Beyond Bikelash: Building and maintaining momentum

I was impressed with the momentum underway in Wellington.   Just as Sara mentioned in her presentation councils can keep delivering and we must support our council leaders to do just that (submitting on plan, presenting at council, emailing decision makers).

I was really delighted to be a speaker at the conference. I’ve been attending 2 Walk and Cycle since my first conference in Taranaki in 2009 originally as an advocate and then as an elected member over my 12 years on Auckland Council.  I always learn a lot and feel energised by the people power in the room.

Headline in the Press following the Asia Pacific Cycle Conference 2017

I first met Sara at the Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress in Otautahi in 2017 when it felt like the sting was coming out of “Bikelash” for both of our cities. As it was reported from the Congress “A national rash of cycleway projects is making some motorists grumpy. But the cycle lobby seems to have its strategy sorted” .

It goes on “But now – impossible to believe, she (referring to me) agrees – Auckland is in the middle of a $200 million investment in 52km of dedicated cycleways. “There’s been a radical realignment of our cycling universe.  One of Auckland’s political advantages is that the cycleways are an Auckland Transport-run programme and so less susceptible to rate-payer pressure, she says.” (ha!)

Incredibly those projects in 2017 I said where “safely in place” are still not delivered 7 years later, 6 years behind schedule. At the 2Walk and cycling 2021 I asked the question Why is it taking so long to deliver an urban cycling network?  Leadership, sexism, the claylayer, the overplaying of community opposition were all factors and continue to be barriers.

Meola Road, Pt Chev to Westmere, under construction March 2024

What I would call a “bikelash” local government election in 2022 and budget cuts further threatened the programme in particular three routes covering the inner west of Auckland including this one in the photo.

It took an exhausting campaign by a well resourced community – 7 schools, 50 organisation, local residents associations, 3 business associations all in support- has got AT back on track but only just.

Stop de Kindermood protest in the Netherlands in response to rising road fatalities in the 1970’s

I often look at this photo – its on the wall of the Big Street Bikers office –  and wonder what it will take in Aotearoa to really push through on delivery after so many delays.  What will be the NZ version of the Netherland’s stop  de kindermoord (stop child murder) protest movement.   Do we need direct action to turn government policy and force delivery by agencies like Auckland Transport.? Does every lever possible need to be activated?

Clearly it is not just bikelash we need to move beyond but a full on culture war.

Community advocates
Radha Patel, Western Springs College student leader, Newtown School parents presenting to Auckland Council, Boopie Moran presenting to the AT Board

From my time council I know the importance of playing the council influence game – present, lobby, submit.   Showimg elected representatives the evidence  and support should be enough.

Boopsie Moran, extraordinary community advocate taking the time to present to the Auckland Transport Board on Katoa, Ka Ora Auckland’s speed management programme

Mums who just want their kids to get to school safely fronting up to speak at council

Students like Radha who petitioned for a safe crossing to school and advocated for the project .  It should not be this hard and exhausting for volunteers but we know how essential it is.

What I think is going to have the biggest impact on the decision makers as Sara covered is from the momentum gathering pace around the country of people taking advantage of safe infrastructure and jumping on active transport.  The majority of households have a bike- increasingly an e-bike, the majority want to be able to walk, scoot, wheel and cycle. (Waka Kotahi, NZTA Understanding attitudes and perceptions of walking and cycling survey 2023)

Politicians cutting the ribbon on cycling projects Top Left Glenn Innes to Tamaki stage 1; Bottom left Te ara i whiti Lightpath. Right Quay Street temporary cycleway opening with John Key, Simon Bridges and Len Brown

Famously it was the feedback the focus group from boomers who had experienced the Otago Rail Trail that convinced John Key to invest in urban cycling back in 2014 ( and if you look carefully from these cycleway opening pics the common denominator is a Minister of Transport and now Waka Kotahi board chair Simon Bridges). This is normal transmission and it needs to resume.

Mayor Wayne Brown riding on the footpath, ACT leader David Seymour with his e-bike; Quote from Richard Prebble


The decision makers (and in the case of the quote our elder statesmen) are so close to getting it!

I want to end on a positive note.  This is a giltch .

It is not normal for the Minister of Transport to decline to attend the conference,

It is not normal for senior agency leaders to not attend.  It is not normal to be “othered” when active transport is just what everyone does at some point on every journey and kids want to be able to get to kura safely.

It is not normal for leaders to pivot to road building priorities so readily (and change course off the back of media releases ) but not to have provided the same service for active transport – in the case of Auckland over 12 years of a progressive, supportive council!

Cover of the draft Government Policy Statement on Land Transport 2024

It is not normal during a climate emergency for a GPS that is so ill-informed, incoherent and lacking in any credibility.    Whatever your political persuasion the draft GPS (consultation closed on 2 April)  Zealand’s transport system and the communities it serves, now or in the future.

