Hard News by Russell Brown


The Cycle Frolic

If you're in Auckland and you ride a bike -- and especially if your family does -- you might consider getting down to Quay Street on Saturday for Ciclovía on Quay.

Ciclovía -- the word means "bike path" in Spanish -- is a kind of riding fair, where the road is closed to cars and we all may trundle safely and freely where we please. There will be food and entertainment and games for the kids. Details on the various activities can be found on the Facebook event page.

You'll also be able to muse on how nice it would be if Quay Street was closed to cars (or even just made share-with-care) all the time, or just at the weekends.

It's quite glorious when it is -- most notably during the Rugby World Cup in 2011, but also more recently for the international triathlon -- and the central city seems just that little bit more at home with its harbour. Most notably, Customs Street seems to take up the vehicle traffic load just fine. Obviously, there needs to be provision for access to the ferry terminal and the like. But four lanes of traffic on a Saturday? Why?

The event also gives Auckland Council and Auckland Transport a chance to look good in the face of some harsh recent headlines about their commitment -- or lack of commitment -- to cycle infrastructure compared to other New Zealand centres (let alone those in other countries).

Because, to be blunt, the mayor's recent "announcements" on Campbell Live did not do the job. As Transport Blog pointed out in a typically useful analysis, the mayor's promises for completion of a citywide cycle network within 30 years do not tally at all with the actual budgets for such work by Auckland Transport.

And as one commenter puts it, Brown "campaigned to complete [the network] by 2026 in 2010, the Auckland Plan said to complete it by 2030 and now he’s kicked it out another 14 years."

It's understandable and inevitable that the mayor and his people will look to restore his reputation through well-handled policy and fundng announcements this year, but that's not going to work if the announcements are such insubstantial rubbish as those last week.

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