Grow up, Island Bay people

by Maximus
I’m not sure why people in Island Bay are so up in arms about their new cycleway.

The City Council advertised the meetings, and interested members of the public turned up. I did, as did many others. The venue was right in the middle of the area concerned. There were flags flying outside the Baptist Church. If you’re just too damn lazy or disorganized to get out of bed and walk next door to discuss with the Council what is happening in your street, then don’t come running to complain later.

So, yes, it is all about loss of carparks, or a perceived loss. Some scurrilous blogs are writing of 500 carparks lost between Island Bay to the city (no, not me), others are saying just 40 in Island Bay. Perhaps what is really needed is for everyone to just calm down, take a deep breath, and look at what is actually planned here.

Is the work they are planning in Island Bay, really just a cycleway to nowhere? No. It’s stage one, and they’re now planning stage two. After that comes stage three.

Is this just a vanity project for the Mayor, who, shock horror, actually lives in Island Bay? No. The first project, probably ill-advisedly, was the Tawa to Porirua cycle way which is a long way from where Wade Brown lives. It’s taken her three years to get to this point – the place where a major cycleway gets planned for a major traffic route out to a major destination.

Why aren’t things being done for bikes in the city first? Well, actually, they are. There are cycle boxes going in all over the city, thanks largely to Councillor Andy Foster of the transport committee, and the workers at the Council who have been asked to install cycle boxes to enable cycles to occupy positions at lights safely.

Why are the council deleting the existing cycleway in Island Bay and putting in a new one next to the kerb? Because the existing cycleway is not that safe – it puts cyclists (the most vulnerable of road users) into the lanes with buses, cars and trucks, and into the same zone as car doors. That’s just not the safest place for a cycle way – the safest place is for cyclists to be near the pedestrians, well away from the traffic. You’re complaining because somebody is doing something safe, and proper for once? You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Grow up, people.

Maximus, who writes the indispensable Wellington eyeofthefish blog, sent this article as a comment following yesterday’s Patrick Morgan article on the Island Bay cycleway.



  1. Stephen C, 18. June 2014, 14:00

    I don’t think it is a question of ‘growing up’. In the public meetings there has been a conspicuous absence of younger people: students, teenagers and school children. The active opponents at the recent residents meeting were largely older people from the community who have grown up in an environment that has provided almost exclusively for the motor car. Perhaps they find change unsettling, maybe they see cycling as an activity alien to them, or perhaps they just lack the imagination to envisage an inclusive community not dominated by the motor car. Whatever their reason they appear intent on depriving the community of a valuable asset that will benefit young people most of all.

  2. IslandBayCyclist, 18. June 2014, 15:18

    Well written, although I am sure a number of Island Bay residents will challenge the article. Some will have fair concerns and we should at least listen. The only comment in the article that I would challenge is that the existing cycleway between Shoreland Park and the shopping centre is reasonably safe, but only for confident cyclists. Would you take your children cycling along it to cycle to the local shops, schools, or sports grounds? Definitely not. Which is why this new cycle way is a good idea, that stands on its own. Let’s get on with it.

  3. Curtis Nixon, 19. June 2014, 1:41

    Right on! Great article and intelligent comments.
    Over on ‘Stuff’ and in the DomPost, this issue has raised lots of heat and smoke but little light. I guess the majority (cars) vs. a minority (bikes) is always an attractive stereotype to fall into, for baby boomers as well as the newspaper many of them adhere to.
    Down the road at Berhampore we are having constructive discussions among ourselves, with WCC, about possible routes for the cycleway through here. Berhampore School is adjacent to several possible routes which is interesting since we have been short-listed for a grant under the ‘Bikes In Schools’ program. This would mean a bike track and school bikes with a shed for them to stay in. All good!

  4. Sridhar Ekambaram, 19. June 2014, 8:08

    A lot of people are still under the mis-interpreted story that cycling is something stupid. They are still in the 60s concept that car is the only way one can get around.

    Car-centric cities like New York and Washington DC have built cycleways. Against all odds, there has been a big uptake. In some cases, it is even felt there might be a bit of congestion in cycleways (Amsterdam is already experiencing this) and hence these cycleways are not enough. Who would have ever imagined that cycling will suddenly become so popular in such cities.

    So for all the opposition, once the cycleway is built and eventually connects to the CBD as per the grand master plan, the same should happen here as well (unless someone mucks up with the design somewhere). For the opponents, just one piece of advice as Maximus suggests – calm down and think about the benefits you as a community will get with the cycleways. Loss of a few car parks will be more than compensated by reduced need for cars as more and more people start using safe cycleways, leaving the roads less congested for those who do need to use their cars.

  5. Michael, 19. June 2014, 9:13

    I fully support the Island Bay cycle way. Sadly, the tone of this opinion piece, with its explicit telling-off style, is unlikely to win over many of those on the other side of the debate.

