Wellington city councilors have decided on an interim solution for the controversial Island Bay cycle path after a grueling and, at times, confusing meeting.
The decision was made with strong emotions, with one councilor claiming the bike path was the biggest mistake of his career as a councilor.
The road will be redone and repainted with curbs between parked cars and the bike path. The cycle path will also cross the city center, which means that some parking lots will be changed from an angle to a parallel.
The decision comes five years after the bike path was originally built and reverses a previous decision made in 2017 on how to fix it.
The 1.7 km bike path has been the subject of legal proceedings and safety concerns. It is currently located between the sidewalk and parked cars, with the road on the other side.
The council’s planning and environment committee narrowly agreed on a short-term solution for the bike path today, proposed in an amendment by Presidential Councilor Iona Pannett.
He was narrowly adopted with Pannett’s casting vote. The option goes further than what city officials initially proposed as an interim solution as it also puts the cycle path through the city center.
Mayor Andy Foster, Ngāti Toa Rangatira Representative Liz Kelly, and Councilors Diane Calvert, Fleur Fitzsimons, Sean Rush, Simon Woolf, Nicola Young voted against.
Councilors Pannett, Jenny Condie, Jill Day, Sarah Free, Rebecca Matthews, Teri O’Neill and Tamatha Paul voted in favor.
The decision costs between $ 2.5 million and $ 4.4 million and will result in the loss of up to 101 residential parking lots and 15 downtown parking lots.
A short-term fix was offered after Let’s Get Wellington Moving revealed that all four rapid transit options will go to Island Bay and directly to The Parade.
This means that the road will be torn again to accommodate winding buses or light trains.
Pannett said a cheaper short-term fix was the right thing to do at this point rather than spending $ 14 million on a permanent fix.
“I was not prepared to put up with investing millions of dollars and then having to dig them up.”
But she said the most critical issue from a cycling perspective was installing the cycle path through the city center so that cyclists were not “run over”.
“You can’t have gaps in a network, the point is, if you’re going to have children, vulnerable people, and less confident cyclists, they need a cycle path.”
Pannett said she wanted to move on and get some quick wins until more clarity was provided by the multi-billion dollar Let’s Get Wellington Moving plan.
She admitted that the cycle path was a source of division.
“I’m so sorry for that and there are things we could have done better.”
The amendment also included a proposal that any parking limited in lost time will be moved to the next closest parking lots available for businesses and community amenities.
Mayor Andy Foster said the cycle path has occupied a disproportionate amount of time, resources and emotional baggage.
“Whatever we do today there will be people who are upset, that’s the harsh reality. We just have to try to make the best of the situation.”
The mayor’s compromise
Fitzsimons failed to get an amendment for the board to implement a solution agreed to by the board in 2017.
This was called “the mayor’s compromise”.
“I feel like I’ve aged more than usual since 2017 and this bike path is a part of that,” Fitzsimons said.
Fitzsimons said he would put parking back on the sidewalk, include raised buffers, better visibility at intersections, create a wider road for traffic, elevated crossings and reduced speeds, and lower parking losses. than the other options.
She was confident it could be delivered within the $ 14 million budget.
“By deciding against a decision already agreed upon, we will give rise to a whole new grievance.”
Fitzsimons urged advisers to consider whether it was worth it.
“I will not be able to defend another decision because it is not in line with the board’s already agreed position.”
But it got enough support that a local parking policy plan was implemented.
Restore the Parade to what it was
Rush failed to gain support for his amendment to restore The Parade to its original configuration, adding the northern extension of the cycle path to Dee St.
This would include security enhancements at the discretion of the board’s chief executive and up to a maximum cost of $ 3 million.
Rush said it would act as a temporary measure pending decisions on Let’s Get Wellington Moving.
“It’s an opportunity to really respond to the community.”
The bike path was divisive because people didn’t want it, Rush said.
The amendment was seconded by Councilor Simon Woolf who told his colleagues he was the reason they were all in the room today.
Woolf was the deciding vote that rocked the decision to go ahead with the original design of the Island Bay cycle path before it was built.
“It was the biggest mistake I have ever made in my career as a consultant and it weighs on me.”
He said rehabilitating the bike path with some safety improvements was reasonable until there was more clarity on Let’s Get Wellington Moving.
“It’s pragmatic, it learns from our mistakes, and it should be fiscally prudent.”