Wellington Scoop

“Transformative”: Wellington’s cycling budget to be tripled to $4.3m next year

News from WCC
The Wellington City Council has signalled it’s serious about improving the Capital’s cycle safety and strategic cycling networks after announcing a potential tripling of the cycling budget in the draft Annual Plan for 2014/15.

In a paper to be released this week, it is recommended the cycling budget for 2014/15 be increased from $1.3 million to $4.3 million, an increase of 230 per cent. Subject to public consultation, the funding would focus on delivering strategic cycling routes and improving cycle safety city-wide.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said that, if agreed, the funding boost would be transformative for Wellington.

“Wellington has enormous potential to become one of the world’s great cycling destinations, both as an adventure tourism attraction and for commuter choice,” she said. “This is about transformation. Careful planning and commitment will be key to unlocking this potential, so I’m delighted to announce our intention to significantly increase our investment in Wellington’s cycling facilities.

“An area where we’ve already given considerable analysis in is the proposed southern strategic cycling route, connecting Island Bay to the CBD. There are different routes and design options to consider, I’m looking forward to a wide-ranging public engagement on what works best for our communities,” she said.

“Many potential cyclists want to commute to the CBD or just cycle to the next suburb but are nervous of fast and large vehicles. We want cycling to be a choice for adventure tourism, everyday commuting and gentle leisure.

“A combination of on-road and off-road routes will provide a much more welcoming experience for cyclists. South Coast to CBD, inner city connections and eastern suburbs routes will join the Tawa shared path as improvements to the current unforgiving environment. We have decades of underinvestment to correct and it will take a while to do the whole city.”

Funding for safety initiatives would also receive a sizable increase under the proposal, and could deliver safer speed limits in the CBD, improvements on about 100 locations on the identified 19 cycling priority routes, more advanced cycle boxes and feeder lanes at intersections and a range of measures to make cycling more attractive throughout the city’s transport network.

Cr Andy Foster, chair of the Transport and Urban Development Committee, said Council is absolutely committed to improving cycle safety and attractiveness.

“Commuter cycling numbers in Wellington doubled between 2006 and 2012 despite relatively little investment prior to 2009, so there’s obvious evidence of demand for cycling as a viable form of transport,” said Cr Foster.

“Cycling is also booming as recreation, both on and off road. It is often said to be ‘the new golf’. What is unacceptable though is that we are at the wrong end of the national safety statistics for cyclists. It is very clear that safety concerns put many people off cycling when they would actually like to give it a go.

“We’ve identified key initiatives to improve the cycling experience in Wellington. As well as extensive investigation into route options from Island Bay to the City, we’ve had regular cyclists out with helmet cameras supporting work done by officers to identify problems and opportunities on 19 key routes right around the city.”

“We will also shortly be consulting on lower speeds in the CBD, which are aimed at helping both motorists and pedestrians. It is important that people understand that CBD crashes are not just on the Golden Mile and not just about buses, but all over the CBD and two-thirds of them involve cars.”

“Officers are developing a draft cycling investment programme which will be discussed in much more detail at the December 17 Transport & Urban Development Committee meeting.

“Councillors will be asked to support consultation in early 2014 on the detailed projects including Island Bay to the City. This will allow a final decision on funding to be agreed by the Council as part of the 2014/15 Annual Plan.

“In the New Year we will also receive a preliminary report from Transport Agency consultants on proposals to address the Hutt-Wellington route problems. This part of the Great Harbour Way, and the cycling and walking connections included in the Basin Reserve project, are funded by the New Zealand Transport Agency and are additional to the funding being announced today.”