Mayor's attitude towards cyclists is embarrassing

18:43, Mar 18 2012

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'.

When you look at Auckland's cycling infrastructure it is embarrassingly poor compared to Melbourne's.

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Melbourne (Left to right): beige car door zone (imagine that!!!), black two-way cycle path, grass median, pedestrian path.

WATERFRONT

Melbourne (Left to right): beige car door zone (imagine that!!!), black two-way cycle path, grass median, pedestrian path.

Auckland: Shared pedestrian/bike path along Tamaki drive - no guessing which side is the bike path!

BICYCLE BRIDGE

Melbourne: A cycle bridge strung under one of Melbourne's motorways - it took us 3.5 minutes to cycle the length of it - that's most of the way across the Auckland Harbour Bridge ...

Auckland: Oh that's right, we are still waiting for a cycling bridge over the Auckland Harbour Bridge!

ON-ROAD SEPARATED CYCLE PATHS

Melbourne: Two lane separated cycle path with buffer zone for car doors.


Auckland: Can't think of any off the top of my head - any ideas readers?

If Brown is serious about Auckland becoming the world's most liveable city, he will have to put some concerted effort into making everyday cycling a realistic option for ordinary people, along with a decent chunk of cold hard cash. When you look around the world these days it's hard to find a 'grown up' city that isn't working hard to encourage everyday transport cycling to mitigate its congestion, emission and health problems.

If Brown wants our city to be a proper 'grown-up' international city he'll have to wake up to the bicycle. He needs to add the following to his 'to do' list: build a comprehensive network of decent cycling infrastructure, positively promote cycling as a relevant and normal transport option, and set an ambitious modal share target.

Leaving comprehensive cycling infrastructure and promotion as a poorly funded tag line in Auckland's future just won't cut it.

Callum McNair is the event promoter of the TelstraClear Challenge - Auckland opportunity to ride over the Harbour Bridge - 11 November 2012. Article authored by Unity, the founder and editor of Cycling in Auckland and creator of Auckland Cycle Chic.

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