Flashback Friday: Cycling Stuff from Wellington

It’s easy to forget here in Christchurch that other places around NZ haven’t had the luxury of the cycleways that have been rolled out in our city over the past few years. While people will say “ah, but Christchurch is flat with wide streets”, a lot of it can be put down to differences in politics and processes. With the momentous news this week that Wgtn City Council will invest $226 million in cycleways there over the next decade, it’s instructive to remind ourselves how far they have come from humbler beginnings and stop-start progress since we first looked at Wellington cycling initiatives in this post originally in March 2014

So last week I spent most of my time in Wellington (which explains the slight gap in posts). For much of it I was attending the 2014 IPENZ Transportation Conference, but I did also have a little bit of a look around town while I was there.

Traffic engineers and transport planners make up the bulk of the attendees at the annual transportation conference. They tend to get a lot of flak by people when it comes to sustainable transport modes like cycling (or usually the lack of), so you might think that such a conference would just be a giant roads-fest. But actually our current crop of transport professionals are typically a multi-modal bunch, as evidenced by the topics presented at the conference (it doesn’t mean they can always convince the politicians of the merits of these things…). So for example, there were a number of papers presented related to cycling (which you can download), including:

  • Managing the risk of cycling on rural roads
  • The development of Chch’s Cycle Design Guidelines
  • An overview of successful strategies to increase cycle mode share
  • Measuring cycling Levels of Service in Wellington
  • Transport studies in Auckland to encourage more use of active modes
  • Guidelines and principles for Shared Streets/Zones in NZ
  • Compliance and acceptance of safer speeds
  • Generation Zero’s perspective on the future of urban transport

Wellington’s Mayor (and noted cycling fan) Celia Wade-Brown hosted us at the welcome function last Sunday. Celia has been a recent convert to an electric bike and commented the other night that, instead of the traditional challenges of weather and topography that Wgtn is known for, she now considers the city to be “flat and windless”…

Plenty of advance cycle boxes in Wgtn – but how to get to them?

Late last year we told you about some of the recent initiatives starting to happen in Wellington for cycling. Their cycling budget has been trebled to over $4 million a year; heady stuff for the capital. One thing they have started to pop in everywhere are advanced bike boxes at the front of intersections. However a problem with many locations is that there are no cycle lanes actually leading to them, often due to fairly narrow streets. So now Wellington City are trying out strips of green surfacing along the side of traffic lanes, to encourage motor traffic to nudge on over a little to allow a bike rider to squeak up past them. Not enough width to provide a legal cycle lane, so it’s just a “suggestion” that traffic might want to move over and share.

Well, it kind of works…

My observations of some of them are that it somewhat works. Not every car shifted over, so it will be luck of the draw whether you’re able to make your way to the front of the queue when everyone is stopped. The fact that it only goes back a couple of car lengths also makes me wonder whether it would work as well if the rush-hour queue is more than a few cars long. But I quite like the thinking behind it, as a way of fixing a tricky retrofit problem. I could imagine a few places in Christchurch where this would also be quite useful (e.g. on the eastern approach to the Kilmarnock/Straven intersection).

What do you think about the “suggestive” cycle space colouring?

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