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