SPOKES DUNEDIN SUBMISSION ON DRAFT 2016-2017 ANNUAL PLAN

Summary

A change of scope is needed for Dunedin’s cycling network, but it is unclear what the DCC’s change in scope actually means, and higher standard cycleways are only part of the story.  

Spokes Dunedin has a vision for successfully realising the cycle network. We want everyone to be able to cycle from North Dunedin to South Dunedin, out both sides of the Harbour, and through the tunnels to Green Island and Mosgiel on a connected framework of city-spanning arterial routes that are safe, direct, and convenient to use.  This will focus work where there is a clear need for improved safety rather than on streets that are already relatively safe, and will create a solid initial network that can grow and develop in response to future demand.

The great thing is that there already exists some cycling infrastructure on many of the routes for this initial network.  Several things can be achieved by the end of this year that will help Dunedin catch back up to where it should be.

   To do in 2016

  1. Support NZTA to begin construction of the SH1 separated lanes by the end of this year.
  2. Fix Portobello Road – it’s already been two years.  We don’t need fancy landscaping, we just need the median barrier realignment so the road looks like a road and the cycleway looks like a cycleway.
  3. Complete the Wharf/Roberts intersection as agreed – it’s already been two years.  This intersection presents an identified safety risk on a high demand route.
  4. Continue the SH88 path through the rail corridor to the railway station, thereby providing an alternative to the cycle lanes on Anzac Ave (heavy freight route and high risk).
  5. Create a separated cycle lane from the intersection of Andersons Bay/Strathallan, along The Oval, to Crawford Street in place of the existing cycle lane between two lanes of fast-moving traffic.
  6. Develop plans for a separated cycle lane on North Road and safety improvements for the Opoho intersection to tie in with NZTA’s forthcoming separated cycle lanes on SH1.  This route is of very high strategic priority.

Introduction

Dunedin is a pro-cycling city, where a significant proportion of the population regularly cycles for recreation, transportation, or both.  Year after year, cycling is one of the most strongly supported and heavily submitted-on topics in the annual plan.  One of the biggest public consultation events in Dunedin history was held in 2013 regarding the proposed SH1 separated cycle lanes.  In addition to widespread media coverage, NZTA and DCC staff solicited input from the public at information booths in busy locations including the Golden Center, Toitu, and the University.  With over 2000 written submissions and roughly 800 survey responses, the SH1 separated cycle lanes received one of the highest response rates of any topic ever consulted on.  The result was overwhelming support for the proposed separated cycle lanes.  Independently, the AA undertook a survey of their local membership, with over 70% of the nearly 1500 respondents supporting the proposed separated lanes.  The overwhelming public demand and support for better cycling in Dunedin cannot be denied.

In response to this demand, the City rightly undertook to develop a Strategic Cycle Network.  But the South Dunedin portion of the cycle network has not delivered on the ambitions of the cycle network plan adopted in 2011.  Nothing has progressed in the last year, leaving half-finished elements scattered around, with other things ripped out without consultation.

Some might argue that we should throw up our hands in despair, abandoning the possibility of future success under the fear of past failures.  But others know that setbacks are par for the course when charting new waters and trying new things.  Where would we be if the likes of Cook, Columbus, or Magellan had turned around after the first storm and torn sail?  Those leaders stayed the course, their sailors gained experience, and they ultimately changed the world.

The success of the Portsmouth Drive and SH88 paths demonstrate what is possible and provide confidence that the rest of the cycle network will be successful if done right.  The key thing now is to keep moving towards the goal while modifying the delivery strategy to ensure success.

Spokes Dunedin has not always agreed with the choices made by the DCC and feels that most of the mistakes stem from bad advice from out of town consultants who were trusted as experienced experts.

A change in scope is definitely needed, and the change in scope in this year’s annual plan calling for higher standard cycleways may be part of the solution, but there isn’t really sufficient information provided to know what this actually means, but landscaping is mentioned.  Landscaping should not be required for most routes since the cycleway will usually be in the road corridor.  Furthermore, we do not believe it is appropriate to fund large-scale city beautification projects out of the very limited cycling budget.  Let the cycling money pay for cycleways.  Landscaping, planting, and park benches are the domain of parks and recreation, not transport.

What Dunedin needs is a winning implementation strategy, and Spokes Dunedin has a vision for how to do it and how to quickly get Dunedin’s cycle network back on track.