We can bring the discussion back on track and continue building momentum using every lever in our powers – I am sure this will happen including judicial review of the decision makers.  This is our street fight.  We know that it is the right thing for the health, well-being and freedom of current and future generations.

Reimaging the GPS as Transport for Life. Illustration by Carol Green

I ended by joining the call to attend the Transport for Life rally after the conference calling for a safe, fair and clean transport system and an evidence-based pathway to a healthy transport future for everyone in Aotearoa.


The lightpath to our cycling future – Te ara i whiti

Freemans Bay primary school Auckland has a stunning new icon.

Te ara i whiti – Lightpath opened yesterday to rave reviews and a huge turn out of people excited to experience the world’s first ever pink (officially magenta) coloured cycleway created from a transformed disused motorway off-ramp.

The day started with a dawn blessing that allowed for a contemplative walk with iwi reprepresentatives along the route to admire the new art works and take in the newly created vistas of the city as the sun came up. 

opening BFm photo
Photo: 95bfm

Hon Simon Bridges with the help of super hero riders from Freemans Bay primary school offically opened Phase One that includes a new swirling Canada Street Bridge connecting to the magenta-coloured Nelson Street off-ramp that joins the cycleway that runs down the length of Nelson St to the intersection of Victoria St. Phase 2, to start early next year, will take the entire Nelson St cycleway to Quay St. 

In the evening thousands gathered on foot, on skateboards and on bikes to enjoy the “first hoon” and interactive light show that runs along one side.

It was a really happy day for Auckland and wonderful to take part in the celebrations for the magic that has been created in an incredibly short time.

Nelson St off ramp before/after - City Centre Masterplan image
Nelson St off ramp before/after – City Centre Masterplan image

Since the Nelson St off ramp closed in 2005 people have looked down on spaghetti junction and imagined what could be possible to break up the endless grey motorway that dissects the city.  The idea to re-purpose the off -ramp took shape in the City Centre Masterplan 2012 (CCMP). It was visualised as a NYC style Highline with an urban garden.  In 2013 Matter Architects installed hundreds of bikes as part of an award winning Designday installation which raised further questions about how the off-ramp could be used.

Janette Sadik-Khan inspirational Auckland Conversation presentation in May 2014 provided the platform for a challenge to city’s leaders to get behind a “quick win” transformational pilot project. Paul and PippaBarb Cuthbert and Max Robitzsch from Bike Auckland (then Cycle Action Auckland) were ready with just the right project – a concept for the off-ramp as a cycleway connected to K’rd (also supported and promoted by Transport Blog).  Fortunately the timing was perfect with a new Regional Director at NZTA willing to make the idea a reality and Auckland Transport agreeing to get on board to tackle Nelson St to provide a business case for the off-ramp as a key connection in the city’s cycling network.  The crucial funding arrived with the Government’s announcement of a $100m Urban Cycling Investment Fund in August 2014 followed by confirmation that

Photo: Phil Walter
Photo: Phil Walter

Nelson St would be included in the programme in January 2015 (I was a member of the Urban Cycling Investment panel that recommended the programme to the Minister). Political support came from the Mayor Len Brown, Councillor Chris Darby (the Council’s political urban design champion) and of course the Waitematā Local Board! (our small financial contribution was to fund a drinking station on route)

The final part fell into place with the decision of the City Centre Advisory Board to use the targeted rate paid by central businesses to fund the WOW factor for the project.  This gave Auckland Council’s urban design champion Ludo Campbell-Reid and the Auckland Design Office the opportunity to get creative and follow through on the potential identified in the CCMP to make sure Auckland ended up with something really unique.

photo: Bike Auckland
photo: Bike Auckland

Following public feedback the concept was created by Monk Mackenzie architects and LandLAB, in association with artist Katz Maihi. Māori patterns annarrative form a core part of the designs, following discussions with iwi. The path includes Nelson St cyclewayetched carvings at intervals along the length, with a 6-metre pou at the entrance. The colour (by Resin Surfaces Ltd) represents the heartwood of a freshly cut totara, with the red and pink shades strengthened to contrast with the surrounding motorway lanes.  It includes LED lights by Iion lighting lining the safety barriers, that can interact and pulse as people pass them, as well as a strong magenta surface colour that fades out at the northern end in a Māori design (details from the Auckland Council media release).

Waitemata Local Board funded drinking station on Nelson St
Waitemata Local Board funded drinking station on Nelson St

I’d like to acknowledge and thank all who played a part in the Lightpath & Nelson St cycleway project from Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, NZTA and the many contractors (including Hawkins Construction, GHD, Construction Landscapes, PFS) who worked hard up right to the opening day. Te ara i whiti is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when the stars align on a great idea and creative people are given the brief and funding to make it happen.   


