Wellington City Council pushes ahead with cycleway plans

Source: Radio New Zealand

More Wellington people are contemplating the likelihood a cycleway will soon be running past their home or business.

Wellington City Council is floating the idea of new bike lanes.

By Kirsty Frame of rnz.co.nz

While a court case has stalled work on the major Newtown-to-city cycle lane, the city council is pushing ahead with other parts of its plan for city-wide network of bike lanes.

Among them, a route along Aro Valley and Raroa Road, and another past the Botanic Gardens on Tinakori Road to the waterfront.

Aro Street is a narrow road nestled at the bottom of Aro Valley - dotted with cafes, a brewery and one of the country's last remaining video stores.

On any given day it's busy - on foot, on bike, or behind the wheel.

The Council is floating the idea of a cycleway along Aro Street and up the windy Raroa Road to Karori.

The proposal is still in its early days - the council has started letting businesses and residents know about the plan and getting initial feedback.

Some businesses were embracing the idea, like Tom Hutchinson from the Aro St Video Shop.

"I'm all in favour of getting more customers onto bikes, we already have customers on bikes and I think if there was bike parking closer to my store there would be more opportunity for people to pull over and stop," Hutchinson said.

Meanwhile, a more fleshed out proposal for a bike lane from the Botanic Gardens, past the Beehive and down to the waterfront has been worrying some residents and businesses.

The lane would be a trial, but it would take out some residential and short to medium term carparks along Tinakori Road.

Local resident David Middleton said there was a risk the short-term trial could have long-term effects.

"There are some things that you can't restore," he said.

"If you come back in 12 months in time and find the dairy's boarded up and the village is full of for-lease signs in the windows - you can't go back and say 'oh we need to do something'."

Both the Aro Valley and the Tinakori Road cycleways would benefit Debbie Bidlake who lives in Karori and cycles to work either through Aro Valley or past the Botanic Gardens.

She said almost every week she had a close call with a car.

"It's a bit like the Hunger Games at the moment, [laughs] if you've watched that, it's really scary," Bidlake said.

"There are key points where you've just got to have eyes in the back of your head. It does make you feel very vulnerable."

She said more people would start cycling if the city was safer to ride in.

Consultation on the Botanic Garden cycleway closes on Tuesday.

No dates have been set for the Aro Valley network, and planning is still under way.