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WCC gives up its plans for temporary bike lanes and safer, wider footpaths

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A paper proposing temporary bike lanes and other street changes to encourage social distancing around Wellington has today been withdrawn from Wellington City Council’s Strategy and Policy Committee agenda.

The proposals were designed to provide people in Wellington safer transport choices to move around the city during the COVID-19 response. They aligned well with city and regional goals – including the plan to move more people with fewer vehicles, make healthy transport choices an option for more people, and reduce emissions that cause climate change.

The Council has also called a halt to proposed temporary changes on Featherston, Hunter and Victoria streets.

Mayor Andy Foster says the withdrawal follows the country’s move to pandemic alert level 1 overnight, which has removed the need for social distancing to avoid the spread of Covid-19, and should see capacity on public transport return to normal. The paper was scheduled to be discussed at the SPC meeting this Thursday.

“With the Government announcement that New Zealand is now at level 1, the basis on which the applications were submitted was no longer relevant. While disappointing, we have to acknowledge these are fluid times which means our decision making needs to be agile,” said Mayor Foster.

“While it is disappointing to not proceed with these projects under the Covid-19 response package, some of the proposed changes can still be progressed under either Let’s Get Wellington Moving, or through our cycleways programme,” added Deputy Mayor Sarah Free.

“All proposals received more than 50% community support, and extra time will allow us to work with communities to consider how at least some of these proposals can best be progressed.

“We are working at pace on improvements for walking, cycling and public transport within the central city as well as safer speed limits which will be considered on Thursday,” concluded Mayor Foster.

The Council proposed the bike lanes and other street changes after urging from some people and groups in the community and support from a number of councillors during lockdown.

The proposed projects were:

• a footpath extension in Stout Street (east/MBIE side) from Bunny Street to Lambton Quay to provide more space for people heading to and from the Railway Station

• a 1.2km uphill bike lane on Brooklyn Road between Willis Street and Ohiro Road

• a 3km shared path on the Miramar Peninsula between Shelly Bay and Scorching Bay (one-way only for traffic (Shelly Bay to Scorching Bay) with the lane next to the sea for use by people on foot and bikes)

• bike lanes on both sides of Onepu Road between Leonie Gill Pathway and Rongotai Road

• a 1.6km two-way bike lane on the seaward side of Evans Bay Parade between Greta Point and Cobham Drive.

17 comments:

  1. Styler, 9. June 2020, 19:48

    A reminder – Central Government were ready to fund 90% of the footpath extensions that WgtnCC have decided to stop going ahead with. [via twitter]

     
  2. Rebecca Matthews, 9. June 2020, 19:50

    I support getting these cycleways done, and accessing government funding to do so. Social distancing rules changing but not our need for safe cycling infrastructure. [via twitter]

     
  3. Tamatha Paul, 9. June 2020, 19:51

    In the mere WEEKS I’ve had my bike, I’ve had motorists attempt to intimidate me, driving right next to me, beeping in my ear to the point my ears ring. We couldn’t get it right pre-covid & even with the opportunity of 90% funding, we caked it.
    I am gutted and frustrated. [via twitter]

     
  4. Laurie Foon, 9. June 2020, 19:52

    Sorry to announce the Innovating Streets paper has been pulled because the premise of social distancing no longer applies. Yet the health reasons for people and planet are still certainly still valid. My most frustrating moment in council to date! Thanks to all who gave the mahi. [via twitter]

     
  5. michael, 9. June 2020, 19:54

    Weeks ago other councils took advantage of the govt offer and had wider footpath and temp cycle lanes operating in just days, using planter boxes, tape on the roads and cones etc.

     
  6. Sam Donald, 9. June 2020, 20:25

    There is a huge amount of frustration and a loss of goodwill from submitters on the consultation. This frustration is not at the projects not proceeding at this time, but at the rug being pulled out from under them. How can the Council expect good citizen engagement when this is how the the public are treated? Why not still receive public feedback on 11 June and vote with more information to hand? The public would like to know, and deserve to know, who requested the legal advice, why it was sought and who forced this decision two days out from the meeting.

    Across Wellington, thousands of hours will have been spent discussing, debating, submitting on these five traffic resolutions and it looks like certain councillors have upended majority government-funded temporary projects against the overall mood of submitters and to suit their own agendas.

    There are multiple references in the meeting agenda where it says that the projects are due to stay in place until there is a vaccine. Only the final reference mixes up social distancing with a vaccine, and to discount the vaccine reference requires an impossible knowledge of a future where there won’t be any requirement for social distancing. I’m pretty sure that GWRC won’t have ruled out any possible need for social distancing on public transport in the future, but WCC’s decision today puts GWRC in a very difficult situation if there is a move to level 2 once people have transitioned away from WfH back into the CBD.

    It is also unkind to the immune-compromised and elderly who are quite within their rights to be cautious and continue to social distance until there is a vaccine. Don’t forget that Wellington is currently playing host to 50+ visitors from a known Covid-19 hotspot and before too long a trans-Tasman bubble is likely to be opened up.