Film by iion of the first hoon

Time lapse of the paint going down

Aucklander flock to new magenta pathway into the city (Auckland Council media release)

Pedal to the new metal – Catherine Smith in the NZ Herald

Monthly Board report June 2014

Ko Te Kai a Te Rangatira – Ko te kai a te rangatira, he korero

(The sustenance of leaders are conversations)

Ko te  tohu o te rangatira, he manaaki

(The mark of leaders is generosity)

Ko te  mahi a te rangatira, he whakatira i te iwi

(The work of leaders is to unite the people)

This report covers my Waitematā Local Board activities during May 2014 as Deputy Chair, lead for the Community and Transport portfolios, Chair of the Grants Committee, Deputy Chair of the Central Joint Funding Committee and with positions on the Ponsonby Business Association and Ponsonby Community Centre Committee.

Portfolio Report: Community

Community Grants

The Waitemata Local Board Community Grants Committee met in May to consider applications to the fourth and final round of the 13/14 community grants fund.

The recommendations of the committee are on the June agenda of the Waitematā Local Board.


Deborah Yates HNZ meetingIn May we were able to celebrate the decision by Council and the Government to not include Spring St pensioner housing in the list of Special Housing Areas that would have allowed for fast track development (and resulted in the eviction of elderly tenants who were guaranteed a flat for life when the housing was bought from the old Auckland City Council).

It was also a win of sorts that, with the support of the Board, the Great North Road ridge was declared a Special Housing Area but unfortunately too late for the Arch Hill residents who are fighting the big box Bunnings development.

However as was discussed at the public meeting I attended on 10 May (facilitated by Board member Deborah Yates) there is still a great deal of uncertainty and anger about HNZ’s current approach to removing tenants which will have a big impact on the diversity our community.

Other issues relevant to the Community portfolio

A range of meetings were attended during May relevant to the Community portfolio – these are listed below.

Portfolio report:  Transport

Upper Queen Street Bridge – Grafton Gully cycleway connection

Upper Queen Street Bridge DesignEarlier this year we discovered that the City Centre Transformation team were not looking to deliver the connection between the Grafton Gully cycleway and Ian McKinnon Drive on the Upper Queen Street bridge until 15/16 despite the cycleway being due to be opened by NZTA in September this year (and despite a budget being available for the project)

Fortunately the escalation of this issue has had results and the good news is that the connection will be ready in time!  After reviewing the design (right) the transport portfolio has requested a drinking station be incorporated, that pedestrians/riders have priority phasing of the lights and that all steps be taken to ensure way finder signage is installed in time for the opening

Legible Auckland

I continue to log requests for pedestrian signage on streets with NO EXIT signage that in fact have walkway access.

No exit St Marys RoadAuckland Transport has confirmed the following streets will receive “walkway” signs:

  • Sheridan Lane, Freemans Bay
  • Gwilliam Place, Freemans Bay
  • Pratt Street, Freemans Bay
  • Samoa House Lane
  • Sylvan West Avenue (Albert – Eden Local Board area)
  • Cheshire Street, Parnell
  • Wharf Road, Herne Bay
  • Bayfield Road, Herne Bay
  • Prosford Road, Ponsonby

There are still many signs on poles that need to be updated with the correct walkway information such as this one on St Marys Bay road.

Auckland Transport Parking Discussion Document

The consultation on Auckland Transport’s parking discussion document went live on 31 May and will be open for feedback until the end of June.

For more on the parking issues and the parking strategy proposed by Auckland Transport refer “Getting Parking Right for Auckland” 

Monthly transport update

A monthly update with Auckland Transport took place on 21 May. Current issues are reported back monthly by Auckland Transport on our public agenda including the details of the consultation undertaken with the Transport portfolio on behalf of the Board.

Other board activities

Local Board Plan

During May I have been assisting with finalising our draft Local Board Plan that will go out for consultation on 7 July (the draft is on our June agenda). I’ve also been working on a very exciting event for the launch of our plan. Details will be available shortly.

Janette Sadik- Khan visits Auckland

Pippa Coom, Janette Sadik-Khan , Mayor Len Brown and Nic Williams from Frocks on bikesA big highlight of May was Janette Sadik-Khan’s visit to Auckland. The transport revolutionary presented “Designing Streets for People” to a record breaking Auckland Conversation audience.  How the streets of New York were transformed while she was NYC commissioner of transportation from 2007 – 2013 under Mayor Bloomberg, is an amazing story and provides a great deal of inspiration for what we can achieve in Auckland.

Best of all she had time for a Frocks on Bikes ride after doing a walkabout with the Mayor.

Workshops and meetings

In the period 1 May – 31 May I attended:

Effective Meetings for Local Board Chairs and Deputy Chairs – a very useful session looking at styles and approaches that help meetings to run smoothly and generate decisions.

