Island Bay cycleway improvements delayed, ‘cannot be the model’ for bike network
The council voted to delay safety improvements to the stretch of cycleway within the Island Bay shopping centre.
In the same meeting where the Wellington City Council voted to build an ambitious 166-kilometre bike network, it pushed back improvements to the Island Bay cycleway.
Councillors say what happened with Island Bay cannot repeat itself during the roll-out of the much larger bike network plan for Wellington. The situation has been so tense that tacks have been thrown on the cycleway multiple times in an apparent effort to drive cyclists away.
On Friday, the council chose to compromise once again over the Island Bay cycleway, voting to delay improvements to the stretch of cycleway in the town centre where businesses are concerned about parking changes.
Safety improvements to the rest of the 1.7km cycleway, on either side of the shopping centre, will begin this month. The initial work will be resealing between Mersey and Reef streets, before implementing barriers for separation between cyclists and cars, clearer road markings, and improved visibility at driveways and intersections.
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Council officers recommended the council go ahead with improvements to the entire cycleway at once.
The council rejected that advice and voted to defer the shopping centre upgrade until an overdue parking management plan, requested last November, was finished. The plan is expected to be completed by December.
Southern ward councillor Fleur Fitzsimons, who put forward the delay, said keeping the angled parking on the Parade was the best compromise between business owners and cyclists.
Jenny Condie said she “reluctantly” supported the delay to hear from the community, but thought it was “unrealistic to expect significant changes” to be included in the parking management plan.
Councillor Simon Woolf was the only one to vote against Fitzsimons. He said he was not against safety improvements but against pushing forward with the cycleway against the community’s wishes.
He said the council needed to listen to what the community was saying about the cycleway and its flaws.
“Right throughout the process has alienated the Island Bay community and I have a lot of sympathy for them,” he said.
Laurie Foon, also a southern ward councillor, said the council needed a better idea of parking needs in the shopping centre before implementing the improvements. She was glad the votes for Island Bay and the bike network came up in the same meeting, because it gave councillors a chance to consider the micro and macro issues of cycleways in Wellington.
“I am very sorry that the Island Bay Community have had to go through such an experience that has caused division in the community and such a sad reputation for Wellington. No one wanted that,” she said. Foon remained hopeful about the broader bike network and the lessons the council has learned from Island Bay.
Nicola Young voted against the larger bike network because she was “still traumatised from Island Bay”, and had concerns about moving forward because of the rocky history.
Fitzsimons said “the council need to make an apology for what has happened with the Island Bay cycleway and prove that the roll-out of the bike network won’t be the same”. p>
The Island Bay cycleway “shocked and divided” the community since the start, and the council had not been effective at taking action, she said. “We take two steps forward and one step backwards. This cannot be the model for the bike network.”
More than a thousand people sent the council submissions on the proposed safety improvements along The Parade, and 55 per cent of submissions were from Island Bay residents. About two-thirds of submissions opposed the changes, while one-third supported them.
How they voted:
Deferring cycleway safety improvements in Island Bay shopping centre: carried, supported by all except Woolf
Keep angled parking: failed, supported by Day, Fitzsimons, Woolf, Young
Proactive collaboration with the Island Bay Residents’ Association: carried, unanimously