Most of what is said in this submission has been said by us before but has not been adopted.  We think these are common sense recommendations that can be quickly adopted, and we expect to see real on-the-ground progress of the cycle network by the end of this calendar year.

A backbone of routes

The place-based approach employed for South Dunedin hasn’t worked so well.  In 2012 we said “although we support the redevelopment of South Dunedin in ways that make it more attractive and accessible to people on foot and on bicycles” we thought it was a mistake “to concentrate all the next three years’ funding on that area” (Spokes Dunedin Long Term Plan submission, May 2012). The place-based approach risks encouraging expenditure on routes with low strategic value and low priority in the name of providing a “complete” subnetwork, rather than tackling the real safety risks encountered by cyclists and the barriers to cycling.  

Our vision for success calls for:

  • A backbone of city-spanning arterial routes that will enable future growth of the network.  The most natural overarching structure prioritizes the flat areas from Normanby, through the city, along both sides of the harbour, right through South Dunedin to St Kilda and St Clair, the tunnels/trail to Mosgiel, and Kaikorai Valley Road.
  • Identification and prioritization of safety risks, barriers to cycling, and connectivity issues across the city.

This approach is fully in line with the original intent of the cycle network strategy adopted in 2011, which said “the network is designed to provide greater connectivity and safety for cyclists. Identifying strategic routes means investment can be targeted to achieve the greatest benefit. Development of cycle facilities on the routes (such as cycle lanes, separated cycle paths, or shared paths) will be carried out over a 20 – 30 year period, based on priority.”  Since our proposed approach seems to be the true intent of the network, we expect that it can be immediately adopted to achieve on-the-ground results by the end of this year.

The great thing about this strategy is that several of the elements are either already in place or already in progress e.g. SH88, Portsmouth Drive, Peninsula road widening project.  However, the connections between these existing elements are disjointed or non-existent, and often present safety risks to cyclists or barriers to cycling that need to be addressed to create a real network.  For example, the North/Opoho intersection presents a disconnection between the existing cycle lanes on North Rd (which should be converted to separated lanes) and the cycle lanes on SH1, and creates a safety risk and barrier to cycling.  North Road is essentially flat, is the obvious way into town for about 9,000 people, and is the designated sealed cycle route to points north of Dunedin (which also sees heavy use by recreational cyclists); connecting North East Valley to the rest of the city via North Rd is clearly of high strategic value and should be a top priority..  At the other end of SH1, the northbound cycle lane from Anderson’s Bay Rd along The Oval is between two lanes of fast-moving cars and trucks – another clear safety risk and barrier to cycling that could easily be mitigated by a separated cycle lane along The Oval.  A list of routes that should be completed by the end of 2016 is given in the summary above and in the conclusions below.

There are several advantages to pursuing the backbone approach:

  • Front loads larger, higher capital projects to maximize Urban Cycling Fund (UCF) and higher Funding Assistance Rate (FAR).
  • Enables faster user uptake by opening access to more of the city more quickly.
  • Allows dynamic growth of the network over time in response to evolving usage patterns.
  • Mitigates risk of progress on the network stalling at a point where there is still limited coverage.

The backbone approach has demonstrated the most success around the world, most recently in Auckland, by enabling people to get from the places where they live to the places where they work and study.  It is also better from a public perception standpoint: the reason people support the SH1 separated lanes is because they are a common sense solution to an obvious safety risk.  

Infrastructure for all

We believe Dunedin’s cycle network should do two things:

  1. Mitigate the safety risks for cyclists.
  2. Encourage increased uptake of cycling for both transportation and recreation.

Number 2 will be a natural outcome of doing number 1 correctly but the DCC’s approach has been to focus solely on number 2.  Sadly, the “interested but concerned” or “potential cyclists”  have been invoked to justify flawed infrastructure, notably in South Dunedin.

