Council legitimises cyclists flouting traffic laws on Wellington's lower Cuba St

Cyclists regularly flout the one-way rule on lower Cuba St but Wellington City Council has voted to make it legal by ...
MAARTEN HOLL/STUFF

Cyclists regularly flout the one-way rule on lower Cuba St but Wellington City Council has voted to make it legal by creating a contraflow shared space.

Cyclists riding both ways on lower Cuba St have been flouting city traffic laws.

But now Wellington City Council has stepped in to legitimise the "common practice" – despite the route being a path to nowhere.

A meeting of the council's city strategy committee on Thursday voted to allow people on bikes to enter lower Cuba St from Wakefield St to travel against the traffic in the shared zone.

Councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman, who holds the transport strategy and operations portfolio, said lower Cuba St and Bunny ...
ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF

Councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman, who holds the transport strategy and operations portfolio, said lower Cuba St and Bunny St had low traffic numbers and speeds, so were safe for shared spaces.

Public feedback showed 54 people were in favour of the proposal, while 19 were against the plan to modify the current one-way restriction.

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However, as some councillors and many of the submitters pointed out, cyclists would now be riding up Cuba St on to a two-way bus-only road on Manners St and a pedestrian-only area on Cuba St, which meant they would have to dismount from their bikes.

Councillor Diane Calvert said she had concerns about the process and engagement with stakeholders.
KEVIN STENT/STUFF

Councillor Diane Calvert said she had concerns about the process and engagement with stakeholders.

Councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman, who holds the transport strategy and operations portfolio, said many cyclists already cycled both ways on lower Cuba St, so the new plan was legitimising the practice.

The area had low traffic numbers and speeds, so was safe for cyclists, he said.

Councillor Diane Calvert, who was supported by deputy mayor Paul Eagle, said she had concerns about the process and proposals, which had been lumped in with traffic resolutions.

She said  there was a lot of talk about cyclists but not pedestrians or motorists, and she believed there should have been more engagement with stakeholders.

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"We don't have a [good] track record of implementing cycleways. Let's do this right, otherwise it may come back to bite us on the proverbial."

She wanted to defer a decision for three months, so there could be more consultation.

However, her suggestion was shot down by the other councillors, who wanted to "get on with it".

Calvi-Freeman said the council should have courage and faith to move on with the work.

Public transport, cycling and walking portfolio leader Sarah Free said the council should trust the people who gave the council professional advice. "If we don't do anything, we won't get anywhere."

The councillors also voted to create a shared zone for Bunny St, and gave the green light to 25 other traffic resolutions.

Bunny St, between Lambton Quay and Featherston St, will become a shared zone for pedestrians, cyclists and motorised vehicles.

Currently, only a small number of vehicles (Victoria University of Wellington business-related vehicles, buses, cyclists and taxis) are allowed to enter the street from Featherston St and no traffic is allowed to enter from the Lambton Quay end.

People on bikes will now be permitted to enter Bunny St from Lambton Quay and Molesworth St.

Meanwhile, councillors also agreed to consult on expansion plans for the Kiwi Point Quarry in Ngauranga Gorge.

Consultation will take place to get feedback on the options being considered for a District Plan change, and how the visual and environmental effects can be mitigated during and after quarrying.

 - Stuff

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