Island Life by David Slack


Still not over it

Auckland is not a city that cares much for cyclists.

If you drive a black, shining SUV that looks - to the jaundiced eye - like some SS staff car, you may lumber about this sprawling city without let or hinderance.

You may, at some future point, be spending fifty dollars each week to drive it on roads yet to be built, but rest assured: your needs will never be taken lightly, your expectations will be respected.

Auckland is not a city that cares much for cyclists. There are cycle lanes being created, and more to come, but stand that work up against the road construction for the trucks and cars, and the effort looks just plain miserly.

Cycle Action Auckland have been exhorting the city councils of the region to give Transit their endorsement for a cycle and walking lane for the harbour bridge to coincide with the retrofitting of the decaying clip-ons.

They estimated it could be done for 5 million; more likely figures of 28 to 40 million have since been suggested. Whichever of those figures might be most accurate, they are each of them less than the Transit budget for cycling. To be sure, it would soak up much of the annual allowance. And so Auckland City Council’s officials have looked at this figure, and looked at the likely number of users, and judged that notional figure to be small, and said: “no”.

Talk about a failure of vision. The more a council prattles on about 'creating a vibrant city', the more you can be sure their vision is monochrome.

Auckland is manifestly not a city that cares much for cyclists. Not like Paris. Not like Amsterdam. Even LA seems to care more.

Never mind the conservative projections. What if you built it and they came? They came to the Northern busway in numbers not foreseen. They are using the trains in numbers unforeseen.

We are making ourselves familiar with the concept of petrol poverty, and yet the Auckland City Council cannot foresee a transformed city in which many more people use cycles to get about. If you lived in Northcote, or Birkenhead, or Takapuna and you had the option of cycling across the harbour bridge, would you really not give it some thought? According to the Auckland City Council officials you would not. I say bullshit. I live in Devonport, and I’d do it, and I’ll find you plenty more who’d say the same. Make a harbour bridge linch pin, and you’ll create the impetus for many more connecting cycleways.

If you could walk from one side of the Auckland harbour bridge to the other, would you not ever take your family on the walk some sunny Sunday? If you were a runner, would you never work the bridge into your training route? According to the Auckland City Council officials you would not.

The fact that, of the billions spent each year by Transit, such a small proportion is set aside for cycle projects is just, as my daughter and her friends like to say, wrong.

Auckland is not a city that cares much for cyclists, and my guess this morning would be that among the cyclists, the feeling is mutual.

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