Safer cycleway to connect diverse communities
September 21, 2018
A new cycleway between Wellington’s Eastern suburbs has won the support of cycling advocacy groups offering safer access to parts of the city, but local residents are concerned about the loss of parking.
In March, the Wellington City Council voted to approve plans for an uphill bike lane along busy Crawford Road to the top of Constable Street, connecting Kilbirnie and Newtown, suburbs with high migrant and refugee populations.
The route is part of the council’s plans to gradually develop a connected citywide cycle network.
Residents have raised concerns about the removal of eight parking spaces along Constable Street and the entire uphill side of Crawford Street.
The council received more than 230 written submissions and more than 400 at community meetings, but Councillor Sarah Free is confident it has engaged with the community, including door knocking along the affected streets.
“Council is really at a beginning stage,” she said. “It is an opportunity for people to have a bit of independence and mobility. It’s been really heartening to see some of the migrant women in particular learning to ride a bike.”
Cycling advocate groups supported the council’s proposal noting the steps taken to ensure cyclist safety.
Cycling Action Network project manager Patrick Morgan said it was a great opportunity for the community and the council had done their homework.
“I think council has learnt their lessons that it’s important to engage not just consult. Giving people the option of cycling gives them more options, whether it’s going to work, the shops or just seeing their friends.”
Newtown’s ReBicycle co-ordinator Tessa Coppard said safety was key and the proposed cycleway would help less experienced cyclists she said.
“It right away gets people out of the door zone – the door zone is the biggest hazard for less confident cyclists.
“I really hope we’ll see a big uptake if being enjoying city rather than see people dicing with death trying to ride into the city.”
The group takes old bikes, fixes them and donates them to refugee families, teaching them how to repair and maintain the bikes themselves.
Sharing photos of a recent bike recipient who regularly uses the proposed route, she said cycling played a huge role in helping families integrate with society.
“We’ve got someone here Mohammed who received a bike from us about six months ago. He has been riding from Kilbirnie into his English classes every day so he’s actually been cycling along that route that the cycleway is going to go on and riding quite successfully. He’s just showed me a picture of him riding 40 km to Petone with him at the beach.”
Coppard said it would be fantastic to have a safe route between the Eastern suburbs and the city.