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AT’s tone deaf cycling video

One of the problems with advocating for improvements to cycle infrastructure is that many people only seem to consider cycling as something kids do for fun or that is done for sport by MAMILs (Middle Aged Men In Lycra). That’s why Cycle Action Auckland’s vision is

Cycling in Auckland is an attractive, safe and viable every-day choice for all our communities.

In cities that we often look to for inspiration – especially those outside of Europe as some people seem to treat European cities as if from a different planet – those cycling for sport are a minority, the 1%. This isn’t to say we should ignore them but that the biggest opportunity and potential users of improved cycling infrastructure is people using bikes for everyday trips like going to school, local shops, work or just visiting friends.

Ponsonby’s bike corral is one such piece of infrastructure that’s meant to support locals riding and shopping in Ponsonby. This is what AT say about it.

Auckland Transport has developed its first bike corral on Ponsonby Road. This is a new on-street bike parking facility and has the capacity for 10 bikes at any one time.

Providing an on-street bike corral enables secure and convenient bike parking. It ensures that footpath capacity is maintained and the area de-cluttered, with fewer bikes chained to street furniture. Australian studies have shown the economic benefits of bike corrals, due to the increase in parking capacity they provide when compared with on-street car parking.

This is a community-focussed project and we are engaging with the Waitemata Local Board and the Ponsonby Business Association to inform our decision-making.

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So it’s amazing how tone deaf Auckland Transport is in this video they’ve created about it, especially as it’s meant to be for the Velo-City conference which is:

Velo-city is the world’s premier international cycling planning conference. The four day event offers delegates from around the world a chance to share best practices for creating and sustaining cycling-friendly cities, where bicycles are valued as part of daily transport and recreation.

With the exception of local board memebers Christopher Dempsey and Pippa Coom, every cyclist in the video is wearing Lycra and shown with cleats and talk about cycling as a sport and not just a way to get from A to B. Although it might be that they’re the ones using the corral the most as everyone else is simply too scared of the incredibly hostile environment that Ponsonby currently is to anyone not in a car.

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On the positive side, at least the retailers are noticing a benefit to having the corral there and hopefully it will help in persuading other businesses that getting more infrastructure for cyclists will be good for their business – as has been shown everywhere else in the world.

60 comments to AT’s tone deaf cycling video

  • The corral is fine, but it is the equivalent of building a multi-storey carpark in a field without appropriate roads leading to it. In other words we should not expect it to be well used until there are cycle lanes on Ponsonby Rd and that those lanes are connected to a widespread network.

  • Fred

    Wow that’s a shockingly bad video. Sending the message that unless you’re a super fit lycra-clad road warrior prepared to take your life into your own hands every time you get on a bike, then cycling is not for you.

  • Bryce P

    Little wonder then that those of us advocating for protected lanes, safe intersections and the like, are up against it. Did we see any families in that video?

  • So the photo of the actual corral has five bike in it, and all five are commuter-transport models (including the steed of Mr Reynolds if I’m not mistaken) and none are lycra bikes.

    Yet the video shows three white guys in racing kit with carbon fibre racing bikes, and nothing else?

    That’s a bit like AT opening a new park and ride and only showing three formula one drivers pulling up in their racing cars.

    • Well I do use this Corral several times a week and I never see the Lycra set there…. Could be that I just don’t get up early enough….?

      Would really like to talk to whoever was responsible for that video, it really is wrongheaded. Is this because cycling is under ‘community’ transport and not normalised within ‘proper’ transport? Do they think this is like provision of a sports field, or some swings and slides for the kiddies? Are they really that out of touch?

      • Kevin Welsh

        If Auckland is anything like the rest of the country Patrick, you will see the racers on a Sunday morning. That is the traditional time for large bunch rides. And the cafes here in Hawke’s Bay love us. Getting 20-30 riders turn up on a Sunday morning is very good for business.

