16 Apr 2016

Wgtn councillors pushed to make stand on cycleways

6:18 pm on 16 April 2016

An independent review of the capital's cycleway plans will push councillors to make a stand on support for cycling, Wellington's transport chair says.

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Photo: 123rf.com

The council's cycleway plans were unanimously adopted last June, and now the Transport Agency said it would review the city's cycling framework to make sure it could be delivered by June 2018.

The government is contributing about $37 million to the city's cycleway plans, and earlier this week the Minister of Transport Simon Bridges said he was committed to seeing cycling in the capital.

But the Island Bay route, which was not yet complete, has been the focus of intense public debate.

The Island Bay Residents Association said the new layout was dangerous and there were visibility issues because the cycleway runs between the footpath and the parked cars

The city's transport chair, Andy Foster, said it was clear central government was concerned about the council's ability to stick to the timeframe of the plan.

"They're concerned about the ability to deliver the programme in the agreed timeframes that have been set.

"The biggest risk that they see is the political risks around the council table - it's that simple.

"If Wellington can't deliver those results, that money will go somewhere else," he said.

A lot of that debate has been fostered by councillors seeking re-election this year.

"It's a very helpful shot across the bows of the council," he said.

"We've got a number of councillors who've said 'I support cycling, but not here, not there, and not that way', and in fact not any way that's likely to be delivered within three years.

"It does send the message to those councillors, hopefully, that they either say they do support cycling and get on with it, or they don't. And if they don't, they should just be honest about it."

Mr Foster said the review was expected to take about a month to complete.

Councillor and mayoral candidate Jo Coughlan said the review was a result of a meeting she had with Transport Minister Simon Bridges on 12 April.

However, Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said she had met with the Transport Agency on 8 April and 11 April to discuss a possible review.

Mrs Coughlan said she thought going to see the Minister was a good thing to do.

"It gave us clarity and we understand that there is an opportunity that we can use to look at better options for cycleways".

She said she would welcome the outcome of the review.

Transport Agency central regional director Raewyn Bleakley said Wellington had one of the more challenging programmes because of the impacts its development had on road space allocation.

"The review would give all parties greater confidence on a way forward as the city council continues to progress with its programme and deliver the greatest benefits for Wellington as it transforms the city's transport network".

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