Council to decide on South Dunedin Strategic Cycle Network

“The Strategic Cycle Network is a group of cycle routes that connect Dunedin’s key destinations… the network is designed to provide greater connectivity and safety for cyclists.” – Dunedin City Council website

Today, the Infrastructure Services Committee will consider a report on the South Dunedin part of the Strategic Cycle Network.  South Dunedin is the first stage of a city wide network to be implemented over the next 20-30 years, so it is important to bear in mind that what is decided on now is what South Dunedin will likely have for the next generation.  As the first big investment, it is crucial to demonstrate a commitment to quality infrastructure from the outset. SPOKES Dunedin has some comments on the report:

1) The results of the People’s Panel survey are quite astounding and show that there is enormous latent demand for cycling in Dunedin.

  • 61% of respondents would prefer to not drive a car.
  • A significant fraction of people who regularly drive would prefer not to but don’t feel they have a viable alternative.
  • Only 5% of respondents regularly cycle but 25% would like to.
  • The results should raise confidence that providing more cycling and walking options is the right choice for Dunedin.
  • These survey results parallel the findings of a recent Auckland Transport survey showing cyclists and non-cyclists were in broad agreement both in the identification of risks and barriers to cycling and also in identifying priorities for making cycling better and more accessible.  The top priority was identified as separated cycle lanes.
  • An important take-home message is that existing cyclists are representative of the wider population when it comes to cycling-related issues, including the “interested but concerned.”

2) Although we are eager for Phase I work to get started on the ground, there are several issues that are not being considered but which had large numbers of comments during consultation.  We would like the sentiment expressed through these large numbers of comments to be acknowledged and kept in mind during future planning around Dunedin.

  • There is evident high demand for modern cycling infrastructure on primary routes such as Anderson’s Bay Road and King Edward Street.  Since these also provide the best connectivity to the rest of the city and contain key destinations such as shops, restaurants, etc, these are the obvious route choices that would fulfil the stated aim of the Strategic Cycle Network to “connect Dunedin’s key destinations”
  • Stated arguments against cycling infrastructure on certain routes may ignore possible treatments.  For example, Anderson’s Bay Road could be redesigned to have a bidirectional cycle path down the median, but we acknowledge this may not be possible within the existing budget.
  • King Edward Street could require reallocating car parking to quiet side streets.  An overwhelming 74% of respondents to the People’s Panel survey were amenable to removing or reallocating parking to make way for separated cycleways.  Furthermore, a recent study in New York showed that retail businesses fronting a cycleway had on average 50% more sales than businesses without a cycleway over the same period.  Thus cycleways could actually enhance King Edward Street as a key destination.

3) Quiet Streets can be used to augment and enhance a network of high level infrastructure on direct routes and key destinations, but should not in general be seen as a replacement for direct routes.  In certain circumstances, existing desire lines may already follow a quiet route and these can be enhanced through the Quiet Streets approach.  To make Dunedin great for cycling, we urge the city to prioritise development on desire lines and recognise that desire lines most often follow direct or primary routes.

  • The first bullet point on page 5 of the report says about Quiet Streets: “beginning cyclists are being targeted to enable mode shift, hence the need to provide appropriate infrastructure for this ability.”  The “interested but concerned” have clearly spoken through the DCC’s own survey.  The outcome is that potential cyclists are somewhat lukewarm about Quiet Streets compared with protected infrastructure on direct routes (compare first graph on page 28 with first graph on page 30).
  • While 25% of survey respondents said they would like to cycle as a primary mode, 59% strongly agreed or agreed that separated cycleways would encourage them to cycle more.
  • SPOKES Dunedin’s position on Quiet Streets is that they can serve a purpose when used in the right context and connect to appropriate infrastructure on primary routes going to key destinations.
  • SPOKES Dunedin is unaware of any evidence to show that Quiet Streets alone will generate mode shift without connecting to more appropriate infrastructure on key routes and at key destinations.
  • Portland, Oregon often used as an example of successful Quiet Streets, the context there is sprawling suburbs with a grid system.  There, Quiet Streets make up 10% of the network to augment high level infrastructure on key routes.
  • Melbourne “East Brunswick Shimmy” often cited as successful Quiet Street.  The area in question had a large number of cyclists filtering through several adjacent side routes.  Although the Shimmy has shown an increase in usage this can be attributed to a consolidation of existing cyclists onto a single route.  It has not been shown that the Shimmy has generated bona fide mode shift.

4) The proposed route on Vogel Street should be subsumed into the ongoing comprehensive review and long-term visioning of the one-way system in order to get the best, most consistent outcome for the state highway.

  • Vogel Street is proposed as a Quiet Street under the South Dunedin plan.
  • In our interaction with DCC and NZTA staff there was some confusion as to whether this portion of the system should be considered under the one-way review or be addressed solely in the South Dunedin network plan.  We believe DCC and NZTA staff are willing to consider this portion of the system under the one-way review, but request clarification and direction on this point.
  • The plans under development for the one-ways have the potential to create a flagship cycling infrastructure for Dunedin and lead New Zealand in the development of its cycling infrastructure.  This will be compromised if the city asks NZTA to only look at half of the system (from Queen’s Garden to the Botanical Gardens).
  • We understand the existing one-ways may be turned into 2-way streets at some point.  This may or may not happen, so the vision for the state highway system should develop contingencies for either outcome.

Dunedin needs great things to make the city more liveable and a more desirable place to be, and making our streets sweet for bikes is a key element of those efforts.  We hope that, moving forward, the city council will be able to deliver the best possible cycling infrastructure.

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