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New Wellington bike path would avoid ‘Hunger Games’

Dec 1st, 2017 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Lead Story, News

A council drop-in session on the proposed designs for the Evans Bay bike path.

A cycling advocate has welcomed a separate, two-way, Evans Bay bike path which will avoid turning the path into the Hunger Games.

Cycling Action Network spokesperson Patrick Morgan supports separate space for cyclists.

A shared space with pedestrians, would amount to throwing everyone together to fight it out, he said.

“That would be a low-quality solution for Evans Bay.”

Feedback on the Wellington City Council proposal closes on December 11 at 5pm.

Mr Morgan says a kerb to physically separate the bike path and traffic, is essential.

“Paint is not infrastructure.”

He says reallocation of some street space towards the bike network, the first section of a new Evans Bay bike path from Carlton Gore Road to just north of Greta Point is a sensible thing to do.

“At the moment lots of people have bikes and love riding bikes but they don’t want to mix with busy traffic.

“This is something that cities all around the world are doing. They’re investing in streets to improve them for everyone.”

Mr Morgan says while parking will be impacted in certain places, the project is about change, which can always be a challenge for people.

He said investment in cycling is a “good bang for buck” in transport, and a great way for the council to make life better for the most people that they can.

The council had worked hard to have an open, honest community conversation in the wake of the Island Bay Cycleway, but it was important not to confuse noise with numbers, he said.

“Whenever you try and change the status quo there’s always a bit of push-back. That’s normal, and it’s actually really important because you have to have that conversation.

Mr Morgan says cycling has environmental and health benefits, and builds communities.

“More people biking means more space on the road for motorists, it means less pressure on parking and more space on the road for people who still have to drive.

The new two-way bike path will be on the seaward side of Evans Bay, the preferred option of the community working group and the wider public.

The Council is looking at having the path above road level, but it has not decided whether to have it at the same level or lower than the footpath.

Feedback on the designs closes on December 11.

Councillor Sarah Free, the Public Transport, Cycling and Walking portfolio leader, hopes the network will have a large uptake.

“We can only predict from our modelling what that might be, but we are thinking we’ll see at least half as many again, even twice as many cyclists commuting as are currently commuting.

“We do know that there are people who aren’t cycling at the moment because they fear for their safety that would like to cycle.

“How that will actually translate into numbers depending on how good it turns out, is still a little bit of an unknown.

Councillor Free believes the route would prove popular for recreational users and families as well as commuters.

“It really is about providing options for people, because some people do find the bus fares fairly pricey.”

Connectivity will allow young people to take advantage of all the things that are going on in the city.

Councillor Free said the feedback had been largely positive, but people living along the route would have concerns about the impacts on parking and accessibility.

“On the whole people are pretty positive but there’s still going to be an interest in making sure that we get those fine details sorted out.”

The council will consider submissions and make a decision on the project in early 2018.

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