  • Local Board workshop on 6 May
  • Community Development portfolio discussion on 6 May
  • Presentation to PBA members on the feedback received on the draft Ponsonby Road master plan on 7 May
  • Site visit for the Cowie Street Road Extension / Newmarket Level Crossing project (Parks and Transport portfolios) on 8 May
  • Meeting with Ashley Church, Newmarket Business Association
  • Local Government New Zealand Zone 1 meeting in Whangerei on 9 May
  • Housing public meeting at the Grey Lynn Community Centre on 10 May
  • Meeting with Alan Pack regarding a new underpass design for the Newmarket Level Crossing
  • Communications meeting on 12 May
  • Attended the St James Theatre site visit with the Mayor and Councillors (ahead of the governing body’s confidential agenda item on the future of the St James)
  • Open Streets Initiatives in NZ  The gateway drug for walking, cycling and connecting communities– watched the webinar with Christopher Dempsey and Vernon Tava
  • Catch up with Heart of the City
  • Briefing: Downtown Shopping Centre Block Re-development Future Options for Queen Elizabeth Square Report on 13 May
  • Meeting with Luka Hinse regarding a Pecha Kucha collaboration for launching the local board plan
  • Auckland Transport parking strategy workshop for elected representatives on 13 May
  • Planning meeting for Local Board plan pop-ups
  • Waitemata Local Board business meeting at Parnell on 13 May
  • Briefing on Pioneer Womens Hall on 14 May
  • Catch-up  with Alex Williams, SBN to discuss Project NZ and social enterprise in Waitemata
  • Ponsonby Road master plan meeting
  • Meeting to go over feedback on the draft local board plan
  • Auckland Development Committee workshop re Downtown Shopping Centre redevelopment & Waitemata Local Board
  • Waitemata Local Board workshop on 17 May
  • Local Economic Development workshop with Councillors and Local Board members
  • Central Joint Funding Committee Workshop – Auckland City Cultural Heritage Fund applications
  • Meeting to sign off on Waitemata Local Board plan
  • Maori Responsiveness training for elected members on Te Kai-A-Te Rangatira:  Building relationships with Māori – a forum for elected members to raise questions, share ideas and converse with Council’s subject matter experts (I learnt the Whakatauki that starts my report at this session)
  • Meeting to discuss community-led place making with Parnell Community Committee (part of my Community-led development champions work stream) on 19 May
  • Meeting to approve the draft local board plan to be attached to our June agenda
  • Mayor Len Brown tour of Waitemata Local Board at Pt Erin Pools Waitemata Local Board workshop on 20 May
  • Meeting with Auckland Transport, Auckland Council, Bunnings and Arch Hill representatives regarding a proposal to remove the kerb extension on King Street
  • Ponsonby Business Association Board strategic planning session
  • Monthly transport portfolio meeting on 21 May
  • Mayoral Tour on 21 May including a visit to Pt. Erin Pools (photo right) and Art Station
  • Waitemata Local Board update Briefing from Waterfront Auckland
  • Meeting to finalise Local Board Plan summary
  • Waitemata Local Board Grants Committee meeting on 22 May
  • Auckland Transport’s public meeting on the Cowie Street bridge/Sarawia underpass at Jubilee Hall, Parnell on 22 May
  • Community place-making champions group meeting on 26 May

Events and functions

In the period 1 May – 31 May 2014 I attended:

  • Fair Trade Auckland celebration L-R Wayne Walker, Pippa Coom, Rose from Ghana and Penny HulseCycle Action Auckland’s Associates Breakfast at the Auckland Art Gallery on 1 May
  • First Thursday on K’rd and K’rd and Newton Plans drop in session
  • POP project 02 / The Park / blessing of the hives in Victoria Park on 3 May
  • Judge for the regional New Zealand Environment Entrepreneurs on Sunday 4 May
  • Fair Trade Auckland event at Ponsonby Central (photo right)
  • Plastic bag Free Auckland meeting held at the Grey Lynn Community Centre
  • Te Kanano mobile ap launch at AUT
  • Artist Studio opening at 3 Ponsonby Road on 9 May
  • On Saturday 10 May visited the craft fair at Art Station, Station Square market, tree planting at Waipapa Stream with Parnell Heritage, members of the Board and community ; attended a Fair Trade afternoon tea, the Ponsonby Cruising  Club Art Auction exhibition and popped into the Pollen Hotel Workshop part of POP Projects 02: The Park
  • Launch of GridAKL, Wynyard Quarter on 16 May
  • Auckland Writers Festival event
  • TRENDZ conference launch, Viaduct Event Centre, hosted by ATEED
  • Janette Sadik-Khan bike ride with Frocks on BikesVelo –City conference meet- up for attendees from Auckland
  • Gathering for Janette Sadik-Khan sponsored by MR Cagney on 23 May
  • Taste Ponsonby – Ponsonby Primary fundraiser on 23 May
  • Popped into HACK AKL at AUT and the mini music festival on Lorne Street for NZ music month on 24 May
  • Frocks on Bikes ride with Janette Sadik-Khan
  • Auckland Conversation  presentation by Janette Sadik-Khan (NYC, Commissioner for Transportation 2007-2013) followed by dinner hosted by the Mayor
  • Velo-City Global 2014 Celebration of Cycling, Adelaide 27 -30 May (conference report back Attachment B)
  • Place making workshop with Ethan Kent on 30 May (to be reported back next month)

