Halfway through the first Council term for cycling in Waitemata

Rob Thomas, Pippa Coom, Mayor Len Brown, Christopher Dempsey and Tricia Reade

Rob Thomas, Pippa Coom, Mayor Len Brown, Christopher Dempsey and Tricia ReadeThe Waitemata Local Board is unique amongst Auckland’s 21 boards for having four of seven members using a bike for transport every day. This makes perfect sense for a board covering the central suburbs of Auckland with everything in easy distance.

Unsurprisingly we are committed to bringing balance to the transport agenda after decades of car dominated investment. One of the Board’s priorities is “connected, healthy transport options” – which includes making Auckland safer for cycling with a focus on infrastructure and completing the Regional Cycle Network.

Just some of the projects we support include the Auckland Harbour Bridge pathway, public bike hire scheme, installing advanced stop boxes with feeder cycle lanes, making intersections safer for pedestrians, connecting our open spaces with “green links” and slower speed zones especially in residential areas.

The super city re-organisation put Auckland Transport in charge of the transport budget with responsibility for everything in the road reserve. The role of local boards is to advocate on behalf of our communities but they have no direct control over where the money is spent.

Notwithstanding this lack of local board power, many positives have emerged from the new structure. Auckland Transport is generally more responsive than the old Auckland City Council transport department, plans are now coordinated across the Auckland region and there are signs that progress is happening with new cycle lanes on the drawing board. We are also seeing improvements for cyclists being more readily incorporated into roading and maintenance projects.

However, even though Mayor Brown is an enthusiastic supporter of cycling, we are yet to see this reflected in how the budget is allocated. Auckland Council’s draft Long Term Plan identified a disappointing 0.8% of the transport budget for walking and cycling. If funding is not significantly increased it is very unlikely that Auckland Transport’s completion targets for the Regional Cycle Network will be achievable.

Fortunately, submissions on the plan have demonstrated a huge amount of community support for investment in cycling and alternatives to private cars. Now at the half way point of our term, I remain positive that we are heading in the right direction to unlock Auckland’s cycling potential.

[postscript: This article was written in April 2012 for the CAN Chainlinks magazine. Since then the Strategy and Finance Committee of Auckland Council has made final recommendations for inclusion in the final Long-term Plan, including funding for a Waterfront walk and cycleway and support for the Auckland Harbour Bridge Pathway. The % of the transport budget allocated to walking and cycling will not be known until the RLTP is finalised]