    Any council officer, or councillor, who is that confident there will never be a need for a return to alert levels 2, 3 or 4 (which would presumably be at 48 hours notice) should offer some advice to the WHO, who yesterday announced the highest daily increase in Covid-19 infections.

     
  7. Hel, 9. June 2020, 20:32

    Thank goodness some common sense is finally being applied, well done Councillors.

     
  8. Tom, 9. June 2020, 21:39

    Seriously, what is the point of engaging with WCC? It’s beyond belief.

     
  9. Ewan MacMaster, 9. June 2020, 23:05

    After initially feeling very disappointed when I first read the news I’ve realised there’s some great positives to come out of all of this.
    Firstly, it showed a huge groundswell of support for wanting to have lower-carbon, healthier and friendlier transport in the city – of the large numbers of replies to the council survey, 2/3rds of responses overall were in support, and that was a fairly consistent number across the projects.
    That’s gigantic!
    Secondly, it gave everyone involved and interested a chance to really have a look in some detail at how the proposals might be constructed and how they could work – both the good and the bad – that’s great institutional knowledge and base thinking to have set aside for when they are looked at again.
    Hopefully that’s very soon – be brave, council!

     
  10. Ellen Blake, 10. June 2020, 9:21

    Let’s keep going with wider footpath on Featherston St, at Willeston St and around Evans Bay – that walking space was needed anyway.

     
  11. Cycle Wellington, 10. June 2020, 16:53

    We’re annoyed and disappointed that the Innovating Streets proposals have been dropped. But we’ll get to the bottom of this, and we’ll keep pushing for change.

     
  12. Isabella Lenihan-Ikin, 10. June 2020, 16:56

    I’m a commuter cyclist and I’ve had far too many near misses in this city. Cycleways are needed now! [via twitter]

     
  13. Rubber Mallet, 10. June 2020, 18:17

    I’ve been reading some of the twitter responses to this decision. Apparently if you’re over 40, white, own property, drive a car, were ever associated with the IBRA and/or attend hall meetings you don’t count. Driving is comparable to smoking. A Councillor’s role isn’t to represent their constituents it is to impose an ideology on the city. If you don’t agree with cycleways you want cyclists to die. What happened to being kind, compassionate and tolerant of other people’s views?

     
  14. Dr Lucy Stewart, 10. June 2020, 19:19

    I am more and more getting the feeling the council is essentially letting a small but very angry minority hold up *any* action on improved cycle infrastructure and it’s rubbish. despite their avowed preference for supporting active transport in e.g. the zero carbon plan. [via twitter]

     
  15. Conor Hill, 10. June 2020, 22:06

    On FB, Genter says: “The NZTA and MoT did provide advice to WCC that the traffic resolutions process was not needed for Covid-related emergency works because the point was quick and temporary cycleways that would be used by the time Level 2 started. The officers preferred the longer consultation process – I would have argued that if they were going to do that, they should not have made it Covid-specific but for the many other reasons to provide safe cycleways.”

     
  16. Roger Blakeley, 11. June 2020, 8:57

    Keep fighting. Argument cycleways & extended footpaths are no longer needed for COVID-19 is nonsense. Risk is there until we get a vaccine – could be years away. Walking & cycling are top 2 priorities on WCC’s transport hierarchy. Kia kaha. [via twitter]

     
  17. Sam Donald, 22. June 2020, 10:40

    There is a huge amount of frustration and a loss of goodwill from submitters on the consultation. This frustration is not at the projects not proceeding at this time, but at the rug being pulled out from under them. How can Council expect good citizen engagement when this is how the the public are treated? Why not still receive public feedback on 11 June and vote with more information to hand? The public would like to know, and deserve to know, who requested the legal advice, why it was sought and who forced this decision two days out from the meeting.

    Across Wellington, thousands of hours will have been spent discussing, debating, submitting on these five traffic resolutions and it looks like certain councillors have upended majority government funded temporary projects against the overall mood of submitters and to suit their own agendas.

    There are multiple references in the meeting agenda where it says that the projects are due to stay in place until there is a vaccine. Only the final reference mixes up social distancing with a vaccine and to discount the vaccine reference requires an impossible knowledge of a future where there won’t be any requirement for social distancing. I’m pretty sure that GWRC won’t have ruled out any possible need for social distancing on public transport in the future, but WCC’s decision today puts GWRC in a very difficult situation if there is a move to level 2 once people have transitioned away from WfH back into the CBD.

    It is also unkind to the immune compromised and elderly who are quite within their rights to be cautious and continue to social distance until there is a vaccine. Don’t forget that Wellington is currently playing host to 60+ visitors from a know Covid-19 hotspot and before too long a Trans-Tasman bubble is likely to be opened up.

    Any council officer, or councillor, who is that confident there will never be a need for a return to alert levels 2, 3 or 4 (which would presumably be at 48 hours notice) should offer some advice to the WHO, who yesterday announced the highest daily increase in Covid-19 infections.