        • Yes and that’s great, and it’ll happen with or without cycling infrastructure, but ordinary humans using a bike to get around and shop daily won’t happen without the streets being fixed. You guys are sweet, you’ve got what you need, a fast road and a gazzillion cafes. But even your lives will be safer once cycling is normalised and drivers get used to expecting to see people on bikes at all times and everywhere. Not just early morning once a week, when they’re not rushing anywhere anyway.

  • Barney

    The video is more like one of those breathless Olympic Games promotion videos rather than about safe cycling for everyone.

    • Brendan

      I know this topic is about bike parking, but I quite like the reverse angle car parks shown between the bike lane and the road.

      Do you know why we don’t have them here, they seems vastly superior to forward angle parks – as with reverse you have a much better view of traffic that you are pulling out into, where as with forward angle you have to reverse blind into traffic.

  • Make It Go

    A truly dreadful video, sending the wrong message, over and over again. A complete marketing fail made by clueless box tickers who have no interest whatsoever in developing and marketing real cycling infrastructure.

  • Christopher T

    Thirty five years ago I used to cycle regularly in Auckland. It wasn’t particularly safe (drivers were just as bad then, but there were considerably fewer of them) but it was possible (along as you had a full set of gears) and even pleasant (the Domain was a joy). I would like to now but don’t have a suicide wish. The reason I and so many other potential cyclists are deterred from venturing forth onto the road is glaringly transparent when you watch a video made by AT, the organisation that’s supposed to be looking after the interests of cyclists, as well as all the other users of the street, including, dare I say it, pedestrians. Evidently AT has become so completely enthralled by SOVs and freight interests, by the flow and volumes of motor traffic, that it’s unable to even commission a video on cycling that reflects its wider responsibilities to the community it’s meant to serve.

  • Barney

    This has to be on of the gems of Jafaland. Only Ponsonby could come up with calling a very ordinary bike rack a ‘Bike Corral’ and then spend thousands of dollars on a video promoting the area as a coffee shop destination for the Lycra clad Ponsonby set I wonder what they call parking meters in Ponsonby. Horseless carriage hitching posts.

    • Bike Corral is an american term, used in New York, San Francisco, Portland etc, not invented by Auckland or Jafas.

      The concept is more than an ordinary bike rack, it’s where you take away a car parking space to build them i.e turn 1 access space into ten.

    • bbc

      Indeed, a bike corral is a universally used word specific for what was built on Ponsonby Rd in which a car space was replaced with bike parking. It’s not a normal bike rack at all.

  • Greg V

    Gah. “Local Cyclist”. How about just “Local”? Would the caption be “Local Pedestrian” if they had walked there, or “Local Motorist” if they had driven there? The sooner the “cyclist” word gets dropped from anything to do with bikes as transport, the better. Does nothing to promote the fact that anyone can use bikes as transport.

  • Wonder how much Auckland Transport paid for this, and where in the budget it came from. Would be nice to know the manager responsible.

    Worthless messaging from AT, but still with reasonable production values. Can’t have been cheap.

  • Christopher Dempsey

    Hi, thanks for all your comments.
    I was invited to speak on camera, so naturally enough I turned up in my cycling gear. That is, normal clothes, carefully chosen for the camera (dark top, no checks or stripes). I actually did have my briefcase pannier, and my bike is not carbon,
    For what it is worth, I’m pleased that the video got made. It shows both how far we have come in terms of cycling in Auckland, and yet, how far we have to go! I don’t mind the lycra crowd for two reasons; it’s these guys, back in their cars during the working week that know how to pass me on the road when I am commuter cycling i.e. five days a week, and secondly, they are one part, albeit the more ‘visible’ part of the wider cycling whanau, and therefore more likely to feature in such a video as this. But that’s not to say effort could not have been spared to observe the corral over a period of time, and make contact with all the ‘ordinary’ people who use it.
    So yes, the video is ‘tone-deaf’ as someone said, but I also celebrate it as it is a measure of what we have to do to in the next year!

