Submission on Wellington City Council
Draft Long Term Council Community Plan 2009-19
Cycle Aware Wellington
xx May 2009
Who is Cycle Aware Wellington?
We are a voluntary, not-for-profit organisation aimed at improving conditions for cyclists and encouraging more people to bike more often. We are the local advocacy group for cyclists who use their bikes as a means of transport. Since our inception in 1994, we have worked constructively with Wellington City Council on a wide variety of projects, including
Bike to Work Day and other cycling promotion events
Safety and bike skills training for police officers, adults, and children
Working with the transport sector to improve safety for cyclists in Wellington city
Capital City Cycle Guide
More at www.caw.org.nz
Cycle Aware Wellington appreciates a lot of the points made in the draft LTCCP document.
We would like to comment on the following chapters individually:
Chapter 2. Environment
We believe that obviously WCC has a key role to play in protecting and enhancing Wellington's environment.
2.2 Green open spaces
Some of the tracks managed by WCC through the town belt are also suitable for use by cyclists - however no mention of this is made with respect to measuring frequency of usage or in any of the other performance measurement criteria.
2.5 Waste Reduction and Energy Conservation
We appreciate the mention of reuse of resources as an essential part of managing a sustainable city. Of particular concern to cyclists is the amount of broken glass that litters particular city streets. The plan states "We also plan to encourage local industries to invest in the processing of glass, plastic and paper". We believe that an emphasis on reuse, specifically with respect to glass, would improve the amenity of the city streets, where despite the liquor ban the majority of rubbish on the streets is glass from wine, beer, and alcopop bottles. Central city glass recycling bins (ideally located near liquor stores) might be a way of alleviating the problem.
Chapter 3. Economic Development
3.1 City promotions, events and attractions.
We encourage the council to support and prioritise the development of the Great Harbour Way (http://www.greatharbourway.org.nz/), a Walkway and Cycleway around Te Whanganui-a-tara, the harbour of Wellington. The aim is that there will be a continuous, safe, signposted walkway and cycleway around the whole perimeter of Te Whanganui-a-Tara - Wellington Harbour from Fitzroy bay in the east to Sinclair Head in the west. Once completed, this would be a truly iconic attraction for visitors to Wellington, as well as being of recreational and commuting benefit to residents of Wellington city. As part of the current expenditure on promotions, events and attractions ($21,996,000 for 2009/10), WCC could well afford to start signposting the route, beginning with the Wellington waterfront section and extending out towards Kaiwharawhara and Miramar as improvement of the route progresses.
Chapter 5. Social and Recreation
5.2 Recreation Promotion and Access
We encourage the council to see the potential of cycling, a free recreational opportunity, and support the development of safe and pleasant cycling routes (such as the Great Harbour Way). In addition, Council's stated goals of getting more people to use active modes of transport would be actively aided by the provision of recreational cycling facilities, by raising the profile and visibility of cycling within the city.
We note that there would appear to be some conflict between the council's stated intent re the Basin Reserve "to help ensure the iconic sports ground remains New Zealand's premier test cricket venue" and council's support for a Basin Reserve flyover.
Chapter 6: Urban Development
Wellington is in many ways already a "compact, vibrant, attractive city". Integration of transport planning with urban planning is absolutely essential for this, whether with respect to plans for bus lanes along Manner's Mall, the provision of car parking along Thorndon Quay in preference to a cycle path (especially when you consider that some of these car parks are all day commuter car parking! Surely this does not fit with Council's goals of a shift to active modes of transport.) Of particular importance to cyclists is the integration of cyclists with pedestrians in off road areas (e.g. the Waterfront and Cuba Mall). In European cities with large pedestrian areas large signs stating "Cycling allowed - give way to pedestrians" or words to that effect are often effective and unambiguous.
6.2 Building Control and Facilitation
There is currently a severe lack of bicycle parking in parts of the central city. We would suggest that building consents require provision to be made for cyclists, which would be a minor cost in a new building.
Chapter 7: Transport
Transportation is naturally the focus of Cycle Aware Wellington's interest in the LTCCP.
We appreciate that the council has highlighted the importance of safety for both pedestrians and cyclists. We also note that all the desired outcomes that the council is aiming to achieve, as follows:
can be contributed to in no better way than by increasing the number of people who cycle in Wellington, as well as the safety with which they can do so. Luckily, many studies have shown that these two goals are synergistic: cities with more cyclists have safer cyclists.
In order to improve both the safety and the attractiveness of cycling in Wellington, we would ask that you consider carefully the following suggestions.
Bicycles are vehicles too
We believe that there should be a network of marked cyclepaths on roads throughout Wellington. Improving the visibility of cycling (as opposed to individual cyclists) should be a priority for council. We welcome the use of reduced (realistic!) speed limits in central parts of the city to improve safety for pedestrians too, and believe that this would also be a key means of reducing red-light running at key intersections in the CBD. There is also a lot of ambiguity in heavy traffic about the correct place for a cyclist to be on the road - a marked cyclepath on the lefthand side of the road makes this much clearer.
In summary, if a road is too narrow to have a marked cycle lane down it, then it is probably too narrow for traffic to be moving at 50 km/hr!
Increase bicycle journeys and cyclist numbers
Cycle Aware Wellington would like to see cyclist numbers in Wellington increase.
More cyclists means fewer cars, which means less pollution, less congestion, and less pressure on car parking spaces. It also means safer cycling! We believe that the performance target of 4% cyclists coming into the CBD is pitifully low and runs counter to the Council's stated objectives. It is also hard to understand why the number of cyclists entering the CBD should be "maintained" at a baseline of 604 cyclists in 2008. These numbers must be increased if any of the Council's desired outcomes are to be considered realistic.
We also consider that while cyclists are less unlikely to "agree the transport system allows easy movement around the city" than vehicle users and pedestrians, their views are equally important and should be included in your transport measure.
7.2 Transport Networks
While cycleways are included in the list of elements in the city's transport network, the plan going so far as to state that "We provide cycling and walking networks to encourage alternative options to the private motor vehicle for commuting", the only performance measures listed which address the needs of cyclists are "Road casualties (continued reduction)" and "User satisfaction (70% maintenance, 50% safety)". A 50% satisfaction rate of cyclists with the safety of cycleways is an appalling rate for council to be content with. Safe cycleways not only benefit cyclists, but also motorists who would prefer not to contend with cyclists on roads that are not designed for them. Pedestrians also (understandably) get frustrated with cycleways that are placed on footpaths without adequate marking and are often full of obstacles (lamp posts, etc.). It is also notable that in the section "How we manage our assets that support this activity" no mention is made of cycleways, though Footpaths, Walls, Tunnels and bridges, and Roads are all apparently actively managed. (And no, there is no mention made of consideration of cyclists in the description of the annual surveys done on roads.)
While we understand the importance of providing parking throughout the city, we would urge the council to think twice before prioritising carparks over cycle lanes as seems to be currently automatic. Often there are alternative possibilities for carparking off the street; in general cyclists have no choice but to use the road. In particular where the provision of carparking causes severe difficulties and an unacceptable level of risk for cyclists, as along Thorndon Quay, we would ask that the council look for the safest option.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide our opinions and ideas on the Draft Long Term Council Community Plan 2009-19.
(image here) A glimpse of the near future