The Dim-Post

July 5, 2016

Too soon to tell

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 9:26 am

Not sure if the terrible, deadly Island Bay cycle-way is an actual thing, or whether its analogous to all those terrible deadly exploding milk-cartons, or ‘the new gold coins give you arthritis’ stories that people like Paul Holmes did back in the day when we transitioned from glass milk bottles to cardboard cartons, and to coins for $1 and $2, ie panic by a tiny handful of basically crazy people traumatised by some trivial change, seized on by lazy journalists desperate to file copy, and then exploited by politicians.


  1. I expect the Island Bay Cycleway will turn out to be as deadly as genetically modified food.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — July 5, 2016 @ 9:39 am

  2. The commentary from a couple of people at my work that regularly bike in from that direction is that it is not good.

    Comment by Robert Singers — July 5, 2016 @ 9:40 am

  3. Hmmm… If you had an Island bay community facing role, like a retail worker on the parade or medical centre staff, the number of complaints about the cycle way and the way locals were consulted would broadly disagree with the ‘tiny handful of basically crazy people’ assertion.

    Comment by Auto_immune — July 5, 2016 @ 9:53 am

  4. Hit the nail on the head, theatrical victim complex from a few oldies who have managed to co-opt the local residents association. It’s basically a non-event.

    Comment by Michael — July 5, 2016 @ 10:03 am

  5. You only have to look at any Kiwiblog thread about cycleways or cyclists to realise that the mouth-frothing fury that strikes some people when this subject is raised certainly fits the “basically crazy” part of your description, but may not fit the “tiny handful” part.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — July 5, 2016 @ 10:08 am

  6. It’s a bit like the fuss over meth contamination. There is a real problem here (both in terms of the design of the cycle way and the process for community engagement) but it’s been seized on cynically for political purposes – in this case to discredit the Mayor. I think this plays very well for those mayoral candidates who believe that Wellington needs All The Roads and that the Council is preoccupied with cyclists.

    Comment by Nick R — July 5, 2016 @ 10:23 am

  7. Too many carparks restricting vision, as well as people wanting to back motor vehicles into live traffic lanes. Yes the “cycleway” has some issues.

    There are, in my opinion, some issues with the cycleway design at the intersections. It is not consistent with best practice Dutch design, and the reason for this is apparently our road rules dont allow for off road cycle priority across side streets. So the issue is a result of legal issues.

    Any issues with the cycle way could easily be fixed (with the help of some law changes) it is very close to a Dutch standard cycleway, and you cant argue that they dont know how to build cycleways. But the opponents dont want to make it better they just want an excuse to get rid of it for some reason.

    Comment by Matthew W — July 5, 2016 @ 10:29 am

  8. I know a lot of Island Bay people as I grew up there. Most of them are fairly disinterested in politics and apolitical. Over the last six months all they can talk about is how much they hate the cycleway (not all cycleways) and how much they hate Celia for it. You’d be surprised by how many cyclists don’t like it either.

    Comment by David Farrar — July 5, 2016 @ 12:42 pm

  9. Sadly NZ is not going to get decent cycling infrastructure until the boomers die off. Car supremacy is embedded deep in their psyches.

    Comment by hamish — July 5, 2016 @ 2:45 pm

  10. All part of the Dom Post’s long-running campaign to hasten the downfall of Wade-Brown. Last Local election, they went for a series of dodgy polls purporting to show Right-Wing candidate John Morrison out in front and much editorialising on Celia’s alleged indecisiveness and lack of leadership. In the past, their target was Left-leaning Councillor Helene Ritchie, now it’s Wade-Brown.

    Comment by swordfish — July 5, 2016 @ 2:48 pm

  11. What is it that people actually hate about it? Why it is so bad and more dangerous than other cycleways?

    Comment by eszett — July 5, 2016 @ 3:48 pm

  12. What is it that people actually hate about it? Why it is so bad and more dangerous than other cycleways?

    Because this is actually what the good citizens of Island Bay actually get up to.

