When all you do for transport is drive (or get driven around) it can be hard to appreciate the value that others place on good quality walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure. It doesn’t tend to go the other way that much though as most people walking, cycling or catching PT are also drivers or have been driven around at some point too. The reason this is important is that those that make the decisions on transport in this city/country often don’t tend to fall particularly into the cycling or PT categories. Thankfully when it came to the issue of hi-vis gear the associate transport minister does happen to be a cyclist and so can appreciate the arguments from both sides.
Getting a brief understanding of the issues that cyclists face appears to have been one of the goals of Campbell Live last night who managed to get the Mayor on to a bike for a tour around the city’s streets.
There were are couple of points in the piece that really caught my attention.
The biggest one was him saying that he wants $900 million, 1000km cycle network completed over 30 years. Now this is interesting for a few reasons. The first it equates to about $30 million and 33km per year. Thankfully Auckland Transport recently provided us with figures on cycling progress. They said that they have/are budgeted to spend:
- 2011/12 – $7m (prior to 2012-15 RLTP)
- 2012/13 – $9.967m spent
- 2013/14 – $10.3m planned
On top of this they say about $15 million is being spent as part of other roading projects. so perhaps about $25 million a year. For the distance measurement we have
- In 2012/13 delivered 7.4km of new cycle lanes and shared paths and 8.7km of new footpaths
- In 2013/14 plan is to implement 15.4km of new cycleways and 6km of new footpath
So well short of the 33km per year needed but even then it’s going to be a long time till we see a near completed cycle network. Just as a reminder, over 6 years from 2007 New York City managed to build 590km of their cycle network showing that if we want to build large parts of the network then we can, providing we put the focus on doing just that.
Further a 1000km cycle network is a bit longer than the currently planned 900km network AT has on their website, although they have said they have revised the network but we are yet to see it. The one below is from Integrated Transport Programme.
The other major thing that caught my attention was his discussion on the use of berms. I agree that they are largely under-utilised and in many cases it would be good to make better use of them however there’s two problems I see with it. One is it would require shifting the kerb and channel which is bound to add some decent costs. In many places there are also large established trees that might prevent the kerb from being able to be widened unless they were cut down, something bound to be unpopular with locals.
The suggestion also seems to be based on the idea that we can only get cycling facilities that doesn’t impact on the existing road resource. Just because our streets are the way they are now doesn’t mean that they are ideal. There are often huge amounts of space set aside on the road for parking and median strips so we should also be having a discussion about the value of those, especially as they can often be changed with just paint. The parking issue is especially the case in newer parts of the city were minimum parking requirements have required huge amounts of off street parking.
So while Lens talk sounds good, I can’t really see it as anything of a change from what’s already happening – which is not enough and not fast enough.