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Overwhelming support for Wellington-Hutt walking and cycling facility

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The Wellington region is one step closer to a preferred option being identified for an improved walking and cycling facility to link the Hutt Valley with Wellington City.

The NZ Transport Agency, together with Hutt City Council, Wellington City Council, KiwiRail and Greater Wellington Regional Council, last year asked the public for their views on a new walking and cycling link between Ngauranga and Petone. This included a roadside option or a seaside option for the section of State Highway 2 between the Petone Overhead Bridge and the Ngauranga Interchange.

The project aims to deliver a safe, efficient and  dedicated route for cyclists and pedestrians, closing the current “gap” in the existing cycleway along SH2. This will encourage more people to safely walk, run or cycle between the Hutt Valley and Wellington, particularly during peak travelling hours.

The project has focused on improvements to SH2 between Petone and Ngauranga Interchanges as well as connections through to the Wellington CBD and the Melling Interchange to create a safe, continuous journey for pedestrians and cyclists.

Nearly 800 submissions were received, and only three opposed investment in such a facility, according to a consultation report released today.

Transport Agency Central regional director Raewyn Bleakley says a new walking and cycling link would play a vital role in improving how people travel around the Wellington region and making Wellington City and Hutt Valley more accessible. It will be considered in the wider context of other projects that will improve regional access, such as the Petone to Grenada Link Road.

“We have established that there is really strong support for a robust and dedicated walking and cycling link, and we will now further refine the options before making a final decision.

“As a region,. we’re making real progress making it easier, safer and more convenient for people to get around. One of the key pieces of the puzzle is connecting the Hutt Valley and Wellington with a walking and cycling link that our smart, modern Capital can be proud of. This would not only make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians, but it would also help to ease pressure on the roads by making cycling more attractive.”

The project partners will now seek to finalise a detailed business case for the Walking and Cycling Link, including agreeing on a preferred option. Potential funding arrangements for either option will also be a key consideration for all partners.

Fran Wilde, Chair of Greater Wellington Regional Council, says a safe, resilient walking and cycleway on this crucial corridor needs to get under way as soon as possible.

“We know that many more cyclists would use this road if it was a safe, high quality cycleway. The more we can do to encourage regular commuters to leave their cars at home and use other transport options, the better the whole transport system will operate at peak times. This facility would also be a great boost for recreational cyclists.”

Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace says, Strong and safe transport connections are really important for our residents. With 17,800 of our residents working outside our city, we want to ensure excellent transport links and it’s important these include cycling and walking. Earlier this year our Council decided to increase its investment in our city’s cycling and walking infrastructure because we see the value in this active transport, and we welcome this investment at a regional level.”

Mayor of Wellington Celia Wade-Brown says,“It’s great to see that Wellingtonians are so enthusiastic about this essential  component of our regional cycling network. The Wellington to Hutt Valley walking and cycling link provides great opportunities for serious commuting, wonderful ultra-distance events and trail tourism linking through to the Wairarapa.

“A seaward path along our beautiful harbour, if selected, will attract commuters and tourists, both on foot and by bike.”

The project is ranked number 5 in the Regional Land Transport Plan, as the Wellington to Hutt Valley Cycleway / Walkway / Resilience project.  

What did people say?

The consultation report summarises feedback from key stakeholders, landowners, interested user groups and the general public.

Ms Bleakley says the feedback offered valuable insights that have helped the project team to better understand the existing walking and cycling issues in the project area.

Submissions showed significant support for improving the walking and cycling link with 778 responses received, only three of which opposed any investment. Feedback indicated more people will choose to cycle when a new facility is available.

The feedback demonstrated significant support for a seaside walking and cycling option because this option has the potential to provide wider benefits to the region for tourism, recreation and health, and to enable future proofing for rail improvements if desired.

Feedback highlighted this option’s potential to mitigate the impact of major events, like an earthquake or storm on the transport network. It would also be a consistent width and people viewed it as safer and more pleasant. 

Those who expressed support for a roadside option did so because of its affordability, and because it could be built sooner.  However, some raised its proximity to highway traffic and its inconsistent width as key issues.

Some submissions also discussed the potential to use the surplus spoil from the Petone to Grenada Link Road earthworks as one way to reduce the cost of a seaside option if that option is preferred by the project partners.

The full consultation report can be viewed at www.nzta.govt.nz/w2hvlink(external link) 

Key facts

  • Cost (early estimates, subject to change): Roadside option - $16-22m, seaside option (excluding Petone to Grenada spoil) - $47-61m
  • The majority of responses came from eager/confident cyclists (368 or 57% of 643)
  • Responses were mostly from men (471 or 74% of 635)
  • Biggest age groups were the 36-45 and 46-55 (204 and 168 of 637 respectively).  Age range of responders went from 18 to 66+ (NB 37 responders were from the 66+ age group.
  • The people who provided feedback were largely those who already cycle all or part of the route (381 of 578) and 130 of 293 use the SH2 shoulders as opposed to the existing path

(Note: while we had approximately 800 responses, the above figures do not reflect this number as not all submitters answered all questions)

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