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He’s right, they’re wrong

island bay cycleway at last [1]

A doomed cause. That’s the correct verdict today from the DomPost, assessing the threat of court action against the Island Bay cycleway.

The DomPost says [2] it seems a lot of residents just don’t want the cycleway. But …

The Government wants more cycleways and has launched a $100 million urban cycling fund, of which $20m is earmarked for Wellington. As Prime Minister John Key said last year, there has been “underinvestment” in cycling, while on the other hand the health and traffic congestion benefits of cycleways are beyond dispute.

He’s right, they are. This is true also of Wellington, with its narrow, winding streets. More bikes will mean less congestion. Island Bay critics talk about “the cycleway to nowhere”, but this is wrong. In due course, it will join up with other parts of the proposed city-wide network. Council research suggests the number of cyclists using the southern corridor would almost triple with the right infrastructure, and this would cut peak-time congestion.

Work starts next Monday [3] to build the Island Bay cycleway. The cycleway website [4] has summarised the arguments in favour:

Much has been said about how The Parade is already “one of the safest places in Wellington to cycle” but if that’s true it just goes to show how appalling our cycling infrastructure in Wellington really is. Would you honestly feel comfortable about a young child cycling down the current bike lanes right next to cars, trucks and buses travelling at 50 kph, with or without an adult close by? As the father of a seven year-old and a nine year-old I certainly wouldn’t.

cycleway danger [5]

Others may feel more confident about their child riding next to a 12 tonne bus as it approaches a bus-stop but the reality is that most kids riding a bike along The Parade ride on the pavement. As Enrique PeƱalosa, the former Mayor of Bogota, once said “a bicycle way that is not suitable for an eight year-old is not a bicycle way”. The converse of the argument that The Parade “doesn’t need bike lanes because it’s already safe” is that it’s precisely because The Parade is flat and wide that it is the perfect place for Wellington to try protected bike lanes for the first time, in a relatively risk-free environment.

And as to the wrong-headed allegations of lack of consultation, There’ve been not one, not two but three consultations: in April, September and December last year. There were 1200 formal submissions, and they’ve been analysed and re-analysed [6].

Let’s give the last word to this morning’s DomPost:

It would set a woeful precedent if opponents managed to scupper the Island Bay cycleway. After all, the suburb has a wide main street where a cycleway looks more promising than on many other city streets. Given that Wellington needs more cycleways, a political route will have to be found. If the opposition in Island Bay is hoping to scrap Wellington cycleways altogether, their cause is doomed.

Everything you need to know about the new cycleway [7]