25 Jun 2015

Wellington cycleway splits community, council

11:35 am on 25 June 2015

Plans for a cycleway in a coastal suburb of Wellington have split both the local community and the city council.

bike sign

Photo: 123RF

The controversy has overshadowed the city council's $58 million plan to build 150km of cycleways across the city over the next decade, passed at yesterday's meeting in a unanimous vote.

Despite fierce opposition, work on the $1.7 million Island Bay cycleway was also given the go-ahead by councillors in an eight to six vote.

Island Bay residents Fiona Cockerill-Ghanem and Jane Byrne have fought the cycleway at every step.

They said it would be unsafe as it would be built directly behind people's driveways.

"People whizz down the main road and probably go more than 50km/h," said Mrs Cockerill-Ghanem.

The pair organised a petition against the route and collected almost 500 signatures, but at a cost.

"We have had bullying - my kid's picture was posted on a social media account in a derogatory manner," said Mrs Cockerill-Ghanem.

"It's such a shame that the council's cycle policy is kicking off to such a controversial and negative start," said Mrs Byrne.

They said the council did not give people enough time to make submissions, and when issues were raised, they were ignored.

A complaint about the process has been laid with the Ombudsman.

Wellington deputy mayor Justin Lester said the community was divided down the middle.

He voted for the cycleway, and said children biking to school and people playing sport at the local park would be able to use the route.

Tessa Coppard lives in Island Bay, and also pushed for the cycleway.

"The reason I got involved in the first place was at the request of my three children... I think they really do see the need for it," she said.

But councillor Nicola Young, one of the six who voted against, said the nickname 'The Cycleway to Nowhere' was coined for a reason.

"The route doesn't go into the city... I think we should be focusing on the city, which is the most dangerous area to cycle," she said.

She said debates had turned political.

"[Council staff] probably didn't put quite as much effort into consultation as they should have done, and then the blood began to flow," she said.

"There is some personal tension between specific councillors that will probably never be eased - at the last council meeting it became quite nasty."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs