Posted by: Gregory | April 27, 2015

WCC Cycling Framework

The upcoming WCC full council meeting has one major agenda point, the Wellington Cycling Framework. It’s a big issue and likely going to be a long meeting anyway. In the lead-up to this point, we’ve seen council unanimously increase the cycling budget to $4.3/year and the central government allocate the $100 million Urban Cycleways Fund. At the same time, we’ve seen councillors collude and stifle progress on the Island Bay cycleway. As it stands, it’s not going to be an easy vote, despite the consultation on the long term plan saying the cycleways are a high priority and cyclists voting with their bodies, even on poor infrastructure.

The framework described in the report looks to reverse some of the additional overheads of having full council voting on cycleway projects.

WCF Streamlining

This looks like a shot across the bow of the councillors who’ve sided against the Island Bay Cycleway. By failing to streamline the process by adopting the framework, councillors would be making the delivery of the network less efficient, wasting resources and invested money. This should be good news to those of us who actually want to see some work getting done instead of further political point-scoring.

In order to achieve some of this streamlining, the delivery model is being changed to reflect the successful model used for the construction of the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.

WCF Delivery Model

The biggest criticism of the Island Bay cycleway has been the consultation process. The framework looks to expand the consultation process appropriately and make use of the successful tools developed for the long term plan consultation.

WCF Engagement

The supporting information is where the bulk of the really interesting stuff happens. I could excerpt page after page, but copying images from a re-scanned document would be nearly unreadable. I suggest skimming through the original instead, especially the areas around principles and thresholds.

The thresholds listed are largely pretty sensible. Any contradiction between a proposal and an existing strategy or bylaw needs to go through full council approval. Changes to levels of service of other modes of transport also need council approval. This may cause a bit of grief when it’s sensible to implement a road diet in order to obtain adequate space for a cycle lane. I can imagine the political machine having to fight for support of those measures. Changes impacting either parking or lane counts for motorists are quickly dismissed as a war on cars instead of considered on actual merit.

Although the list of triggers is long and will require many decisions being made at full council, there is still hope that all of this work won’t get bogged down by politicians.

WCF Thresholds

While all of this is encouraging, there’s still the question of the framework being adopted. The meeting takes place 30 April, 2015, available for streaming on YouTube.

Posted by: Gregory | April 27, 2015

Snapper Sprat failures

Snapper SpratIt took a while for this issue to register even though I’d been watching it happen personally. My partner was having issues topping up her Snapper Sprat from her phone. I had no issues topping it up, so she’d give it to me after having failed a few times. I assumed that it had something to do with her phone and left it at that. She eventually sent in a complaint, which basically starts this story.

It appears that topping up a Snapper from a mobile phone works in stages. Having read a balance from the Snapper card, the user can top-up the balance or add a bus pass. Payment is made via credit card and does not require the Snapper to still be in contact with the phone. The user will be prompted when the mobile app needs to communicate with the Snapper card. In the case of my partner, there would be a communication failure while writing the new balance to the Snapper and the credit card transaction would be reversed. Except that reversal wasn’t consistently happening. She’s currently waiting for a result from the Snapper’s financial people.

When she mentioned the reply she’d received, I started getting curious. This is what got me:

So that you are aware, your top up seems to have failed because the Snapper Sprats are not compatible with the Snapper Mobile application as these were made before the Snapper Mobile application was available. Hence, the Snapper Sprats have a higher rate of failure as far as top ups are concerned. This is why you were receiving the error message. We must recommend against using Snapper Mobile to top up your Sprat in future as the Snapper Mobile application is only compatible with Snapper ‘+’ cards as stated on our website (these have a ‘+’ in the top right hand corner on the front of the card). If you would like to exchange your Snapper Sprat for a Snapper Mobile compatible card, you were welcome to do so free of charge at one of our Service Centres. Please be aware however that, if you choose to have your card exchanged, the Snapper Sprat does cost more than the replacement card due to a difference in durability.


I wasn’t aware that the mobile app wasn’t compatible with the Snapper Sprat. I’d never heard of such an issue, so I started looking through documentation. The reply to my partner implied that this is common knowledge and well-documented.