Conference report back: Velo-City Global 2014

Pippa Coom at Velo-City 2014I attended a very special celebration of cycling at the Velo-City 2014 conference in Adelaide in May with member Christopher Dempsey from the Waitematā Local Board. It was the first time the world’s premier cycling planning conference has been hosted in the southern hemisphere to offer opportunities for cycle advocates, practitioners, decision makers, policy makers, planners, engineers etc. from around the world to come together for four days to discuss ways to create and sustain bike-friendly cities. The conference provided valuable lessons from countries and cities where cycling is a valued part of daily transport and recreation.

Like Auckland, Adelaide has got a long way to go to be a great place to cycle but it was encouraging to see a recent commitment to cycling with new bike lanes and bike parking.

The key themes I took away from the conference are:

  • the importance of a connected network that integrates cycling into the transport choices available;
  • understanding  and selling (via data) the economic, safety and health benefits for everyone of investing in cycling infrastructure; and
  • if we are going to meet the challenges of our time and grow as a sustainable city we must act to make cycling (and walking/riding) a priority (we can’t afford not to)

Here are some of my conference highlights from the many speakers:

Janette Sadik -Khan at Velo-city 2014Janette Sadik-Khan:  Bike to the future (transformational leadership in action)

The former NYC Commissioner of Transportation came to Adelaide straight from a tremendous Auckland reception and Auckland Conversation presentation (including a Frocks on Bikes ride which was one of the most inspiring, fun and exciting bicycle rides I’ve ever been on). Some of her key points:

  • In NY the mayor took a long term view and sought to put in place a “course correction” to really transform NYC streets. The streets have been reimaged
  • Younger people want choice and want to NOT have the burden of owning a car
  • Choices on how we prioritise our streets will have an impact for generations to come
  • Safety in numbers has been demonstrated with NY streets safer than at any time in the last 100 years – speeding by cars has dropped by 75% on streets with cycle lanes
  • Economic benefits of sustainable streets – 50% increase in retail spend
  • Budgetary constraints are not an excuse- in NY cycling infrastructure is still only 1% of the budget
  • Good streets are safe and good for business (it is not zero sum game)
  • She said that bike lanes can truly transform a city and that most of the beneficiaries aren’t even cyclists.
  • When people are provided with choice they vote with their feet
  • Look at it from a business perspective – you couldn’t make no changes to your major asset for 50 years and expect to still be in business

She emphasised the importance of public consultation and that in NY they relied extensively on public outreach that provides the opportunity to better understand what people’s key issues are and that by helping them with these issues, it’s often possible to turn one’s biggest opponents into huge advocates.

Key message: So many to chose but I liked her observation that people are ahead of the press and politicians

Placemaking in AdelaideEthan Kent  Place to Place: Changing the transportation paradigm with place making

Ethan Kent, Project for Public Spaces is another of the Velo-city speakers that we are fortunate to have hosted in Auckland recently.  He is a practitioner of “lighter, quicker, cheaper” for short term trials or experimental projects.

  • He asks the question what if we planned streets as places
  • Place- led planning engages community in a much more holistic, sustainable and productive manner than a project, discipline or even context driven approach.
  • Proposed that planning should start with place concepts/aspirations and then allow specialists to develop concepts/options to deliver these outcomes.
  • He noted that when parking is an issue/problem, it’s usually a good indicator that a city doesn’t have a big enough vision for itself.
  • He acknowledged the importance of the advocates – many of PPS concepts were put into practice in NYC
  • He sees place making as a convergence of movements (climate change, smart growth, civic society, local economics, local food systems, historic preservation, community engagement)

Key message:

If you plan for cars and traffic you get cars and traffic

If you plan for people and places you get places and people

(I also attended a place making workshop with Ethan and will report on this separately)

Bojun Borkman-Chiswell: Bicycle journalism, solo film making, the unearthing of a global cycle and the almost certain future of cities

Bojun Borkman-Chiswell presentationIn a challenging and confrontational presentation Bojun brought a feminist perspective to the conference. She gave voice to women all around the world who rely on the bicycle but are being severely disadvantaged due to the politics of road funding and building.

She called on the male sports culture dominated bicycle conversation to stop to make way for women. She said we need to look at the emancipation of women as the key to returning liveability to our cities.

