NewsWire report by Finn Rainger
Plans for a safe cycle-way network through the southern suburbs will be revealed at the Newtown Residents’ Association community meeting in Newtown next Monday (March 17.)
Instead of having allocated cycle strips on either side of the road, the Newtown community design team is proposing a cycle-way that completely separates cyclists and motorists.
The safe cycle-way will essentially be an extension of the footpath, allowing cyclists to travel in opposite directions along the same path, much like cycle-ways in Europe.
The proposed cycle-way would flow through Island Bay, Berhampore, Newtown and Mt Cook to the waterfront.
The Wellington City Council has helped fund a team of architecture and landscape design students and graduates from Victoria University to research and produce potential designs based on the local community’s ideas.
Design project team member Sean O’Brien says the separation of cars and bikes is an essential aspect of the cycle way, as the main thing stopping people from cycling is their perception of safety.
Separating motorists and cyclists will significantly reduce accidents and will assure people of all ages that cycling is a safe and effective mode of daily transport, he says.
A recent study done by Victoria University masters student Jean Beetham revealed the public concern around cycling. Results of the online survey of 600 people showed the greatest concern was safety.
Martin Hanley, who teaches architecture part time at Victoria University and is also president of the Newtown Residents’ Association, has been working with some of his students and architecture graduates to put together various design options, which they believe could be successful.
He uses the example of the Danish capital, Copenhagen, where 36% of the population uses cycle ways to commute throughout the city. He says if Wellington could evolve to a city less dependant on engine-based transport, and more reliant on bikes as a means to travel, the benefits would be far reaching.
“There are numerous health benefits to those who cycle, it will reduce carbon emissions and the public can save by reducing transport costs,” he says.
Design team member Sean O’Brien says it would also show Wellington as a progressive city implementing positive change.
The City Council initially had concerns that creating cycle-ways would not be cost effective, as too many car parks would have to be re-located.
Martin Hanley says that the community based design project has come up with options that preserve car parking while also improving safety for cyclists.
A series of cycle friendly avenues feed into the safe cycle ways. These side roads would still be vehicle friendly, however cyclists would have priority.
Mr Hanley says, ‘Wellington’s road networks are complex but its motorists are adaptable.’
He points to Blair and Allen Streets in the CBD where motorists behave as if pedestrians have priority.
“These systems function and there is no reason why cycle friendly roads can’t work in the suburbs.”
The Newtown Residents’ Association monthly meeting is being held on Monday March 17 at 7.30pm at Newtown Hall, on the corner of Daniell and Constable Streets.
The association is encouraging the public to come along for a preview of the design and details of Wellington City Council’s community consultation.