Cycling advocates dismayed by Council decision not to address Thorndon Quay black zone
The decision by the Wellington City Council City to ignore pleas to make Thorndon Quay safe has dismayed and angered cycling advocates.
“This flies in the face of the Government’s recent call for a zero road death toll and Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter’s message that Council’s need to show more courage in providing safer infrastructure for cyclists”, says Ron Beernink, chair of Cycle Aware Wellington.
At a public meeting on 12 April the Strategy Committee heard from various cycling advocacy representatives and individuals that the proposed interim improvements to only a small part of the northern end of Thorndon Quay were not acceptable, and that the Council needed to instead urgently address the serious risks along all of Thorndon Quay, particularly those caused by angle parking.
Ron Beernink acknowledges that the interim solution will convert some of angle parking to safer parallel parking, but pointed out that without an agreed plan and timeframe that the solution can’t be seen as ‘interim’.
“The design does not provide for protected bike lanes and it sets a poor precedent for busy roads like Thorndon Quay. It does not meet NZTA safety guidelines, and should be rejected. Ironically this design for Thorndon Quay is similar to the old Island Bay Parade layout. What message does that send?”.
He said he was disappointed that the Council gave in to concerns raised by some local businesses about the impact on car parking.
“Council analysis of the parking along Thorndon Quay shows considerable under-utilisation, especially if long-term car parks were converted to shorter stays. Businesses would be better off with higher turnover of parking, instead of commuters locking it up all day.”
On 16 April the Government called on councils to be brave enough to take action to reduce risk on our streets. Its new road safety strategy aims at a transport system free from deaths and serious injuries.
“The Council is negligent. It appears to care more about placating a few business people than protecting people,” says Mr Beernink.
This sentiment was echoed by Dr David Tripp from the Wellington hospital emergency department, who addressed the Council Committee, reminding them that fixing Thorndon Quay was not just about preventing crashes, but also building safe streets that encourage people to cycle.
“Inactivity causes people with obesity and diabetes to end up in my emergency department. Getting people cycling and walking is the most effective medication,” he said.
Mr Beernink says Council plans to create an alternative cycling route along Aotea Quay were a red herring.
“Thorndon Quay will continue to be the preferred route for most people.”
A recent poll on the Fix Thorndon Quay Facebook page showed that more than 80 percent of the respondents preferred Thorndon Quay over Aotea Quay.
Mr Beernink says Cycle Aware Wellington would welcome the latter as an option for recreational cyclists, but predicts that it would take many years to implement. “I am doubtful that the Council can build a route along this challenging area of Centreport land.”
“While the Council is making progress on bike lanes elsewhere, on Thorndon Quay it is putting its head in the sand, instead of looking at practical options to fix the risk.”
He was angry that the Council would not even consider simple interim measures such as lowering traffic speeds, and dealing with angle parked vehicles illegally sticking out too far.
“In these darker and wetter winter months, each cyclist continues to be put at risk each day.”.
He advises people on bikes to to keep a safe distance from the angle parked cars, even if means riding in the road lane itself. “It may feel more scary but as long as you have good lights and visible clothing so that motorists can see what you are doing, they will slow down and pass you safely.”
Contact: Ron Beernink, Chair, Cycle Aware Wellington, tel 027 936 7557