(The conference opened and closed with all male presentations and out of 29 plenary speakers only 6 were women)

Key message: Make it fun, free and fashionable and women will ride

Niels Hoe:  Cycling as the engine for financially and socially sustainable cities

The people in Copenhagen are the happiest on the planet and says Niels it is no coincidence that it is also a great place to cycle. His presentation focused on the economic benefits of a city for people who walk and bike – those that have the time to see what is in the shop window

  • Accessible and better streets  = more revenue
  • Drivers spend more per visit but shop less often
  • To encourage shopping by bike – make it easy and convenient

Key message: Cycling is good for business

Dr Lawrence Frank:  New research on the health impacts of land use and transportation investment decisions: new tools to support evidence based decision making

He noted the huge health benefit savings of moving from a car-dependent culture to a community that integrates active modes of transport. The quickest thing we can do he says to meet the challenges of our time (global warming, obesity crisis) is reappropriate road space.

His research showed that whether we will change our behaviour and our travel choices are influenced by where we live and what form of travel is intuitive.

  • 3.43 times more likely to meet physical activity targets if take public transport
  • Every extra hour in a car translates into 6% increase in obesity
  • Need to enable people to inhibit health promoting behaviours they want and we are not providing for this

Dr Frank’s presentation highlighted the importance of including the health benefits of walking and cycling improvements in any cost benefit analysis

Key message: Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm!

Jonathan Daly:  is separation the answer?

Frome St protected cycle way AdelaideIn a session on treating our streets as public space, behaviourologist, urbanist and designer, Jonathan Daly challenged the decision makers to ask the right question (and to look at who is asking the questions).

He says that if the starting point is that it is all about infrastructure this becomes problematic. If the answer always is separation this can end up creating more problems than it solves.

  • It is not surprising that everyone drives as driving is intuitive while cycling is not
  • He focused on re-building cooperation in our shared spaces rather than looking to separation
  • If end up with separation around schools then haven’t created the right environment

Key message: There is no silver bullet – a whole lot of things will make an environment intuitive.

Leadership challenges in treating cities as public space: Presentations from Mayoral representatives from around the world:

In Copenhagen currently 41% people cycle to work but the target is 50% by 2015

  • The Mayor asked how can we afford to not find space to invest in cycling
  • Cycling shouldn’t be an aim in itself but the means

Mayor of Copenhagen at Velo-City 2014If you want people to meet and interact get them out of their car so they use their feet was the message from Vienna.

  • Slower speeds in Vienna with 2/3 of streets now 30km
  • A great analogy for supporting bike and car share “If you want a glass of milk you don’t have to buy a cow”
  • A good city means dialogue and controversy – getting people engaged in their environment and its transformations can only be a good sign of things to come

Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Stephen Yarwood gave a presentation on leadership aimed at elected representatives with his 8 key points.

  1. Motivated people achieve great results
  2. Connect to your community and ask questions
  3. Communicate results
  4. Change is hard – we are programmed not to like change. Only reason don’t like change if it is badly communicated
  5. Make mistakes – have to make mistakes but have fun when doing it
  6. Dare to dream – just look at the  transformation of Melbourne over 20 years to see what is possible
  7. Be frank and fearless
  8. Reflect the mood of the city – be the change you want to see

Steven Fleming: inventing building typologies and urban morphologies that proceed from bicycle motion

Like other speakers Steven spoke about our cities being intuitive to drive but not cycle. He looked at design to convince women to live in bike- focused housing . For example being able to take a cargo bike right into the kitchen (like the car in the internal garage)

  • He  thinks that walkable city make you bored, fat and trapped
  • Activity nodes (rather than a central activated place) – let bikes shrink the gaps in between
  • Architecture precipitated the age of the car – can do the same for the age of the bike

Craig Richards:  bike riding is booming – but is the current progress quick enough?

The Victorian advocacy group Bicycle network  has a campaign to petition the PM of Australia to commit $7.5bn to fund $7500km of cycle lanes based on the following simple numbers:

  • The number of people becoming inactive is 20x more than taking up cycling
  • 63% of Australians are inactive
  • Inactivity costs $13.8bn per year
  • 59% of people want to ride a bike but are concerned about cars and trucks
  • Separated lanes and paths will overcome their concern
  • If 59% of people take up riding Australia will save $8.1bn per year
  • $7.5bn will buy 7500km of separated bike lanes and paths
  • It will transform Australia into the most bike friendly and physically active country in the world

Timothy Papandreou, Director of Strategic Planning & Policy at the San Francisco municipal transportation agency: how SF is tripling bike share mode by 2018

Tim Papandeaou at Velo-City 2014Following on from Janette Sadik –Khan I think Tim (photo right) was one of the most relevant speakers for Auckland because San Francisco has adopted many of the same strategies as NY to achieve sustainable streets with impressive results.  Like Auckland, SF also has one agency and is taking a multi-modal approach. Some of Tim’s points:

  • Driving is the distraction not texting
  • Describing people as “cyclists” or “pedestrians” is divisive – in SF they just focus on people
  • Opportunity to achieve a 15-30% reduction in cars
  • Virtuous cycle of integrated investments
  • Progressive parking demand management plan is the most important tool to create more sustainable streets and promote alternative transport options
  • Trifecta needed to make cycling happen  Mayor/leadership + advocates  + “plangineers”
  • Quick and easy wins – eg pedestrian build outs designed with paint
  • Get the parking right before put in the cycle lanes
  • Use lots of green paint and signage

Key message: All politicians in SF now run on a platform of “complete” streets- won’t win and look foolish if don’t

Florian Lennert:  Mobility for future cities

The conference closed with Florian Lennert of Innoz who discussed intelligent cities using Berlin as a prime example.

