Grey Lynn anger at cy­cle project

It’s not just the leafy Auck­land sub­urb that’s feel­ing the pinch from the city’s ex­pand­ing net­work

Weekend Herald - - Bring On The Weekend - Bernard Ors­man

The Auck­land sub­urb of Grey Lynn, the city’s home of free-thinkers, or­ganic food and sus­tain­abil­ity, is up in arms over a cy­cle­way project.

At the West Lynn shops on Rich­mond Rd, park­ing has been re­moved, bus stops re­lo­cated, busi­ness has taken a tum­ble and anger lev­els are boil­ing over.

“We have been dealt to. The vil­lage is an ap­palling mess. It has knocked the heart out of West Lynn,” says Irene King, co-chair of the Grey Lynn Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion.

It’s not just Grey Lynn feel­ing the pinch from the city’s ex­pand­ing net­work of cy­cle­ways. Sub­urbs like North­cote Point are be­ing squeezed by new de­signs from Auck­land Trans­port.

North­cote Point Billy cafe owner Sarah Strat­ford told the Her­ald last month her busi­ness faced clo­sure less than a year af­ter she bought it be­cause of con­struc­tion and loss of on-street park­ing on Queen St.

In the Welling­ton sub­urb of Is­land Bay, res­i­dents are threat­en­ing le­gal ac­tion in a long-run­ning dis­pute over a cy­cle­way and its ef­fect on the amount of road space for ve­hi­cles and re­duced vis­i­bil­ity for mo­torists en­ter­ing and ex­it­ing drive­ways.

In West Lynn out­side Har­vest Whole­foods, the city’s orig­i­nal or­ganic and nat­u­ral food su­per­mar­ket es­tab­lished 35 years go, seven an­gle car parks have been re­moved and re­placed with four par­al­lel spa­ces. All up, West Lynn has lost eight car parks to al­low for cy­cling lanes on ei­ther side of Rich­mond Rd.

Store man­ager Som­boon Khan­suk says Har­vest, now part of the na­tion­wide Huck­le­berry chain of nat­u­ral, or­ganic and gluten free food re­tail­ers, has seen a drop of up to 35 per cent in busi­ness on week­days and 50 per cent at week­ends.

If cus­tomers do not re­turn af­ter two months of con­struc­tion work the store may close, he said. The down­turn in busi­ness has al­ready seen some of the 40 staff moved to other stores.

Julie Stevens, part-owner of Moa cloth­ing bou­tique, an­other West Lynn in­sti­tu­tion of more than 30 years, fears a domino ef­fect if Har­vest closes. Busi­ness is down 50 per cent, maybe more.

West Lynn, says Stevens, has a rare and cool al­ter­na­tive mix of shops. “We haven’t got a $2 shop.” Na­ture Baby owner Ja­cob Faull says Har­vest is the food and the soul of West Lynn with its or­ganic and green ideals. Take that away, he reck­ons, and Har­vest cus­tomers will start go­ing to nearby Farro and get caught up in the mall ver­sion of healthy eat­ing.

Faull is not op­posed to a cy­cle­way, but says changes to West Lynn, like the re­lo­ca­tion of a bus stop to out­side his store, are mak­ing a “sub­tle but seis­mic shift” to shop­ping patterns.

Ev­ery­one agrees the fault lies with AT and a “tick the box” con­sul­ta­tion process that left the mega trans­port body and busi­nesses on a dif­fer­ent page when a gen­uine part­ner­ship was needed.

An­drea John­son, who owns Pre­sentz gift store, says the com­mu­nity has been stonewalled when a ro­bust dis­cus­sion could have pro­duced an in­cred­i­ble out­come. She used to have a bus stop out­side her shop. Now she has a black as­phalt slope with sand­bags to pre­vent stormwa­ter flood­ing the shop in heavy rain.

The shop­keep­ers sup­port cy­cle lanes and bet­ter pub­lic trans­port, but want AT to re­in­state the seven an­gle parks out­side Har­vest, re­move the bus stop out­side Na­ture Baby and re­move a sec­ond bus stop jut­ting out in front of a row of shops where sales at a liquor store have plum­meted by twothirds since it was in­stalled.

“When the bus stops, cars have to go on to the other side of the road to get around it,” says Joanne Williams, whose SBF Hair busi­ness is near the new bus stop.

Kathryn King, AT’s man­ager for walk­ing, cy­cling and road safety, says a sig­nif­i­cant amount of for­mal con­sul­ta­tion was done on the Rich­mond Rd cy­cle­way project.

“A big les­son for us on this project has been we do need to in­vest ear­lier in work­ing with busi­nesses and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties to agree on de­sign out­comes”.

She said AT will re­visit some parts of the project with lo­cal peo­ple for a so­lu­tion that works for ev­ery­one, but said changes, like re­in­stat­ing park­ing and bus stops, needs to bal­ance safety, ac­ces­si­bil­ity and out­comes AT is seek­ing for the project.

Waitem­ata Lo­cal Board chair­woman Pippa Coom says there are some de­sign is­sues but over­all it will be an im­prove­ment.

“It will ab­so­lutely im­prove the West Lynn shops to have traf­fic calm­ing, bet­ter pedes­trian amenity, more green­ing, more cross­ings as part

of that de­sign.”

We do need to in­vest ear­lier in work­ing with busi­nesses and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties . . . Kathryn King, AT

Pic­ture / Michael Craig

Ja­cob Faull of Na­ture Baby (sec­ond from right) and a group of West Lynn busi­ness own­ers are trou­bled by AT’s up­grade of Rich­mond Rd.

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