Wednesday, January 14, 2009

So, what has the Wellington City Council done over the last year to alleviate parking congestion?

When I launched this website a little over a year ago, officials from Wellington City Council assured me that they were on the case.

Parking wardens were issuing $40 fines to all motorbikes and scooters in Central Wellington, other than those parked in designated motorbike parking areas or on private land.

So what has happened over the last year or so?

Not much, if anything at all.

Motorbike parking congestion in Wellington is worse than ever.

Parking wardens are once again issuing fines to all "illegally" parked bikes - including bikes that are discretely parked so that they do not impede pedestrian flow.

Commuters who ride bikes into town need to be able to safely park their machines all the day.  The designated bike parks in Central Wellington are over flowing.  Where are the excess to go?

Wellington City Council's response to its lack of provision of parking for motorbikes is to issue parking fines. 

Friday, January 4, 2008

Is Wellington City Council Targeting Motorbikes for Revenue Gathering?

Oil hits US$100 a barrel, the Inner City Bypass is a traffic congestion disaster for cross-city commuters, such as residents of Karori, Brooklyn and Newtown. Meanwhile, Wellington City Council begins targeting motor scooters and motor bikes for revenue gathering.

Photos: Our family with our bikes discretely parked outside Paddy's Lotto Shop in Courtenay Place - a $40 offense!

Just before Xmas 2007 I was ticketed for discretely parking on a footpath in Courtenay Place. A $40 fine - that's the equivalent to the petrol I spend over eight weeks running my PGO T-Rex 150cc 4-stroke scooter around town.

Photo: Here is one way to get kids to school without adding too much to inner city congestion and global warming!

I have been riding motorbikes, scooters and bicycles around Wellington City now for close on 30 years. Our family is trying to reduce its carbon footprint and is doing its bit to reduce inner city traffic congestion. We have two scooters. Both are low emission gas miser 4-strokes. We spend about $8 per week on petrol.

It is a fact: Wellington Parking Wardens are conducting an ongoing blitz on "illegally" parked motorbikes.

Wellington, with its narrow streets and low inner city speeds, is actually a great place for scooting about. Using a scooter enables me to get about my business quickly and efficiently. Along with bicycles and walking, these are our family's main form of inner city transport.

I often park outside Paddy's Lotto and Post Shop in Courtenay Place when delivering mail, doing banking and other work duties. In fact, the time I parked there before being fined, I asked the parking warden nearby if it was okay to park there while I did my mail. His response was "Fine mate!" So why was I issued with a $40 fine just a few weeks later for parking in exactly the same spot? I decided to investigate, starting with talking to people within the bike industry and fellow motorcyclists..... The result is more questions than answers. Read on.

Two weeks later, after being told by a parking warden that it was fine to park there, I was fined $40. What is going on?

Is the ticketing motorcyclists more to do with tapping into a new source of revenue than about cleaning up the streets of parking riff-raff? Apparently an instruction was sent out to Council departments late last year that Council Profit Centers had to bring in more revenue. Apparently the need for additional revenue was due to overspending on activities like the Beckham venture (A promotion I thought went very well, btw). Shortly after this instruction was sent out, the city's parking wardens began issuing tickets to "illegally" parked bikes and doing so without compromise.

Apparently an instruction was sent out to Council Profit Centers late last year to bring in more money - shortly after parking wardens began issuing $40 parking tickets to motorcyclists.

Although a Council spokesperson now says wardens have been asked to "moderate" their ticketing of scooters to ensure riders are not discouraged from bringing their vehicles into the city, not everyone is convinced and all the evidence points to more of an ongoing Blitzkrieg on bikes than "moderation".

One immediate consequence is bike parking areas are now way past overflowing which seriously affects people who use motorbikes to commute to work. This is causing great concern among motorcyclists and some have now stopped bringing in their bikes and going back to other means of transport. Please go here for more about this.

If there is nowhere else to park, can a bike be parked in a car-parking space and pay? The answer is "NO!" A motorcycle cannot be parked on a park covered by a multiple meter and that covers many parks.
18.6.5: "No person shall park a motorcycle in any parking meter area controlled by a multiple parking meter, other than in any part specifically set aside for motorcycles...." (Council regs)

Are there revenue gathering plans to charge for reserved motorbike parking spaces quietly percolating away? Is there any truth to the rumour that such plans were to be introduced last year; but were quietly shelved because they were getting too close to last year's Local Body Elections? If such plans do exist, are they going to be resurrected now that the Local Body elections are out of the way?

If there are such plans it would make sense to introduce these in stages. It makes sense that the first stage would be to get all bikes into reserved parking by issuing hefty fines on transgressors. At $40 each ticket issued is lucrative for Council coffers, so the motivation to pursue this in the face of any biker opposition is there. The next step would then be to slip the bike fee regulations through a Council meeting as quietly as possible. Bikers will then require some kind of ID or coupon that will be displayed on the bikes that are parked in regulation Council bike parks. Voila! - More revenue for the Council on top of rates; but at the cost of degrading and compromising efforts to build a carbon neutral community.

Modern motor scooters are extremely fuel efficient, low emission and require only a single annual service.

Progressive cities, like Melbourne in Australia, allow motorbikes to be parked on central city footpaths, so long as they do not obstruct pedestrian and traffic flow. Wellington City needs to show an equally progressive attitude towards encouraging forms of transport other than the gas-guzzling, congestion-causing motor car. This includes actively encouraging inner city use of motor bikes, scooters, electric bikes and bicycles.

Our Mayor wants her city to be carbon neutral. That's great. Now let's see her Council walking the talk.

So what will be next - the humble bicycle?

Action Points
  • Complete the online poll in the left hand column of this blog
  • Comment on the issues by posting a comment at the bottom of this page
  • Tell your friends, family, workmates and fellow bikers about this website. Send them the link to this page.
  • Raise the issues with the Mayor and Councilors and seek their assurances they will not discourage eco-friendly transport
  • Ask for more dedicated free bike parking spots around the city
  • Get involved: Here is a good place to start.
  • Contact this person and let him have your take on the issue:
Orencio Gueco
Property and Parking Services
Wellington City Council
101 Wakefield Street
Wellington Phone: 04-8038287 Fax: 04-8013002

An invitation is issued to Wellington City Councilors/Officials to respond to the concerns raised on this blog by using the "Comments" function at the bottom of this page.

Note: All of the bikes shown on this website are, one way or another, technically illegally parked and most have since been fined and moved on. Mind you; none of them were obstructing pedestrian or traffic flow. If they cannot be where they are, where will they go? The convenience of the bike will be compromised. Fewer bikes - more cars?