    Comment by Gregor W — July 5, 2016 @ 4:13 pm

  13. oops….this

    Comment by Gregor W — July 5, 2016 @ 4:16 pm

  14. It’s basically because Wellington is a great place to live with the highest per capita income in NZ, great public transport and a city compact enough to walk or cycle in from affordable suburbs.

    However, we don’t have rampant property inflation like Auckland and the rentier classes fail to make the sort of money they aspire to from property speculation here. As a result, being good little tories, they want government intervention to help them out.

    Comment by richdrich — July 5, 2016 @ 5:06 pm

  15. Living close to island bay and having two small children it us a bit of a nightmare. If you are trying to get them out of the car you have to contend with a narrow road with cars on one side and bikes on the other. Same for older people. I just don’t see why it needed to happen as it was one of the widest streets in Wellington

    Comment by max — July 5, 2016 @ 6:38 pm

  16. I’m a cyclist and live in south Wellington and I don’t like it for two reasons 1) because there’s nothing to stop cars parking in the zone that’s supposed to be the buffer between the passenger door and the cycle lane, so there’s an increased risk of getting doored and 2) because it’s completely unnecessary.

    The status quo ante was the safest road for cycling on in all of Wellington. The cycleway isn’t designed to make the road safer but to encourage cycling by providing infrastructure (even it’s strongest proponents admit this). This “if you build it they will come” position doesn’t account for the myriad barriers to cycling, which includes owning and maintaining a bike, overcoming the inertia of not riding, the elements, Wellington’s topography outside of the flat bit of Island Bay, the fact that, eventually, you’ll have to cycle somewhere without a separated cycle lane, among others. I guess I’m not optimistic about that. I also don’t see huge value in building a cycle lane for people to drive to on the weekends and ride up and down a couple of times rather than on commuter routes.

    And of course, building a cycleway on a safe bit of road sends the message that cycling is a dangerous activity.

    All of this comes at a predictable cost of political capital — the backlash was inevitable and has sapped a lot of goodwill towards cycling infrastructure and cyclists (I’ve been yelled at by motorists on the Parade since it was built, and I hate the thing!). That political cost might have been acceptable if it got us a cycle lane where it was actually useful, e.g. down Adelaide Road or where the islands that separate Kent and Cambridge Terraces are now, but it didn’t.

    Comment by Jake — July 5, 2016 @ 8:12 pm

  17. “And of course, building a cycleway on a safe bit of road sends the message that cycling is a dangerous activity”

    Would you have been happy for a seven year old to cycle down the old Island Bay? It might be fine for you but not necessarily for vulnerable road users. And even if safe for an experienced road user it requires vigilance and is therefore not “comfortable”. I agree that lanes on one road are not going to allow safe cycle routes to many destinations. But you have to start somewhere. There is a reason why the Dutch have 30-50% cycle mode share – they have built networks of safe cycle routes.

    Comment by Matthew W — July 5, 2016 @ 9:15 pm

  18. “Would you have been happy for a seven year old to cycle down the old Island Bay? It might be fine for you but not necessarily for vulnerable road users.”

    No. But I wouldn’t be happy with them on the cycle lane either, seeing as they aren’t visible to motorists because they’re hidden behind parked cars, have to cross intersections, and ride with the traffic through the shopping area. When it was still being built I drove down there and there was a kid cycling through the shopping area. He was a bit erratic and it was pretty worrying. Mostly the kids under 12 or so seem to be sticking to the footpath.

    Separated cycle lanes should be built along heavily trafficked arterial routes. As I understand it, that’s what the Dutch do.

    Comment by Jake — July 5, 2016 @ 9:23 pm

  19. Ok I didn’t realise the cycleway stopped at the shops. Yeah that is obviously not good. I agree with you that the cycleway should be up a kerb from the road. That is a cost thing, they have cheated out leaving it at road level.

