Wellington Scoop

Cycling is booming, so why are we the most dangerous city for cycling?

by Patrick Morgan of Cycle Aware Wellington
Cycling is booming in Wellington (it has doubled since 2006) but we have a poor record in cycling safety. In fact, Transport Agency figures show we’re the most dangerous city to cycle in. However there are effective, proven ways to address this problem:

– safer speeds
– fix pinch points and crash black spots
– build quality cycleways

This will require removing a few on-street carparks.

Wellington has many thousands on-street car parks. We’re talking about a tiny percentage. Often there is unused space on nearby side streets.

Many households have 2, 3 or more cars. It’s reasonable to expect them to park on their own property or nearby.

One in three Wellingtonians ride bikes.

We all benefit when more people ride bikes, more often: safety, clean air, clean water, health, better for local businesses. Fun! Good for retail. Good for people on the bus and in cars, less ‘side friction’ on main roads.

Improving cycling is the ‘best buy’ in transport. For each dollar we invest there are $20 of benefits, especially to health. And the govt puts in $1 for every $1 the Council invests.

The Council has made a start: safer speeds on the Golden Mile and suburban centres.

Let’s continue these sensible projects, and raise our game so that we’re all better off.

Read also:
“We’re not doing well with cycling,” says cycling mayor


  1. No Name Needed, 3. May 2013, 16:00

    Yesterday there was an accident – a bike and a car! People: just admit that Wellington is not safe for biking and stop biking, or do something about it!

  2. Joey, 3. May 2013, 16:29

    Stop biking??? Victim blaming too much?

  3. Ron Beernink, 3. May 2013, 16:50

    With some routes like Adelaide Road there is no easy option to make it cycle friendly. It may be that removing car parks is the only option, but for only one side of the road. In other place it could be a case of designating cycle friendly roads where cars are forced to drive at less than 20Km by using for example planter boxes and judder bars.

    And in a lot of cases it is a matter of changing our perception that cars have the highest priority. Why only provide a narrow dangerous shared foot / cycle path along Hutt Rd, when in fact you can easily make it a two lane road only and create dedicated cycle lanes? After all there is a motorway right alongside it that gives all the necessary priority for car traffic in and out of the city. [The NZTA keeps delaying plans to build a cycleway along the Hutt Road. ]

  4. Simon, 3. May 2013, 16:54

    Well over a thousand people bike into the CBD each work day. Where would we fit another thousand cars if people stopped biking? And, imagine how much more pleasant it would be if another thousand people biked into the CBD instead of driving – less pollution, lower road toll, more space for the remaining drivers = win, win.

  5. Geoff, 3. May 2013, 19:40

    For me commuting from Berhampore;

    Remove carparks along Sussex Street. Remove carparks on upper Adelaide Road (at least on one side). Create a clearway on Victoria Street heading south from Dixon Street in the evening. Widen Taranaki/Wallace/Bidwill intersection at the lights (it’s very narrow). Remove parking on one side of Wallace Street. Hurry up and fix the Wallace Street corner at Hutchison Rd, it’s incredibly bumpy!

    Crazy how the temporary road along Buckle Street has massive drains and deep gutters. No thought whatsoever for cyclists.

  6. Sridhar, 3. May 2013, 20:22

    Removing car parks is not that bad. As a compensation, there can be multi level off road car parks, that will be covered as well. Besides, this structure can also accommodate bike parking facilities, so employers and offices don’t have to bother to provide bike parking at work.

    Such a facility can be of multipurpose. The same number of car parks will use less land, being multi level, so will be a more efficient use of space. And eventually, when the number of cars comes down and there are more cycles, the same car parks can be converted to more bike stands.

  7. Heath, 3. May 2013, 22:33

    I take the train into work and walk through town, and the number of cyclists I see going through red lights, or cycling through a junction when the pedestrian phase of the lights is on, is staggering. The intersections near the railway station and Old Government House/Beehive are particularly bad for this. The presumption in this debate always seems to be to start from a point of view that the cyclists must be in the right and car drivers in the wrong, but whilst cyclists continue to ignore basic road rules, then crashes will still happen, no matter how many car parks are removed or how much the speed limit is reduced.

  8. Kent Duston, 4. May 2013, 10:57

    Heath – it’s not really clear what point you’re trying to make. Are you saying that because some cyclists wilfully ignore the road rules, no money should be spent on keeping them safe, or are you saying that they are merely criminals who deserve to die in crashes?

    As a pedestrian I’m also annoyed (and endangered) by some cyclists who think road rules are entirely optional. But to be blunt, I’m endangered much more and much more often by car drivers with exactly the same attitude. If a cyclist hits me whilst running a red light, I’m going to get hurt – and so is he, with any luck. But if I get hit by a car running a red light, odds are I’ll be killed, with nary a scratch on the moron of a driver.

    The fact of the matter is that Wellington has some shockingly incompetent drivers, as demonstrated by crash death rates that are 50% higher than in Australia, double the UK and triple the death rate in Germany. On the international standings, we’re better drivers than the Lithuanians but much worse than the Portugese, and not anywhere near the top ten for the incidence of crashes worldwide.

    The reasons for this are obvious. We’re prepared to give a license to anyone who can mist a mirror, our police force can’t be bothered enforcing the road rules in the CBD and our lawmakers treat bad driving and the resulting deaths as a mere misdemeanour.

    In my view the answer is simple; if you crash a car and it’s your fault, you lose your license for a year because you’ve failed to display the competence necessary to pilot two tonnes of metal at speed. Crash three times and your license is permanently revoked. Kill someone on the road and you get tried for manslaughter, and if guilty you get sentenced to prison for the same term as if you’d used any other kind of blunt instrument to bludgeon someone. I’m sure those changes would have a salutary effect on kiwi driving habits, and have the added effect of getting a lot of morons off the road.

  9. Elaine Hampton, 4. May 2013, 17:01

    Get cars out of the city, give it over to pedestrians, mobility scooters and cyclists and the death and injury rate will plummet and the health of the population will improve.
    Get a real public transport system.
    Simple – so why is it so hard to achieve, whose are the vested interests?
    Europe has just caned Britain for not protecting its population from pollution, mainly car induced.

  10. Michael, 8. May 2013, 19:23

    Cities with a high proportion of cyclists are living cities.

    Keep up the good work, Patrick Morgan.