Here’s a screenshot of the app. The note at the bottom isn’t overly clear as to which older Snappers might not be supported. I doubt many passengers would be aware of the relative age of the different types of Snapper devices.

There had been a shift between versions of Snapper cards when NFC started rolling out in mobile phones. The change was well-publicised and there was a free (I think it was free) exchange between card versions. Earlier cards were incompatible and unreadable by mobile phones, newer cards were fine. Since I’ve been using a Sprat with NFC for a few years, I was pretty sure this wasn’t the issue.

Checking on Snapper’s web page for the Sprat, I didn’t see any restrictions there about not using it with the mobile app.

SnapperSpratDescriptionThe first indication that something might be device-specific is on the page for mobile top-ups. Even then, there’s no exclusion listed, just inclusion.


SnapperPlusLike I’d said above, my understanding of what “Snapper +” meant was “NFC capable”, including the Sprats. What Snapper means by “Snapper +” is the wallet-sized card, either in red or green.

My understanding as to what’s happening here is that there’s a communications sensitivity associated with the form factor. I know that if a Snapper reader on a bus is starting to fail, people with cards will get better connectivity than I will with my Sprat. Despite not knowing much about antennas, I’m aware that larger loops will connect better than smaller loops (theory here). If you were to look inside a Snapper card, you’d see the wire around the outside edge of the card. The surface coverage of the antenna is much bigger than a Sprat, so it connects better to the reader, or to a phone.

The end result of this is that I think Snapper is being slightly disingenuous with their documentation. The Sprat is more expensive than a Snapper Red. According to the Snapper Store, it’s currently double the price. Having cracked a couple Snapper Red cards over the years, I’m happy to pay for the durability of the Sprat. If the mobile app doesn’t support the Sprat, it should say so clearly and Snapper should be willing to refund the difference between form factors, given that the Sprat isn’t suitable for mobile top-ups.

There’s still an issue with the app that I’d mentioned above that needs to be reiterated. If there’s a connection failure between the app and the Sprat (or card, for that matter), the credit card transaction needs to be successfully reversed every time. My partner was owed a significant amount of money accrued over several months that had gone unnoticed because some, but not all, of the transactions weren’t properly handled. This is a serious bug for the app and needs to be fixed immediately.

Posted by: Gregory | April 23, 2015

Wellington ANZAC services

Metlink has published timetables for the weekend service, including the centenary parade tomorrow. It’s promising to cause all sorts of disruptions, so plan ahead and use your feet where possible.

ANZAC Parade

The parade will start at the Cenotaph and follow the Golden Mile as far as Wakefield Street before turning down Taranaki Street to Pukeahu National War Memorial. WCC hosts a PDF map for the event.

Metlink has a comprehensive list of changes to the bus network on the day. Road closures are in place from 11am until  3pm.

Due to the road closures it is expected that there will be significant delays to bus services across the Wellington City bus network due to heavy congestion. Therefore some bus routes will be operating a reduced schedule and some routes will be cancelled.

Reduced and cancelled services

Bus routes operating standard timetables from 11:00am -3:00pm:
Go Wellington:         7, 8, 14, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 29, 31, 43, 44, 47 (with possible delays)
Valley Flyer:             All Valley Flyer routes (with possible delays)
Mana / Newlands:   All Mana / Newlands routes (with possible delays)

Bus Routes Operating a Reduced Timetable from 11:00am-3:00pm:
Go Wellington:         1, 2, 3, 11, 17 (see Timetable Information below).
Valley Flyer:              Nil.
Mana / Newlands:    Nil.

Cancelled Bus Routes from 11:00am-3:00pm:
Go Wellington:         9, 10, 14 (Molesworth Street Shuttle only). 17 (Cancelled during Secondary Diversion – 12:15 and 13:00 only).
Valley Flyer:              Nil.
Mana / Newlands:    Nil.