We have previously said “the ideal scenario for a truly strategic cycle network is segregated cycle lanes” (Spokes Dunedin submission on South Dunedin Regeneration Scheme 13/12/2011) and “with limited initial funding, we would prefer to see fewer routes done to a higher standard than many routes done to a lower standard” (ibid).  However, we have also said many times that separated cycleways are not necessary or appropriate in every situation; rather “the appropriate location for SBFs is along the busier, higher speed roads that constitute the direct routes for cyclists” (Spokes Dunedin submission on South Dunedin Strategic Cycle Network Package 2, October 2013).  For example, the bidirectional SBF installed on Gordon Street is a beautiful, very high standard cycleway, but is on a small street with very low traffic volumes and very low speeds that most people have never even heard of.  As we have said before “placing cycle routes on little-used, inconvenient back streets is likely to create little-used, inconvenient cycling routes” (Spokes Dunedin submission on Second Generation District Plan March 2013).  

Thus, while the change in scope to higher standard cycleways sounds like it is on the right track, it will only succeed if those higher standard cycleways are on the right routes and if other complementary approaches are taken on less busy, lower speed routes.

Our vision for success calls for:

  • A standard of cycling infrastructure that is appropriate for the location and environment.  Concomitant with the backbone approach and identified priorities and safety risks, the initial development of the cycling network will typically focus on high standard separated cycle lanes on busier, higher speed roads that constitute direct routes for cyclists.
  • Cycling infrastructure that works for ALL cyclists; because building cycling infrastructure with the expectation that large numbers of existing cyclists won’t use it is a strategy for failure.

Consultation and engagement

Spokes Dunedin, Inc. is a highly credible organization whose aim is to represent the interests of cycling in the urban environment, and we regularly liaise with the varied elements of the large cycling community in Dunedin to inform our position, including the bike shops, Cycling Otago, Mountain Biking Otago, Otago Mountain Bikers – Social Riders, Dunedin BMX, Dunedin Triathlon, and individual cyclists.  

The Draft Annual Plan “change in scope” calls for asking people what they think earlier in the process and testing designs with community stakeholders, which sounds great on the surface.  But this Draft Annual Plan itself seems to be nothing more than the status quo.  Here we have a change in scope for the city’s cycling ambitions that hasn’t even been discussed with Dunedin’s cycling advocacy organization to ensure we’d be on board when it goes to public consultation.  It seems bizarre the DCC would put anything out for public consultation on cycling without knowing in advance they had the full support of Spokes Dunedin.

We have provided prescient and critical knowledge and opinions which, had they been heeded, would have averted many of the problems plaguing the Strategic Cycle Network delivery.  For example, in July 2011 we called for separated cycle lanes on SH1 and predicted the exact location and manner of Chris He’s death more than a year before it happened (Spokes Dunedin submission on DCC Strategic Cycle Network, 15/7/2011).  In 2013 we, along with a large number of other individual submitters, opposed the reliance on Quiet Streets in South Dunedin, saying “Dunedin should take to heart the experience of other cities that abandoned the ‘sending bikes on back streets’ idea in favour of separated lanes” (ibid), only to be ignored.  And on 6 May 2015,  we contacted DCC staff to convey our alarm at what was being installed in South Dunedin, calling for a halt to construction until intersection treatments could be reviewed, only to be told “the intention of the design is not as you assume. This facility is physically separated from motorised traffic which is a safe outcome for ‘Interested But Concerned’ cyclists at intersections,” as if Spokes Dunedin didn’t know what we were talking about.  Construction was halted after it received criticism in the Otago Daily Times and the cycleways liaison group toured the project to assess the situation.

Our vision for success calls for:

  • Ongoing, real-time, on-the-ground stakeholder engagement at every stage of a project.
  • Close contact with Spokes Dunedin on anything related to urban cycling in Dunedin, including changes of scope and identifying a successful delivery strategy.
  • A monthly written update on all work relating to cycling for Spokes and other cycling stakeholders to circulate through their networks.

As an example of the successful approach to constructive engagement: in mid 2014, Spokes and AA representatives worked closely with DCC transport staff to find a revised solution for Portobello Rd (Portsmouth Dr to Andersons Bay Rd).  This revised solution was presented in February 2015 and was agreeable to Spokes, the AA, property and business owners, and the public.  Yet more than a year later nothing has happened.  This is similar to the situation at the intersection of Wharf/Roberts, where a working group established in December 2013 came up with a solution that was agreeable to Spokes, AA, police, fire service, St. Johns, and property and business owners; yet nothing has been implemented in the two years since.

Our vision for success calls for:

  • Timely implementation of agreed solutions.

