Kicking Off 2014 – A High-speed Look Back At 2013

It’s 2014 and SPOKES is ready for the year ahead!  The first meeting of the year is Monday 10th February at 5.30pm, Room CEN3 of the University’s central library (corner of Cumberland and Albany, upstairs at the East end of the building).  There’s a lot to talk about including: top priorities for the year ahead, SPOKES Dunedin’s growing relationship with the New Zealand Transport Agency and what that may lead to, what SPOKES might push for through the Council’s Annual Plan process, the Vogel Street Vendetta, gunning for a cycle facility on Andersons Bay Road, the next parts of the roll-out of the Strategic Cycle Network in South Dunedin, the informal race plan, and a million other things that SPOKES could turn into cycling gold!  Come, meet your comrades-in-arms, chit chat about bikes and turn your vision into reality!

Before turning our full attention on 2014, we need to do something we wanted to do before Christmas but life got in the way!  A look at what SPOKES Dunedin, and it couldn’t have happened without you, achieved in 2013.  So, here’s a high-speed look back from SPOKES Chair Robert Thompson…

2013 was a busy, productive, and successful year for SPOKES Dunedin!  After the terrible death of Chris He in late November 2012, SPOKES led the charge to demand better, safer cycling infrastructure on the one-way system.  With several newspaper and television appearances helping to raise awareness, SPOKES also led a public campaign to demand change.  Hundreds of people responded to the call by sending emails to Dunedin city councillors, NZTA regional director Jim Harland, and NZTA CEO Geoff Dangerfield.  In an extraordinary council session, Dunedin’s councillors unanimously voted to request NZTA explore short and long-term options for improving cycling safety on the one-ways, with special consideration for separated cycle lanes.  A working group was formed comprising traffic planners and engineers from NZTA and DCC, an outside consultant from Via Strada, and two representatives from SPOKES (myself and Hank Weiss).  The group met regularly through the year to explore options for cycling in the city.  Several short-term safety improvements were identified and implemented,  and a long-term proposal with options for separated lanes on SH1 was eventually settled on, and NZTA/DCC presented the proposal to Council on the 23rd September, 2013.

SPOKES then engaged in the most ambitious campaign it has ever undertaken in order to help the public have their say and speak out for the separated lanes proposal during the public consultation stage.  A consistent presence in the newspaper and on television kept cycling a hot topic for two solid months, including through the October election.  In the end, NZTA and DCC received more than 2000 submissions – orders of magnitude more than NZTA is used to seeing on any project.  SPOKES will continue working on the next stages of the one-ways plan with NZTA and DCC in 2014.

With the kind permission of the Southern District Health Board, we put a commemorative plaque on the exterior wall of the Dunedin Hospital at the location where Chris He was killed and also set up a memorial bike.  A dedication ceremony was held on September 30 and was attended by over 200 people.  Several speakers, including Deputy Mayor Chris Staynes and National MP Michael Woodhouse, talked about Chris and also about the need for separated cycle lanes.  The memorial bike will be removed by the end of the year, but the plaque will remain indefinitely.

Although the one-ways have been a major focus for the year, the South Dunedin part of the Strategic Cycle Network and the Portobello Road widening projects are also continuing apace, and SPOKES has been involved in both of these.  Most importantly, we were successful in having DCC reconsider the layout on Portobello Road.  The planned layout (as already completed in some sections) would have a not-very-wide shared path along the water, along with narrow cycle lanes painted in the traffic lanes.  The new layout will see a footpath and separate dedicated cycle path next to the water, both physically separated from vehicular traffic by a barrier.  Package 1 of the South Dunedin cycle network is currently under construction, with widening of the Portsmouth Drive shared path at the top of the list.

Over the past year we’ve built our reach and presence in Dunedin significantly.  Our mailing list has grown five-fold, and our Facebook following is increasing every day.  We hope, with your help, to continue this growth over the next year.

In the coming year we will further grow our membership, and in particular will be looking out for those who are willing to contribute their skills to SPOKES and its expanding impact.  We will continue to work with NZTA and DCC both on individual projects but also for a cultural shift where cycling is automatically considered right from the initial design phase of any project.

To 2014.  Forget the Year of the Horse.  In Dunedin, this is the Year of the Bike!

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A Sad Day That Changed Dunedin Forever.

On this day a year ago, 19 November 2012, Dr Li Hong ‘Chris’ He was killed when an opening car door knocked him into the path of an overtaking truck whilst cycling past Dunedin Public Hospital.  Dr He’s death has had a devastating impact for his young family and for the car and truck drivers involved in the accident, and has been widely felt across the Dunedin community, by his students and colleagues at the University of Otago, and by Dunedin’s cycling community.  On the 30 September this year, SPOKES held a memorial for Dr He, supported by his students and colleagues and friends from all over Dunedin.  It was held outside the hospital, very near to where he died.  Many people helped to make it happen and there were more than 200 people that attended.  You can see what was said in the video of the event (that was kindly made by Anna Wilde at Four Foxes Ltd).

In response to public calls for action, the Dunedin City Council asked the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) for a plan to improve cyclist and pedestrian safety on the state highway, with special consideration of separated cycle facilities, to ensure this tragedy is not repeated.  Now the public are being consulted on options put forward by NZTA and DCC traffic planners and engineers recommending moving forward with cycleways that are physically separated from fast-moving and heavy vehicles on the one-ways.

We are all remembering Chris today.  We wish that he were here to share the vision of a future where we can all travel safely about our wonderful city and he could enjoy it.

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One-Way SBF’s: Why Option One? SAFETY!

This post is by Dr. Hank Weiss, an injury epidemiologist with over 3 decades experience in injury prevention research and practice, and a SPOKES member.

Properly designed uni-directional separated/protected bike lanes
are the safest on-road urban design
when they cross driveways and intersections

Background
Recently, a New Zealand Transportation Agency (NZTA) and Dunedin City Council (DCC) staff working group released an ‘update report’ describing options for separated cycle lanes along the dangerous SH1 one-ways in the Central City. Just getting underway is a period of public comment as NZTA begins reviewing the preferred options. The report recommends two options for further consideration. Both options offer people who cycle greatly enhanced mid-block vehicle protection from being hit from behind and car door hazards. However, there are important differences that arise for each.

Option 1 – The first option features a uni-directional (one-way) 2.6m separated cycle lane Separated Bicycle Facility (SBF) on the right-hand side of each of the SH1 one-way streets, with cyclists riding in the same direction as the traffic (both mid-block and intersection example profiles shown below). This was the top option favoured by the working group.

Figure 1. Example uni-directional mid-block profile.

Figure 2. Example uni-directional intersection profile (barriers do not go through intersection).

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“Cars Don’t Go Shopping, People Do” or Epic Council Meeting Number 2

Dunedin’s Councillors have seen a better future and are demonstrating the leadership to get us there!  On 23 September, the Dunedin City Council (DCC) approved NZTA/DCC staff proposals for separated bike lanes on the State Highway 1 one-ways where they go through the central city.  The NZTA is now able to run a public consultation exercise on their proposals to see if they are what the people of Dunedin want.  It was a landslide vote in favour at the DCC – 11 Councillors backed the proposals, with just two voting against.

There were many amazing moments at this Epic Council Meeting (you can check out Epic Council Meeting Number 1 here), the most surprising of which was probably Councillor Syd Brown who noted ‘cars don’t go shopping, people do!’  Kudos to, now former, Cllr Brown!

SPOKES has pulled out some of the highlights from the full YouTube meeting record below for you to see just how on board our political leaders are and what is now very possible for our city.  SPOKES has put out a call to take action to express support for the NZTA proposals.  Fellow cyclists and friends of cycling, we can do this!

Councillor MacTavish (2:40:40 to 2:43:40)

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Chris He memorial event – 12pm Monday 30 September

SPOKES Dunedin invites you to a short ceremony to unveil a plaque in memory of Dr Li Hong ‘Chris’ He and acknowledge Dr He’s role in the initiative to implement safety enhancements on the state highway system that seek to end preventable deaths on the city’s streets.

Date                Monday 30 September 2013
Time               12pm (finished by 12.30pm)
Place               Dunedin Public Hospital, Cumberland Street entrance

Speakers:  Tom Kardos (Deputy Dean, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Otago), Chris Staynes (Deputy Mayor, Dunedin City Council), Robert Thompson (Secretary, SPOKES Dunedin), Michael Woodhouse (Associate Minister of Transport).

On 19 November 2012, Dr Li Hong ‘Chris’ He was killed when an opening car door knocked him into the path of an overtaking truck whilst cycling past Dunedin Public Hospital.  Dr He’s death has had a devastating impact for his young family and for the car and truck drivers involved in the accident, and has been widely felt across the Dunedin community, by his students and colleagues at the University of Otago, and by Dunedin’s cycling community.

In response to public calls for action, the Dunedin City Council asked the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) for a plan to improve cyclist and pedestrian safety on the state highway, with special consideration of separated cycle facilities, to ensure this tragedy is not repeated.

Now, a report from NZTA and DCC traffic planners and engineers has just been released recommending moving forward with cycleways that are physically separated from fast-moving and heavy vehicles on the one-ways.

I hope you can join us in remembering Chris and other cyclists tragically killed on the one-ways, and in sharing the vision of a future where we can all travel safely about our wonderful city.  Please feel free to share this invitation.

Many thanks for your support to date.

Robert Thompson
SPOKES Dunedin

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