Last Normal Timetabled Morning Service

Interim Start Times from Origin Stop

First Normal Timetabled Afternoon Service from Origin Stop


Island Bay

Wellington Railway Station


12:00pm   12:20pm 12:40pm   13:00pm 1:20pm     1:40pm   2:00pm     2:20pm


Wellington Railway Station

Island Bay


12:00pm   12:20pm 12:40pm   1:00pm   1:20pm     1:40pm

2:00pm     2:20pm 2:40pm




Wellington Railway Station


12:06pm   12:36pm 1:06pm     1:36pm   2:06pm


Wellington Railway Station



12:08pm   12:38pm 1:08pm     1:38pm   2:08pm



Karori Park

Lyall Bay


11:35am   11:55am 12:15pm   12:35pm 12:55pm   1:15pm

1:35pm     1:55pm 2:15pm


Lyall Bay

Karori Park


11:35am   11:55am 12:15pm   12:35pm 12:55pm   1:15pm

1:35pm     1:55pm 2:15pm



Aro Street

Wellington Railway Station




Wellington Railway Station

Aro Street





Newtown Park

Wellington Railway Station




Wellington Railway Station

Newtown Park






Wellington Railway Station


11:58am   12:28pm 12:58pm   1:28pm   1:58pm


Wellington Railway Station



12:00pm   12:30pm 1:00pm     1:30pm   2:00pm


   Route 14 Molesworth Street ShuttlesOnly– ALL Molesworth Street Shuttles are cancelled on this date.


Victoria University

Wellington Railway Station


11:45am   12:45pm 1:15pm     1:45pm

(12:15 Cancelled during Secondary Diversion)


Wellington Railway Station

Victoria University, Kelburn


12:05pm  1:05pm   1:35pm

(12:35pm Cancelled during Secondary Diversion)


Temporary Bus Stops

  • Customhouse Quay, Southbound – Shed 13, 37 Customhouse Quay
  • Customhouse Quay, Northbound – Deloitte House, 40 Customhouse Quay
  • Jervois Quay, Southbound – Frank Kitts Park
  • Jervois Quay, Northbound – Tony’s Tyre Service, 54 Jervois Quay
  • Wakefield Street, Northbound – The Lanes, 234/238 Wakefield Street
  • Cable Street, Southbound – Te Papa, Cable Street
  • Cambridge Terrace, Northbound – Hannah Playhouse, 12 Cambridge Terrace
  • Kent Terrace, Southbound – Wellington Motorcycles, 12 Kent Terrace

Metlink has also arranged for extra train capacity from 10:30am. It’s currently unclear if the extra capacity is in-bound only or includes out-bound capacity as well.


After-midnight buses won’t be running in the early hours of ANZAC Day, but there will be limited extra train service to get people to the Dawn Service. From Metlink:

Hutt Valley Line        Kapiti Line Johnsonville Line
Upper Hutt 3.00 am Waikanae 3.00 am Johnsonville 4.05 am
Wallaceville 3.02 am Paraparaumu 3.05 am Raroa 4.08 am
Trentham 3.05 am Paekakariki 3.13 am Khandallah 4.10 am
Heretaunga 3.07 am Pukerua Bay 3.23 am Boxhill 4.12 am
Silverstream 3.09 am Plimmerton 3.31 am Simla Crescent 4.13 am
Manor Park 3.12 am Mana 3.33 am Awarua Street 4.14 am
Pomare 3.14 am Paremata 3.35 am Ngaio 4.16 am
Taita 3.17 am Porirua 3.39 am Crofton Downs 4.18 am
Wingate 3.19 am Kenepuru 3.41 am Wellington 4.26 am
Naenae 3.21 am Linden 3.43 am
Epuni 3.23 am Tawa 3.45 am
Waterloo 3.25 am Redwood 3.46 am
Woburn 3.27 am Takapu Road 3.48 am
Ava 3.29 am Wellington  4.00 am 
Petone 3.33 am
Ngauranga 3.38 am
Wellington  3.45 am

There will also be free shuttle buses from Wellington Railway Station to Pukeahu National War Memorial Park between 3.45am and 1.30pm.
Shuttle buses will depart from ALL Lambton Interchange stops (A, B, C, V) until 6:00am and from bus stop V from 6:00am to 3:00pm.
Return shuttle buses will depart Pukeahu War Memorial Park outside 74 Cambridge Terrace between 6:00am and 1:30pm.

There will also be extra capacity on all train lines throughout the day.

Many of the nearby roads will be closed from Midnight until 2:00pm, which is also affecting a number of nearby bus stops. Be ready to use your feet if you want to get around.

