Say Yes to sensible street changes (Kate Sheppard would approve)

There’s humble and sensible proposals to make Thorndon and Kilbirnie a little bit friendlier for people, rather than just cars. The suffragettes didn’t do all that hard work for nothing, so as sensible citizens who now have a voice, put in your 2c by 5pm Monday 27th March!

Long overdue, there’s finally some movement to make Thorndon and Kilbirnie safer to get around, and get to and from the city centre, by foot, scooter, bike, and mobility scooter. We’ll focus here on Thorndon because it’s got Kate Sheppard Place, and she and her fellow suffragettes were powerhouses on this kind of civic action.

But the goodness – and the need – is the same, in Kilbirnie and Thorndon both.

And, as usual, if you’re super busy and just want to support the kaupapa, scroll down to your old friend the typing cat.

What’s the gist?

The key bit of both Thorndon and Kilbirnie is that good familiar recipe: reallocating space from car-storage to a protected lane where that’s necessary, and elsewhere doing things that calm down traffic so it’s safer to scoot or bike in the road. OH AND a whole bouquet of other improvements for people taking the bus, needing mobility parking, dropping kids to school, and, you know, WALKING – in these areas full of important places people want and need to get to.

screenshot of the list of changes from the Thorndon project website, highlighted with "stuff you'll enjoy even if you only ever walk (and drive or bus)
Look at all that goodness! From the Thorndon project page

And Thorndon and Kilbirnie both are going to get more and more people living in them carfree because they’re full of good important places that’re close together!

But what if I think some of it is …wrong?

For each route, things like zebra crossings, seats and 30kph zones are easy no-brainers.

For traffic calming, mobility parking, safer biking and scooting, better deliveries etc there’ll be spots where it’s hard to know exactly which combinations of treatments will work optimally in the varied conditions of real life.

So they’ll need some tweaks once we’ve all had a chance to try it out.

That’s all good: the now-common “put in flexible posts, try it for a while, and adjust” treatment for reallocating street space is just the ticket for that (Botanic Gardens-City route is at the tweaks stage now).

From the Thorndon project page – note flexible bollards. Cheap, effective, fast – and adjustable.

So far, so good! So can’t we just leave ’em to it?

Well (unsurprisingly?!) there’s a small number of folk who having such strong feelings about these street improvements (vs cyclone recovery, Movin’ March, cost of living crisis, labour shortages, Neighbours Day Aotearoa and Play Aotearoa, earthquakes and floods in Turkey) that they’re putting in lots of energy to oppose them.

To take just the Thorndon route:

  • The local residents’ association is flyering the area with their belief that Thorndon’s liveability will be RUINED, including parroting the old fallacy about “there’s no need for a bridge”. (We wish we were kidding.)
  • One Thorndon business figure (perhaps feeling a bit flat after having a wee profile during the Parliament protests?), has started making lots of noise and pulling in selected local politicians. Even more disappointingly, the Chamber of Commerce is making statements about the Thorndon project which – for an organisation purporting to be focussed on what makes the city better for businesses – are frankly bonkers.
  • Disappointingly, Thorndon New World has been oddly helpful to this counter-project (“community notices”, eh? )

The upshot, dear readers, is that is that decision-makers need to hear from thoughtful citizens who want to see the city streets made less hostile to folks doing everyday living. Hooray! That’s you!

“Equity in freedom of movement!”

Fundamentally, that’s what all this is about. The cycling suffragettes like Kate Sheppard would approve, and we know they’d encourage you to exercise your civic power by popping in a quick supportive submission by 5pm Monday 27th March.

Only got 3 minutes?

Easy! Just jump in and say “strongly support” wherever there’s an option.

And where there’s any curly questions you can’t be bothered answering, either skip them or tell council something like “for this section I endorse the points made in Cycle Wellington’s submission”. It’s very thoughtful and comprehensive, can’t really go wrong – see below!

Do it now – or at least by 5pm Monday 27th March.

Got 10-15 minutes?

The best longer submission guide we’ve found is Cycle Wellington’s. It’s comprehensive and thoughtful, and they’ve even got a quick-submit option if you’d like to do a quickie job on one or other proposal.

They link to the submission page and it’s here too. Swim around in the useful visuals and details of the pre-work they’ve done assessing things like bus patronage – but just make sure you have your say by 5pm Monday 27th March.

Want to hear more, in person?

While the Kilbirnie drop-in sessions have finished, there’s one drop-in session on the Thorndon proposals still to come as of writing. A great opportunity to ask questions and get, you know, actual facts.

Tuesday 21 March, 4.30pm-6.30pm at the back bar of The Backbencher pub, 34 Molesworth Street (also entrance off Kate Sheppard Place).

Then, go submit!

Well done you! Now reward yourself with this cool story from Te Papa’s blog about New Zealand suffragettes making cycling more accessible to more people without even having any flexible bollards to use – and yes, despite a “knickerbocker scandal”!

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