  6. Maximus, 19. June 2014, 13:27

    Ha! Thanks Michael – most amused that I have a “explicit telling-off style” – yes, I am fairly blunt, and I’m not one to pussy-foot around an issue. There has been some perfectly dreadful behaviour by some people over this, probably by both sides, but the important thing to me is to just get over all this hiccupping, and concentrate on what does really matter: decent cyclepaths throughout the city. Its really dangerous at present in some areas, which clearly puts people off – I, for one, would never cycle up or down the southern part of Adelaide Road, as it is too narrow to even safely drive in a car at sometimes. Meeting a bus coming the other way can be…. traumatic. So, I am most interested to hear what the wider community has to say about the proposals – the straight through route, the golf-course route, the parallel road route – which ever way it goes, I personally want a route where I will not get run over by a car or bus or truck. Mixing it with them on the road is just not on for me – my call is, as always, for fully separate cycle ways.

  7. Ian Apperley, 19. June 2014, 18:06

    So a challenge, Maximus, how about telling us your real name?

    Others have been honorable enough to do the same.

  8. Stephen C, 19. June 2014, 20:47

    Maybe it’s Maximus?

  9. Maximus, 19. June 2014, 23:43

    Ian, unlike you, I prefer for the focus to remain on the issues, not the person writing about it. Each to their own.

    It’s nothing to do with being “honorable” to me – if there is an issue worth discussing, generally concerning architecture and urban design issues in and around Wellington, then the Eye of the Fish exists as a forum in which people can discuss matters, sensibly and politely. If I wanted to be well known, and have people chant my name, I’d run for parliament or for council, both of which fill me with dread. Other blogs, like Whale Oil, exist so that Cameron Slater can portray his political views, and so that the world knows how clever (he thinks) he is. I’m not into that. I’m into people having sensible discussions and getting things moving in this city. Seems to be working so far. Let’s get back to discussing the cycle path.

    Cheers, Max Fisher

  10. Phil, 20. June 2014, 12:34

    The article against the cycleway in the Wellingtonian was obviously a Nicola Young organised beat up against the mayor. Transparent and ill informed.

    I note the same journalist responsible for that piece, Amy Jackman, used Nicola Young as a source in the Saved to Death tripe article about Erskine in Island Bay.

    Just what we need, yet another paper which is the mouthpiece of right wing politicians.

    Time to append No Wellingtonian to our letterbox No Junk Mail sign.

  11. Ben, 20. June 2014, 16:38

    I can certainly see the benefit of cycleways and separating cyclists from motorized traffic. The problem is that there are a lot of streets in Wellington that are hardly wide enough for cars let alone cycleways too. Cycleways will therefore only ever cover a fraction of the city’s streets.

    What is also needed is a strategy to better educate motorists that streets are shared spaces and that cyclists have every right to be on them as much as cars – historically, bicycles were on streets first. Reducing the urban speed limit to 40kph should be a priority. It would slow all traffic and make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Perhaps more bicycle signs on street surfaces would help too. In this way motorists will be more attuned to seeing cyclists and cyclists will feel more confident they are being seen. This in turn would encourage more cyclists on to streets and make Welly a better place!

  12. Sridhar Ekambaram, 24. June 2014, 21:35

    The only problem with too many street signs is they can be a distraction. So rather than looking out for cyclists, motorists will be looking for signs to see if cyclists have priority on the particular stretch. Or it could be the other way round. Or they could be just ignoring the signs.

    A better solution will be to a) (as you suggested) reduce speed limits and b) give pedestrians and cyclists higher priority on all roads (except of course motorways), which will make it easier for motorists to remember that all roads have priority for peds and cyclists. Basically follow the Dutch principle of road user hierarchy.

  13. Kirsty, 24. June 2014, 23:02

    The Cycleway has opened a Twitter account to encourage a more informed, constructive and humorous dialogue. Please check it, and if you are on Twitter, please re-tweet. There is also a Facebook page Get liking, please…

  14. Maximus, 26. June 2014, 7:35

    Sridhar, perhaps I have been to a different Netherlands than you. In the version of Holland I have visited, cyclists did not have higher priorities than pedestrians, they had their own roads. Holland is one of the more densely populated countries on earth, far, far higher than New Zealand, and they have an extensive system of roads on their very flat land. I have only been on a small proportion of their roads therefore, but in both the old parts of the cities, and the new parts of the countryside, cycle ways were fully separated from roads. Cyclists are, by their very nature over there, more protected from cars, because they run into them less – literally. There is always a physical separation barrier – either a kerb and iron bollards in old cities like Amsterdam, or a large planted strip or even a completely separate path beside the pedestrians in the new roading out in the countryside. At every intersection, cyclists have their own crossing phase, first. No one there wears a helmet, because they are not necessary, because you never get to be hit by the car in the first place.


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