Closed Bus Stops

Stop Number Stop Name
#6910 Taranaki Street at Courtenay Place
#6911 Taranaki Street at Vivian Street
#6913 Taranaki Street (near 217)
#6914 Massey University – Wallace Street
#6915 Wallace Street at Howard Street
#6917 Wallace Street at John Street (near 143)
#6918 John Street at Adelaide Road
#7910 Taranaki Street at Courtenay Place (near 72)
#7911 Taranaki Street at Vivian Street (Briscoes)
#7912 Taranaki Street at Abel Smith Street
#7913 Taranaki Street (near 274)
#7914 Massey University – Wallace Street (opposite)
#7915 Wallace Street at Howard Street (near 82)
#7916 Wallace Street at Carrington Street (near 112)
#7917 National Dance and Drama Centre – Stop A
#7918 John Street at Adelaide Road (near 11)

During large events, walking is often the best mode of transport. Plan to have decent walking shoes and use it as an opportunity to explore the area.

Rest of Weekend

Unsurprisingly, Sunday service will be normal Sunday service and with the day-in-lieu applying to ANZAC Day, Monday services will operate to the Sunday schedule as well.

Posted by: Gregory | April 22, 2015

Cenotaph photos

For this set of photos, I was out walking with my son. Having the buggy meant that moving around the plaza was a bit harder than at Pukeahu, so both the boy and the buggy are in view.


I’ve long been a fan of urban sculpture, especially when it integrates well into the environment. Even though the discs are small and subtle, I noticed a few people looking at the dedication plaque to learn more.


A major point of the redevelopment was to open up access to the Beehive. Instead of hiding behind a tree-covered hillside, a sweeping staircase invites people to explore. Anyone with accessibility needs will likely have to go through the gates and use the ramp. The platforms on the far side of the steps are completely inaccessible to wheel-dependent people.


The steps are accompanied by amphitheatre seats, probably quite excellent for people-watching and a possible substitute for playground equipment.


The benches are loosely clustered on the north end and slightly sparse around the steps. This offers the ability to sit alone or with larger groups. I saw this tweet from NZ Living Streets, which depicts a problem with the seats:

While I can sympathise with the issue, I think there’s value in having this cluster. It makes a natural starting point for larger groups that need to stick together, such as school kids and supervisors.


Additionally, there are a number of pedestrian corridors that have been kept clear. It’s hard to see from this angle, but the path directly along Lambton Quay is bench free and quite wide.


The biggest impediment to foot traffic heading between the Beehive and Lambton Quay is the Cenotaph itself. In my view, that’s not a problem, but an asset. I see it as gentle encouragement to interact with our urban monuments.

I think the plaza will be a great public space for the north end of the CBD, which is a precinct that often dies off outside of business hours. How people respond in varying weather remains to be seen, but there’s ample opportunity to sit in the sun when it’s out. We might even see a few buskers popping up in this end of town on the sunnier afternoons.

Posted by: Gregory | April 22, 2015

Biking for a better city.


One of the consistent points that we try to make on the Sustainable Wellington Transport blog is that we’re concerned with accessibility and mobility. There are two comments in this post that I’d like to expand on a bit.

“My bicycle serves a purpose. It helps me connect with people and place. I don’t love cycling, but I do love what it offers.”

We have a series of transport tools, starting with our feet and sometimes adding equipment that suits us. Not a single one is the right tool for every situation, but a good mixture of modal support can bring us to an optimum network of access and mobility.

In this frame of mind, the concept of cyclists being a Special Interest Group is farcical. We are all people trying to get places to do activities and accomplish tasks. Whether it be on foot, on bike, on transit or with a car, we are all equal. Of course, we are neither regarded nor funded equally. That’s where the problems start.

“Making cities fit for people is the top priority”

Originally posted on Wheeled Pedestrian Cycling:

Hey guys, wait up! Hey guys, wait up!

Riding a bicycle is as easy as walking. Well it can be.  In some enlightened cities around the world that’s how large numbers of the population roll.  Pedestrians on wheels; for those short A to B trips.   You can also ride a bicycle for sports and recreational purposes.

