Wellington's new Hutt Rd cycleway unlikely to happen without some Island Bay-style drama video

Wellington City Council / YouTube

Wellington City Council's proposed upgrade of Hutt Rd, which includes a new cycleway and transit lane.

Wellington's next big cycleway fight is brewing on Hutt Rd, and it's already drawing comparisons to the Island Bay saga.

Local businesses and residents associations say the proposed $9 million overhaul of Hutt Rd is riddled with safety issues that Wellington City Council does not seem interested in pausing to consider.

But supporters say the council has learned its lessons from the Island Bay cycleway, which angered many in the community.

An artist impression of the proposed new cycleway and transit lane that will run along Hutt Rd in Wellington.

An artist impression of the proposed new cycleway and transit lane that will run along Hutt Rd in Wellington.

The proposal for Hutt Rd will see the existing cycle path upgraded and a transit lane created along the road that runs through Ngauranga and Kaiwharawhara.

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Some "hazards" such as parking, trees and lighting poles will be moved, leaving a cycleway that varies in width between three and four metres, alongside a 2-metre wide footpath.

La Cloche Cafe cafe owner François Febvre wants the existing cycleway improved but believes it should not need to cost $9m.

La Cloche Cafe cafe owner François Febvre wants the existing cycleway improved but believes it should not need to cost $9m.

The Hutt Rd plans were announced in February. Consultation closes on Wednesday after the public were invited to have their say via a website or at two information days.

Hamish Jacob, chief executive of Jeff Gray BMW on Hutt Rd, said he participated in the process but felt his concerns over safety and car parking had fallen on deaf ears.

Motorists currently park hard up against the buildings on Hutt Rd because there is no alternative. After the cycleway is upgraded the car parks will shift to the road, reducing the spaces available from 171 to 82.

Jeff Gray BMW chief executive Hamish Jacob says Wellington City Council needs to pause and sort out a number of problems ...

Jeff Gray BMW chief executive Hamish Jacob says Wellington City Council needs to pause and sort out a number of problems with it proposed Hutt Rd cycleway, but it seems to have little interest in doing so.

Of those 73 will not be useable while the transit lane is operating between 7am and 9am.

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"It's not like there's a high-rise parking building for employees to use," Jacob said. "I can't envisage how that is going to work."

Cyclist would also be travelling a lot faster along the new path, which raised the potential for nasty collisions with cars and trucks using driveways, he said.

Jacob and other business owners had suggested "taking a breather" to seriously consider a new cycleway along the edge of Wellington Harbour instead, but the council was not interested, he said.

An Opus report found a seaside cycleway would be six-times more expensive and would not connect seamlessly to Kaiwharawhara Rd, which a lot of cyclists use.

Kaiwharawhara resident Shelly Slater, whose uses Hutt Rd to access her home on Sovereign Point, said she was worried about it becoming congested once it was reduced to a single lane.

"It's being done in such a quiet way ... I actually think the decision has already been made."

François Febvre​, who owns the Le Cloche Cafe on Hutt Rd, was concerned about losing business if he lost the car parks outside his shop.

He also believed the council could move the street lights, paint the cycleway better, and put up more signage for much less than $9m.

Hutt Rd was the next major cycleway the council tackled after the Island Bay cycleway, which was completed in March. 

That cycleway has plenty of admirers, but a lot of people feel its controversial kerbside design has ruined The Parade and made it unsafe for residents to use their driveways.

Island Bay Residents Association president Vicki Greco said locals felt frustrated the council had not listened to them during that process, and it appeared little had changed with Hutt Rd.

But Cycling Advocates' Network spokesman Patrick Morgan said the council had learned from Island Bay and was doing a better job of communicating its ideas to the public.

The fly-through video of Hutt Rd it produced helped people visualise the new design, he said.

The proposed new cycleway would be a lot safer than the existing one, which had very poor lines of sight, Morgan said.

Andy Foster, the council's transport and urban development committee chairman, said it was premature to suggest the council was not listening when it had not yet considered public submissions.

The council was open to changing its cycleway programme, but it was mindful of needing to move fast if it wanted central Government to fund two thirds of it, he said.


* Parking, trees, lighting poles and other utilities on the existing path will be removed.

* A 3m cycle path and 2m footpath will be built north of Ngaio Gorge, widening to a 4m cycle path between the Ngaio Gorge and Aotea Quay overbridge.

* Speed humps will be installed at the entrances to business premises to slow vehicles crossing the cycleway.

* A T2 transit lane will be introduced for peak travelling times. It will apply to southbound traffic during the morning rush, and to northbound traffic during the evening.

* Parking will be moved from the back of existing path to the road and time restrictions will be introduced.

* The bus stops on Hutt Rd and Kaiwharawhara Rd will be combined into one new stop south of Kaiwharawara Rd.

* Bus lanes will be installed at the Ngauranga Gorge intersection of Hutt Rd, Centennial Highway and Jarden Mile.

 - Stuff


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