The Eye of the Fish

Maximus
July 8, 2009

Harbour Cycling

News of this has just come to light here at the Fish headquarters: the Council is supporting the ‘Great Harbour Way‘ cycle path along the edge of the big pond out there, “proposed to run almost 70 km from Pencarrow right around Wellington Harbour before finally ending at Owhiro Bay on Wellington’s South Coast.”
bicycle
That’s great news for cyclists, who for too long have had to risk their lives and wheels along the edge, battling it out with the vehicles with more than 2 wheels. “Two wheels good, Four wheels bad, Twenty wheels just an accident waiting to happen”, as Napoleon may once have said, if a pig could ride a bicycle.

“What it offers will be unique – the opportunity to safely walk or cycle the entire coastline of a major city harbour, continually touching the water’s edge. You will pass wild stretches of coast, rocky headlands and sandy beaches, as well as parks, marinas, museums, cafes, theatres, charming seaside suburbs, and the capital’s vibrant business and shopping centre.”

I’m looking forward to it already – the Council has just promised $4.75 million for cycleways in the region, of which a little will go towards this worthy long-term project. Personally I hope they plan to get rid of the cycle path alongside the edge of the motorway along to the Hutt – the most awful excuse for a cycle path yet, and one on which surely people get wiped out on at regular intervals. A fresh, clean, separate cycle path right next to the edge of the sea would be a lot more palatable to me. Councillor Andy Foster – he must have patched things up with Mayor Kerry Prendergast as he’s still in charge of his portfolios – seems very keen on the project as well:

“This is putting our money where our mouth is. It’s developed from the Regional Strategic Cycling Network agreed by Greater Wellington last December, and from the city’s first-ever walking and cycling plans adopted last November following extensive and very supportive consultation. We’ve agreed to put $250,000 in this year, and $500,000 in the following nine years to create safe attractive routes into Wellington city from Porirua and Hutt city, and around the harbour. Safety is absolutely vital to encourage people to walk and especially to cycle. The Council will include the strategic network in its funding requests to the NZ Transport Agency. For cycling these are the only two routes into the city, and this is about taking explicit, positive steps to show we value and support walking and cycling.”

All in all we’re doing ok for cycleways then, aren’t we? Well, actually, no – not quite yet. The Cycling Policy developed by Council still appears to be completely wooly mouthed to me, with no real idea of direction or planning and future proofing of cycle routes. This is the Council’s proposed current Cycle path plan:

cycle

While it is great to see an even grid of cycle ways criss-cross the city, the influence of geography seems to have been forgotten. Hills go up and down – so do bikes, but they also prefer to stay on the flat if they can help it. Doesn’t this route map need tweaking to make it more relevant to the city’s users? The pink lines are the bus routes, down in the gullies. But the green line, across the page – that’s the existing cycle route, going up and over across the bypass at the War Memorial. I’ve yet to see a cyclist on it. It seems that perhaps more forethought and sensible planning is needed before creating cycle routes where cyclists really don’t want to ride. At least the Great Harbour Way is a good clear step in the right direction.