Wellington cycleway put on pause

Last Friday, Melbourne riders awoke on World Bike Day to the grim news of a potential pause on bike lanes in the CBD. Across the ditch in New Zealand, the ‘pause’ fever had already started.

Construction of the Newtown cycleway in Wellington was also placed on hold, following a court challenge by local businesses.

The businesses challenged the lawfulness of the cycleway construction. As reported in Stuff last week, barristers argued that Wellington City Council circumvented the correct legal proceedings, and that businesses would endure financial harm from the build.

Barrister Gareth Richards said there was a “jarring failure to consult applicants on the design works before they were set in stone”. The City of Melbourne has faced similar criticisms regarding the rollout of pop-up bike lanes in the CBD.

The High Court granted an interim injunction to pause construction of the cycleway until the full hearing in mid-September.

The court proceedings in New Zealand took place the day before The Age broke the story about a potential bike lane pause in Melbourne, the day before World Bicycle Day.

Wellington City Council's plan for the Newtown-to-City cycleway. Source:

While bike advocacy group Cycle Wellington see the injunction as “a frustrating development”, they are maintaining a positive vision for the future of the city.

“We hope that people who support cycling as an everyday mode of transport will maintain a clear, positive, constructive, and empathetic example to support the many more instances of disruption that these improvements to our transport networks will mean,” Cycle Wellington co-chairs Alex Dyer and Linda Beatson have said in their recent newsletter.

Fortunately, while this is a disappointing blowback for local riders, there is some silver lining at the national level. Transport Minister Michael Wood has flagged that the Government’s Emission Reductions Plan will improve the process for local government to roll out sustainable transport options.

In a recent Newsroom article, Minister Wood said the Government sought to provide “the ability for local government to make good decisions that are a bit easier in terms of giving communities good options to safely walk or cycle around their communities.”

Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Ann Genter has also criticized the “very loud minority” that “tend to be able to stop all progress”. Genter called for “an evidence-based approach - rather than this highly emotive, histrionic debate.”

Wellington City Council’s Paneke Pōneke bike network plan is looking to install 166km of permanent cycleway by 2031.

This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.