Quays Please

Cycle Wellington is calling on Wellington City Council and Waka Kotahi to create a dedicated, and protected connection for people to cycle along the waterfront quays - from Oriental Parade to Whitmore Street.

Artist's impression of the new two-way cycleway with several different types of people riding their bikes on it.

Artist's impression - Credit: Alice Reade


Cycle Wellington has long advocated the need for a better cycling connection around the Wellington Waterfront. The waterfront is currently a welcome respite from heavy traffic, and is also a much nicer place than the never-ending parking lots that clogged it up until the late 1980’s.

Wellington waterfront parking lots in the 1980's

But it could be better! A report from 2022 by Gehl recommended better connections to the waterfront rather than having such extra wide traffic lanes disconnecting people in the city.

The latest surveys of improved inner city cycling routes from LGWM, namely along Featherston, Victoria, and Dixon Streets indicate to us that, even when these new routes are in place, there remains an urgent need for a better cycling connection between the eastern and northern corners of the city.

Why a connection is needed

A separate, dedicated route for cycling on the quays will enable the Wellington Waterfront to fully realise its potential as a public people space. The mixed use approach we have currently will not accommodate the growing number of journeys by bike that we expect to see in the near future.

The first two transitional projects to be delivered as a part of Paneke Pōneke both connect to the waterfront. These improved cycling facilities will allow people to cycle with more comfort and protection from Newtown to the Botanic Gardens.

With the development of new cycling network connections from the south and east as well as the improvement of connections to the north such as Thorndon Quay Hutt Road, Ngā Ūranga ki Pito-One, and Ngā Ūranga Gorge and Johnsonville, it is becoming clear that the Wellington Waterfront will become a frustrating pinch point in a few years if nothing is done. To be honest: at peak times, or with public events on - it already is.

This is because we will see more and more of the network effect increasing the number of people choosing to cycle. We hope, too, that there will be a growing range of incentives to ride bikes beyond better infrastructure in the coming years as a part of any proactive government taking effective climate action.

Maps showing the gap currently being covered by pedestrian space on the waterfront.

The Waterfront is a special public place for Te Whanganui-a-Tara and a space for people to linger and enjoy the beauty of the harbour. It is not primarily a cycling facility. People on bikes who are trying to get somewhere don’t relish navigating through people on foot.

Wellington Waterfront on a good day. Can't beat it!

Cycle Wellington strongly empathises with those out trying to enjoy their walk / lunch / family outing / event / festival of lights / dragon boating / fireworks display / sunday market shopping / etc. We understand that it is not exactly ideal having fast moving cyclists (and eScooter riders!) moving though at speed.

To be clear; Cycle Wellington truly loves the cycling access to the waterfront. It is a special place for less confident or able riders, families, and crocodile bikes to roll around and have fun away from daunting heavy traffic. While we advocate that access should not change in any way, we consider that a quality separated space for cycling on the quays will be the most effective way to reduce conflict with pedestrians and support active transport at the same time. 

It makes sense to fix this gap in what will be an amazing, world-class cycling experience, - one where people can ride on separated, protected cycleways from Island Bay, Kilbirnie, Miramar, Newtown all the way through the city and to the north to Johnsonville, Tawa & Porirua, and Pito-One, Lower Hutt, and even Eastbourne. Wow.

The outcomes of a good cycling connection here strongly support Te Atakura - the climate action goals of the Council. It also better reflects the Council’s Parking Policy 2020.

How we suggest it could work

View an interactive map of the proposed route:

Preview of interactive map.

Cycle Wellington is seeking for the general traffic lane closest to, and along the length of the waterfront quays, to be converted to a two-way cycleway. This cycleway should be in place, using an interim / transitional approach, to coincide with bus routes being shifted during construction of the Golden Mile revitalisation from October 2023.

We foresee that the cycleway would stretch from Whitmore Street at the north end, along Customhouse and Jervois Quays, and Cable Street until it intersects with Oriental Parade. Good connections would be needed to the Newtown to City route at the south, Oriental Parade and Evans Bay to the east, and the Botanics to City cycleway on Whitmore. This will then also connect well to whatever happens on Featherston Street allowing people to ride north on the two-way cycleway designed for Thorndon Quay.

The space requirements of a two-way cycleway are relatively modest, with minimal impact on on-street car parking (between 22 - 64 spaces depending on exact configuration).

Depending on how intersections are handled there may be some challenge with the signals phasing design along this corridor. Where there is no pedestrian crossing and no crossing traffic at an intersection, we hope that new / dedicated traffic signals would not be warranted and that bike traffic could continue whatever the traffic light phase for the main road.

Attention should also be given to enabling people on bikes a means of crossing the quays to get into a destination in the city at each intersection as well. This will be especially needed to connect to the southern end of Featherston Street.

Connecting each end

We are open to some variations of how the cycleway might connect at each end:

At the south / east end:

  • Repurpose car parking on the south side of Cable Street.
  • The cycleway could be located on the extra-wide shared path area at the Harbourside Market car park and Chafers Park (preferred). If this happens we expect the full cycleway treatment to continue and for the space to no longer be shared.
  • Continue the separated treatment around the corner and along Oriental Parade to connect properly to the Oriental Bay cycleway. This will make the new quays route more intuitive and attractive to use by bikers in the east.

At the northern end:

For the quays route to properly connect to the north, cyclists will need to be able to move across to Featherston Street at the northern end especially. Featherston Street needs to provide a two-way connection from Whitmore Street to Thorndon Quay at the minimum for journeys to connect with the north.

  • Continue along the repurposed traffic lane all the way to Whitmore (preferred)
  • Cross the quays earlier to link into a Featherston Street cycling facility at Panama Street (this would need to maintain comfortable separation and a well signalled, direct route across the quays at the intersection.

The LGWM Featherston Street project will interact with the new quays route quite a bit. But the routes in that project still leave a significant gap for cycling.

The quays route will best facilitate more direct, cross-town journeys for people on bikes, especially those travelling from or to the south and east, while the Featherston Street  project will best support people accessing the city from the north and west.

Both of these routes will also positively impact on the more people-focussed spaces that run alongside: Featherston Street lanes will allow Lambton Quay to become an even nicer space for walking, and the quays cycleway will do the same for the waterfront itself and the Courtenay Place end of the Golden Mile.


Changes to the quays are currently bound up in LGWM plans - which are taking a long time to amount to anything.

We want to see WCC apply their expertise at transitional treatments to get a solution in place sooner. The transitional quality of this route can be developed to support the rerouting of buses during the Golden Mile build.

Shovels will be in the ground for the Golden Mile build October 2023. S̶o̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶r̶o̶u̶t̶e̶ ̶h̶a̶s̶ ̶4̶ ̶m̶o̶n̶t̶h̶s̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶p̶l̶a̶c̶e̶.̶

Wellington will be hosting the national 2 Walk and Cycle conference in March next year. How great would it be to have this in place to support that??!!

This new project should be budgeted from existing funds allocated to the Paneke Pōneke programme of work, with Wellington City Council taking a lead on it - seeing they are demonstrating the capability for transitional projects such as this.

Future projects (such as some transformational projects) currently budgeted for in the network plan may need to have extra funds allocated in the 2023 Long Term Plan to see a quays route developed sooner.

The route would then be improved on to a transformational quality as a part of LGWM’s longer term plans.




Thank you to the following groups who endorse this vision:

Women in Urbanism logo


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