  • Future of mobility will be future of urban mobility
  • 90% of the time only 1 person occupies a car which is very inefficient mobility
  • While cities are meant to be urban spaces for people, the focus has changed to make them about ‘the car’ and this needs to be challenged.
  • But it is not just about the bicycle – instead the transport alternative that makes sense. Private car ownership in cities doesn’t make sense for most people, (electric) car sharing however is progressive alternative. Beyond bikes, other small mobility devices such as Segway or even (kick) scooters can be highly effective transport options in cities.
  • Shift to multi – modal behaviour which in the German experience has led to a 20 % drop in car use

Key message: The future = multi modal sustainable mobility on demand

Data data data

“In God we trust – everyone else bring data” – Mayor Bloomberg (quoted by Janette Sadik-Khan in her presentation). Some examples of the data presented at the conference:

  • Investment in cycling on 9th Avenue led to a 49% increase in business
  • A study of a park and ride in Perth showed that 80% had travelled LESS THAN 800m
  • The “green dividend” in Portland has saved the city $1.2 billion through cycling before even factoring in the health benefits
  • In Germany only 16% of people are traditional car drivers who won’t consider alternatives
  • For $60m it is possible to build 300 km of cycle way or 1 km of motorway

The Auckland team

Ponsonby Bike corral presentation Velo-City 2014 AdelaideIt was slightly surreal to be celebrating the installation of one bike corral in Auckland at a conference dominated by bike-friendly countries with bike parking buildings for 30,000 bikes.

But regardless of what you think of the video made to show at the conference (described by Transport Blog as “tone deaf”) even the Europeans were impressed with the research that Auckland Transport has undertaken on the use of the bike corral and the economic benefits. Anja Vroegop   (Auckland Transport – Community transport team) presented the evaluation of the trial including:

  • $1.14 spent per minute compared with car of $1.18
  • At peak the bike corral generated $684 per hour compared with $70 for one car park that it replaced

Three other members of the Auckland Transport team gave presentations at the conference. I’ve asked them to present to the Waitemata Local Board at one of our workshops so that all members can have the opportunity to discuss what we learnt from the conference.

Christopher Dempsey in his presentation in the last (but well attended) session of the conference themed “peddling cycling to the pollies” said that he had more rights in New Zealand as a gay man than as a cyclist.

Attendance costs

Pippa Coom, Cr Chris Darby, Christopher Dempsey at Velo-city 2014 AdelaideMy conference registration and my airfare to Adelaide were paid for from the Local Board professional development budget.

Thank you for the opportunity to attend the conference. I came away grateful to have been inspired by amazing people who have achieved fantastic results.

It can often feel that we have an overwhelming amount to do to provide genuine transport choices in Auckland and that we are never going to get the cycling network built (in my life time anyway). Therefore it was encouraging to hear Janette Sadik–Khan say on her visit that it felt to her as if Auckland is at a tipping point and has the potential to be a great place to cycle. As she says – it is just going to take vision, political courage and advocacy.




Frocks on Bikes bike ride with Janette Sadik-Khan

Janette Sadik KhanFrocks on Bikes is delighted to welcome to town New York’s transport revolutionary Janette Sadik-Khan, with a frockalicious bike tour along central Auckland’s scenic paths and shopping streets on Saturday 24th May.

New York City’s former Department of Transportation Commissioner worked miracles during her tenure under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Her team transformed many of NYC’s ‘mean streets’ to increasingly friendly shared spaces with innovations such as a pedestrian mall in Times Square, and more than 480km of new bike lanes. Now, as Transportation Principal at Bloomberg Associates (alongside her former boss), she is inspiring other cities to create “complete streets” with space for everyone, whether they are on foot, on bike, in buses or cars, and Frocks on Bikes are thrilled to be able to share their experiences of cycling in Auckland with Sadik-Khan.

Frocks on Bikes, which began in Wellington in 2008 and now has 13 “frock flocks” across New Zealand and Australia, celebrates the casual chic and cheerful freedom of women on bicycles. “Our philosophy is you can ride however often you want, at whatever speed you like, in whatever you love to wear – yes, even a frock!” says Auckland Frocks on Bikes co-ordinator Nic Williams.

“The research is clear: the more women out and about on two wheelsthe safer your city for everyone. Women on bicycles are a “indicator species” for a healthy urban environment. The sight of women on bikes sends a message that cycling is fun and that roads are for sharing, which encourages even more people.”

