While introducing speaker Professor Rob Adams at a recent Auckland Conversation about 'The issues facing Auckland as we work to become the world's most liveable city', Len Brown outlined the key changes that Melbourne had implemented in its transformation to be the world's most liveable city.
The key changes Brown mentioned that Melbourne had made were: creating a great CBD with a strong heart, a strong focus on investment in public transport and a strong commitment to a compact city with a focus on arts, sports and culture.
In my opinion he missed a key component that Melbourne has in spades. Adams discussed this 'key' component, and you have only to walk into the visitor information office in Melbourne, as I did recently, to see what I mean.
The walls of the tourist information office are covered in images of cycling Melbournians, and indeed the city itself is full of real people cycling on fabulous separated cycling infrastructure for the most part.
I was staggered by the improvements that had been made since I lived there eight years ago. There is a real commitment to providing infrastructure that encourages ordinary people to use bicycles for transport. Adams said: "We've started on a bike network to start to empower the cyclist in our city" - I love that; Melbourne's cycling infrastructure is already streets ahead of ours and he used the word 'started'.
It is so good to have this week's weather behind us.
As an Aucklander I was appreciative that the water spout decided to peter out without causing damage. It gave me a(nother) chance to reflect on how lucky we are here in the north.
But Wednesday's weather did have some negative impact and that was evident in the poor turn out for the Auckland Transport sponsored annual Go By Bike breakfasts held across the city.
I felt a bit like a preacher awaiting his congregation on a Sunday morning in the knowledge that the weather was going to inhibit attendance by the regular members of my 'flock' and that there was absolutely no way that I was going to be meeting new members on a day like that.
On reflection it seemed to me that relying on a single day ... even with the attractions of musi, gifts, displays and a hearty breakfast ... was perhaps not the best way to attract new cyclists on to their bikes. A programme that touched the hearts and minds (and mouth and stomach?) of the commuter on a more regular basis at points which they usually commute to or from (Britomart, ferry terminals and bus stations) would not require them to find a cyclist friendly environment but rather have it taken to them.
The court case to prosecute the motorist involved in Jane Bishop's tragic death under a truck on Tamaki Drive in November 2010, ended yesterday. Jane was killed at a notorious pinchpoint on a tight bend on the road, crushed under the wheels of a passing truck. The truck was in peak hour evening traffic, travelling at about 5kmh. I have the greatest sympathy for the many people affected by her death, including the truck driver, the motorist, their families, Jane Bishop's family, friends, as well as the investigating police and authorities.
While, thankfully, such grave consequences are rare, the "opportunity" for such tragedies are not. They are currently an everyday probability. I am a huge advocate for cycling, and not because I like wearing lycra. Cycling has many social, health, mental, environmental and economic benefits - and it's great fun. In promoting cycling as one of my favourite pastimes and as an alternative to using my car for transport, I find myself in turmoil, as I know there are dangers in taking to our roads.
There will always be "accidents" but this was a crash that should not have occurred. Jane usually rode on the shared path beside the road, but the Court was told that the path beside the crash site is very narrow and was full of pedestrians at the time of the crash. The pinchpoint where Jane was killed is created by roadside car parking on the on the headland by Kelly Tarltons. These parking spaces were known to be extremely hazardous by Auckland City Council because they were highlighted in a report commissioned by the Council from Cycle Action Auckland in 2006. The report asked for urgent action to remove the car parks. The Council ignored this advice - and took no action.
Auckland Transport removed a few of the pinchpoint car parks two days after the fatal crash. More parking spaces need to be removed for the safety of cyclists riding this headland section of Tamaki Drive. The Police Officer reporting to the court yesterday on Jane's death commented: "The pinchpoint lane was 3.6m wide at the point of the crash. The situation was "pretty dangerous" but was not unique. To me, it would appear to a large extent that they have moved the situation 20m down the road."
Twenty metres down the Road the same tragedy awaits - today, this morning, right now!!
And this is not an isolated "pinchpoint". There are many more throughout the City - they are black spots for cyclists. Some have already been identified by Cycle Action Auckland and await a tragedy like this to occur again.
If you know of any, do us all a favour by letting Auckland Transport know about them - today. If you let Cycle Action know as well, they will stay on AT's case.
Without this collective action and rapid responses from Auckland Transport, another life will be sacrificed - maybe 20m away.
Now that the weather is starting to play its part I thought it time to hit a few of the trails that surround our city and give some first hand feedback.
I’d heard many good things about the cycle path/walkway around the Orewa Estuary and took the opportunity to experience it on Sunday. For the most part it’s a wide concrete path beautifully sculpted into the flat surrounds of the estuary, complemented with five bridges and a tarseal section through a nice piece of native bush.
I confess I felt a little diffident about how we, the ‘we’ being 6 lycra clad riders on road bikes, might be accepted on what is primarily a venue for walkers and families on bikes enjoying a calm (and dry) Sunday morning. But our reception from the many locals we met en route was as warm as the day.
It’s a delightful trip and at about 8kms it’s long enough to feel that it’s a worthwhile thing to do on foot or by bike. The track is dead easy to find at the bottom left of the bridge into Orewa where parking and coffee are also handy. Signposting is excellent. And as a bonus, as well as the views of the estuary you get to gaze into lots of backyards. Very tidy those Orewa people!
And if you don’t have your own bikes, pop into BikeMe on the Orewa waterfront. They are more than adequately prepared to help you hire a range of family bikes.
The New Year is only 12 days old and I have read about the tragic death of a cyclist hit by a car in Tauranga and the serious injury to his partner; a serious bike vs car accident in Takapuna involving one of the country’s leading triathletes (which will no doubt have ramifications on that guys 2012 season) and the mindless abuse and violence inflicted on a couple from the US whilst cycling in Wellington – a couple I hasten to add rode the TelstraClear Challenge a month ago and posted a blog on their website that was read by hundreds of thousands worldwide. I cringe to read their next post!
That is 12 days of carnage – and these are only the reported stories that I have picked up. I am guessing there will be many more unreported incidents where motorists and cyclists have tangled.
Cyclists are not squeaky clean in this. I get that. But here is the clincher – in a car vs bike altercation almost always there is only one loser.
As someone who has been through a car windscreen – with a resulting injury that still affects me today – I know all too well the long term impact such accidents can have. I was lucky, I am here today.
And what was the ultimate cause – lack of respect / understanding / attention. Nothing else. That driver was not a bad person. She admitted to the fact that although she was aware of my presence on the road, she did not take the necessary precautions to keep us apart.
Blog terms and conditions
You're welcome to post in the comments section of our blogs. Please keep comments under 400 words. When submitting a comment, you agree to be bound by our terms and conditions.