Wellington Scoop

Wellington biking numbers continue to rise

News from Wellington City Council
The number of Wellingtonians biking is continuing to grow with count data showing more people than ever riding in to the central city from every direction during the busy morning peak.

Wellington City Council’s City Design and Place Planning Manager, Anna Harley, says the upward trend was clearly evident from this year’s cordon count, which monitors how people travel into the city between 7am and 9am. The count has been done over a week in March every year since 2000.

The cordon counts show the numbers cycling into the city over the busiest two hours in the morning has continued to grow, tripling from under 800 per day 19 years ago to over 2300 people. The trend is backed up by data coming through from new electronic counters that have been gradually installed around the city over the last year.

Anna says one of the most encouraging things overall is that almost all the growth in commuter numbers is being matched by growth in environmentally-friendly modes of transport.

“We are seeing a positive shift. More than half of us are now opting to take a bus or train, or walk or ride – and both the proportion, and numbers coming by car during this two-hour period are declining.

“Switching to a lower-carbon commute is a practical way Wellingtonians can personally take action on climate change and help the city achieve its vision to be a zero carbon Capital by 2050. Over time, hopefully many more of us will make the switch.”

Anna says Thorndon Quay is an interesting example of changing travel patterns, and the even bigger shifts possible as more walking, cycling and public transport improvements happen.

“There are about 700 more commuters travelling along Thorndon Quay in the morning peak than 19 years ago, but now only 38 percent are in cars compared with 57 percent in the year 2000. Numbers travelling by bus through here have gone up from 37 to 50 percent, and we’ve seen a big jump in the proportion biking – up from 3 to 10 percent.

Anna says from local survey results, and international research and experience, it’s clear significantly more people will make more trips by bike when a safe, connected bike network is developed.

“About 80,000 Wellingtonians live within a 15-minute bike ride of the central city – so with further safety improvements, the potential for a lot more people of all ages and abilities to be making some trips by bike is huge.”

Looking beyond the morning peak at what’s happening 24/7, data from the electronic bike counters that have been in for over a year show a significant upward trend even during cooler months of the year.

The electronic counter located on Thorndon Quay near Bordeaux Bakery recorded 27,706 trips in May this year – a 19 percent increase on the number counted during May 2018.

Further north, 19,972 bike trips were counted on the Hutt Road shared path north of the Caltex Fuel Stop during May 2019, up 29 percent on the number counted in May 2018.

A counter on the shared path adjacent to the Evans Bay Marina recorded 6767 bikes during May, a 39 percent increase over the same month last year.

A total of 12,106 bikes were counted passing through the Karori Tunnel during May 2019, a 25 percent increase on May last year.

In May this year 11,535 people on bikes used the tunnel under the airport subway – 30 percent more than in the same month last year.

Mid-winter count numbers show similar trends, with 180,260 bike trips recorded in July – an average of 5815 a day.

A number of safer biking connections have been developed in Kilbirnie over the past year, along with walking and biking improvements in Oriental Bay between Freyberg Pool and Herd Street.

Work is getting under way this week to widen the bridge over the Kaiwharawhara Stream, the final pinch-point on the new Hutt Road walking and biking paths. Work is also in full swing at Cobham Drive and Pt Jerningham to develop key sections of Tahitai, the planned new improved coastal walking and biking route from the east.

So far this year, 178,115 bike trips have been recorded on the new 300m section of bike path in Oriental Bay – an average of 932 trips every weekday and 616 a day at weekends.

For count data go to: https://www.transportprojects.org.nz/cycle-count-data/

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  1. Peter, 31. August 2019, 7:53

    Cycling infrastructure in Wellington City is awful. I like the new lanes that go up Constable Street and in the opposite direction from Kilbirnie, but please get a move on with with fixing Adelaide Road! A fully separated bi-directional roro-iti up to Newtown would do so much good for the city. Speed reductions in the CBD will also be an improvement for cyclists.

    There is a lot of work that needs to be done before Wellington feels like a safe city to cycle in. Build it and they will come!

