Wellington's Island Bay cycleway has left residents confused and angry
A new cycleway through the heart of Wellington's southern suburbs is threatening to tear the community apart, as thousands vent their anger at its "confusing" design.
Critics of the Island Bay cycleway have labelled it "a death trap" and say it has made one of the city's main arterial roads too narrow for buses, reduced visibility for motorists on adjoining streets, and even made it "impossible" for some residents to pull out of their driveways.
But many also say the cycleway looks fantastic and will make life easier and safer for people on bikes.
The cycleway along The Parade in Island Bay has been controversial since it was first mooted in 2011, sparking protest groups but also attracting plenty of admirers.
Complaints are largely levelled at its layout. The cycleway sits between the footpath and off-street parking, which has cut down the space available to vehicles and given the appearance of cars sitting 1.5 metres out from the kerb.
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Its construction was delayed repeatedly until it was given the green light in June. The builders moved in during September and are expected to be done by early February.
But during the past few weeks, Wellington City Council has been bombarded with complaints from people who have witnessed the new white lines and are unhappy with what they see.
One complaint on the council's Facebook page about the "confusing" layout was 'liked' more than 1000 times and prompted 245 people to join the debate.
Wellington City councillor Paul Eagle said more and more people were coming out of the woodwork to complain about the cycleway as they saw it taking shape.
"People are furious. Now that it's actually in, people can see what it looks like and what it's not going to do."
Jismy Binson, who lives on The Parade, said the altered road layout had made it impossible to get out of her driveway without driving down the cycleway.
"We can't see past the parked cars or get around them to get out."
Long-time cycleway opponent Jane Byrnesaid the "silent majority" was speaking up because they felt the road was too narrow, while the cycleway was too wide and poorly signposted.
"It's a death trap. It's a cycleway that's been imposed on a safe road for no reason. I just don't understand it."
But Island Bay resident Janet Miller praised the cycleway, saying she and her children felt a lot safer cycling next to the footpath.
"It's saying please come and cycle here. We're a cycle friendly suburb."
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown acknowledged the recent social media backlash - which she dubbed "bike-lash" - but was confident it would simmer down once the cycleway was complete.
She pointed to the council's research, which showed 76 per cent of Wellingtonians would cycle more if cycling was safer.
"And I think a scientific survey is a clearer indication [of Wellingtonians' views on the cycleway] than the number of social media likes or dislikes."
The council did not have the ability to magically create a cycleway "up in the air" so the only alternative was to take some space away from motorists on The Parade and re-allocate it to people on bikes, she said.
"It's narrower for vehicles than it once was, but it's no narrower than a lot of other [Wellington] streets, between the parked cars."
The new layout and raised pedestrian crossings were actually having a positive impact on safety, because they were slowing down motorists who had been ignoring the 50kmh and 30kmh limits along The Parade, Wade-Brown said.
Council spokesman Richard MacLean said there would be leniency as road users got used to the layout, but the council had the power to fine drivers up to $60 if they parked in the cycleway.
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