If, as one city councillor said this week, any decision
involving road changes will upset some people, then inserting
a large network of new cycleways on top of existing streets
must be up there as a challenge for a city.
But, Debbie Porteous asks, should the plans for
streets such as Victoria Rd in St Clair have come as such a
surprise to those living there? Has the consultation process
been as good as it can be?
After years of hearing from cyclists demanding improved
cycleways, the Dunedin City Council in 2011 approved a
''strategic cycle network'' for the city.
Now the network is being built, the council is hearing from a
different group of people - those affected by the work being
The concerns of residents who live where cycleways are
scheduled can be summed up by those in Victoria Rd, whose
voices have been heard loudly this week and last.
The concerns primarily centre on safety, particularly that
people in cars will hit cyclists while crossing the lanes to
access and exit homes and businesses.
The other common concern is about the level and process of
Victoria Rd is just one of many in South Dunedin that are
about to have significant changes made to them to accommodate
There, the council is proposing removing 38 parks in a spot
where there is already a daily parking tussle between
residents and people wanting to visit the nearby beach,
playground, cafes and shops.
More businesses and apartments are also planned for the area.
People there appeared to get a shock when they received a
letter from the council last week outlining the proposal.
But did it really come out of the blue?
Plans to put cycleway routes, including along the length of
Victoria Rd, were first signalled in 2011.
After further refining the plan for the South Dunedin part of
the network, which then showed the route in St Clair
travelling over the sand dunes, there was city-wide
consultation in 2013.
More than 160 submissions were made during the eight-week
Affected parties on the cycleway routes in the first of four
route ''packages'' for South Dunedin were consulted at the
same time via a letter drop, seeking feedback over the next
two weeks, drop-in sessions and subsequent meetings with
individuals and groups.
Staff described the latter work as a ''lengthy, intensive and
collaborative consultation'' in a subsequent report to
councillors, which outlined the submissions received, issues
identified, staff responses to concerns, and sought
councillor approval for resulting recommended changes to
Similar ''affected party consultation'' has been completed on
the second and third route packages, which involve cycleways
on Richardson St, Musselburgh Rise and Silverton St among
others, and a report is being prepared for councillors to
consider on June 3.
At that point, councillors will be asked to sign off the
various changes recommended for routes.
The results of the current consultation on the fourth route
package - involving a change back to a cycleway on Victoria
Rd - will be reported to councillors for decisions in due
Council manager of transportation planning Sarah Connolly
said the fact the route had changed from the dune pathway
outlined previously was not too surprising given detailed
plans could only be made for each route when staff progressed
through the plan.
She said the way the council had chosen to consult was felt
to be most appropriate after considering the level of impact
of the proposal - including how many people were likely to be
directly or indirectly affected - and given the time staff
had to deliver the project.
In this case, that was essentially within three years.
Within that time constraint, there were also funding and
staff resourcing considerations, which ruled out broader or
longer consultation on each part of the network as it
''Having said that, if other people are interested or feel
they will be impacted, they can also make a submission which
will be considered. Responses from people who are not
directly affected will still be considered.''
It was always a difficult task making roading changes, and it
was impossible to keep everyone happy, she said.
The fact you cannot please all of the people all of the time
was also noted by Wellington city councillors last week as
they gave the go-ahead for a multimillion-dollar Island Bay
cycleway revamp, despite impassioned pleas from Island Bay
residents, who presented a 447-signature petition complaining
about the consultation process and asking for work to be
halted because of concerns similar to those of South Dunedin
Cr Iona Pannett was reported in The Dominion Post as saying
consultation should not continue endlessly, and hard
decisions had to be made.
''At some point, we have to vote for something. I want to get
on with it, now.''
However, the council's engagement with residents had to be
improved, and the method of just one pamphlet in each
letterbox was not adequate to keep people informed and
consulted, she said.
Ms Connolly believed the DCC was certainly more engaged than
Staff had spent many hours doing letter drops to hundreds of
households, talking to hundreds of people, answering
questions, providing feedback, taking comments and reporting
back to the council.
So, back to Victoria Rd.
Some local residents appear to prefer the dune route, but
that seems unlikely to go ahead, given council staff's
already stated reasons, the estimated $13 million cost of a
buried backstop wall needed to shore up the dunes - that work
is not programmed to start for about another 10 years - and
the council's commitment not to start any capital expenditure
That leaves the shared path as a serious option.
Some say a proposal to remove 38 car parks should be
something the council consults more widely on and for longer.
Asked about that, Ms Connolly said broader consultation was
important when a change affected more people more widely,
although it was not always easy to assess whether that was
the case. In this case, staff did not consider this a
significant change as it was primarily those who lived or
worked in the area who would be affected.
Creation of a safe and convenient city-wide cycleway network
connecting residential areas with the city centre, local
centres, schools and recreational centres.
What is happening
The South Dunedin cycle network.
The Portobello-Harington Point Rd shared path and cycleways.
The West Harbour shared path.
The central city and Northeast Valley cycle network (joint
package including the SH1 cycleway proposal). The Dunedin
tunnels trail to Mosgiel.
Hill suburbs cycle network.
Town Belt cycle network.
Mosgiel cycle network.