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Cycling needs serious investment

October 3, 2013

Recently, Mayoral and Council candidates were asked for their views on the amount that should be spent on improving the cycling experience in Wellington.

(http://can.org.nz/article/quiz-the-candidates-wellington-council-elections-2013)

I’m serious about getting better cycling, and suggested a fairly ambitious $20 million per year for three years with a review after that. Maybe that’s not achievable, but I wanted to make the point that we need a serious spend, not just fiddling around with a million  here and there.  However, I’m  not suggesting Council should fund it all- I envisage a shared funding arrangement with fairly major contributions from Greater Wellington, and NZTA.

I also agree with colleague David Lee who suggested that some of the money could come from the existing Council roading budget of around $25 million a year- quite simply, when a road is upgraded the planned cycling infrastructure is included.

There are more and more Wellingtonians cycling and a recent survey found that 92% of respondents  would try cycling if it were safer. Cycling has huge health and other social benefits; keeping healthy and fit, enjoyment of the outdoors, social recreation, reduction of congestion, reduction in pollutants, saving on fuel bills, etc

However, there are also negatives; mainly the frustration for motorists of having to share  roads where no thought has been given to mode share, and the injuries and even deaths to cyclists.

Wellington is New Zealand’s most dangerous city for cyclists. The 2012/13 monitoring report on the Regional Land Transport Strategy (RLTS), records that one cyclist died, 33 were seriously injured and 91 suffered minor injuries last year alone. This gives a serious economic basis for increased investment , with the Ministry of Transport  setting a figure of $3.3 million in 2008 as the economic value of a single life (see p7,  http://www.nzips.govt.nz/documents/Report4.pdf ).

We need to do better, and simply painting “cycle lanes” on the road isn’t enough. In most cases intersections need  better cycling infrastructure; we also need to widen some  roads and/or improve the road surface at the margins. In other cases we need to consider more innovative solutions such as  to partially close off some less-used roads to through traffic so they are more cycle (and pedestrian) friendly. I have also suggested  commuter cycling routes could be considered through part of the Town Belt, for example from Island Bay through to Newtown, and through to Kilbirnie.

Nothing will change if we don’t make it change, and in my view the time for some serious investment in cycling is now. Eastern Ward residents, if  you elect me as your councillor, I will vigorously put this issue on the table! And you can expect me to advocate for some projects in the Eastern ward as well, starting with better cycling around the Miramar peninsula, through  Kilbirnie and around Evan’s Bay.

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From → Transport

2 Comments
  1. Pam permalink

    Cyclists need to be more respectful of pedestrians, and they need to obey traffic rules – stop at red lights etc, ride single file on narrow roads, pull over to let queues of cars past… more courtesy by cyclists would be helpful for everyone.

  2. Actually, Pam I agree

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