    • Hi Chris, thanks for dropping by, and good on you and Pippa for being in the video and giving it a bit of balance. No one here ‘minds the Lycra crowd'; they’re great, part of the patchwork using our streets, but this video suggests that the AT cycling team doesn’t understand what they need to do at all. It’s good for Sunday riders to have somewhere to park and while they are the most visible group when they are riding they are not the bulk of the potential riding numbers Auckland could have, and should have.

      I am glad the video got made too because I now understand another reason why cycling is so poorly served by AT; even those charged with improving the public realm for all users just don’t get it. Sigh.
      They do know that the T in AT stands for Transport don’t they? It’s not Auckland Recreation that they work for.

    • Bryce P

      Loved the note about panniers Chris. Pity AT didn’t really show a bike kitted out as such (other than Pippa’s front basket).

  • wayne

    I wish people would drop the the term lycra. I never know if it is being use to denegrate or not. If you observed on the northwestern that most long distance commuters wear lycra. Symiply because it is comfortable. We are the ones who have keep the numbers up through out all the years. We are the ones who get counted each year in the annual surveys.

    • Wayne definitely not to denegrate. Problem I have is people portraying that only people doing long distance cycling are cyclists as it ignores the vast majority who just want to use a bike to get around casually. By in large the people like yourself will likely cycle no matter the conditions and that’s great, we definitely need people doing that – especially through the dark years as you say, it’s just that the market for doing that isn’t exactly going to grow much.

    • Fair enough, Wayne; I’m using it to describe recreational cyclists, it’s a handy shorthand but you’re right it’s not that accurate. No problems with this or any other group riding, but the changes that AT need to make to our streets and roads are in order to enable that vast majority who are not currently ridding, and will not ride until they can do so safely, to start. Those of us brave or silly enough to do it now should not be their target market. But I guess they’re all engineers who were taught that you measure what’s there and provide for it, except for motorised vehicles, where you predict endless demand growth and build for it decades in advance.

    • Bryce P

      Shall we call it the ‘bunch crowd’ then. Whatever, AT constantly seem to forget about the rest of us who use our bikes to get around town on errands or to meetings. Not at warp factor 9 but at speeds that allow comfortable riding. Just this morning I rode to the local supermarket in shorts, a t-shirt and my jandals. I put the tissues and orange in my panniers and enjoyed the ride, all without the slightest thought of taking my car.

  • wayne

    Ok fair enough. I fully support that the growth in cycling will come from people using it as an every day activity. I just don’t like applying labels to a specific group of cyclists. It is what motorists do to us, to make out we are some sort of different species. I prefer just people riding bikes.

    • Bryce P

      The other problem that I have come across is that some of the ‘bunch riders’ do not want cycle lanes or cycle specific intersection crossings as they see this as slowing them down or not providing enough space. They prefer the ‘vehicular cycling’ philosophy which, unfortunately, doesn’t help the cause of the rest of us promoting comfortable riding.

  • Ted E

    I wonder if there is a little lady in Auckland who would like to feature as this little lady does. It seems that she can also take the heat with humour and Panache. http://bikeportland.org/2012/06/28/with-six-kids-and-no-car-this-mom-does-it-all-by-bike-73731

    I reckon my bike should have been in the mix as well. $35 mountain bike with galloon oil container panier in the front and 4 gallon plastic oil panier on the back with the CAN poster “Burn Fat not Oil”, These and a few pensioner cyclists are what is needed to get it going.

  • Steve King

    I ride around Sandringham, Mt Eden, Mt Albert, Mt Roskill almost daily, both for fun/exercise but also to run errands and shop because I enjoy it. I see very few of these types of riders and, though I welcome the corrals, I’d like to see them outside shopping malls and shopping strips before I see them outside entertainment strips.
    I’d also like them to accommodate bikes with front panniers better (mine always struggles to stand easily with the weight of the basket on the front).
    And I wouldn’t be seen dead dressed like those guys either. Bless them tho.