As a child, my friends and I always used bikes.   Our bikes gave us independence and opportunities to range further afield.  When I returned to biking in my adult years it had all changed.  It had all become about, you guessed it, sport and recreation.  I followed the trend (which suggests that there was an element of choice – but there really wasn’t) though I never recall it ever fitting comfortably with me.  I had no interest in kicking tyres and doing the technical talk about equipment, distances and times.

Bikes are a tool to promote…

View original 638 more words

Posted by: Gregory | April 20, 2015

New mode for Phantom?

Spotted this guy changing out posters on Courtnay Place this morning as my bus was pulling away. It’s better to see a cargo bike being parked up on the footpath than the van that usually does the job.


Posted by: Gregory | April 20, 2015

Traveller impressions of Porirua

My French is incredibly rusty, but I did manage to get a strong sense out of this French travellers’ blog post before looking up a translation.

On est un peu déconcertés par la situation mais il semblerait bien que la gare soit située bien loin du centre ville et des quartiers résidentiels. Encore une fois, on se rend compte du côté indispensable de la voiture dans le pays.

When you first arrive at Porirua station, you’re left with a bit of a hike to the town centre. After crossing the stream, you’re greeted by a reasonably large parking lot. Not at all inviting. This reminded the travellers just how much of a car dependency New Zealand has created.

While this may seem perfectly fine to the local who does a weekly shop and typically makes the road commute day after day, just wanting it to go as fast as possible, this is off-putting to tourists and suppresses walking, often as a vicious circle. Sometimes we need a reminder that cars are just tools and not always the best tool for a job.

Coming back to the traveller blog:

On ne va pas se le cacher : ce n’est pas très folichon, et au final, on en fait vite le tour. Nous décidons du coup de nous aventurer un peu plus loin et partons en direction d’un lagon, repéré la veille sur internet par Mickaël. Et pour se faire, quoi de mieux que de prendre l’unique chemin pédestre qui y mène, à savoir juste à côté de l’autoroute ! Et oui, le piéton n’est vraiment pas prioritaire chez les Kiwis !


Coucou les voitures à 100km/h !

I had to look up folichon since Google’s translation failed on it. It wasn’t a fun walk, although I’m not sure which part of the walk she’s referring to, or even the town centre, since they’re heading off to Aotea Lagoon in the next sentence, and quickly mocking the footpath along the SH1. She’s right in that Kiwis don’t really prioritise pedestrians.

I can only assume that the path they took was similar to this one.

From Porirua station, it’s about a half hour walk to the lagoon, with some of it quite exposed to the elements. There’s a roughly equivalent walking journey between Paremata Station and the lagoon, differing by a couple hundred metres, but no less exposed.

For those less inclined to walk, bus route 236 connects the lagoon with both Porirua and Paremata stations, although the route varies through the day and through the week. Be sure to study the schedule before depending on a bus to access the lagoon.

Posted by: Gregory | April 18, 2015

Pukeahu pictures

I had to walk the dog this morning, so I took another trip through Pukeahu as it was being set up for the opening.

I like the textural changes between hard and soft surfaces. The irregular boundary lines between path and lawn work for me.


Although not all of the pathways are accessible, all of the locations are. Stairs feature heavily, but ramps are available for all of the park sites.


Planted borders are filling in quite nicely and I spotted quite a few olives on the trees.


I was finally able to get close to the Australian memorial. It’s quite impressive up close and I think it will age nicely, especially as the trees fill in the gaps a bit.


I spoke briefly with a security guard on site who was a bit concerned at damage that will inevitably occur. As it turns out, it’s already started. According to the guard, this bench fell victim to an inattentive taxi driver.


Posted by: Gregory | April 17, 2015

Opening public places

There are a few new and redeveloped spaces that are either newly opened or about to open. Each of them exist as both transport corridors and places in their own right, providing smooth, accessible walkways with plenty of seating for people who want to stay a while. I’m hoping to get along to each of the spaces within the next week or two and collect some photos for a followup post.


The Beehive has always seemed gated and closed off, creating a public desire to open up the entranceway and connect to the Cenotaph. WCC has a project page that describes the recently completed changes:

  • restoring original features of the Cenotaph including garden beds and paving
  • new seats and lights
  • a new public artwork
  • new steps from the plaza up to Parliament Grounds allowing for a direct pedestrian route to the Beehive
  • removing the public toilets
  • removing some trees to open up the plaza and allow for the link through to Parliament

The artwork listed was commissioned by the Wellington Sculpture Trust, called Walk The Line.