    Comment by Matthew W — July 5, 2016 @ 10:44 pm

  20. An idiotic compromise. Rip it up and salt the earth.

    Comment by George — July 6, 2016 @ 4:21 pm

  21. As someone who was a regular bike commuter in Christchurch, Auckland and Hamilton it always seems to me Wellington cyclists inhabit a weird mental universe that places them in another city, a city suitable for regular cycling.

    I’m with Jake on this one.

    Comment by Tinakori — July 6, 2016 @ 5:26 pm

  22. Cities that are suitable for regular cycling are made not born.

    Comment by Matthew W — July 6, 2016 @ 8:47 pm

  23. Gregor W: Damn! Now I’ll never be able to look at Celia Wade-Brown without picturing her leathered up in a chariot and three, thundering down the cycleway from Island Bay to the city…

    Personally, I’m fed up with the preaching about biking. I’ve been a cyclist, in cities such as Christchurch, which is eminently suitable for it as a means of transport, not just for poncing about in lycra at the weekends, as so many seem to do here. But if ever there was a city largely unsuited to cycling, Wellington is it. Much of it is more or less vertical, with narrow roads; and the bits that aren’t mostly don’t have roads wide enough to accommodate bikes as well as cars and buses.

    Moreover, some of us aren’t getting any younger and struggle with walking, let alone biking. We need to have access to cars; many older people can’t easily use public transport because of the difficulties of walking to bus stops and the like. Don’t tell us to go live in the provinces: that’s no solution for elderly people. I’d also say that young parents with small children would have the same difficulties, were they obliged to rely on public transport for getting to the doctor, school or preschool, if they’ve got more than one child. And it’s raining… As for biking: forget it. I say that from experience.

    Our view of the situation here with regard to public transport and biking is that both debate and planning have been hijacked by planners – and well-meaning younger people who really haven’t the least idea how difficult it is to get around when one is older and less spry than in one’s youth.

    Comment by D'Esterre — July 6, 2016 @ 10:26 pm

  24. “it always seems to me Wellington cyclists inhabit a weird mental universe that places them in another city, a city suitable for regular cycling.”

    Oh I don’t think that at all. I cycle in Wellington almost every day — topography and climate are barriers but mainly mental ones. That said I don’t live in Ngaio. Anyway once you get on a bike you realise it’s mainly all good. Get a bike with a suitable gear ratio and when the weather’s too bad don’t ride. That’s the case anywhere. The other barriers are to do with perceived safety and the attitude of motorists. Those can change over time but there’s a real question about what effect the cycle lane has on that.

    Comment by Jake — July 7, 2016 @ 8:38 pm

  25. Admittedly when I lived in Wellington I was younger and fitter than I am now, but the main problems I had were motorists and traffic lights (the “report a broken light” people stopped accepting my reports, because as far as their engineers were concerned “does not detect bicycles” was a feature of the design and the lights were working correctly). But moving to Sydney was a relief, as the drivers here are much more considerate and accepting of cyclists. Even, or especially, in the CBD and inner west.

    Speaking of Sydney, the “build it and they will come” approach is correct, and necessary, and what they’ve done here (are still doing). Sydney has the same problem with bought media jumping up and down. They have changed the law to remove a mayor who offended them, so Celia is in some ways lucky.

    There is some brilliant research work being done in English speaking countries largely duplicating work done in The Netherlands and the rest of the low countries after WWII. 50 years later is better than not at all. The 1% are fit young men who will ride come hell or high water (or in the case of Christchurch, come fire, quake or plague). Saying that Island Bay is fine because those people can ride it is nonsense, like saying that since people are obviously buying houses in Auckland there’s no problem there.

    The visible infrastructure is as much social signalling as actual practical bike route – it says to the novices and cautious people that it’s ok to ride a bike here. If they have to use the footpath occasionally because there’s conflict, they’ll do that. The real problem is when they get dumped onto a busy road unprotected, because that’s likely to put them off for good (and the few who brave the busy road will cause a lot of disruption, because they wobble along at 10-15kph, probably in the gutter).

    Comment by Moz in Sydney — July 8, 2016 @ 10:46 am

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