and preferences or even reach a compromise with those who sought the maintenance of the status quo.”

You should also know that as an IBRA member who supports the cycleway and opposes the IBRA committee’s current course of action I intend to support the council in defending themselves against these proceedings. Despite my blog post on the judicial review linked above I am very concerned about this review going any further. My hope is that the IBRA committee receives fully informed and professional advice from you that is consistent with the Law Society’s client care requirements and minimises the costs (both money and time) that IBRA and the rest of the community are potentially exposed to.

Thank you for your consideration of these concerns.

Nga mihi,
Regan Dooley

This open letter was first published on the Island Bay Cycle Way website.

11 comments:

  1. Citizenwcc, 27. June 2018, 13:21

    Why don’t you let the Court deal with the facts. So what you’re saying is that IBRA should ignore everyone’s viewpoint but yours?

     
  2. Jonny Utzone, 27. June 2018, 18:01

    Regan – just get your own lawyer!

     
  3. Dominic Bennett, 1. July 2018, 18:31

    Wgtn City Council have spent a lots of ratepayers money building cycle ways to nowhere. They seem to think that they can coerce people to use bicycles when over whelmingly people want to use their cars.

     
  4. Andrew, 2. July 2018, 8:40

    Dominic, they are trying to offer alternatives to those who choose to not drive cars. Admittedly, they have not done a good job so far. Why not provide some decent cycling infrastructure?

     
  5. Katy Mansfield., 2. July 2018, 21:27

    Surely it would be cheaper to give everybody an electric bike so they can keep up with cars on the open road rather than spend $10 million building cycle ways around lamp-posts and then removing them. We’d save on the green paint too and the streets would like nicer.

     
  6. Glen Smith, 7. July 2018, 8:12

    The main problem with the Island Bay cycleway design is that, a little like the most logical solution for our bus network (trolley/ battery hybrids) was never properly assessed, so the most logical solution for a cycleway in Island Bay has been ignored. That is a dual cycleway on the west side of the Parade.
    In a well researched report to the Council in 2014 (https://newtownresidents.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/newtown_-safecycleway_design_report.pdf) the Red Design: Architects – Urban Activation Lab recommended the following as the design paradigm for Wellington Cycleways
    ‘The paradigm advocated for is the Two-Way separated system. This is where the two cycle lanes are on the same side of the road and the cycleway itself is separated from motorist traffic by street-parked cars. This paradigm entails re-engineering of the footpath to accommodate a cycleway that is crucially flush with the level of the pedestrian pavement and demarked by colour. Being on the same level allows a uniform safe surface for emergency swerving if needed by cyclists. Similarly pedestrians can utilise the area if required.’
    This design is clearly the most logical. It uses less corridor width, allows cycle overtaking (essential with modern electric bikes), halves the interactions with side roads/shops/ driveways etc and concentrates cyclists into a larger more easily recognised dedicated corridor. Despite this the Council has ignored its own advice and studiously failed to present this option to the public or the residents of Island Bay.

     
  7. John Rankin, 8. July 2018, 10:40

    @GlenSmith puts his finger on the problem and offers a practical solution.

    But why did the Island Bay cycleway go so wrong? Perhaps the reason was an inadequate specification of the requirements. I’d have expected that an essential and non-negotiable requirement is that any cycleway we build must be suitable for people of all ages and abilities (AAA). Unless it’s designed for people aged 8 to 80 to cycle on, it’s not fit for purpose.

    Glen’s proposal looks as if it would meet the AAA requirement. Can the Council confirm that its proposed solution is also an AAA design?

     
  8. Durden, 8. July 2018, 12:51

    Glen — That option was rejected with spurious justification during consultation because the cycling crowd enabled by Celia W-B were hell bent on showing Wellingtonians a “model” Copenhagen design.

    Island Bay Cycleway went so wrong because the requirements and risks of ANY other users, apart from cyclists, were NOT considered and addressed. It was also cheap and nasty. If they had considered these issues, the current cycleway would not have been built in the present form. The same problem stalks the proposed “improved” version. Until WCC can clearly put out an impact statement on the requirements of each category of user for any their designs, WCC is destined to keep getting it wrong.

    https://www.facebook.com/Noislandbaycycleway/posts/1730575183687995

     
  9. Josie B., 8. July 2018, 20:07

    Durden – IB cycle way cheap and nasty? May be nasty but definitely not cheap. $15 million and still rising? Could have built 30 affordable (oops unaffordable) houses for that.

     
  10. Island Bay Cycle Way, 12. July 2018, 19:36

    Con has replied. Thanks Con, I’m happy that you are now able to advise the residents association from a more informed position. I look forward to seeing the objective & professional advice that you will no doubt provide

     
  11. Durden, 15. July 2018, 14:12

    With respect, you are deluding yourself. He conveyed nothing of that sort from his response you show on your IBCW FB page. He just told you to GFY. Politely.