https://haveyoursay.ecan.govt.nz/betterfuture due 25 March
Please do make a submission. Too many of us have gotten busy and government needs reminding that we really do want to cycle where we need to go and to do so safely.
Submission from Spokes Canterbury
Thank you for tackling so many pressing issues for the health of the natural and human environments in Canterbury. There is much good work to be found which can be supported by understanding the inter relationships between challenges and better integration of mitigation and approaches to increase sustainability.
The threats levied by climate chaos require that all opportunities to reduce emissions be embraced. Active Transport (AT) integrated with Public Transport (PT) offers many affordable, quick and easily available responses.
Ever more and bigger roads exacerbate problems this plan seeks to address while discouraging walking and cycling. Public Transport was the better option, but past governments favoured roads for single occupancy vehicles. The current central government is also falling into business as usual for the bulk of transport funding. ECan needs to advocate for Public Transport, including opposition to more and bigger roads. They are part of the problem, not the solution.
The Northern Arterial Extension in Christchurch has encountered well warranted community opposition. People don’t want their communities severed and degraded by increased traffic.
Our Values – The Four Well Beings
The Four Well Beings: cultural, social, economic and environmental, must guide decision making leading to a sustainable Canterbury.
Cultural & Social
Connected communities preserve and nurture culture and social interaction. Exporting fewer dollars for vehicles, parts and fuel allows more local spending.
Culture and socializing are impacted by congestion and never ending roading projects.
Improved public health and a clean environment contribute to healthy communities and opportunities for socializing. PT and AT contribute to both.
Active Transport (AT) is simply the cleanest most sustainable and lowest impact transport option available. Public Transport (PT) is part of the solution. Seek out, develop and implement synergies between the two to achieve success for both.
Canterbury exports hundreds of millions of dollars annually to pay for vehicles, parts and fuel. Most of these dollars do not offer a good return to Canterbury. Active and Public Transport reduce this cash drain to help the local economy.
Active and Public transport have added benefits: more dollars remain local, it is affordable for users and for ratepayers, resilience is increased, it gets people out of their steel and glass boxes so they can be actively involved in their communities. Culture and socializing both support local business, artists and venues.
ECan needs to fully develop the integration and synergy offered by AT & PT in this Annual Plan.
Portfolios help to break problems down to manageable units, so long as we do not lose sight of how interconnected our challenges actually are.
Spokes is a cycling advocacy group. In the following text the advantages of Active Transport are the focus. Integrated AT & PT implements benefits offered by both.
Less vehicle traffic runoff from hard surfaces, leaking fluids, heavy metals, plastic/rubber and eroding road surfaces leads to cleaner water. Over time hard surfaces for travel and parking of large vehicles can be reduced. With fewer large vehicles runoff from cleaning is reduced.
With more people on foot, bikes, bus the need for resurfacing, expansion and new roads is reduced, all of which add to water pollution.
Transport & Urban Development
It is more than concerning that the headline task for this portfolio “enabling a resilient, multi-modal transport system for the efficient movement of people and freight into, out of, and within the Canterbury region” fails to then develop or even mention the role which AT must play in urban development in support of stated goals. This implementation of “multi-modal” excludes AT.
Oversights and inconsistencies like this undermine confidence and must be rectified. ECan must not ignore the synergies of AT and PT and must not wait for future plans to respond to a crisis already too long pushed out of mind. PT will need integrated and complete AT networks in support to succeed.
Technological “fixes” such as electric and autonomous vehicles cannot be relied upon. They will increase congestion, resource use, severance and the export of dollars overseas. They will not aid community cohesion, socializing or culture.
Electric vehicles will reduce combustion emissions in Canterbury; but what of particulate and other pollution from their use, manufacture, recycling and disposal? The climate does not adhere to national boundaries.
The misplaced emphasis on EV’s and autonomous vehicles is in stark contrast to the failure to realize the essential role AT must play for the Four Well Beings and Carbon Zero to be realized. This is Business as Usual repeating the same mistakes while expecting a different outcome.
In urban areas most trips are short and easily walked or cycled by most people.
Freight bicycles are already being used in urban areas with all the benefits of congestion and pollution reduction. It is more reliable and resilient. At least one large pharmacy in Christchurch now uses freight bikes to deliver just on time medicines to nursing homes as it is not prone to congestion delays.
The Canterbury Regional Land Transport Plan must be updated to actively promote and support AT’s many contributions. The role of the Regional Transport Committee and staff needs to better support local bodies to develop AT infrastructure.
Getting people to use public transport is great and required. Buses need well developed active transport networks to give people easy access to bus stops and routes.
Central government’s Fare Box recovery program has led to unsuccessful route redesign and loss of ridership. Under current conditions PT cannot fulfil its potential. PT is effectively hobbled, not a realistic transport option or cost effective. Its ability to reduce emissions and resource use constrained. ECan will need to work with central government to remove the limitations.
Integrating AT with PT can help to plug the gaps and support PT. This requires greater capacity for bikes on buses and secure bicycle parking at bus stops.
People do drive. It makes sense to build park and ride lots at public transport stops. With the short sighted urban sprawl favoured by the LURP many far flung commuters will likely drive to bus hubs.
Spokes acknowledges that PT infrastructure is local body’s responsibility. ECan needs to make the case for why it is in a local body’s self-interest to provide PT infrastructure.
Please continue to fund the Public Transport Advisory Group. Please reinstate the Active Public Transport Working Group so as to give AT the public voice silenced by the last government.
Climate Change Risk, Resilience and Hazards
Spokes lauds ECan for advocating to central government for net carbon zero by 2050. ECan’s efforts will be more effective if this plan is strengthened by Spoke’s suggested inclusion of the many ways AT can help achieve this goal.
AT reduces Green House Gas emissions. AT offers better resilience when the population is fit and has well established routes which are more likely to be passable by bicycle after natural disasters. Travel by bicycle after the quakes was far easier, more reliable and faster. It also left the roads free for emergency vehicles.
With nearly 40% of emissions being from transport it is a gross oversight in the draft plan that transport is not included in the Air Quality section. EV’s, be they bus; car or truck will help, but are not necessarily affordable or sustainable. They also contribute to congestion, roading, severance, particulate & water pollution and export of dollars overseas.
AT reduces fossil fuel use and resulting pollution. A bus or train is great, but will still pollute more than a bicycle or pair of shoes. Pollution is not limited to tailpipes, particulate pollution from tyres and brakes also degrade public health and the environment.
Thanks to ECan Councillors for acknowledging the impacts of climate chaos on Canterbury. There is much work to be done, many poor past decisions to be mitigated. Urban planning, transport planning, water use, allocation & clean up, conservation areas maintained and expanded. Just a few and all are worthy.
Between climate chaos and Covid 19 lockdown Spokes hopes that the past friction between local bodies and ECan will be put aside. Business as usual practices and political machinations are not sustainable.
Spokes understands that ECan must act within the parameters of legislation. How a body interprets its legislative mandate has some leeway. Experience has been that the Board can at least set the focus of programs and the approaches which can be chosen to achieve goals.
Ratepayers are staggering under the combined rates burden. Canterbury simply cannot afford, economically or environmentally, infrastructure in support of single occupancy vehicles. Nor is the focus on PT and proposed urban sprawl affordable or in accord with zero carbon by 2050 goals. Both sacrifice nature and our descendant’s future while bankrupting the present.
Spokes has described some of the opportunities and benefits offered by Active Transport and asks that Councillors realize the progress which can be achieved by finally prioritizing Active Transport’s contributions within this Annual Plan.