by Lindsay Shelton
The Wellington City Council is at last starting to show signs that it will move faster to build new cycleways. If it can sustain its new enthusiasm for action, work could begin next year on a cycleway from Island Bay to the CBD.
Everyone will welcome this morning’s announcement that the council plans to triple its cycling budget. Not only cyclists will welcome new cycleways. Motorists too should be pleased with the idea that their vehicles can be separated from the cyclists.
Not that separated cycleways are at the top of the council’s list. It has released five cycleway options, only one of which shows physical separation. Public consultation should quickly get rid of the other four.
Everyone knows that separated cycleways are best. In September, the lovecycling campaigners spoke out in favour of them, even reminding us that they’re proven to be good for business.
Though the council is starting to move faster, speeds are slower at the Transport Agency, which is lethargically in charge of creating an adequate cycleway between Wellington and Hutt City, along the Hutt Road. Last year it carried out a survey of 700 cyclists. No surprise that three-quarters of the responses said they wanted an off-road cycleway. But since then, the best it could do was to plan an “investigation.”
In the cautious words of the Agency’s Jenny Chetwynd in June: “We’re keeping an open mind about the best solution and we will be seeking and listening to the views of cyclists as part of this investigation before we make any decisions.”
The Transport Agency has been procrastinating since 2010, when the Ngauranga Triangle Study recommended a project to “close the gap” in the cycling route between Ngauranga and Petone. After this year’s investigation, they hope to have “options” next year. But they’re not aiming to have a finalised plan till 2015. At the earliest, it doesn’t seem that construction could start till 2016. Six years after the need was identified.
The Agency needs to try harder and move faster. Just as the city council is now trying to do. During last year’s election campaign, Andy Foster gave us the history of the council’s historic under-spending on cycleways. Councillors should be embarrassed that as little as $70,000 was allocated five years ago.
The popularity of cycling has grown in Wellington in spite of neglect from the council. Let’s expect that things are now going to change, and fast.
April 2013: Cyclists’ wishlist
November 2010: Mayor launches Great Harbour Way