  • A reminder of what cycling conditions on Ponsoby Rd are often like on not Sunday mornings, ie for those who wish to use a bike on a daily transport basis, and why so few do:

  • And here’s what AT should be trying to achieve. And there is absolutely no mystery as to how to do it. On-Street and Off-Road cycle lanes; a whole network. And it would cost about the same as one motorway intersection like the overbuilt nest of flyovers that has just been fast-tracked in the budget [with borrowed money so to keep the 'surplus' intact] for SH1-SH18- where there is already a functioning intersection; FFS.

    NB: I am not advocating a fence like this for Ponsonby Rd, that is unnecessary and undesirable; just the lanes with a few curb bumps, or even just paint.

  • Simon H

    “Cycling in Auckland should be an attractive, safe and viable every-day choice for all our communities. But it’s not yet.”
    There, fixed that for you. Just about broke my rear wheel on one of those centre islands the other day getting through a few km of stationary traffic.

    • Max

      You clearly missed the fact that this is CAA’s vision, not claimed as reality! If we thought that was the reality, we’d have nothing to do.

      • Steve D

        If that were the case I’m sure CAA would have even more to do! Driving in Auckland is an attractive, safe, and viable every-day choice for all our communities (that have the cash for a car). That doesn’t mean that the Automobile Association is out of a job.

  • Simon H

    Nice electric train graphic in the logo BTW

  • Barb Cuthbert

    What a wasted opportunity and a sad use of public money.
    I pay tribute to Pippa and Christophere because they are champions for cycling on the Waitemata Local Board. AT have abused their integrity, goodwill and unquestionable commitment to cycling.

    Recreational and sports cyclists are an important part of the Auckland’s cycling community. For some years they made up most of the people seen on bikes, hence they created the public perception that everyone on a bike was a road cyclist. Those of us who ride bikes for transport or to get around our communities on a bike for any other reason know this is not the case now. Backpacks, panniers and baskets are standard issue for bikes now, showing that we support local businesses and are set up to carry home produce and other goods. (Take note AT for your next video).

    Cycling is growing in Auckland, and is widely diverse. Recreational and sports cyclists are just as legitimate as any others. ( Please let’s avoid an ‘Animal Farm’ way of thinking). I’m proud in Cycle Action Auckland to represent everyone on a bike, and those who aspire to ride a bike.

    What concerns me is that Velo City is a big international gathering designed to attract and display the best ideas and creativity in cycling, and to spread global respect for the value of cycling. AT’s video feels as tho’ Auckland is stuck in a time warp and has no aspirations to be an internationally competitive city where cycling is a normal part of everyday life.

    Please don’t show it at Velo city, AT.

  • donna

    Oh dear, this really is embarrassing.
    Thanks for Chris Dempsey’s efforts to talk about panniers and shopping but it does get lost in the overall theme of cycling being a latte-supping white person’s weekend hobby. Yes, that’s right: there are no brown people in this video. The Auckland I live in is multi-ethnic but you’d never know it from looking at this.
    Won’t repeat comments others have made more eloquently than I could, but for this: this is about 1 bike corral in central Auckland. We need lots more. And we need them, to be connected. And w need them in areas brown people live in, too.

  • Peter H

    “The wind through my hair”
    http://www.pinterest.com/bcp78/me-my-bike-and-the-wind-through-my-hair/
    Not me but some cool bikes – normal foot wear

  • Ted E

    This cost benefit analysis (http://bikeportland.org/2011/02/04/research-by-2040-portlands-bikeway-investments-could-save-us-800-million-in-health-care-fuel-costs-47392) does not seem to allow for the value of reduced congestion.

    I wonder what the effect of reduced speed of vehicles on our streets no (maybe even our Stroads) to a steady 18kph whether that would be better for heavy vehicle running costs and whether it would enable the phasing of lights to be automatically adjusted to give a more steady flow of traffic. It is reasonable to for an averaging of speed to be less than 10kph when the stop start and it’s attendant higher energy use is added.

