Wellington is planning to embark on a 'tactical urbanism' project of significant scale that will radically change the city's cycleway network as we know it.
The city council wants to build 147km of safer and connected bike routes within the next decade.
The network today consists of just 23km of cycleways, making the plan a six-fold increase on what currently exists.
It brings to life the big $226m cycling spend councillors agreed on earlier this year when they set the council's 10-year budget.
The project will reallocate space for cyclists who have been squeezed out of the transport network to make way for cars.
It will look to address both climate change and safety concerns.
In 2020 there were 56 reported traffic crashes involving people on bikes, with 10 serious injuries and 46 minor injuries.
Meanwhile, a 2021 residents survey revealed only a quarter of participants agreed
cycling in the city was safe for them.
The council's Planning and Environment Committee will decide on whether to approve the draft bike network plan for consultation at a meeting today.
The proposal is made up of a primary network and a secondary network.
The primary network is about providing connections into the city. A key spine will connect Tawa, Newlands, Ngaio and Johnsonville.
Other suburbs like Karori, Aro Valley, Brooklyn, Island Bay, Hataitai, Kilbirnie, and Miramar will also be plugged in.
So it's not a question of which communities will benefit from the plan because there are actually very few areas currently connected by quality cycleways.
The secondary network is about building cycling infrastructure around town centres and schools.
The investment in these more localised neighbourhoods also recognises the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, like more people working from home.
This network also features a significant waterfront cycleway.
It encompasses the existing path around the inner harbour and its bays. It then extends to wrap around the entire Miramar Peninsula, Seatoun, Lyall Bay, Island Bay, and Owhiro Bay.
It means the Great Harbour Way Te Aranui o Pōneke can finally be realised as a 70km safe cycling route from Pencarrow, Eastbourne, right around Wellington Harbour, before finally ending at Wellington's south coast.
About 34.5km of the network will be built through the $6.4 billion Let's Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) transport plan. The remaining 90km will be built by the council.
While the aim is to build a 147km network within the next decade, most of it will be in place sooner rather than later.
This is where the idea of tactical urbanism comes in.
Tactical urbanism is founded on the principle of implementing temporary trial
interventions to test living, breathing versions of designs in real-time.
The council wants to roll out as much of the 147km cycleway network as possible over the next three years using a transitional programme.
Cycleways will be created with plastic post separators and changes to road markings using paint. They will have a pop-up feel to them.
They are faster to roll out than permanent grade-separated cycleways, which is the end goal.
The separators will take aesthetics into consideration, so it won't feel like there are constant roadworks. The transitional programme will have a cohesive feel to it across the city so people get used to it and understand what's going on.
Some connections will have less of a pop-up feel to them to make sure the routes are safe, like cycling signals at intersections.
The first routes to be rolled out in this way will be done so immediately while the overall network plan is still out for consultation.
One of them is between Newtown, where the hospital is, and the city via Adelaide Rd and Kent and Cambridge Terraces. The other is from the Botanic Garden ki Paekākā to the central city via Bowen St.
These two routes are among the largest commuter routes in the city.
They will act as a pilot of sorts for people to get a sense of what the transitional programme is all about and for the council to sort out its own processes, which will then be scaled up for other routes.
The entire network can't be rolled out in a transitional way, like if a hill needs to be cut into or a road needs to be built-out to accommodate the cycleway, but the mandate is for council officials to do as much as they can.
These pop-up cycleways will be a significant change in the way the council has traditionally consulted on proposals with the community.
Rather than getting stuck in what can be a state of consultation paralysis, the community will be engaged with through the real-time design of a cycleway.
This also helps to get more people involved in the consultation because they are physically experiencing a change and are more motivated to participate as a result.
The most recent example of this approach in Wellington was the 1.3km uphill trial bike lane on Brooklyn Rd.
The temporary cycleway was installed for one month and seven changes were made to the design while the trial was in place to test different ways of doing things.
For the duration of the trial a public survey received 768 responses.
The survey found 59 per cent of people had a positive experience on the trial layout, while 64 per cent thought it made travelling between the city and Brooklyn safer for all users.
Going from 23km of cycleways to 147km as quickly as possible is a radical change.
But it's the type of change that's been talked about for many years, just without much action. Most notably it's a solution to help address climate change.
In 2019 the council declared a climate emergency. Te Atakura – First to Zero was adopted, which is blueprint to make Wellington City a zero carbon capital by 2050.
Road transport emissions currently represent a third of Wellington city's emissions.
The spatial plan, outlining how the city will accommodate a growing population of between 50,000 and 80,000 more people over the next 30 years, has been consulted on and signed off.
Having connected cycleways will be critical for those people to get around without congesting the city's roads further.
Meanwhile the Wellington Regional Land Transport Plan includes a target to increase public and active transport mode share by 40 per cent by 2030.
These are all ambitious undertakings.
The cycleway network is only as radical as it needs to be if the council wants to walk the talk.