Flashback Friday – Elections 2019: Why are Cycleways always the Easy Beat?

It’s coming up to the end of this term’s local government elections. If you haven’t done so already: get out there and vote! You have until midday this Saturday 8th and you’ll have to hand in your voting papers in person now. If you want to know who is standing in your area and how various candidates think about different policies, I highly recommend checking out policy.nz. Cycleways are always a topic of contention come election time, so it’s no surprise to see a few usual suspects continuing to threaten their cancellation. Three years ago was no different, as this post from Sep 2019 noted. So make sure that your vote counts in the right direction…

It’s local election time! Chances are you have your voting papers by now and are pondering which boxes to tick. Simon Barnard has provided a useful summary of some of the punters who have put their hand up. I also can’t emphasise enough how useful that PolicyLocal website created by The Spin-off is; just enter your address and it tells you who is standing in your area for the different elections, and provides a comparison tool of different people’s policies, including transport and climate change.

If you prefer a mobile app, Chch City Council has developed a neat tool called Celect that summarises all the candidates in your area for Mayor, City Council, Community Board, Regional Council and District Health Board, with summary statements for each. And there are also other groups who have tried to survey candidates on their various opinions (this is a pretty useful overview of them). Many are focusing on climate change actions/policies by those standing, including Generation Zero and Extinction Rebellion, which of course is connected with policies supporting cycling (or otherwise).

What’s been interesting is how the cycleway programme in Christchurch has been a lightning rod for some candidates. Of course, we’ve seen that the cycleways have been viewed as an “extravagance” by various quarters over the past few years; for many it is still seen as something only for a “small minority” (despite the annoying little fact that half of the city’s population typically biked in the past year). So it’s perhaps not surprising that some would-be politicians have tried the populist approach of proposing to halt the cycleways, e.g. Darryll Park, John Stringer, Lindon Boyce, Aaron White amongst others. Mind you, if the evidence of recent consultations on cycleways and the cycleway programme overall are any indication, these opinions may not be as “popular” as they think…

Will the $38m South Express cycleway really be “gone by lunchtime”?

As is often the case with politics, there are a lot of “alternative facts” floating around about cycleways, particularly in terms of cost and usage. Some of the discussions clearly betray a lack of understanding about how cycleways are funded, the public support behind them, or what the real cycle count numbers are. It’s been good to see a couple of City Councillors recently pipe up and point out the realities of what contributes to your rates bill.

Ah, it’s those pesky actual “facts” getting in the way of cycleway bluster again…

In choosing who you want as your elected members, I would encourage you to consider a wide range of their policies (and their previous statements and actions), not just those on cycleways. But it is clear that some candidates understand the bigger picture of initiatives like supporting cycling better than others. Let the voting begin – remember you have until noon on Sat Oct 12th.

What do you think of some of the campaigning around cycleways?

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