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Improving our streets; how to help

by Mike Mellor
As we all know these are extraordinary times, with a great deal of uncertainty. But some things are continuing: one of those (at the moment, at least) is planning for the future of transport in Wellington and the rest of the country.

As part of this there are a number of consultations open, listed below by closing date. These dates are as advertised at the time of writing, but like everything else they are subject to change.

The internet is full of suggestions about how to occupy your time during the lockdown: if you can, please include submitting in favour of people-focused, low-carbon transport.

Tuesday 31 March: Wellington City Council/Let’s Get Wellington moving consultation on central city safer speeds, limiting speeds on most central Wellington streets to 30km/h. This proposal makes a great deal of sense, contributing to a safer people-oriented city. Even if you have already submitted on this topic, please submit again: Cycle Action Network has produced this handy short submission guide at https://can.org.nz/safer-speeds

Details are at https://lgwm.nz/saferspeeds/

Wed 1 April: applications close for membership of Greater Wellington Regional Council’s new Public Transport Advisory Group, to provide consumer advice to help inform GWRC’s Metlink business and Transport Committee. If you have an interest in public transport and active travel modes, and have the ability to look at the bigger picture as well as unique community perspectives, please apply.

Details are at http://www.gw.govt.nz/public-transport-advisory-group-2/

Wed 22 April: NZTA consultation on the Accessible Streets package, designed to improve safety for footpath users, encourage active modes of transport, and support the creation of more liveable and vibrant towns and cities. Many of the proposals will clearly do that, such as improving priority on the road for bikes and buses, allowing scooters to use bike lanes, and making it easier for people to cross the road at intersections – all very worthy of submissions in support.

But parts appear to be designed to achieve precisely the opposite. For instance, by default bikes and electric bikes will be allowed on the footpath, with a speed limit of 15km/h (about three times walking speed). This will prioritise the interests of those who want to ride on the footpath (because of lack of bike facilities) over the needs of those who have to use the footpath (because there’s nowhere else to walk). This will particularly disadvantage people with disabilities, already having their lives made more difficult by the increasing presence of quick, silent e-scooters. It will likely also not be in the longer-term interests of people on bikes, with less pressure to provide dedicated facilities for them since they will have a safe (for them, but not for other users) place to ride on the footpath, and more pressure on them to get off the road. We should be looking for win/wins, not lose/loses!

Details are at https://www.nzta.govt.nz/about-us/consultations/accessible-streets

Mon 27 April: Ministry of Transport consultation on the Draft Government Policy Statement on land transport, planned to prioritise Safety, better transport options, improving freight connections and climate change.

Details are at https://www.transport.govt.nz/multi-modal/keystrategiesandplans/gpsonlandtransportfunding/gps-2021/

To be advised (postponed from Tue 14 April): Wellington City Council consultation on Smarter Ways to Manage Parking, looking at how WCC allocates road space for parking and manages parking to support our growing city. Details are at https://www.letstalk.wellington.govt.nz/managecityparking
Please get submitting!

All views expressed are the writer’s personal opinions, not necessarily those of any organisation.

7 comments:

  1. Pablo, 30. March 2020, 23:03

    Rethink high density population and high rise living. NZ still has a chance to avoid the perils of over population. Not too many people will be wanting to board mass transit in the foreseeable future. But yes, lessons learnt are quickly forgotten. 15 km for bikes and scooters on the pavement would be an improvement on the 20 to 30 km seen on occasion currently.

     
  2. Dr Jennie Condie, 31. March 2020, 14:03

    Staff have decided that the Safer Speeds consultation will close as scheduled today as it has already been open for 5 weeks and we have received many submissions already, including a steady volume in the past week.
    If you are keen to have your say then get to it this afternoon! [via twitter]

     
  3. Ellen, 31. March 2020, 14:03

    Yes lots still happening with transport and limited opportunities to discuss some of these significant changes.

    The Accessible Streets proposals in particular will lead to inaccessible footpaths and firmly putting walking and pedestrians at the rear of the priorities for transport. Even the proposal to make cars give way to pedestrians crossing the streets will only work if local councils paint white lines on the road. It will lead to further ambiguity and uncertainty not improve crossing opportunity in line with most overseas countries.
    Living Streets Aotearoa and the Footpaths4Feet coalition of groups representing the disability and aged sectors have more information on this.

     
  4. Mike Mellor, 2. April 2020, 13:47

    An update: the closing date for the MoT GPS consultation has been extended to Monday 11 May.
    And two additions:
    *Fri 17 April, GWRC online survey on improving bus routes and services outside Wellington City closes. Details are here.
    *Mon 11 May, MoT consultation on the Government’s draft Rail Plan closes. Details are here.

     
  5. Rebecca Matthews, 2. April 2020, 22:38

    Our parking policy is still open for consultation (& will be for a while with no current closing date). We’re hearing some people glad of a non Corona distraction so why not PARKING? Dr Jenny Condie and I are keen to hear your thoughts!

     
  6. George, 3. April 2020, 21:02

    Yesterday I went for a flu vaccine at my medical centre in Taranaki Street. I am in a high risk group for serious illness and complications from Covid 19. I was worried about the risks of going in for the vaccine. Given the pandemic, I thought finding a nearby park would be easy, but all the parks outside the medical centre were blocked off with road cones and hence unavailable. I parked up the road and walked, but given I have hip and heart trouble I found this challenging. Could someone from the WCC explain why even in a pandemic there is extremely limited parking in the city. I am not able to take a bus and the risks of close confinement in a taxi are not acceptable

     
  7. Pablo, 5. April 2020, 21:56

    George agree, hard to understand why emergency parking would be reserved outside a medical centre when virtually all parks in the central city are mostly at best 1/4 occupied. Would probably have been safer to forgo the vaccine.