  2. Glen Smith, 31. August 2019, 12:27

    This is fantastic news. Many cities worldwide now have cycling mode share in the 20-40 % range (http://www.cityclock.org/urban-cycling-mode-share/#.XWm7EuMzaUk) and with the explosion of electric bike choices there is no reason we couldn’t match that here while also encouraging active lifestyles and combating our obesity and diabetes epidemics. This will require a ‘critical level’ of cycle infrastructure so that people can confidently undertake trips to most destinations while feeling safe. We haven’t reached this yet but members of our local council who are actively promoting and working towards this are to be commended- especially Sarah Free and Chris Calvi Freeman- both in my area and both of whom will have my vote.

  3. Brendan, 1. September 2019, 18:54

    Glen – could you name more than ten cities with cycling mode shares of over 20% that have populations of at least 200,000? Thanks if you can educate me.

  4. RP, 2. September 2019, 10:51

    Need a good safe corridor from Tawa through to Wellington down the Ngauranga Gorge before I’d feel safe enough to ride in – with e-bikes taking out the pain of the hills, this could become a very attractive option.

  5. Glen Smith, 2. September 2019, 20:57

    Brendan. Sorry did you read the research I referenced?

  6. Brendan, 3. September 2019, 9:44

    Yes I did and objective it probably isn’t. Take the top ranked city Groningen for example. “The local government mouthpiece … doesn’t even know the modal share for walking – although they’re happy to make a guess at “1 or 2 percent”, which is laughably low for a city like Groningen, which has a city centre filled with residences, and lots of local shopping areas in the suburbs”. So because cycling needs investment whereas walking invariably doesn’t, Local Govt keeps itself in a job by only promoting the mode that needs their help. If you include all walking trips, I doubt many cities would have a cycle mode share above 15%.

    By the way Glen – I do cycle around Wellington myself and have done for decades and personally I don’t need any of the cycling infrastructure. Roads should be common-carriers.

  7. Richard, 4. September 2019, 11:17

    “and personally I don’t need any of the cycling infrastructure”
    Luckily it isn’t about you personally, but about what would work for the greater good. Cycling infrastructure is a lot cheaper than car / rail / public transport infrastructure, but until recently hasn’t had much funding. Even now, it is just such a small piece of the pie, but some people are all up in arms about it. I think this article speaks for itself, cycling numbers are up and will keep rising with better infrastructure as those who are less confident than you will realise the bicycle is a worthy alternative to congestion or unreliable bus services. In turn that will decrease congestion and make car trips faster as well.

    I am from the Netherlands by the way and familiar with Dutch cities like Utrecht and Groningen (visited as late as this June). The amount of cyclists on the road is staggering. Almost no one uses a car WITHIN the city. Almost no parking is provided anymore and city centre streets are often pedestrian only (and it doesn’t seem to affect retail negatively!!). Trips within cities are either PT or walking or cycling. Streets are more pleasant to be on that way, that’s for sure.

  8. Karen, 4. September 2019, 18:06

    This is why we need Newtown connections fast tracked not mired in another survey! And Thorndon Quay made safe for cyclists. Get on with it WCC stop stalling!

  9. Brendan, 4. September 2019, 22:11

    Do more people walk or cycle in Groningen, Richard?

  10. Glen Smith, 4. September 2019, 22:37

    Brendan. As you point out, poor methodology may well make cycle share statistics imprecise. So let’s reframe my comment. Many cities have cycle share that is easily an order of magnitude greater than Wellington. As an example I visited Munich last year (quoted cycle share 14-20% at place 52 on the list) and cyclists were everywhere on a highly developed cycleway network. In comparison Wellington’s sparse cycle population (quoted cycle share 1-3% at place 208) is about an order of magnitude less which would fit with my impression. So there is no reason we can’t expand cycling in Wellington given good infrastructure.

    Congratulations on being a dedicated cyclist. However the Wellington Cycleway Masterplan shows cyclists like you are only 5% of the population, while 76% (so much more than an order of magnitude greater) would likely cycle if given safe separated cycleways (figure 7 page 4). Thankfully, despite your cynicism, 75% of the public support cycle infrastructure and councillors are to congratulated for listening to what the public want.