DCC capacity

The DCC Transport Planning team has gained significant cycling experience over the past three years.  This is new ground not only for Dunedin but for all of NZ, and staff have been developing working relationships with key stakeholders such as Spokes and the AA, as well as beginning to value and obtain community feedback and buy-in.  On the other hand, there seems to be a disconnect between planning and implementation, where what was put on the ground did not always coincide with what was planned, as seems to have been the case for Portobello Rd.  The situation at the DCC also seems to have deteriorated over the past year.  Transport planning staff appear to be disengaged at meetings, we have fairly limited contact with staff outside of cycleway liaison group meetings (the last cycleway liaison group meeting was 5 months ago), and we aren’t even sure which staff are now actually working on cycling. This cannot continue.  Existing staff working on cycling infrastructure need to be supported to upskill and build key relationships.

Our vision for success calls for:

  • Investment in DCC transport staff capacity, through both training and upskilling of existing staff (working trips to Auckland, Melbourne, Denmark, etc), and through recruitment of a senior cycling ‘tsar’.
  • Support staff to develop a clear, consistent, time-efficient approach to working with key stakeholders; and an approach to the wider community that encourages informed input.
  • Strong links between the planning and operational sides to ensure they are working together to achieve the goals set forth by the Council.

Duty of care and the mitigation of risk

New health and safety legislation has just come into effect that reinstates personal liability for those with a duty of care who fail to mitigate identified safety risks. Although this new law appears to be primarily focused on workplaces, we believe the City Council and the Crown have a duty of care towards citizens in public spaces. In the new workplace health and safety legislation, employers and Crown agencies can be held liable if harm occurs during the course of reasonably expected behaviour that results from a previously identified but unmitigated safety risk.

In July 2011, Spokes Dunedin wrote “Spokes would prefer to see some kind of physical barrier between cars and cyclists where cycle lanes are deployed, and we express here a strong preference for Separated Cycle Lanes over Cycle Lanes.  Where cycle lanes currently exist, particularly on those routes that experience heavy industrial large vehicle traffic, cyclists are often put in dangerous situations…..On some of the existing on-road cycle lanes in Dunedin, parking cars are a serious hazard for cyclists, for example outside the hospital on Cumberland Street where a cyclist on the cycle lane faces doors opening into the cycle lane on one side and lorries driving right on the edge of a very narrow cycle lane on the other” (Spokes Dunedin submission on DCC Strategic Cycle Network, 15/7/2011).

Regardless of whatever designation one wishes to assign to the one-way pair through Dunedin, they are, in practice and common use, mixed-use city streets that are in fact largely residential in nature.  Thus there exists a reasonable expectation that people will be cycling on these streets.  The death of Chris He on the exact section of road and in the exact manner of death identified as a clear and present safety risk by Spokes Dunedin over one year earlier (along with a recommended strategy for risk mitigation), leads us to the opinion that the Dunedin City Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency were remiss in their duty of care to mitigate identified safety risks; in this case leading to the wrongful death of Chris He.

Thus far, risk mitigation does not seem to have featured very prominently in the City’s cycle network delivery strategy.  This is a big mistake with potentially serious future legal consequences.  As part of our winning strategy, we have placed risk mitigation as a top priority, and we strongly advise the Council to do the same.

Targets for 2016 and Conclusion

A few years ago, Dunedin was at the forefront of cycling infrastructure in New Zealand but is now quickly falling behind.  Many other cities having already delivered projects that received funding through the Urban Cycleways Fund just last year while Dunedin is at risk of losing out on the funding it was awarded through the UCF because it can’t, or won’t, deliver.

Dunedin, like just about every other vibrant city in the modern world, has recognized the importance of cycling as part of the transportation mix, but needs a winning strategy to deliver its cycle network.  We have outlined a winning strategy that is based on a city-spanning backbone of connected, safe, and convenient separated cycle lanes on direct routes; that are functional and useful for all cyclists; and which will form an initial framework for future growth in response to demand.

The great thing is that there already exists some cycling infrastructure on many of the routes for this initial network.  There are several elements that can be achieved by the end of this year that will help Dunedin catch back up to where it should be.

