Along the harbour’s edge … but when?


by Lindsay Shelton
Consultation began this week on plans for a harbour cycleway that was urgently needed in 2008 and was supposed to have been completed by 2015.

Back in 2012, the cycleway between Ngauranga and Petone was included in a three-year plan for transport initiatives and was welcomed by mayor Wade-Brown as providing manifold benefits to the region in tourism, health, the economy and better transport choices.

A year earlier, it was described by regional council chair Fran Wilde as one of the major projects in a ten-year transport plan. She said:

“The lack of a decent cycling facility on this stretch of SH2, which is used by a large number of cyclists each day, sticks out like a sore thumb in our regional cycling network. It’s generally agreed that a need for such a facility is long overdue.”

Yes, that “long overdue” was six years ago. In the same year, all local mayors were unanimous in their support for the idea. And in 2008, the need for the cycleway was described as “urgent,” after a prominent cyclist had been killed at the Petone roundabout.

Why such slow progress on a cycleway which was first proposed in 2003?

It’s due to the snails pace of the NZ Transport Agency, which didn’t start taking things seriously till the end of 2012, when it said it would “soon” begin investigating options for a cycleway. This wasn’t to be an actual investigation, however. The plan was only to request tenders for proposals for the cost and scope of work required to investigate the project.

It’s taken five more years for a cycleway design to at last emerge. This week we’re being asked to say what we think about it. (Probably not worth asking why it’s taken them so long.)


Here’s what the planners are saying about the cycleway between Ngauranga and Petone:

The key features we’re investigating include:
•a walking and cycling shared path on the seaward side of the railway line running between the Ngauranga and Petone interchanges
• a minimum path width of 5m, though possibly wider at some locations
• a new walking and cycling bridge just north of the Ngauranga interchange would link the Wellington CBD section to the new seaward side shared path
• a connection with the existing shared path between the Petone
interchange and Hutt Road
• a connection to the Petone railway station and the Hutt River via the Petone to Melling section

Our selection of a seaward option is based on technical analysis and feedback from stakeholders, user groups, iwi representatives, community groups and the general public from the 2014-15 consultation. We also assessed the wider benefits of this option such as safety, look and feel and resilience for both the highway and the rail corridor between Wellington and the Hutt Valley

In designing the seawall, we are considering the width, resilience, and what amenities we could include for users. We propose a 5m shared path that will provide a generous area for both cyclists and pedestrians, while limiting impacts of the coastal marine area. We’re also considering resilience features that will provide protection from storm damage and future-proofing for sea level rise. Our design will incorporate a resilient rock seawall that slopes down to a sea level bench that provides a base to build upon in the future. This will provide greater resilience for the shared path and the rail and road links in the area. We are also investigating:

• widening the reclamation at three locations to allow the railway tracks to be straightened, enabling faster train journeys
• a varied shape to the platform and seawall that will appear less uniform and fit in well with the surrounding landscape
• rest areas with bike stands, seating, shade, shelter and artwork
• how a wider reclamation could facilitate SH2 safety, resilience and efficiency improvements in the future

…The urban design theme will guide our thinking as we further develop the concept design. It will apply as we consider specific features such as lighting, fencing, seating and maintenance requirements. We will also consider the urban design theme when we look at best practice construction methods that can limit effects on the environment.

Consultation – the Transport Agency is calling it public engagement – ends at the end of May. You have these choices:

• attend a public open day – the schedule is on
• submit a feedback form online, at a public open day or by post at
PO Box 5084, Wellington 6145
• send an email to



  1. They say good things take time. But why have we been waiting since 1900 for this to be fixed? Though the decision was a long time coming, the plan ticks all the boxes, it’s going to be a great tourism asset, it’s going to ease traffic congestion and make parking easier in Wellington. The pathway will boost cycle safety. Most people can’t travel between the Hutt and Wellington by bike, because they don’t want to mix with State Highway 2 traffic.

  2. KB, 28. April 2017, 8:00

    Looks like a good,design, even if it is a bit of a sneaky way to possibly widen SH2 to 3 lanes each way (which admittedly is needed on the north bound section.)

  3. NZTA, 28. April 2017, 12:38

    W2HV Link open day this Saturday at the Dowse Art Museum from 10am to 3pm. See you there!

  4. luke, 28. April 2017, 15:31

    Why is is that the only way you can get a transport project done with the NZTA is if it comes attached to a highway project?

    The delays on getting this short safety critical pathway done are ridiculous.

