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Park and (don't) ride

Park and (don't) ride

Park and (don't) ride

Thursday 9 June, 2022

Businesses along the route of a partly-built Wellington cycleway are taking Wellington City Council to Court to challenge the decision to install it. They were successful in halting construction until September, when their case will have a full Court hearing.

In granting the interim halt, the Court accepted that the impact of the removal of parking to install the cycleway would have a significant and immediate impact on most of the group of businesses. On the other hand, the impacts on the project from the delay were seen as reasonably negligible. WCC pointed to impacts including the loss of funding for staff, the risk of contractor unavailability, and the possible loss of contractor confidence in WCC. Interestingly, these are all council-centric impacts: it appears that WCC did not raise the impact of the delay on cyclist safety, nor the urgency of addressing climate change.

The businesses will present three arguments to Court in September: that WCC relied on the wrong power, that its decision-making was flawed, and that the consultation was inadequate. The most interesting of these in terms of LG law is the first point: that using the temporary prohibition of traffic power in Schedule 10 of the LGA 1974 is not appropriate for what is really a permanent change. It may be that the sections the LGA 1974 which empower councils to make cycleways on roads and determine what part of a road is roadway, footpath or cycleway will prove more suitable. The Judge observed that WCC is planning to use the temporary powers at scale for cycleway construction across the city and an early confirmation of whether or not that is a valid approach is desirable.

We note that this confirmation will be useful not only for WCC but also for other local authorities looking to make their cities more cycling friendly. We will provide an update following the outcome of the September hearing.

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