Island Bay- The art of compromiseDiane Calvert
For various reasons, the Island Bay cycleway on The Parade has been fraught since its inception. If you drive down The Parade you can see why. For me it seemed a Champagne idea developed on a beer budget. The local people said to Wellington City Council that they hadn’t listened to the local community well enough. An independent review in 2016 confirmed this. So later in 2016 and through 2017, the Council worked to rectify the cycleway design. Community workshops were held, ideas sought and the Council’s professional advisors developed up 4 new options.
In the past, The Mayor and Councillors had been accused of interfering with officer developed options, so we kept well away this time other than saying we wanted a small number of pragmatic options.
We did however oversee the consultation checking in with community groups on the approach beforehand. Council wrote to 5500 households in Island Bay and adjacent suburbs and advertised the consultation widely. A pop-up shop in Island Bay was set up to display information about the council’s options and councillors attended at various times to discuss issues one-on-one. From time to time conversations became agitated. We certainly understood the depth of feeling within the community across a range of views. The Island Bay Residents & Business Associations (IBRA) put forward an alternative view which they called Option E.
We received over 3700 submissions with 53% from Island Bay and a further 14% from neighbouring suburbs. Many submitters didn’t just select an option. They also gave us feedback on what elements they liked or didn’t like. This was extremely helpful in understanding the drivers behind various choices and considering alternatives. We had said up front that it never just a popularity vote and we wanted to consider future use as well as being able to accommodate a broader range of cyclists.
Approximately 60% of submitters from Island Bay wanted a roadside option while 40% wanted kerbside. A compromise was inevitable.
We had both the consultation and the analysis of the submission independently reviewed to assure us we can rely on the findings.
We invited IBRA to come in and discuss their original eight point Option E so we could understand it better. They further defined their proposal into 34 points. While officers were analysing the submissions and preparing their own recommendations, the Mayor led independent discussions on a possible compromise solution. The solution would involve kerbside, safety was a key factor, the road would be widened, bus stops sorted and car parks would be retained. Last week, we thought we were close to a deal. 31 out of the 34 points were either met or close to being met. What remains IBRA’s concerns? Its seems the compromise is off the table as they believe the outcome of the submissions does not support a compromise. They now want everything put back the way it was except for a small widening of the existing footpath allowing under 12yr olds and accompanying adults to ride on the footpath. They were also not convinced their safety concerns were being addressed.
We have listened to all parts of the local community and are deeply appreciative for their considered feedback and taking their time to engage with us once again. We have also listened to other road users and our professional advisors.
Before this latest consultation, I was leaning towards putting it back. However after listening to all perspectives and the possibilities that the width of The Parade allows, I fully support the Mayor’s compromise solution – all 31 points.
The road and cycleway is not fit for purpose. We can do better and we should for a broader range of the community. I asked myself if I lived on a street like The Parade would I settle for this compromise, and yes I would.
The local community and the wider city want to move on. We know we won’t be able to please everyone and we have made our decision after extensive engagement and in the best interests of both the community and the city. That’s what we have been elected to do.
When the original cycleway was put in, the Council resolution was passed by just one vote. This time it was passed with 13 out of 14 votes. The Mayor and Councillors are united in getting the best solution for as many people as possible.
I hope all parts of the Island Bay community will continue to work with us to refine the solution through to detailed design and finally get that high quality footpath, cycleway and road on The Parade that’s long overdue.