67% of submissions received by the Wellington City Council support the Hutt Road Improvements. This includes the submission from advocacy group Cycle Aware Wellington who see the design as a significant and long overdue improvement.

For years now the Hutt Road has been the bane for the numerous cyclists and pedestrians alike who use this route to commute in and out of the city. It has been the scene of many accidents and close calls, which last year led to a protest ride to the Civic Centre to call on the Council to "get on with it" and create better cycling infrastructure.

Hopes were raised with the proposed urgent Hutt Road improvements. Now it looks like it may be back to the drawing board as the option of a seaside cycle route is potentially on the table again. But while the alternatives sound interesting, they have already been checked and the feasibility ranged from ‘no' to ‘maybe, requiring extra funding beyond the total Urban Cycleway Plan package available, and with possible delays of 3+ years from the 2016 construction date for this proposal if one only factors in the consent processes .

CAN agrees that a seaside route would be a fantastic and iconic asset to the Wellington region, particularly if it would stretch all the way between Petone, Miramar and the south coast. Which is essentially the Great Harbour Way that has been talked about for some time now. One only has to look at New Plymouth to see how popular such a seaside path is with walkers and recreational cyclists of all ages and abilities.

It does however question how this would help to address the urgent need to have a safer route for commuter cyclists who typically want to see a most direct route that can be safely cycled at a higher speed. The seaside route would not cater either for cyclists who live in the western suburbs like Ngaio and Khandallah. And does it create more delays in fixing a problem that should have been dealt with years ago?

The good news is that the various councillors are keen to push ahead with at least some essential and ‘easy to do' improvements like removing the many lamp posts that currently sit in the middle of the path, shifting the bus stop by Westminster Street, and resurfacing the path. These in itself will be a significant improvement on the current situation.

The contentious issue of removing existing car parks and having off peak onroad car parks may be delayed however if it is indeed back to the drawing board with looking at other options and taking on board the feedback from the consultation. CAW feels that cyclists could live with this as long as there is a genuine urgency with ‘getting on' with finding a solution for making this key cycling commuter route safer and more enjoyable.

Ron Beernink
Chairman, Cycle Aware Wellington