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City Council defends process of designing Island Bay cycleway

Report from RNZ
Consultation over changes to a controversial cycleway in the Wellington suburb of Island Bay revealed that those who lived in the area wanted it to revert to the original layout, the City Council’s lawyer told the High Court today.

The cycleway, between parked cars and the kerbside, was opened in 2016.

Several safety concerns were raised in a post-construction safety audit.

The Wellington City Council then embarked on a consultation process to look at options for revamping the cycleway and making it safer, but the Residents Association has asked the High Court to review that process. It wants the court to make a declaration that the council’s decision to build the cycleway was unlawful and also an order quashing that decision.

Yesterday, the Residents Association’s lawyer, Con Anastasiou, criticised the way the council handled public submissions on the cycleway revamp. He said it assessed the submissions using an analytical tool normally used to sort out preferential voting in Council elections and that, along with the weighting given the public’s various preferences, skewed the result.

However, the council’s lawyer, Nick Whittington questioned that. He told the High Court that the analysis of submissions was not just based on people’s rankings of the various cycleway options, but also on statements they made about each option.

“To the extent he suggests this skews the analysis, reading this report no one could have been in any doubt that people who registered an IsIand Bay address preferred to revert to the original layout, whether Option E or A or by saying they wished to revert. That was loud and clear from [the] report.”

Mr Whittington said 78 percent of those living on The Parade in Island Bay preferred a roadside cycleway, but when submissions from all over Wellington were considered, there was a preference for the cycleway to be at the kerbside.

Mr Anastasiou was also critical of the so-called “mayor’s option” for the cycleway, which was drawn up by Mayor Justin Lester shortly before the council voted on the project. However, Mr Whittington said Mr Lester had based it on design work already done for the cycleway and it was open for him to make such a proposal, having read reports from engineers.

“Parliament has put the roads in the hands of local authorities with staff who do this, and council who make decisions based on standing orders … which they vote on.

“So it was perfectly within the sphere of competencies granted to councils for a councillor to make a proposal like this having taken advice.”

Mr Whittington said the mayor’s proposal suggested minor changes rather than anything to substantially transform the project, which meant no re-consultation was required.

He also said a report commissioned to discuss the council’s engagement and implementation of a cycleway framework for Wellington found that consternation over what had happened in Island Bay was spilling over into the council’s engagement with other communities regarding cycleways.

Mr Anastasiou also raised questions about a “syndicate” set up before formal consultation began. Mr Whittington said that had been done to help with the public engagement process and act as a conduit for ideas about the cycleway. He said despite what they say now, none of the Residents Association members could have been under any misapprehension about their role in that.

“As part of their role in the syndicate, [the Association] attempted to impose on that process certain requirements such as that the Council must weight submissions in favour of those living in Island Bay…

“That was pushed back on strongly by others in the process, Cycle Aware and the Council officers, but there was no suggestion that breached [expectations].”

Justice Churchman reserved his decision.

First day of hearing: residents challenge cycleway

5 comments:

  1. Andrew, 22. May 2019, 11:30

    What is the point in consulting with set options if the Mayor overrides with his own idea after the consultation? Seems moot…

     
  2. Henk, 23. May 2019, 14:15

    Couldn’t agree more Andrew. The Island Bay Cycleway is a dangerous disaster that people want gone!

     
  3. Steve Doole, 24. May 2019, 3:17

    The Island Bay cycleway works fine.
    It is time to complete it past the shops, then extend.

     
  4. Andrew, 24. May 2019, 9:02

    I cannot agree with you there Steve. I find I need to look both left and right at once (like a chameleon) especially when coming up to intersections. Maybe I ride more defensively than others. Its weaknesses from the point of other road users have been widely discussed and acknowledged.

     
  5. Donald T., 24. May 2019, 9:02

    Do electric bikes or electric scooters use the cycleway? The chicanes around bus stops probably slow them down so much they’ll whizz along the road with the lycra-clads instead. Signs could ban cycles and scooters from the road so car users get a reasonable space to drive on.