Don’t stop the cycleway

by Regan Dooley
At its meeting on Wednesday, the Wellington City Council will vote on a motion lodged by Councillors Nicola Young and Paul Eagle that could delay the development of the Island Bay Cycle Way (Section 1 of the full route to the city) indefinitely.

The motion states that:

- all future decisions on the Island Bay-to-city cycleway (including the Shorland Park to Wakefield Park section) will be made by the full 15-member council, rather than the eight members on the Transport and Urban Development Committee, and

- council officers must prepare a master plan for the entire route from Island Bay-to-city that will be discussed by the full council before the final decision on the Shorland Park to Wakefield Park section is made.

While the transfer of decision-making to the full council might seem innocuous at face value, it is actually quite a serious subversion of the council’s processes and sub-committee structure.

The reasoning seems to be that the Island Bay Cycle Way is suddenly “controversial” and “risky”. This is despite the fact that the estimated cost of around $1m is less than a third of the annual budget for cycling of $4.3m that councillors voted for unanimously earlier this year. When you consider that the council’s total capital budget for transport in 2014/15 is $38m it seems to be setting a very low threshold for decision-making to be moved to the full council. If the Transport and Urban Development Committee can’t make decisions about a mere $4.3m for cycling then what can it make decisions about? Will the same logic be applied to every other council sub-committee?

More seriously, imposing the requirement that a master plan for the entire route to the city is in place first will probably ensure that the Island Bay section of the cycleway (Section 1) gets bogged down in bureaucracy for years, and may never actually happen. For example, ask yourself how quickly you think the Basin Reserve traffic congestion issue is going to get resolved now, with the knock-on effect on decisions about rapid-transit routes and options. There’s a very obvious reason why the implementation of the Island Bay-to-city cycleway was split into four distinct sections. It’s because each section has its own unique characteristics and issues, which can’t all be resolved at the same time.

How valid are the three main reasons given for lodging the motion anyway? Let’s take a closer look:

1. That a master plan for the entire route to the city needs to be in place first:

This is simply not true. By linking the two major recreation hubs in Island Bay and making cycling around the suburb safer and easier for everybody (not just commuters) the cycleway is completely justified in itself. Many more people in Island Bay now understand that the cycleway will actually enable much more local cycling, recreational cycling and cycling by children. The recent report from the Citizen’s Advisory Panel on Section 2 of the cycle route also confirms Wakefield Park as the connection point between the two sections, which means any doubt about that is no longer an issue.

2. That there has not been sufficient consultation:

This may have been true two months ago but it is certainly not true now. The formal, council-run consultation process was actually pretty robust and generated a level of submissions that compares very favourably with other council consultations.

However, what is much more important is that the local community has subsequently become completely engaged with the issue and driven its own informal consultation process. This has generated a lot more discussion in the community and many more letters and emails to councillors.

Councillor Eagle was inviting people to talk to him about the cycleway as far back as February. That means we have effectively had at least six months’ consultation. We need to remember that consultation is not a referendum. Nor is it a process designed to achieve a complete consensus. Do we really need to have more consultation and what would it achieve if we did? Councillors are now in a position to make a fully informed decision.

3. That there is a financial risk:

There isn’t. As noted above, the upper estimate of $1.3m for the Island Bay section of the cycleway is less than 1% of the council’s total capital budget for 2014/15
and only 3% of the transport capital budget. In that context the risk is barely on the radar and there are more important matters for the full council to be concerned about. Also, the Island Bay section of the full route to the city is by far the flattest, widest, straightest and easiest to build.

By building it first, many important lessons will be learnt that can be applied to the rest of the route. This will reduce the financial risk of the overall project. At a time when political parties are lining up to throw more money into urban cycling, it’s hard to understand why we are procrastinating over this decision.

It’s fair to say that there has been a lot of discussion in Island Bay about the cycleway as people have weighed up the pros and cons. Going back a couple of months it’s possibly even understandable why Councillors Young and Eagle lodged their motion. However, the Island Bay community has come a long way in that time and as people become more informed support for the cycleway is growing.

More and more people are starting to understand that the cycleway will have a net benefit for the community and represents a fabulous opportunity. If councillors have truly been listening to the full range of views, they will know this and they will vote against the motion and let development of the Island Bay Cycle Way proceed.

Regan Dooley is an Island Bay resident who supports the Island Bay Cycle Way



  1. nato, 25. August 2014, 8:30

    Just build it already.

  2. cyclist, 25. August 2014, 13:24

    Vote for muppets and you get a muppet show. Just build it.

  3. MoreBikeLanes, 25. August 2014, 16:56

    The cities that spend the most on bike lanes later reap the most reward.

  4. Glenda McCallum, 26. August 2014, 2:58

    Thank you Regan Dooley for clarifying the “controversy” around the Island Bay cycle way. I am a keen cyclist who strongly supports making cycling a safe option for children, adults and anyone who wants to cycle. I so appreciate your clear explanation of the issues. The Council needs to keep to its commitment and start work on the Island bay cycle way. It will prove its worth a thousand times over!

