Cycle-Centric City?

In response to a request from the 900 members of the cycling-stakeholder mailing list held by GDC, I made these comments: 

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In my submission to the GDC Annual Plan earlier this year (before I had decided to stand for Council) I included the following recommendations:

Bi-cycling, Public Transport & Carbon Neutrality

Recommendation:

  • That GDC increase the number of cycle lanes and include space for bi-cycles on all road bridges in the city.
  • That GDC provide more incentives for people to use public transport and reduce reliance on private motor-vehicles within the city areas.
  • That GDC provide more incentives for people to use bi-cycles and horses for transport in rural townships.
  • That GDC adopt a goal of being a ‘Carbon Neutral’ region and develop an action plan to achieve this by 2012.
  • That GDC adopt a goal of being a ‘Carbon Neutral’ organisation and develop an action plan to achieve this by 2010.

Rationale:

The future of humanity and a number of other species is threatened with extinction if we do not change our behaviour and it is the responsibility of community leaders to demonstrate through their influence and decisions a commitment to a sustainable future for present and future generations.

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Thinking about it a bit more, I should have added other rationale including:

  • the health benefits of cycling over car use from more physical and less sedentary activity;
  • the social benefits of cycling as an opportunity to meet neighbours and other commuters;
  • the economic benefits of being less dependent on oil, reduced road maintenance costs and reduced vehicle fuel/maintenance costs – and the increased ability of people to maintain their own transportation;
  • the environmental benefits of improved air quality, less noise pollution and a greener city overall.
  • the safety benefits of fewer accidents as cyclists have to contend with fewer ‘motorised missiles on wheels’.

I spoke to my submission in front of the full Council and when asked about these recommendations I talked about the danger I have experienced trying to negotiate Wainui Road and the Gladstone Road Bridge on bicycle – also some of the country roads could be made much safer for cyclists with a few simple measures like the “One metre bubble” warning signs that we see around Whakatane and other places that value the safety of cyclists.  

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Q. Would you actively pursue policies that would enable utility cycling to develop along the lines that have made it the transportation mode of choice for so many in Copenhagen?

As shown above I have been advocating for these already and would be VERY interested in working with the ‘cycle lobby’ to access good quality research and case studies that make strong economic, environmental, social and health arguments for improving the region for cyclists.

Q. Would you lobby to rescind the law that compels cyclists to wear helmets in order to make it discretionary on the rider (as it is wherever utility cycling is well-established ) ?

I would like to read the research on how much protection helmets actually afford cyclists. I know for me, the incoinvenience of wearing a helmet is a significant disincentive to ride. On the other hand until we force cars to slow down or set and reach a goal of having at least 30% of traffic in the city by bicycle, it may be that helmets continue to protect cyclists from the dangers of inconsiderate, dangerous or absent-minded motorists.

Q. Would you give preference to a comprehensive network of cycle lanes over retaining the right to curbside parking?

Definitely.

Q. Would you lobby to rescind the law which prohibits cyclists from using pavements (at least as an interim measure for the years it will otherwise take to establish real separation from motorized vehicles)to enable ‘slow cyclists'(e.g.the elderly)to take up utility cycling?
 -Before you answer this question, next time you’re out driving, take note of how few pedestrians are actually using our pavements and keep in mind that there are places in the world where cyclists and pedestrians co-exist harmoniously in significantly greater numbers.

There are many opportunities for providing cycle ways on footpaths as they have in places like Tauranga and Wellington. I would be interested in learning more about the specific safety risks associated with this practice before saying yes I would lobby for to rescind the law. My only concern is the danger of vehicles reversing at speed from driveways, but the same danger is present whether the cyclist is on the road or footpath – just sometimes hedges and fences block drivers vision to the footpath and it is clearer by the time they get to the road.

Q. ‘Leaving it to the market to decide’ is not working as virtually none of New Zealand’s bicycle importers or retailers are taking the initiative to either promote or make available the types of bicycles and technologies which would make utility cycling practicable by a much broader range of people(e.g. the elderly ) or practical (e.g. for carrying children or shopping).

To ensure that fleets of utility bicycles become established throughout New Zealand’s urban areas, would you promote or support a campaign that will create awareness of utility cycling technologies among the public to help to stimulate consumer demand ?
e.g. actively lobby for the acquisition of a fleet of
utility bicycles for  council staff to get around town on.

Definitely. I would also support the establishment of neighbourhood bicycle workshops similar to the one my friends at 128 Abel Smith Street in Wellington provide. That way people can access specialised tools and replace parts from bicycles that are broken – it’s also a community-building opportunity in all sorts of ways .

Q. Would you lobby for the installation of bicycle racks on ALL public transport vehicles ?

Yes, I’m not sure why they don’t have them already!

Q. Do you cycle yourself? – And if not at this stage in your life, what would it take to get you to take up ‘utility’ cycling in the future ?

I own two bicycles, a Repco Victory Tri-A road bike that I bought off TradeMe. And a Healing Road/Mountain Bike that I got free with a video camera from Chris Fenn Appliances. I did a lot of riding a couple of years ago around the Poverty bay flats with my friend Dave Tims, and went on a few of the twilight bike rides with the club. Recently I haven’t been riding so much but having just got rid of one of our cars I am using the bike more. I also take my 5 year old daughter riding over on the courts/carpark at Te Poho o Rawiri Marae – she’s almost ready to loose the training wheels!

Q. Would you recommend that other people (children/ the elderly) cycle?

Definitely. I do have safety concerns for children – our neighbours kids wear fluoro jackets just to bike to school – they have to cross Wainui Rd. And my wife’s Uncle Dave is 80 years old and still rides his ten speed with turned up handle bars into town from Kaiti.

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