  • paul

    Coming late to this discussion but wanted to record my thoughts on this
    Thank you retailers for supporting this initiative. Hopefully they will also get behind the P Rd master which aims to humanise the street making active transport viable and attractive for more people
    The messaging on this video is a right stuff up and demonstrates AT have yet to “get it”
    And how come we haven’t seen any other corrals rolled out in areas of high demand

  • Chris O

    Couldn’t they have found one family out biking together to feature? Actually, given this is Auckland, probably not. But still – families are the perfect target for the bike corral. Take the kids out for Sunday ride around the neighbourhood, stop at a local cafe for a hot chocolate, head home again. The streets around Ponsonby are (relatively) bike friendly. Be great if Ponsonby and Jervois Roads could be made equally welcoming to cyclists.

  • nick1234

    Yes showing a family would have been better, but I think best would be to show people using bikes who aren’t going out for a “ride around the neighbourhood”, or even going out specifically for a bike ride at all. They’re people going to shop, to a cafe etc who just happen to use a bike to get there. If I drive to the supermarket I don’t say “I’m off for a drive in my car”, I say “I’m off to the supermarket”. That’s the shift in mindset that needs to happen.

  • nick1234

    Good point about recreation vs transport. I do kind of think the big bunch recreational rider phenomenon is why there’s so much antagonism towards cyclists from other road users in NZ, much more so than I’ve experienced in the UK. There seems something slightly self-centred and a little unreasonable about using busy city streets as a training ground. That’s not what they’re there for and it’s no wonder it winds people up, even other people who ride bikes, like me.

    I’ve made a similar point here in the past and quickly got shot down in flames by people saying “But what about car drivers who use the streets to race around and play in their cars?”. Well they also are being self-centred and unreasonable. But two wrongs don’t make a right.

    • TheBigWheel

      I agree, much more antagonism towards bunch rides evident here than in UK. I sometimes wonder why that is. I think that part of the trouble is that Auckland is so vast and sprawling that if you’re starting off on a recreational ride anywhere near the CBD, you have to ride 30 k just to get to the countryside.. and when you get there, your chances of death on our 100 k rural roads just increased by an order of magnitude. And the cafés are few and far between.

      Like every category of road user, there is a range of behaviours in bunch riders, and between bunches. I take my hat off to the roadies.. as others have said, they have kept cycling through the dark years. Sure their requirements are not identical to families or shoppers, (though they are not so dissimilar from many commuter trips) but at the end of the day Barbara is right, they, like everyone else, have the right to cycle on our streets, and safely.

    • Aren’t that many that use busy city streets as a training ground, more like un busy Sunday mornings and not much in the city. Similarly there aren’t many drivers who race around and play in cars at busy peak times.

      That is kinda the point though, not selling the corral as something for hobbyists riding on sunny weekend mornings, but rather as something for those using cycling for transport reasons.

  • NCD

    To me the the saddest thing is that AT can be so proud of having made one bike corral that they need to make a promo video . Do they make a vid each time they create a car park? Should be a non-event.

  • mfwic

    Shouldn’t a corral have four sides with one that opens so we can chase them all in? I am keen to participate in the first annual cycle muster. Do we bring dogs?

  • Mark Hannan, Media Manager, Auckland Transport

    This cip is a small part of a much larger presentation about cycling generally. This wasn’t staged, we simply turned up one morning and sought comment from people who were using the cycling corral on that particular day.

    • Hi Mark, thanks for your comment. I guess we could conclude from the views above that some staging might be a good way to get a better message across in any future work….

      • Bryce P

        But Auckland isn’t Copenhagen, with wide, flat streets. We already know the general gist of the culture from sections within AT.

    • Bryce P

      The issue with the Ponsonby Rd cycle racks is that they are surrounded by exactly no other cycle infrastructure so will generally only attract the 1% brave, fearless bike riders. Hardly a recipe for cycling success Mark.

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