  5. Paul Estoc, 1. May 2017, 11:41

    Ah – so it looks like the NZTA are finally working out how to dispose of all that fill from the P2G project.

  6. Don MacKay, 3. May 2017, 20:06

    This is to be a shared path. What will be done to protect pedestrians from cyclists hurtling by at high speed on what will become a commuter route? Has any thought been given to speed restricting cyclists, or is it to be open season on pedestrians as on other Wellington shared paths?

  7. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 3. May 2017, 21:23

    Don: Simple – it need to be segregated with a white line / rumble strip and different colour/texture on each side, eg: concrete vs asphalt. You’re correct that fast-moving commuting cyclists should have a separate lane to pedestrians. I’m surprised that NZTA’s sketches don’t show this.

  8. TrevorH, 3. May 2017, 22:55

    @ Chris Calvi-Freeman: the Council has no way of enforcing speed restrictions on cyclists, who pose the threat of injury to pedestrians in areas like the waterfront or the Oriental Bay esplanade. White lines and rumble strips are meaningless without enforcement.

  9. Glen Smith, 4. May 2017, 0:10

    Trevor. Why should there be a speed restriction on cyclists? I own a modern electric bike and commonly travel at 40 km/ hr. My trip to work takes about 2-3 minutes longer by bike than car, costs about 20c/ day with no parking or gym fees. With improving technology and climate change, electric bikes will be common and, just as motorways evolved for cars, the solution is dedicated high-quality cycleways. When cars first appeared, they mixed with pedestrians and had to have a man walking with a flag in front to alert members of the public. Perhaps we should go back to that and have pedestrians on the Hutt Road with cars limited to 5 km/ hr (or perhaps 10 if the man with the flag runs).

  10. Don MacKay, 4. May 2017, 8:30

    On the road, cyclists should be subject to the same speed restrictions as other vehicles. In areas shared with pedestrians, cyclists need to be subject to speed limits to protect pedestrians. Overseas research shows that the impact of a cyclist travelling at 40km/hr hitting a pedestrian is the same as a car hitting a cyclist at that speed. The need for such speed restrictions becomes even more pressing when electric cycles can travel at the speeds that Glen Smith mentions. The solution may well be to have dedicated high-quality cycleways, if space allows. But the current approach seems to be more and more mixing of cyclists and pedestrians, which significantly shifts the risks to the latter.

  11. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 4. May 2017, 10:37

    Don, you’re right, the solution is dedicated high-quality cycleways, where possible. It’s not usually appropriate to mix cyclists with pedestrians, especially where the predominant cycling mode is commuting.

  12. Peter Barlow, 4. May 2017, 15:22

    It is great that this is designed and ready to go from Petone to Ngauranga. But what about the Ngauranga to Wellington section? This should be a sea path also. The Wgtn City Council, Regional Council, KiwiRail and Centreport need to have discussion about access via Aotea Quay. Where is Lets Get Wellington Moving in this?
    Wellington needs an iconic shared path the whole distance Wellington to Petone. Tell me who would take their mother for a walk along the Hutt Road – even allowing for the proposed changes being completed now.
    Roll out a sea path and do it once for 75 years, not 3 years.

  13. Guy M, 4. May 2017, 17:08

    Don MacKay – You need to take into account both Velocity AND Mass. In fact, Momentum = Mass x Velocity. Effectively, Newton’s Second Law of Motion.

    Cyclists do not kill pedestrians – because they have a very low mass – basically the same as that of a pedestrian, plus a few kilos more for the bike. Cars kill pedestrians, because their mass is 10-20 times greater than a person and so the total effect is consequently more. Trucks, with a mass about 400 times that of a pedestrian, have a very large effect on a Pedestrian.

    So, no, the effects of a cyclist hitting a pedestrian are very, very different different from a car. Pedestrians and cyclists can, actually, co-exist quite well on the same path. The addition of a bell, to let you know it is there, does wonders for happy cooperation.

  14. Guy M, 4. May 2017, 17:39

    Peter Barlow – Chris Calvi-Freeman may be able to confirm this, but my guess is that the Sea Path from Petone is intimately tied to the availability of rock – which will only become available when they start to dig the Petone to Grenada Link Road. The digging of that road will produce several million cubic metres of rock – and where better to put that than in the sea? Two projects on the horizon needing vast quantities of fill: Sea Path and Runway Extension. Basically, neither of those projects will go ahead until the P2G link gets built.

  15. luke, 5. May 2017, 8:57

    What about Transmission Gully? There must be some leftover dirt from those earthworks too.