Safety is not the only benefit. New York studies show that bike-friendly streets are great for retail and real estate: Manhattan’s 9th Ave retailers experienced sales increases of 49% after a protected bike lane went in. Potential bike lanes on Auckland’s shopping streets such as Karangahape and Ponsonby Roads are guaranteed to have the same positive retail impact. With baskets and panniers typical on the springy, upright commuter bikes we like to ride, Frockers are well-placed to shop, shop, shop.

And then there’s our health. European studies show that women (and men) who cycle for just 30 minutes a day sleep better, look healthier, think better, concentrate more, live longer, save more money and lower their risks of heart disease and cancer. The best part? Most of this research is based on studies of moderate cycling, the kind of cruisy, pleasant cycling that Frocks on Bikes loves best.

However, says Williams, yet more research concludes that to get more women out cycling, streets must be transformed into bike-friendly avenues. Frocks on Bikes are looking forward to rolling along some of central Auckland’s magnificent ridgeline roads with Janette Sadik-Khan, and hearing her thoughts on how our city can improve our streets for all the people who use them.

Itinerary for Saturday 24 May 

2.30pm: Q&A at The Cloud, Queens Wharf, with Janette Sadik-Khan, Mayor Len Brown, Ludo Campbell-Reid and Frocks on Bikes members

3.00pm: Frocks on Bikes ride begins

Dress Code: Frocks or your normal, everyday clothes!

RSVP to: Nic Williams – or Ph 021 110 7148

Auckland Council, who is hosting Sadik-Kahn will also have a video recording of her free talk on Monday 26th May (now at full capacity) – posted to the Auckland Conversations website.

WHAT THE FROCK?! Frock-busting the big myths about cycling in Auckland:

Too rainy? We can count on one hand the number of times we’ve gotten drenched while out cycling in Auckland. (The former North Shore City Council did the numbers: if you rode to work every day of the year, you’d only get wet on a dozen of those days.)

Too hilly? Looks are deceiving! Most Auckland roads are pleasantly manageable. We ride at our own speed and barely break a sweat tootling up College Hill in first gear. We arrive at our destination with a fetching blush to our cheeks.

Too inconvenient? We love our lycra-clad sport-cycling brothers and sisters, but we have no need for a shower and a change of clothes by the time we get to work. The point of Frocking is to be able to ride from A to B in your fabulous everyday clothes. Plus, we can always find a park (and we don’t have to pay for it).

Not safe? While Auckland’s roads can definitely do with improvements, there’s interesting driver psychology in play when more women are cycling in “ordinary” clothes. A UK study showed drivers are more likely to slow down around female urban cyclists (or at least a bloke wearing a long, blonde wig!), and give them a wider berth when passing. This heightened attention to courtesy pays off for everyone on the road.

In other words, there has been never been a better time to ride.

Who will be Auckland’s Janette Sadik Khan?

Paul Steely WhiteCycle Action Auckland recently brought the executive director of Transportation Alternatives in New York, Paul Steely White to Auckland.

At a breakfast presentation hosted by AECOM and Heart of the City, Paul discussed what it had taken to start transforming New York into a cycling city.

He highlighted some keys to New York’s success:

  • Moving beyond “vehicular levels of service”  to wider benefits and modal targets which became possible after  Janette Sadik-Khan was made the Commission of Transport
  • Using other  metrics for measures of performance such as the number of seniors on a street because they want to be there
  • Taking a  “green paint” approach – for example the  quick and dirty work over of Times Square (which started as a trial but has now been made permanent because it was so successful)
  • Doing it quickly with public input a key part of the success (Janette Sadik-Khan’s mantra: Her mantra: Do bold experiments that are cheap to try out.)

Paul observed that Auckland felt like where New York was at 10 years ago.   So what is it going to take to transform Auckland? After being inspired by stories from New York I think we need our own Janette Sadik-Khan who can turn around the culture at Auckland Transport and provide visionary leadership.

From my experience on the Transport portfolio over the last three years I think that Auckland Transport is incapable at the moment of learning any of the lessons from New Year because the organization is fixated on providing a roading network only for efficient vehicle movements.  Cycling infrastructure is considered to be an optional extra and nice to have rather than integral to every transport project.  Auckland Transport is not even on track to meet the Auckland Plan targets for completing the Auckland Cycle Network.

The good news is that Paul Steely White saw signs that the “liveable streets revolution” is underway in Auckland and acknowledged the work of cycling advocates.  What we need now to actually make Auckland the world’s most liveable city with the most liveable streets is our own Janette Sadik-Khan.

Paul Steely White’s visit to Auckland

Auckland Conversation presentation on video

‘Heroic risks’ – US visitor marvels at perils of city cycling NZ Herald 11 October 2013

Kim Hill radio interview

Janette Sadik-Khan: New York’s Streets?  Not so mean anymore. Ted Talk September 2013