To do in 2016

  1. Support NZTA to begin construction of the SH1 separated lanes by the end of this year.
  2. Fix Portobello Road – it’s already been two years.  We don’t need fancy landscaping, we just need the median barrier realignment so the road looks like a road and the cycleway looks like a cycleway.
  3. Complete the Wharf/Roberts intersection as agreed – it’s already been two years.  This intersection presents an identified safety risk on a high demand route.
  4. Continue the SH88 path through the rail corridor to the railway station, thereby providing an alternative to the cycle lanes on Anzac Ave (heavy freight route and high risk).
  5. Create a separated cycle lane from the intersection of Andersons Bay/Strathallan, along The Oval, to Crawford Street in place of the existing cycle lane between two lanes of fast-moving traffic.
  6. Develop plans for a separated cycle lane on North Road and safety improvements for the Opoho intersection to tie in with NZTA’s forthcoming separated cycle lanes on SH1.  This route is of very high strategic priority.

We look forward to working with the Dunedin City Council to develop a real cycle network for Dunedin.

Posted in Action call, All SPOKESd up, Economics, Infrastructure, Policy, Safety | Leave a comment

Dunedin Bike Breakfast 2016

web only-03You love riding your bike.  You love a good breakfast.  And you’ve been waiting an entire year since the awesomeness of Bike Breakfast 2015 to eat breakfast with other bike riding breakfast lovers.  Well all your Sundays have come at once because the 2016 Bike Breakfast is next Wednesday, 10 Feb between 6:45-9am.

If you weren’t one of the 300+ cyclists who were came for breakfast last year, here’s the deal:  We’re celebrating Go By Bike Day as part of Bikewise month by kicking off your day with a free breakfast just for turning up on your bicycle.  So ride on over to the Upper Octagon between 6:45-9am on Wednesday 10 February for coffee, tea, croissants, fresh fruit salad, yoghurt, muesli, and OJ.

While you’re there, you can meet the Spokes Dunedin crew and give us your feedback on cycling in Dunedin; check out some of the latest technology while getting a quick tune up from Bike Otago, Cycle World, and Avanti; and meet your fellow cycling citizenry and admire the diverse array of bicycles.

You can help spread the good Bike Breakfast news by printing out this year’s awesome flyer (another great job by Lewis!) and putting it up at the office or sending it to friends.

A big shout out to Bike Breakfast 2016 sponsors Bike Otago, Cycle World, Strictly Coffee, Bidvest, Sanitarium, Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin City Council, and Bikewise for championing this breakfast of champions.  See ya there, Champ!

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2014 year in review!

Spokes Dunedin chair, Robert Thompson, provides a look back at 2014 as we dive into 2015
On the road again...

Site visit with the AA and council staff to review the layout on Portobello Road

In 2014, Dunedin continued pushing the boundaries of urban cycling in New Zealand, but there have been substantial growing pains as the city, and New Zealand at large, tries to figure out how to do cycling infrastructure.  The fine human specimens volunteering for Spokes Dunedin have once again done a great job with another busy year.  Some of the highlights include instigating an acceleration of the Portobello Road widening project; lots of site visits and meetings with council staff; working with the Harbourside Precinct group to find a viable solution to the Roberts/Wharf intersection; working with the AA, council staff, and affected property owners to find a better design for Portobello Road between Portsmouth Drive and Andy Bay Road; and representing Dunedin cyclists at the national Cycle Safety summits and at meetings with NZTA in Wellington.

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Around 75 people turned out for the first SPOKES Dunedin bike-in movie. We’re planning to do it again this summer!

2014 was a good year for Spokes love, with a bike-in movie by the harbour, wintertime bike raves (so on for winter 2015!), and a cruisy ride around town on World Car Free Day.

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SPOKES gets mad props

2014 also saw wide recognition for efforts at making Dunedin’s streets sweet for bikes.  Spokes Dunedin was awarded a 2014 Trustpower Community Award for Heritage and Environment for our efforts at making Dunedin a more human city and I was a finalist for the “New Zealand Cycle Champion” Cycle Friendly Award.  Our good friends at The Crooked Spoke DIY bike shop also picked up a Trustpower award, and Dunedin was a finalist in several categories of the Cycle Friendly Awards, with the Dunedin City Councillors bringing home the “Greatest commitment by a public body” award.

Harbourside and one-ways

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Accelerated completion of Portobello Road widening is looking good.

