Spokes Canterbury – Submission
23 June 2021
Hīkina te Kohupara – Kia mauri ora ai te iwi
Transport Emissions: Pathways to Net Zero by 2050
He waka eke noa
Spokes is a cycle advocacy group in Christchurch, with approximately 1,200 members and is affiliated with the national Cycling Action Network (CAN). Spokes is dedicated to including cycling as an everyday form of transport in the greater Christchurch area.
Our mission is to advocate for change that will benefit cyclists, and create liveable cities. Initiatives that benefit cyclists also benefit a host of other active transport uses including pedestrians, scooters, mobility device users and others. Reducing the use of vehicles, ICE or EV, reduces CO2 and other contaminants, creates health and wellbeing benefits, and is a modal shift that can be achieved more quickly and cheaply than other transport solutions. Planning for our cities and towns should make active transport a central priority goal replacing the current vehicle-centric designs. With the right infrastructure and incentives to change behaviours, we can increase the proportion of active transport trips, including cycling, by 15% to 25% before 2030.
Spokes agrees with need to reducing CO2 and other gases to achieve a limit of temperature rise to 1.5C or less above pre-industrial levels and we agree with the Climate Commission’s advice to government Ināia tonu nei: a low emissions future for Aotearoa on the need to centre the urban form of our cities and towns around people and accessibility for all.
One of the three areas recommended by the Commission in their policy direction for transport was:
- Reducing the reliance on cars (or light vehicles)and supporting people to walk, cycle and use public transport. Government needs to support this change with clear targets, plans to meet those targets, and substantial increases to funding.Local government plays an important role in changing how people travel, and it needs more support from central government to do the job well. This includes enabling them through legislation, removing regulatory barriers, and providing increased and targeted funding.
We need to Shift the way New Zealanders move from cars to public transport, cycling and walking. The report notes “decades of underinvestment in infrastructure and services have often made these travel choices slower, less reliable, and ultimately less attractive than travelling by private vehicle” and the need for “making sure people have access to affordable, reliable, convenient and well-integrated public transport, and extensive, high-quality and safe cycling and walking infrastructure will be critical for achieving the scale of change required. “
The Climate Commission recommendations on the need for active transport are fully aligned with Spokes’ viewpoint.
Cycling infrastructure benefits many other forms of micro-transport including skaters, scooters and other mobility devices. Pedestrians also benefit from joint crossings across roads.
Spokes would like to see an increase in urban cycle commuting from 2.2% to 20% in the next 10 years.
Changing the way we travel (Avoid + Shift)
Christchurch has found if you build the right infrastructure people will cycle in numbers that exceed expectations. Spokes’ experience advocating for cycling in Christchurch over decades has highlighted some key barriers to change.
Our vision is to create a safe environment for those aged 8-80 to cycle. Safety is the number one issue for the “interested but concerned” who will, with their families, take up cycling if the right environment is provided. In most places this requires separated cycleways, reduction in speed, and safe ways to cross busy roads that give priority to cyclists and pedestrians. The easiest way to measure perceptions of safety is the gender and age balance of cyclists. One busy road or roundabout without a safe option to cross on a journey will be a big deterrent to someone opting to cycle to a destination.
There are many ways to increase cycle safety:
- Fund a public education campaign on sharing the road safely with cyclists.
- Continue to fund programmes like Bikes in Schools.
- Make it mandatory for truck and bus drivers to attend training sessions on visibility and sharing the road like the currently voluntary system.
- Require new trucks and buses to have cameras and collision warning systems by a certain date.
- Require side under-run protection on all trucks.
- Ban bull and nudge bars, front and rear, on non-farm vehicles.
- Legislate for safe passing distances.
- Actively penalise drivers who park or drive in cycle lanes, pass cyclists too closely, or use cell phones illegally.
- Move freight off the roads onto rail or shipping.
- Make the standard urban road speed 30 kph rather than 50 kph.
Some businesses refuse to allow their employees to cycle in work time due to H&S liability concerns. Worksafe should be asked to clarify the legal situation and to actively promote the overall health benefits and safety of various active transport methods.
Research shows that the more people who cycle the safer it becomes for all.
The “not in my neighbourhood” (aka NIMBY, Not in My BackYard) feeling is strong. While the majority of residents support cycling getting each cycleway approved is frequently a battle and even the most supportive councillors get tired of the negative, sometimes nasty, feedback. The issues continue during the building stage as local businesses tend to have a temporary downturn in revenue due to access issues. Media coverage is often predominantly negative. Government funding is critical to get many projects over the line in a timely manner and should continue at 50-75%, as it is easier for councils to support cycleways and harder to turn down funding when the rates burden is minimised. Other policies or incentives to encourage local government to support accessible cities should also be investigated. Waka Kotahi should be funded to provide design and project support for smaller councils. We support the setting of targets for councils to deliver active travel networks with appropriate central funding. This should be part of planned urban design, that provides convenience benefits for active transport above cars. This can be in the form of short-cuts through alleyways or green spaces, priority at signal-based crossings etc.