The work was commissioned to mark the original bed of the stream which once flowed down what is now Bowen Street across the precinct to the nearby foreshore. The stream was culverted many years ago and now runs well  below Bowen Street, Lambton Quay and Whitmore Street.

With Joe’s installation the old path of the Wai Piro stream will be marked by over 300 carved jade and pounamu discs, meandering as a ‘stream’ through the precinct.  They will be carved from a range of Nephrite types sourced from the West Coast of New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Russia, Mongolia and China.

The rededication ceremony was this morning and the space has been open to foot traffic since Easter Weekend.


As part of the centenary of ANZAC forces landing at Galipoli, the National War Memorial underwent a stunning transformation, pushing the cars underground (but not all of them) and building a park and plaza in its place. The official opening is April 18, kicking off a week of events surrounding ANZAC Day 2015.

There’s some handy information on the Ministry of Culture & Heritage Pukeahu Park website, including a map and travel information.

Getting to Pukeahu National War Memorial Park

By bus

If arriving by bus, use the Go Wellington services of 10, 11, 18, 21 and 47 services, which travel along Taranaki Street. The closest bus stop is just past the intersection with Buckle Street.

The bus information could stand to be more complete. They indicated the southbound stop on Taranaki Street without pointing out the northbound stop. Access to Pukeahu East, including the Home of Compassion Crèche, is closer to the Kent and Cambridge Terrace bus routes, which are more frequent at many times of the week.

Leonie Gill Pathway

From the WCC news release:

The project has revitalised what was previously a rough and underused route through the drainage reserve. The smooth new path runs from Cockburn Street to Tirangi Road, and down to Lyall Bay beach.

“It’s an east-west route through the suburb, which links to local schools, retail centres, the skate park and the beach. This means the pathway can be used recreationally by people wanting to get some exercise, as part of getting to school, or simply to get from one part of the neighbourhood to another,” said Mayor Wade-Brown.

Posted by: Gregory | April 16, 2015

When Road Cycling is Illegal

Following my recent post on fixing cyclist infrastructure, I received a reply that questioned the rationale of pushing cyclists into pedestrian space:

Since I didn’t know how or why cyclist restrictions happen, I emailed WCC to ask.

Cyclists can use all roads except for motorways, lanes reserved for Buses Only, pedestrian malls, and some tunnels.  Cyclists are banned from these places due to safety concerns which derive from conflicts very high volumes of other users who have been formally given exclusive priority.  Cyclists may use all normal Bus Lanes, but not Bus Only lanes.

Motorways in Wellington City area are:

  • State Highway 1 from the Karo/Willis intersection to Ngauranga
  • State Highway 1 from Johnsonville to Porirua

Bus Only lanes are:

  • Throndon Quay southbound centre lane into Lambton Interchange
  • Lambton Quay from Bunny St to Whitmore St (Lambton Interchange site)
  • Lambton Quay southbound from Brandon St to Featherston St
  • Hunter St-Customhouse Quay-Willis St southbound from Featherston St to Manners St
  • Manners St from Willis St to Cuba St both directions

Pedestrian Malls are:

  • Cuba St from Ghuznee St to Manners St

Tunnels where cyclists are banned are:

  • Arras Tunnel (State Highway 1)
  • Mt Victoria Tunnel road lanes (State Highway 1)
  • Hataitai Bus Tunnel.

I’m sure that there are plenty of points that could be contested within that list, but I’ll only touch on a couple. For the road tunnels, the conditions of the road are identical to normal urban roads, with the exception of ventilation and lighting. It’s not clear how or why the Arras and Mt Victoria tunnels would create an actual safety risk beyond that of normal urban cycling. If there is some exceptional risk, wouldn’t it be better to educate the motorists that cause the risk?

The decisions are the responsibility of the appropriate Road Controlling Authority.  For all urban roads Wellington City Council is the RCA, for the entire state highway network it is the New Zealand Transport Agency.  The timing of decisions result from safety and management reviews on an as required basis.

Both tunnels are part of SH1 and fall under NZTA’s authority. I’ve just sent an OIA request for justification of the exclusion. They have until May 15 to respond.

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