What the recent elections told us about support for cycling in Chch

So the local body elections are over for another 3 years. In Christchurch, that has seen six new City Councillors, plus the return of the remaining ten incumbent Councillors and Mayor Dalziel.

Class of 2019 (c/ CCC)

So what does that mean in terms of likely impacts on cycling in our city?

For the last couple of years, many comments surrounding various “controversial” cycleway schemes have had a theme that the elected members concerned would be voted out come election time.

So it is notable that none of the City Councillors on the Infrastructure Transport & Environment Committee (responsible for approving cycleways and other transport issues) have been voted out (NB: one retired and one has now been elected onto ECan).

Apparently people DO want to “keep living in a dictatorship”…

That suggests to me actually a general vote of support for what is being done to improve cycling’s lot in the city, despite the constant grumbles about their “extravagance”.

That’s not to say it’s all bread and roses; three standing Councillors were defeated. While Deon Swiggs demise was perhaps not surprising given the recent allegations in the media, it is interesting that both Councillors from the eastern wards of Burwood and Coastal were defeated. One suspects that some of this might be a backlash built around the common “fix the roads in the East!” refrain (even though well more than half of the city’s infrastructure rebuild bill to date has been in these wards…).

New Councillor Phil Mauger’s transport policies (c/ policylocal/thespinoff.co.nz)

In terms of supporting cycling, David East tended to be fairly ambivalent while Glenn Livingstone was fairly supportive. It is notable that civil contractor Phil Mauger who dethroned Livingstone was quite specific in tapping into that “no more cycleways” riff (as well as a predictably greater general focus on Eastern projects). Conversely former broadcaster James Daniels, who beat East, voiced his support for cycleways (I guess we might have to see what “efficient and appropriate” mean though…), so the net balance in Council may not have changed.

New Councillor James Daniels’ transport policies (c/ policylocal/thespinoff.co.nz)

And what of the other four new Councillors? None of them provided explicit statements for or against cycleways in their policies, although you could perhaps interpret “prioritise the repairs to our roads” as implying “…and not all that frivolous extra stuff like cycleways…”. I am comforted by two of them also recognising the important value of lower speeds, for both cycling and road safety in general.

Transport policy statements from new Councillors (c/ policylocal/thespinoff.co.nz)

Ultimately, the proof in the pudding will be in how the new Councillors vote on key matters (especially the contentious ones). It will be interesting to watch…

Maybe next time…

What do you think of the new Council make-up?

8 thoughts on “What the recent elections told us about support for cycling in Chch”

  1. I have counted about 20 NoBody on my way home along the Quarryman’s.
    That is surely the small level of use they (the Cycleways) gets.
    This election showed the silent majority is for Cycleways, similar to what Share An Idea indicated.
    Let the dog bark while the platoon get bigger and more routes are built.

  2. I watched carefully in the pre election run up to try and get a feel for who was supporting cycle infra structure – and it was very difficult. Most of them either said nothing at all or were clearly sitting on the fence to protect themselves. Clearly Parks and Mauger were out on a limb and, hopefully, making idjits of themselves for their narrow and selfish view of the world. On with Cycle Christchurch – yee ha

    1. Steve, I am hopeful that Phil Mauger will be pragmatic enough to see how cheaply some quick wins for cycling can save roading building and maintenance costs. This may keep the momentum going as the cycleway network develops. And can he offer practical advice to get it quickly implemented ?

  3. Do the new CCC councillors get an induction course? Visit to all the hot-topic locations in the city? Perhaps its time for an organised bike ride for them to join in?

  4. I am a cyclist, but I view cycle lanes different from others.
    When I learnt to drive, I was taught that we share the road with other users. Not other cars or motored vehicles but cycles, horses, trucks, cars, motorbikes and god forbid cars towing caravans. I see a white painted line along beside the vehicle lane as good but to totally separate the cycle lane is not a good thing. How can these new drivers learn to share the road if you take out the problem as they the car drivers see it.
    They don’t like sharing with trucks.
    Half don’t like to share with other cars, and that can be seen by the way they drive.
    We need to push for the old ways, if you can pass the test with a traffic cop seated beside you, good. If not don’t let them drive. Teach them to share and to care for other users of the road. It sounds impossible but it worked 40 yrs ago when I learnt and past, and oh the written test that was the killer. Four times for me, but I knew every road rule written in the road code.
    Drivers must learn to share the road at low speeds, then at greater speeds they will be safer at passing cyclists on busy main roads.
    White line fine, concrete line bad.

    1. I too learnt to drive as you did Errol. You drove like it was your family in the car coming toward you, on the bike at the intersection, walking out to cross the road. Who drives like that now ? No amount of testing or even driver eduction of the rules will change the ‘might and the majority is right’ mentality on our roads these days. We have lost a generation of kids learning to ride bikes; they grow up learning to drive powerful, air-bagged vehicles as teenagers where speed is everything, other people don’t matter, and invincibility is the order of the day. How are you going to get those who would like to ride a bike on to the roads when all that separates them from that sort of distracted and impatient traffic is a white line ? Please share your thoughts.

    2. I would also suggest that there a simply a lot more cars on the road nowadays than there used to be, making cycling without dedicated infrastructure less safe on that basis alone (look at the scene starting at 1:40). Also note the “little enthusiasm” “motorists” have for living in the city with the highest number of bicycles per capita “in the Empire”.

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