The most notable success of 2014 concerns the Portobello Road widening project.  Hundreds of Broad Bay and Portobello residents made annual plan submissions favouring completion of their end first, while hundreds more cyclists and other city residents favoured completion of the city end first.  With such broad desire to see the project complete, Spokes Dunedin and the Peninsula Board together suggested that the best solution would be to accelerate completion of the entire project.  Councillor Richard Thomson championed an investigation of this suggestion, which found that it is possible to complete the entire project within 3 years instead of 10, and save $3 million at the same time!

On the other side of the harbour, the shared path to Port Chalmers has received funding for the next design stage.  Construction hinges on the project gaining funding during the 2015-2018 NZTA funding cycle.  Fingers crossed!

Meanwhile on the one-ways, NZTA continues to work on the SH1 separated cycle lanes plan. The detailed options should be presented to Council by the middle of 2015.  We’ll be calling on you to speak out in support of this vital piece of urban cycling infrastructure when the time comes.  Be ready to be heard!

South Dunedin Strategic Cycle Network

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The Royal Crescent path is cruisy, but still treats cyclists as second class citizens by requiring them to yield to side traffic.

Success on the South Dunedin Strategic Cycle Network has been a bit more miss than hit over the last year, having been plagued with some poor designs and some poor implementation.  The moderate successes to date include the much needed widening of the Portsmouth Drive shared path and the cycleway along Royal Crescent.  But Spokes was forced to formally submit against several of the DCC’s designs during various consultation stages, including designs for Victoria Road, Moreau St, and Musselburgh Rise.  Unfortunately, due to funding constraints, Victoria Rd and Musselburgh Rise (routes that actually need cycling infrastructure) have been dropped from the network altogether.

Many of the problems stemmed from a lack of early engagement, and an evident reliance on out of town consultants who didn’t seem to know much about Dunedin, or even cycling.  For example, while the cycleway idea for the Portsmouth Dr to Andy Bay Rd section of S. Portobello Rd is a great idea, the implementation was bad.  Had Spokes been given an opportunity to review the detailed design together with the AA, it’s possible we could have avoided the ongoing headaches there.  However, DCC is taking steps toward better engagement.  For example, the Harbourside Precinct Working Group of 2014 included representatives from Spokes, the AA, the police, fire and ambulance services, KiwiRail, and several business owners in the vicinity of the Roberts/Wharf intersection.  Although the group suffered some teething problems, in the end everyone was able to communicate their concerns and we were able to find a solution that everyone agreed to (which still has to be implemented).  This is the kind of model that should be pursued closer to the beginning of a project rather than at the end.  Spokes has now met together several times with DCC, the AA, and business/property owners along S. Portobello Road to investigate better solutions there, and a stakeholder liaison group is being established for the one-ways project that will begin meeting in January 2015.

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Does this inspire you as an example of high-quality cycling infrastructure?

The initial failure of the Portsmouth Dr to Andy Bay Rd section should provide some valuable lessons about how to build cycling infrastructure.  Most importantly: cutting corners and trying to implement cycling infrastructure on the cheap could require costly remediation at a later date. We have repeatedly called for well-designed, high-quality, high-standard cycling infrastructure on fewer, but important, routes rather than widespread routes of poor quality or simply where it can be done most easily rather than where it is most needed.  The half measures on S. Portobello Rd and the patchwork quality of the widened Portsmouth Drive and Tahuna shared paths create confusion and leave people with the impression of a job half done.  We want every cycle route in Dunedin to be celebrated for its effectiveness for people on bikes, its quality of construction, and its ingenuity of design, and to serve as an inspiration for future work.

Spokes Dunedin takes it’s game national

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At the New Zealand Cycle Safety Summit in Wellington – investigating how to improve cycle safety for all NZ. Can you spot Olympic track cyclist Sarah Ulmer?

Following the coroner’s report last year, the government tasked NZTA with forming a panel of cycle safety experts to provide recommendations on how to strategically improve cycle safety in New Zealand.  Spokes Dunedin was invited to contribute to this process through a larger reference group that fed into the safety panel.  In preparation for the first NZ Cycle Safety Summit in April, comprising the entire panel and reference group, Spokes asked the people of Dunedin for input on what they thought were the issues facing cyclists, the ODT helped by publicizing it, and dozens of people responded.  Spokes Dunedin was the only organisation to ask for input from the public in this way!  The final 82 page report of recommendations to the government is now available.

On-Yer-Bike

Fantastic flyer for the Spokes-led nationwide GPS campaign, with awesome graphics by Generation Zero.

