The basic message is that in car dominated cities like Auckland, tentative, low level attempts at cycle infrastructure (i.e. sharrows, advance stop boxes, painted cycle lanes) may actually be more harmful than doing nothing. This is because the traffic environment is so toxic for cycling that anything less than top quality separated infrastructure on busy roads can actually make cycling more dangerous. Such low level infarstructure is likely to lead to only small incremental increases in the number of people cycling – which in turn misses the “safety in numbers” effect that is being experienced in cities like New York.
Camden, London – planter box cycle lanes – cheap but far from nasty
The secret to cycling success is to go all in and build great quality separated cycle infrastructure that starts to create the 8 to 80 cycle culture we all want. In particular, it brings out the group of people who are so essential to the normalisation of cycling – women.
I must say, to the credit of AT and NZTA, we cxan see that happening now. While juggling the backlash from the removal of roadspace and parking for cars, they are oputting in place separated infrastructure where they can. My only criticism is that in Auckland it always seems to need to be permanent, very high quality infrastructure. We are yet to see the quick, potentially temporary separation that can be achieved with planter boxes or portable concrete barriers – even though these are common tools for roading projects.
People on bikes don’t need pretty, we need effective. Then we can start cycling in groups of 30, not 3 and start enjoying that sweet, sweet safety in numbers effect!
A bit of a diversion here from Auckland to talk about my home town. I hope you will indulge me. Does anyone know of any similar films or photos showing cycling in Auckland?
As I have said in earlier posts, it seems to be particularly hard for people who grew up in the period before the 1960s, when streets were much more “complete”, to imagine the world now without all street space dedicated to moving cars.
For someone like me, born in the 1970s, it is almost a mythical utopia to imagine a city where pedestrians, trams, cars, buses and bicycles shared the road equally. Nowadays, we need to travel 15,000 kms to the Netherlands or Denmark to see the same environment.
That’s why I was so interested to find the video below from 1952 made by the National Film Unit for the Christchurch City Council which shows a very different Christchurch from the one I grew up in. It is a Christchurch where trams and bicycles dominate the streetscape. Where pedestrians stand in the street and chat. Where intersections lack the complicated controls we take for granted and street users have to use their own judgement to navigate safely through (and it seems to work). The real cycle “action” is from 2′ 15″ to 2′ 50″.
Videos like this always challenge me to think about New Zealand and New Zealanders. Were our parents, grandparents great-grandparents so much tougher than us that they felt able to cycle like this? Was the move to cars just about convenience or did the street environment slowly become so hostile that people felt unable to continue cycling? In a small, flat city (just like Groningen) such as Christchurch which was dominated by cycling for so long, it is amazing how fast cycling was abandoned as an every day means of transport.
You all know what amazing work Barbara does for CAA and on behalf of all Aucklanders (and in fact, all New Zealanders) to create a better cycling environment and make this a better city and country to live in.
When Auckland is named as one of the great cycling cities of the world, it will largely be down to the time and effort put in by people like Barbara. I really hope Barb takes out the award as she thoroughly deserves it.
Here is the summary of why she has been nominated:
Barb Cuthbert’s contributions to cycling in Auckland and New Zealand are numerous. She first became involved in cycling advocacy through her work as a planner on the Northboro Reserve walkway. She started riding a bike for transport and has never looked back. Not only has she worked to build a greater degree of collaboration between the local advocacy group in Auckland, Auckland Transport, and NZTA but she has also encouraged and worked to gain other advocacy groups around NZ greater access to and collaboration with their NZTA Regional Directors.
Barbara has been at the forefront of all Cycle Action Auckland’s achievements since 2009 (http://caa.org.nz/about/achievements/). In, 2013, she worked to have a greater integration between cycling and public transport in Auckland, working with Auckland Transport on bike parking facilities at train , bus, and ferry hubs. To pursue excellence in the redesign of Tamaki Drive she set up a working party which brought numerous stakeholders together to ensure the best outcome for infrastructure changes and road user behaviour, including piloting the road cyclist courtesy pilot “Good Bunch” In addition to progressing big projects like the Grafton Gully Cycleway and the new Nelson Street off Ramp Pilot, Barb has worked hard to continue to ensure Auckland Transport and NZTA in Auckland are pursuing quick wins.
What: A cycle ride in support of separated cycle lanes on Karangahape Road. The ride will take about 30 minutes
When: 10.30am on Sunday, 28 September
Where: Corner K’ Road and Ponsonby Road
The fantastic team at Generation Zero are holding a cycle rally on Sunday to show support for the proposed separated cycle lanes on K’ Road. Please go along to show your support.
The ride will meet at the corner of K’ Road and Ponsonby Road at 10.30am and some speakers (including our own cycling champion, Barb Cuthbert) will address the crowd. The ride will then set off at 11am down Ponsonby Road and back, then down K’ Road across Grafton Bridge then back around to St Kevins Arcade where there will be a few stalls, stands and displays. It should take around 30 minutes to complete the ride.
It won’t be a break neck pace and, even if you are not a very confident cyclist, I am sure you will discover a new found joy in cycling surrounded (and protected) by a large group of fellow wheeled pedestrians. Remember, the more of us there are, the safer we are!
You can also sign a petition in support here. There is also more information at Gen Zero’s Facebook page - so far 400-500 people have indicated they are attending. Let’s make it a nice round 1,000!
We’ve posted on the Northcote Safe Cycle route a number of times, but Cycle Action needs your help now to let Auckland Transport know there’s strong support for safe cycling routes in our communities, and AT’s proposal for this route in particular.
“Why do you need help?”, you may ask. Well, some of the Northcote Point locals are up in arms. They’ve called meetings addressed by local politicians George Wood and Jonathan Coleman, and the prospect of losing some of their on-street parking has got them all upset. We use the term “their” advisedly, because of course on-street parking doesn’t belong to adjacent property owners, it belongs to all of us, the ratepayers and residents of Auckland. We delegate management of the road corridor to AT so people can be moved safely and efficiently, and that’s exactly what AT’s proposal does.
Some Northcote Point residents think their right to adjacent on-street parking outweighs the community’s right to safe cycle paths. We disagree. And we think the majority of Aucklanders, both cyclists and people too fearful to get on a bike due to the perceived danger, will also disagree. We think safe cycling is fundamental to good urban and transport design – the key ingredients of a liveable city.
As we’ve already noted in previous posts there are some residents who will suffer hardship as their heritage houses were built without on-street parking. But there’s precious few of them, and AT can design a remedy for them with the large amount of on-street parking that will be retained. If you look at a Google Maps view of Northcote Point you’ll see most houses have generous garages and off-street parking on their properties.
We need your help now, as submissions close on Fri 29 Aug. We want you to tell AT you support safe cycling routes in our communities, particularly the buffered/Copenhagen-style lanes that offer greater separation between cyclists and motor vehicles. Just visit AT’s website and click on the Give your Feedback button
Thanks for your help.
As our previous posts on this topic have generated considerable discussion already, we’ll close comments on this particular post.