  16. TrevorH, 5. May 2017, 10:36

    @Guy M: Try googling “cyclist kills pedestrian”. You will find numerous recent instances cited from London to San Francisco to New York etc…In the UK, collisions between cyclists and pedestrians increased by 50 per cent between 2009 and 2015 and a number of cyclists have been prosecuted over the deaths of pedestrians. The Wellington City Council turns a blind eye to dangerous cyclist behaviour however and appears powerless to act in any case over the hazard it is creating for pedestrians. This will engender a strongly adverse public reaction to cyclists.

  17. Guy M, 5. May 2017, 12:33

    Trevor – actually, no. Accidents between cyclists and pedestrians on the ROAD causing death – yes, very infrequently, worldwide – and possibly never in NZ so far?
    Accidents between cyclists and pedestrians on the FOOTPATH causing death in NZ – none at all. Ever.
    Most of the accidents to pedestrians are caused by pedestrians stepping OFF the pavement into the road and getting hit by cars, or, rarely, cyclists. You are needlessly worrying about something that is not a problem.

    Where the real problem is: Accidents causing death between pedestrians and cars – in NZ, 2014: 43 and 2015: 25. Serious accidents causing hospitalisation: 2015: 852.

    Accidents causing death between cyclists and cars – in NZ, 2014: 10, 2015: 6. Serious accidents causing hospitalisation: 2014: 745.

    As noted in the first article I googled: “Sam Jones, of Cycling UK, said the ‘perception’ of a conflict between cyclists and pedestrians ‘simply does not exist’, pointing out that most serious or fatal accidents involving pedestrians are due to collisions with motor vehicles. He said: ‘We appreciate the concern but we cannot agree [pavement cycling] is the danger many believe it must be.’ “

  18. Guy M, 5. May 2017, 12:35

    Luke – no, NZTA is trying hard to avoid that. They are pushing heaps of dirt around, but want to use the stuff off the hills to fill in the gullies etc, so they don’t have to ship it off site. But also, as you say: it’s Dirt, not Rock. For a cycle path alongside the sea, dirt would be useless. Big fat rocks is all they really want there, or it will all wash away…

  19. TrevorH, 5. May 2017, 18:36

    @Guy M. Yes, you’re obviously right, pedestrians cause most accidents that kill them. But my original point stands, cyclists can and do kill pedestrians. This will become more common in New Zealand as pedestrians are forced by authorities such as the WCC to share space with cyclists.

  20. Bogbrush Pete, 5. May 2017, 19:34

    @Guy M. It’s gratifying to know you’re so confident that pedestrians need not fear death by bicyclists, and that we have the authority of Sam Jones to back you up. It’s not only death we fear; injury and insult need be included as well. My experience does not accord with Mr. Jones’ nonchalance. A footpath is just that. They were made the width they were to accommodate walkers, and not designed for persons on bikes; the riding of bicycles on footpaths is forbidden and needs be enforced much more thoroughly. Cyclists need a transport design specific to them, and one that is not an encroachment to those who walk.

    Try walking down the southern footpath on Belfast Street towards Adelaide Road at 8:15 am. Grim-looking beings sweep around the footpath in order to avoid the traffic lights.

  21. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 6. May 2017, 11:59

    @Bogbrush Pete. You’re right – pedestrians shouldn’t have to worry about being struck by cyclists on footpaths. While serious injury is very rare, near misses and frights caused by cyclists approaching from behind are significant impediments to the enjoyment of walking. WCC is working very actively to design high quality cycling infrastructure on a number of major routes across Wellington. I don’t see shared cycling/pedestrian facilities as being part of this initiative.

  22. Don MacKay, 10. May 2017, 16:48

    Guy M, while I appreciate your effort to grapple with the physics of this, let me refer you to an Australasian College of Road Safety Conference paper of 2011 (“Pedestrian-Cyclist Collisions: Issues and Risk”, R.H. Grzebieta, A.M. McIntosh, and S. Chong, NSW Transport and Road Safety (TARS) Research, UNSW), which says:

    “the speed and mass differential between a car and cyclist appear to be substantially greater than that between a cyclist and a pedestrian. This is illusionary…the car-cyclist kinetic energy differential is similar to that of the cyclist-pedestrian ratio.”

    In other words, the impact of a cyclist hitting a pedestrian at 20 kmph is similar to a car hitting a cyclist at the same speed.

  23. Nell, 23. May 2017, 22:57

    Great discussion of the proposed upgrade of the walking path from Petone to Wellington – a lovely couple of hour walk that desperately needs the dangerous 800m Petone end fixed


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