The Government Policy Statement (GPS) on Land Transport is the document that sets out funding levels for transportation, including a category for walking and cycling infrastructure.  Past funding levels for walking and cycling have been less than $20 million per year (for all of NZ!), compared with $1.5 billion per year for roads and motorways.  Spokes Dunedin initiated a submission campaign to ask for a very modest funding increase, and together with Cycle Action Auckland, Cycle Aware Wellington, and Generation Zero we mobilised over 3000 people from all across NZ to make a submission.

Government’s $100 million investment in urban cycling

Although our submission campaign did not achieve a GPS funding increase, it successfully elevated the national cycling profile. People in government, including the Prime Minister, are starting to appreciate the value of good cycling infrastructure, and during recent election campaigning all the major parties promised some kind of investment in urban cycling.  The government has now allocated $100 million to be spent over four years in addition to the regular allocation through the GPS.  To secure future funding and future increases in the GPS, it is crucial to demonstrate that this allocated funding can be successfully utilized within the 4-year timeframe, and to demonstrate that the outcomes are effective and of high quality.

Dunedin has a large number of cycling projects with local or regional council backing.  Several of these are already well advanced in their planning or implementation, including the Port Chalmers path, Portobello Road widening, SH1 separated lanes, and South Dunedin Strategic Cycle Network.  Because of this, Dunedin is very well positioned to benefit from the $100 million urban cycling fund, and I look forward to working hard in 2015 to ensure that Dunedin receives a fair share.

To sum up, the advanced state of our existing projects and the extra $100 million being provided by the government means that the next few years should bring real and significant change for cycling in Dunedin.  As a result of people like you speaking out for cycling, the past couple years have seen a lot of planning and a taste of what’s to come.   Here’s to making 2015 a year of on-the-ground change, and with your continued support we’ll make it happen.

Posted in All SPOKESd up, Infrastructure, Policy | 1 Comment

Roberts/Wharf St intersection: a model of community engagement

Today, the Otago Daily Times reports that business owners in the Harbourside area around Roberts and Kitchener Streets oppose a “proposed” cycle route along Wharf Street, and claim that there has been no consultation and they have not been listened to.

However, In June 2013 the DCC consulted on a proposal to completely close the Roberts/Wharf intersection, which was strongly opposed by businesses in the area. The DCC listened and went back to the drawing board. All the business owners in the area have known about this project for more than a year and have had the opportunity to be involved in the process.

The newly proposed changes are now being consulted on again, as was reported in the ODT two weeks ago. Consultation is ongoing even now and included letters delivered to businesses in the area, so to claim that businesses have not been consulted or didn’t know is disingenuous at best.

In fact, this time around the DCC has been the exemplar of community engagement. The newly proposed changes to the Roberts/Wharf St intersection were put together by a working party that initially included the owners of Dive Otago, Bodyline, Preens, and Otago Real Estate acting as representatives of businesses in the area, although the owners of both Preens and Bodyline declined to continue because of the time and effort required to be fully involved with roadwork planning. SPOKES Dunedin chair Robert Thompson acted as sole representation for cyclists, and there was additional representation from the AA, fire service, police, and KiwiRail.

This single intersection has quite possibly been the most consulted on road project the DCC has ever done!

In the ODT’s article both the businesses and the ODT itself have failed to recognize that this is not a proposal to build a cycleway along Wharf St. The cycleway is already there.  It has been there for years and hasn’t affected businesses. This proposal is about improving that existing cycleway by making the Roberts St intersection safer. Currently, the Roberts St crossing is actually wider than Wharf St itself, and the proposal is really a pretty modest change that would create two smaller crossings with a refuge island in the middle, rather than one massive crossing.

To be absolutely clear: The minor changes to access at this intersection have nothing to do with cyclists or the presence of a cycleway. Any access changes result from the fact that the intersection is behind a blind curve on a very busy, high speed road. Turning right out of that intersection is dangerous because you can’t actually see cars and trucks coming around the corner, it has nothing to do with cyclists.

It makes one wonder whether the proposed plans have actually been looked at or whether another anti-cyclist protest has been organized at the mention of the word “cycleway?” SPOKES Dunedin has heard that most of the people shown in the ODT’s photo are staff from a single business, so the latter does seem to be the case.

Posted in Infrastructure, Policy, Uncategorized | 1 Comment