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Temporary street changes to be considered

Wellington City Councillors will tomorrow (7 May) consider a wide range of temporary street changes that could potentially be rolled out around the city over coming months subject to Government funding assistance.

Councillors will discuss the possibilities and decide which ones to put forward for consideration under Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s recently announced Innovating Streets Fund. Applications for the first funding round close this Friday.

Some of the possibilities the Councillors will consider are COVID-19-related responses.

These would see traffic lanes or parking spaces temporarily repurposed to provide more space for walking and biking while safe-distancing requirements are in place.

Projects submitted under this category will be considered immediately so they could be rolled out more quickly. It is envisaged most of the footpath extensions and pop-up bike lanes would be removed when they are no longer needed, but having them in place for a short while would help in the development of future more permanent changes.

These possible projects include temporary:

• footpath extension in Stout Street to provide more space for people coming from the Railway Station

• bike lane on Featherston Street

• uphill bike lane on Brooklyn Hill

• bus lane and protected bike lane on Victoria Street

• shared path on the Miramar Peninsula between Shelly Bay and Scorching Bay (one-way only for traffic (Shelly Bay to Scorching Bay) with the lane next to the sea used by people on foot and bikes)

• bike lane on Onepu Road connecting Leonie Gill Pathway and Kilbirnie Town Centre

• bike lane on Evans Bay Parade between Greta Point and Cobham Drive.

Councillors will also consider some other projects that could qualify for trial funding. These are temporary street changes that could be further developed with local businesses and residients and made permanent following an initial trial. They include:

• changes to make the intersection of Abel Smith and Cuba streets safer and easier for pedestrians

• central city pop-up park / public spaces

• central city parking spaces for e-scooters

• a trial bike route via Wilson Street in Newtown.

The projects, estimated to cost about $2 million, have been selected due to their benefits and ability to deliver, from a longer list that included suggestions from the community, Councillors, Council staff, Greater Wellington, interest groups and the public.

All were assessed against a range of criteria including whether they can aid social distancing, encourage walking or biking, are worth trialling, and how well they align with the city’s long-term goals.

Mayor Andy Foster says the Council is committed to reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, and with Let’s Get Wellington Moving partners NZTA and Greater Wellington, is intent on developing a transport system that moves more people with fewer vehicles.

“The situation the world finds itself in at the moment, while deeply unfortunate, has never-the-less provided a rare opportunity to experience and enjoy our streets with more people out walking and cycling in their neighborhoods and little traffic. It has also created a need to use some of our road space in different ways so people returning to the city under lower alert levels can get about safely no matter which form of transport they choose to use.

“Like other cities, we have an opportunity to trial some things that would be more challenging to do in busier times. We are also hearing from many in the community who are very keen to see this happen.

“Our task this week is to confirm we want to apply for this Government funding, decide what we will put forward, and potentially consider other ways we might be able to do some of these things.”

The Innovating Streets Fund will meet 90 percent of the cost of any projects approved.

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