  5. Laura, 26. August 2014, 11:03

    This needs to go to the full council because the majority of people in Wellington are unwilling to tolerate the removal of parking for cycle lanes, particularly when there is nothing wrong with the cycle lane along the Parade. If there’s something wrong with the cycle lane, where is the evidence? [The answer to your question is in myth 5 of this article.]

  6. Regan, 26. August 2014, 11:41

    Hi Laura: The proposed loss of carparks along The Parade is actually pretty small (about 35 out of 315 street parks). Also, there are only around 15 out of 190 residences on The Parade that don’t already have their own off-street parking. Read more here:

    It seems a pretty small price to pay to get better, safer cycling infrastructure in Island Bay that people who don’t or can’t currently cycle will actually use. Sometimes the investment of public money is about making citizens’ lives better, rather than just fixing perceived “problems”.

    There will be different challenges on other parts of the route but building the Island Bay section now will provide the opportunity to learn from that and then apply those lessons elsewhere.

  7. Laura, 26. August 2014, 14:11

    Hi Regan, 35 removed car parks is significant and is not perceived as a small number by the majority of residents. All car parks removed here and there is detrimental to Wellington’s economy affecting ratepayers, therefore it belongs at full council.

  8. Traveller, 26. August 2014, 14:17

    It’ll be a bad day for Wellington if some car parks aren’t removed to make space for safe cycleways. Motorists shouldn’t demand the right to park on main roads. Cyclists deserve to be given clear and safe spaces on which to make their journeys.

  9. Jo, 26. August 2014, 14:21

    Laura, it’s wrong to say that there is nothing wrong with the current cycleway down the Parade. I’ve had to take evasive action when people reverse out of the spaces into the lane.

  10. Stephen, 26. August 2014, 15:51

    Hi Laura,
    I’m not sure that removing car parks along The Parade will be detrimental to Wellington’s economy especially given the fact that all but a few are outside private residences. There is limited space on the roadways to accommodate the varying needs of residents and it needs to be allocated appropriately. People being able to travel safely to their destinations would add more to the economy than free parking for residents’ vehicles. You need to also bear in mind that not all ratepayers are motorists.

  11. Maximus, 26. August 2014, 17:25

    Laura, are you the same Laura who has been complaining about the loss of car parks outside the shops in Newtown? You’ve really got a thing about car parks, haven’t you?
    Re the comment you made above: “This needs to go to the full council because the majority of people in Wellington are unwilling to tolerate the removal of parking for cycle lanes, particularly when there is nothing wrong with the cycle lane along the Parade.”
    The majority of people in Wellington? How do you know? Have you asked them all? Has a survey been conducted of every man, woman, and child in Wellington, and over 51% stated that they would be unwilling to tolerate any removal of any parking for any cycle lane anywhere in the city? Or did you just make this up?
    You’re also saying that it needs to go to a “full” council meeting – may I ask why? Do we need a full council meeting for every decision made in this city? Do we involve the full council every time a road needs repairing? Or a traffic light needs the lamp replacing? Or are you happy for some decisions to be made by smaller groups of Councilors? Because my impression of the Council is that it is a big cumbersome beast, and that it works far better when a smaller subset of the council can consider things, and get them done, rather than involving a larger group. Or are you just hoping that a larger group will get into an endless, interminably dull discussion, and fail to make a decision? And that would suit you because you have a car park outside your door?

  12. Laura, 26. August 2014, 18:35

    Maximus, I do want this to go to the full Council, because since the council removed the car parks outside, four of my immediate neighbours are for sale, due to lack of car parking, and the stress of it all. Because car parking removals destroy livelihoods, this decision needs to be made by all Councillors. It’s more than just transport decisions at stake, it’s about residents and their expectation of a fair go from their elected representatives.

  13. lindsay, 26. August 2014, 20:16

    Laura: I don’t understand what carparks have been removed. I often park outside your building – in the parking spaces in Adelaide Road. If, occasionally, these spaces are full, there’s lots more public parking clearly signposted across the road in the Countdown building.

  14. Sridhar Ekambaram, 26. August 2014, 20:39

    Laura. How will removing car parks in front of houses where almost everyone already has off street car parks be detrimental to Wellington? Have you ever been there to see if all the car parks are always used in the section affected by phase 1? In fact, car parks are being removed only where residential houses are. At the shopping centre, no car parks are being removed.

    Besides you may be interested in know that Wellington has an oversupply of car parks compared to (retail) economically more successful cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam. You seem to have been misled by some of the anti-cycling lobby group without pausing to think “hey how far are they right”.

