Mayor's attitude towards cyclists is embarrassing

Last updated 05:00 19/03/2012

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.

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


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!


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!


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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Susanne   #1   07:22 am Mar 19 2012

We don't have many cyclists and we have even less spare money. Whilst cyclists need to be considered, we need to spend money on areas which have the biggest impact public transport and roads.

David   #2   08:42 am Mar 19 2012

It's not just about the Mayor's attitude toward cyclist, some cyclists in Auckland have a very good given self righteous attitude, wanting to be treated like vehicles when it suits them and then running red lights almost knocking over pedestrians crossing the rd legally, not giving way and just zipping around corners, I use to ride to work everyday and know how bad drivers can be but try walking around the city and you'll see cyclists can be just as bad.

When cyclists start respecting other rd users (not just those in cars that can hurt them) they too will get respect

AaronW   #3   10:12 am Mar 19 2012

So you're blaming all cyclists for the actions of a few David #2, and you "claim" to be an ex-cyclist too?

Do you not see car drivers failing to indicate, race through orange or red lights, making up their own give way rules intersections...

Every day I cycle, and a see 1 or 2 fellow cyclists either being inconsiderate or breaking the road rules. I see dozens or more car drivers, and a fair few bus drivers being incosiderate or breaking the road code, every day.

Proportionatly, car and bus drivers are certainly no better than cyclists.

Instead of blaming others, do your damnedest to be true, courteous, and follow the road code. Once everyone does this, things will work!

Steer   #4   10:17 am Mar 19 2012

@Susanne #1

This is about investing in the future, not the narrow-minded, gas-guzzling present. Oil is a finite resource, haven't you heard? Public transport and cycling infrastructure should be of the highest priority for NZ's city councils, unfortunately it isn't... So incredibly short-sighted!

Adrian   #5   10:36 am Mar 19 2012

@ Suzanne #1:

You would see far more cyclists if just a fraction of the roading budget was spent on infrastructure to support it. This in turn would reduce demand for the public and private vehicular transport system, so needing less money spent on road maintenance. This is not to mention the positive health effects on society. Cycleways need little maintenance once installed - shared park walkway/cycleway results regarding wear embarassed UK decision-makers who were about to tax bike riders using the routes, until they found out that the walkers displace walkway gravel at a far greater rate than cyclists.

For you die-hard motorists - you'd have a quicker run to work with less congestion. It would reduce your stress - unless you are addicted to road rage and congestion, why would you think this to be a bad idea?

Adrian   #6   10:43 am Mar 19 2012

@ David #2

Fair enough, there are bad apples in every bunch. As a motorist and cyclist myself, I can understand your point of view. Report illegal acts by noting clothing, road name, and direction they are travelling. In Auckland, there are red light cameras - its possible to tie your report to video evidence, if and when the police have caught up with the offender to get their details. Road rules apply to everyone, period (personally it gets me wild seeing cyclists not wearing a helmet, no visible clothing at night and then they pull off risky crossings - Darwin Award hopefuls - ruining it for legitimate cyclists).

That said, biking aggressively can be biking visibly. Too many drivers just point their vehicle to the gap between a rule-abiding cyclist and the centre line, hoping for the best, without taking any precautionary driving technique. This cyclist disrespect is passive, amongst other notable bad driving by motorists. Look into road fatality cases, cyclists are usually the ones copping it when drivers are on auto-pilot. The one that angers me most - drivers flinging car doors open, wiping out cyclists onto oncoming traffic, killing or badly injuring the cyclist. Summary execution is a far too kind punishment for such a criminal and ignorant act.

Thing is, if such infrastructure was built to remove said aggression, both from bad cyclists and bad drivers, better road attitudes and other good things such as reduced road toll would prevail.

Whoops, silly me, stating these positives! Owning a bicycle doesnt pay recurring tax (fuel costs or bus ride tickets), so NZ decision-makers wont care! Never mind the fact that many of us pay road fees, rates and taxes, so should expect some proper infrastructure..

Susanne   #7   11:19 am Mar 19 2012

In today's fast paced society few people could have the fitness to bike to work within a reasonable time and if you need a uniform or wear a suit, how many work places provide sufficient showers facilities to enable this to work. How do you get your suit to work in a wearable state on your bike? People are limited with how much luggage they can carry on a bike so those with laptops might not have this as an option, depending on the size of their backpacks and ability to cycle with a heavy load. Carpooling is a smarter solution for an environmentally sound option than a bike. There probably would be more cyclists if we had cycle ways, but more as an alternative to the gym rather than a viable option for getting to work. You would still need to spend money on road maintence as trucks do the most damage, losing a few cars to bikes wouldn't make a difference.

brad   #8   02:16 pm Mar 19 2012

Im originally from melbourne and i think bikes are great, but- the other reason they may not be super practical in auckland is- surprise surpise- the hills. melbourne is pretty flat, which is why the bike culture is so successful. that said- it would be great to still see animaprovement in the bike infrastructure here... but i think moere important is real development of the public transport system.

FrankR   #9   02:31 pm Mar 19 2012

@Susanne. Please educate yourself. No cyclist need carry anything in a backpack. Do you not realise that bikes can be fitted with rear racks and (waterproof) bicycle panniers? There are even one's made for office commuting such as Ortlieb's Office-Bag. A set of office clothes, a laptop, travel towel and a toiletries bag are actually quite a light load, far from a heavy one. Half of those items, including a suit jacket, can be left at most workplaces. With proper folding and placement, clothes will remain uncreased. Using a dry cleaners near the workplace mean that only a fresh shirt and underclothes need be brought in daily. There are even "garment bag" bicycle panniers available, much like those used in air travel.

You also say that not everyone has the fitness to ride into work and that not everyone works at a place that provide showers and change facilities. Sure, that's undoubtably true but are you implying that cycling into work will become mandatory? Or even that it's not possible for a significant percentage of the working population to ride into work? If so, this is patently untrue. Cities such as Amsterdam & Copenhagen have almost 40% cycling commuting rates each, and their respective countries have among the highest living standards & successful economies in the world.

As for costs, you couldn't be more wrong - bicycle infrastructure is actually the cheapest to implement. And you need only consider the terrible costs of congestion and domestic money being sent to the oil producing states, to see why major cities around the world such as New York and London are starting to re-embrace cycling. Deny it or not, cycling is going to become a significant mode of transport in successful cities in the future.

john a mustchin   #10   02:43 pm Mar 19 2012

it is about time that cyclists learned the road rules .. a red traffic light does not mean a free for all .. never mind the pedestrians trying to cross the road ,,.if the cyclist were a lot more considerate .. towards other road users instead of them thinking the road .footpath was there for them only /.they need to have a crash course in road curtisey .. and dont be so arrogant . in the bloody lycra suits .. they have to start thinking of other people . or they need to be registerdso they can be prosocuted ..or electocuted ..??? one or the other ..

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