Advocating for Cycling

Happiness is achievable, and worth it.

Writing a submission is really not so hard. You need only say what is on your mind, in your own words. Brevity is a virtue, but well thought out points well made are also fine. In most instances you can simply email it in. Having made submissions on cycling in Christchurch for some years now I share some observations on what has been and how we can all make cycling routine for Christchurch

Many of us contributed to the Share an Idea consultative process on the City Plan. Cycling came in as the most commented upon transport mode. The resulting plan for rebuilding the downtown actually found cycling mentioned frequently and prominently. Still, the funding was conditional and follow up consultation with the cycling community non existent. Now it appears that Gerry and CERA don’t really share the community’s enthusiasm and cycling in the plan may be a no show.

For decades the lion’s share of road spending has gone for vehicle infrastructure. Cycling was lucky if it got half a percent of funding, typically less. In the most recent Christchurch annual plan funding for active transport (walking and cycling) projects was primarily to support the new southern motorway. Cycling received $118,000 in direct funding. This from a transport budget of $196.4 million, or about eight cents out of every thousand dollars for cycling. But don’t despair just yet.

From a cycling viewpoint we have been short changed for decades. Clearly, government needs to over allocate budgets to support cycling to make up for past neglect. About 7% of us commute by bicycle. Surveys done by the Ministry of Transport have shown that many people want to cycle, but find the roads intimidating. Reasonably, at least 10% of the roading budget should go towards cycling.

The draft Christchurch Transport Plan (CTP), the master plan to govern all transport in Christchurch, will soon be available for consultation. And, there is some real hope. We got a pre release glimpse of the plan at the last Canterbury Active Transport (CAT) Forum a few weeks back. Mayor Bob was quoted as saying ‘cycling defines this plan’. The CTP was supposed to be released after city staff presented it to Councillors on 28 June. But Councillors were not happy with the plan as, according to Councillor Sue Wells, it did not adequately emphasize cycling. They have sent it back for reworking.

While we don’t know when the CTP will be released for consultation we can all be prepared to comment. It takes a lot of reminding to help elected officials and city staff to understand that people really do want to be able to ride bikes, wherever they need to go, safely, easily, pleasantly even.

We know that politicians will say what they think people want to hear and have not been following up with funding. Christchurch has had a bicycle strategy, and been ignoring it, for over a decade. Share an Idea seems to have reminded Councillors that the community really wants cycling. Councillors need to keep hearing that message loud and clear from lots of us. They are going to need our support to convince Gerry and CERA that cycling is simply too important and popular, to ignore.

You can help. Watch the Spokes website where you will find links and notes on the CTP or keep checking the CCC Have Your Say website to access the CTP and submission forms when they are finally released.

Cycling in Christchurch will be better, when we make it better. Progress has been made; it is up to us to build on it.

Points to Make:

  • You want cycle infrastructure that every parent will be comfortable with having their ten year old use
  • It needs to go everywhere
  • Getting people on bikes is generally recognised as the cheapest way to reduce drive time traffic congestion
  • It is past time to deliver
  • The opportunities offered by the quakes cannot be allowed to slip away
  • You, your family, friends, co workers all vote and want to cycle safely
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