  15. Maximus, 26. August 2014, 23:23

    Laura, I used to shop in that stretch of shops in Newtown – there was a nice antique shop or two there, and was there a wee cafe as well? I confess, I haven’t been there for a while – not because of lack of car parks, but because it now feels like it is on a motorway with many lanes of traffic. And, i think the little antique shop is not there now.
    I do not like the road widening that WCC have done there, although I suppose it was done to speed access of ambulances into the hospital. It could be done much better – less tarmac, more trees, less lanes for cars.
    And, dare I say it, a bike lane. There is quite a bit of evidence from overseas that having a bike lane outside a retail place actually increases patronage, rather than decreases it, and so it seems that cycling and cycle lanes can improve your business. People go slower past, more inclined to look, to stop, to buy. You’re a florist I understand? At a guess, more people might walk across the road to you from the hospital than they would stop in on a car? So, a decent redesigned road scheme, with a planted median strip, some cycle lanes, trees and boulevards, maybe even a pedestrian crossing, all would be more likely to contribute to your economic revival, than the present status quo of asphalt everywhere?

  16. nato, 27. August 2014, 13:23

    Carparking can (and is) provided by the free market if supposedly free parking isnt provided by the council.

    The free market is unlikely to provide safe cycleways but councils can.

    Safe cycleways should come before onstreet carparking as part of complete streets.

  17. Sridhar Ekambaram, 27. August 2014, 13:24

    Laura: come to think of it. There are car parks near your shop. Can you prove all your customers use those car parks? Are you sure none of them come walking to your shop?

    Do you have evidence to show that removal of car parks would “destroy livelihoods” (in your words), whereas there is plenty of evidence to show the opposite. Reducing speed limits, removing car parks and putting more cyclists on the roads have made neighbourhoods livelier and have increased property values even when overall property values were going down.

    If your business is down, have you figured out there are several more reasons for that. Think about it. People have lost their jobs in the last 5-6 years. Incomes are down. Home owners are struggling to pay off their mortgages. Add to all these: uncertainty over their job security that tells them to save something for the rainy day. In these circumstances why do you think someone will come to your shop and buys flowers for 20-25 bucks when their priority would be to put food on their table and pay off their sky-rocketing energy bills?

  18. Laura, 27. August 2014, 15:28

    Thanks for your helpful comments all, but Maximus is bang on the money: the widening of Riddiford Street was a killer for us retailers and the upgrade has left John Street/Riddiford Street north ugly and barren, and ever since, it’s like struggle street now, hence our caution for the introduction of cycle lanes from the transport leader. I don’t think he’s up to it, that’s why I want it to go to the full Council, so that it can be done properly, not another stuff up to add to our pain.

  19. Wellington.Scoop, 27. August 2014, 17:06

    Today’s move to transfer cycleway decision-making to the full council was defeated 7-8, so the transport and urban development committee will continue to make decisions on this subject.

  20. Bungle, 28. August 2014, 7:20

    Part of the problem with the end of John St is the frequency of traffic lights – it’s impossible to move though (in a vehicle). Yes it sees quite a lot of traffic, but Newtown congests worse than the city, because the traffic lights come in pairs after the recent ‘upgrade’.

    Have a heart for Laura and the other retailers, consider supporting them – they are victims too.

    I support the cycle lane in full, and ride to my workplace in the area regularly, but I also understand those who were bitten last time will be twice cautious this time.

  21. Regan, 22. September 2014, 16:43

    The minutes of the 27 August Council meeting are finally on the WCC website and they confirm that the voting on the three key parts of the motion was actually as follows:

    1. Agree that the final decisions, following consultation, on the Shorland Park to Wakefield Park stage of the Island Bay to CBD cycleway be made by the full Council, not the Transport and Urban Development Committee, and that the Committee has a power of recommendation only.

    Voting For: Councillors Ahipene-Mercer, Coughlan, Eagle, Marsh, Ritchie and Young
    Voting Against: Mayor Wade-Brown , Councillors Foster, Free, Lee, Lester, Pannett, Peck, Sparrow, and Woolf
    Majority Vote: 6:9

    2. Instruct officers to prepare a draft master plan for the remaining sections of the Island Bay to CBD cycleway that identifies the proposed route(s), impacts and effects of the proposed route(s), to be reported to Council for consideration at the same time as the final decisions on the Shorland Park to Wakefield Park section of the route referred to in Recommendation One, above.

    Voting For: Councillors Ahipene-Mercer, Coughlan, Eagle, Marsh, Peck and Young
    Voting Against: Mayor Wade-Brown, Councillors Foster, Free, Lee, Lester, Pannett, Rit chie, Sparrow and Woolf
    Majority Vote: 6:9

    3. Agree that all future decisions and implementations to the Island Bay to CBD cycleway, both prior to consultation and following consultation, be made by full council, not the Transport and Urban Development Committee, and that the Committee has a power of recommendation only.

    Voting For: Councillors Ahipene-Mercer, Coughlan, Eagle, Marsh, Peck, Ritchie and Young
    Voting Against: Mayor Wade-Brown, Councillors Foster, Free, Lee, Lester, Pannett, Sparrow and Woolf
    Majority Vote: 7:8

    So, Councillors Ahipene-Mercer, Coughlan, Eagle, Marsh, and Young voted entirely for the motion.

    Mayor Wade-Brown, Councillors Foster, Free, Lee, Lester, Pannett, Sparrow and Woolf all voted entirely against the motion.

    Councillors Ritchie and Peck voted part-for and part-against the motion.


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