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After 12 years of talk, no cycleway

cycle-rally
Photo: Patrick Morgan

by Lindsay Shelton
The need for an off-road cycleway between Petone and Ngauranga was being described as “urgent” in 2008. The urgency was clear because a prominent cyclist had been killed at the Petone roundabout. We had a reminder of the urgency this week, with the memorial ride after the death of another cyclist on the same road.

It’s sad to remember that there’ve been so many calls for a protected cycleway on the Hutt Road. And so much agreement. Just no action.

In March of 2011, local mayors were all enthusiastic about agreement for the cycleway that had been announced as part of a Hutt Corridor Plan. Jenny Chetwynd of the Transport Agency agreed to report back on whether its construction could be moved forward. It didn’t happen.

A month later, Fran Wilde, as chair of the Regional Council, stressed the need for the cycleway. She said:

“The lack of a decent cycling facility between Petone and Ngauranga, which is used by a large number of cyclists each day, sticks out like a sore thumb in our regional cycling network. It’s generally agreed that a need for such a facility is long overdue.”

Nothing but words. The cycleway remained long overdue.

Then in 2012 the Government announced a National Land Transport Programme to be completed by 2015. It included (don’t hold your breath) the cycleway, and mayor Celia Wade-Brown enthused:

“If the Ngauranga to Petone link is properly upgraded it will provide manifold benefits to the region in tourism, health, the economy and better transport choices. I look forward to hearing more details about how much money will be committed and how this pathway will actually be upgraded.”

The details never came.

In May of 2013 I wrote that the Transport Agency was moving so slowly it seemed to be avoiding the cycleway.

The Agency said that early this year it would start investigating options for an investigation of the cycleway … But there’s been no news of any investigation starting … The best the Agency can offer is the possibility of “a decision” in 2015. With no target for starting or completing the long-awaited cycleway.

After a two year silence: there was more news, though again it turned out not to be true. The Transport Agency said construction would start in 2019.

It didn’t happen. The only thing that was obvious was that the Transport Agency had lost credibility.

at-last-a-cycleway

However last year designs were released, and Julie-Anne Genter said funding had been approved. And who is responsible for making it happen?

The Ngauranga to Petone section is being delivered by the Transport Agency, in partnership with the Wellington City Council and the Regional Council.

Like his predecessors, Mayor Justin Lester was optimistic about the plans.

And that was nine months ago. No sign yet of any work starting to actually construct the cycleway that has been talked about for so long.

10 comments:

  1. Ben Schrader, 19. February 2020, 12:10

    One way for the Regional Council to get some public credibility back after ‘bustastrophe’ would be for it to bang some heads together in the Transport Agency and WCC and finish this vital link within its current term. I heard Patrick Morgan say the other night that planning for this cycle route began in the early 1900s. Time to stop dithering and start delivering!

     
  2. greenwelly, 19. February 2020, 12:17

    I don’t expect to see any construction until 2022 at the earliest (they haven’t even applied for resource consents yet) – and then it’s a 2-3 year job, so you are looking at completion in 2024/2025.

     
  3. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 19. February 2020, 14:52

    I wonder where all the fill will come from, given that Petone to Grenada isn’t proceeding.

     
  4. Lummox, 19. February 2020, 16:39

    Quite the conundrum eh Chris, the cycling lobby are so anti road/car they would never approve of the Petone-Grenada link, yet the fill from that project would be used to create the cycle way.

     
  5. MoreBikeLanesPlease!, 19. February 2020, 17:31

    I don’t dare to cycle on the SH. That makes Wellington an island, can’t get out by bike. Looking at a job in Petone at the moment, would cycle if there was a bike lane, now probably have to take the car (public transport would roughly take four times the time driving takes and double the time from cycling).

    Shame to see that roads for cars are again getting most of the funding. Short term thinking. We are building ourselves in a corner. If we don’t invest way more in public transport and active modes of transport, then we will stay a car based city with increasing congestion. Completion of Transmission Gully will gridlock Wellington…

     
  6. Henry Filth, 19. February 2020, 22:12

    Why?
    Why do all the plans never come to anything?
    Why are the promises not kept?
    Why are the timeframes never met?
    Why do the investigations never end?
    Why?

     
  7. Andy Foster, 19. February 2020, 23:27

    NZTA advised the Regional Transport Committee that consent applications will be lodged with GWRC mid year. They expect them to take between 6 and 18 months depending on whether there is any opposition, and the nature of the opposition. I asked whether they will at least get themselves in position to start work as soon as consent is (hopefully) granted – and the answer was ‘yes’ – so here is hoping for a quick consent process and construction getting underway. The project will I think be quite transformative, like the New Plymouth coastal pathway. It will also save lives, and seems like the right way to honour Brent Norriss, and before him Steve Fitzgerald.

     
  8. luke, 20. February 2020, 13:20

    It’s years away. Temporary improvements need to be made immediately. The shoulder lane needs a barrier and if need be the speed on the southbound 800m where there will be no hard shoulder should be reduced. How many more deaths before the safe walking & cycling facilities are provided?

     
  9. NigelTwo, 20. February 2020, 17:26

    @Chris Calvi-Freeman. Who needs a supply of fill? We are only one decent earthquake away from having a four lane cycleway along there!

     
  10. William, 21. February 2020, 13:27

    Ben, the Regional Council were mentioning it in 2015 as a project to increase Transport Network resilience, because of the June 2013 storm that damaged the rail tracks. Hopefully the new Councillors will get on to it now!
    Sadly progress on many projects here is glacial. As part of the bus changes, it took four months to build a roundabout on The Esplanade in Island Bay – work started in early April & wasn’t completed when the changes happened in July. Cobham Drive cycleway work started well over a year ago … I sometimes wonder if contractors offer council a cheap rate if they only work on days they’ve got no other work.