From a climate change perspective, the goal is to encourage commuters to bike to work at least one or two days a week. There should be a subsidy program for commuter bikes (both electric and standard as they are usually lighter and therefore easier to lift onto bus racks), and businesses should be able to provide bikes tax free (or tax-subsidised) to employees up to a certain dollar limit. New York is considering implementing a scheme to subsidise 50% of the cost of an e-bike up to a maximum of US$1,100 for commuters, and a similar scheme could be implemented in Aotearoa as part of the upcoming car feebate scheme. The use of cargo bikes should be encouraged and also subsidised through the car feebate scheme.
Businesses and councils should be required to provide end-of-ride facilities at employment, schools, public transport stations/stops and public buildings and other high-use facilities, and add bike lockers to public transport stations/stops. It should be compulsory for all urban buses to have well-maintained bike racks and all trains and ferries should allow bikes for free (as in parts of the EU) for all hours of service.
The Government Policy Statement on Land Transport 2021/22-2030/31 says all the right things but the reality, found in table 3, is that the funding for walking and cycling for the next decade is expected to be between 2.2-3.0% ($95 to $180M) of the total budget. This funding is a significant improvement on the past but is insufficient to make a different in the timeframes required for global warming. The Climate Commission report recommends a substantial increase to this funding. Spokes believes at least 25% of national transport spend should be dedicated to active transport nationally and with funding flowing through to support local government. Only this will see transport emissions begin to be cut to meet goals.
It was good to see the $2B spend on a motorway through Auckland halted as it would have increased the amount of traffic and CO2 emissions and divided neighbourhoods. The financial cost/benefit for spending the equivalent on active transport is far higher. The two major projects announced, the $685M walking and cycling bridge across Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour (which will take five years to complete) and the Wellington to Hutt Valley cycleway (which will use all the current Waka Kotahi funding in 2022, $100M?) have high significance but also come at high cost. There are many other smaller projects that also deserve funding. This funding should cover not only major cycleways, but smaller packages of infrastructure that integrate the networks together (like ring road equivalents), and provide access to desirable destinations. The greater the number of safe interconnections available the more likely people will choose to cycle. The annual spend on active transport should be in the range of $3.5B.
The government should also fund upgrades to the most dangerous intersections for cyclists, particularly near schools, as part of their safety strategy.
Waka Kotahi should be congratulated on their excellent and highly successful active transport infrastructure on the Christchurch Northern Corridor. They should however be funded to review and make safe some of their other efforts. A comparison is the Paraparumu to Peka Peka section of SH1 where there is an excellent new cycle way with two dangerous crossings making it unsuitable for families to use.
All cycleways should have counters with the data available to the public, so that use can be proven and the cost/benefit measured.
Biking is not for everyone however there are some groups who would benefit from additional support. Support community programmes to get people cycling. A programme of providing free bikes, helmets and locks for children in low-income areas would be beneficial. There are community groups teaching migrant women to cycle, a free bike on completion would be life changing for some participants. Investigate options to provide financial support to purchase bikes for those that would benefit. Identify cycling advocates already doing good work within communities and provide financial support, particularly in Māori, Pacific and migrant groups.
Make cycling more attractive than travelling by car. Speed up changes to legislation that make separated cycle lanes part of the legal road as it will make the infrastructure cheaper, and the minimum passing distance for cars. Reduce all urban speeds to 30kph, make 50kph the exception rather than the rule. Allow cyclists to turn left on a red light, and go through a T intersection at the top end (preferably by building clear cycle routes off the road or clear of other traffic at such intersections). Require functional cycle parking at all major destinations including sports grounds and supermarkets proportionate to cars. Note the one car parking space can accommodate ten or more cycles. Require SOEs to take into account pragmatic climate change solutions, such as KiwiRail sharing their land and road crossings where appropriate, and put a compulsory mediation system in place when there is no agreement with other parties such as Councils.
Communication and Learning
Support research into best practice and provide free training and support for staff involved in planning for these new urban designs and cycle infrastructure. Often in small councils there is little expertise in this area and many planners have little or no cycling experience. Best practice evolves over time. Provide positive stories of change and challenge some of the misconceptions.
Together we can make a difference.
Spokes would be happy to talk to the Ministry further on our ideas to increase cycling and other active transport modes.