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Bikes and buses – big problem with fast-tracked $11m plan for Victoria Street

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by Patrick Morgan
Expensive new plans for Victoria Street have failed to consider cyclists. Why do the concept plans show that the street will be rubbish for people on bikes?

The City Council has committed $11million to fast track a re-design of three blocks of the street, between Dixon and Abel Smith Streets.

Councillor Andy Foster says the Council aims to make the CBD an attractive place for people to live, work and play. The council has re-prioritised its spending and is bringing this this project forward.

But there are big problems:

The current design lacks protected cycle lanes.

People on bikes do not want to mix with buses on busy 50 km/h arterial roads.

It’s unacceptable to spend $11 million and not adequately provide for cyclists.

Consultation is poor – just one week, right before the Election, and nothing on WCC’s website

Why the rush?

Cycle Aware Wellington says Victoria Street needs to include protected, continuous cycle lanes, with safer intersection designs. It’s a main southbound route to Brooklyn, Aro Valley and Kelburn.

Requiring people on bikes to share with buses and four lanes of general traffic is not consistent with the council’s vision for Wellington. The Complete Streets design philosophy means that streets should meet the needs of all ages and abilities regardless of their mode of transportation.

The Council consulted on the Central City framework in 2011, which included general plans for Victoria Street. You can find background at http://can.org.nz/victoria-st

Have your say before 20 September, or we’ll end up with another rubbish project. You can make a submission to info@memorialpark.co.nz

Patrick Morgan is a member of Cycle Aware Wellington

UPDATE from James Burgess, Chair, Cycle Aware Wellington:

The council wants to put right the poor rushed consultation to date. There’s now a project page at http://wellington.govt.nz/your-council/projects/victoria-street-transformation-project . The next stage is to draw up detailed designs that show full details of the bike infrastructure (including provision to fill the gaps). We’re talking to the transport and urban planning council officers to give input into this detailed design which will be available for public consultation in October. Make sure you have your say when these are available.
The Council says the funding and build timing constraints likely mean doing the bike infrastructure in two stages (as mentioned on that web page). We’re not happy that’s the right way to go about it – we’ll be pushing for safe infrastructure in the first stage, even if there’s room for further improvement in a follow-up project.

Wellington.Scoop
Here’s how the city council describes its $11million plan for Victoria Street:

The Central City Framework outlines plans to make Victoria Street into a tree lined boulevard so that it is a much more attractive place to pass through, spend time, live and work. It is expected that upward of 2000 people will be living in Victoria Street in the future, and the exciting proposal of an arts and creative hub from Weltech and Whitireia will bring more than 1000 full-time students to the area.
This city boulevard will integrate Council investment in the streetscape with development from private investors in the buildings along each side of the street and proposed works on the adjacent State Highway. The proposal includes creating a new park in the triangular area near the Victoria Court Motor Lodge, which is a layby and parking area at the moment, it also includes an upgrade of Volunteers corner to make it a more useable public space.
This project will use the resources of the Memorial Park Alliance. Under the Alliance model the client forms a consortium of specialists to deliver a project outcome. This entity takes the risks of any project uncertainty and also shares the rewards should delivery exceed expectations. This is not the traditional client/ consultant/ contractor approach, so the checks and balances of that model get replaced by an alliance agreement.

Tom Beard: Only one week for discussion