2015 stands out for being the year of: a deluge of money; a sweet and irresistible force; outbursts of belief; and a major leap forward.
Here’s a snapshot of the highlights, and a record of those who deserve our thanks.
A Deluge of Money
A national flood of $$. Our 2014 AGM followed close on the heels of the re-election of a National Government. At the opening of our Grafton Gully project, the Prime Minister John Key promised more money for urban cycleways. But who believed it would be a third of a billion dollars from central and local government in the next 3 years!
The deluge of new cycling projects funded by the Urban Cycle Programme is the stuff of dreams. The chat on the streets is now turning from simply boggling at the prospect of so many high quality routes, to hoping that Auckland Transport is up to the task of delivering so much in just 3 years.
We’re also welcoming a new NZTA initiative that will free up money for local councils to promote the benefits of cycling, instead of simply focusing on safety. The back-story here is that NZTA’s national cycling team have set a powerful goal of increasing cycling across NZ by 30% by 2019. It’s an ambitious number, and it’s now our goal for Auckland, too. Aim high.
Smart $$ for Cycle Action Our new website and widening profile are helping us reach more readers and supporters, thanks to the amazing generosity of Bruce Copeland and his web design company, Sandfield. Bruce has also funded our new strategy and communications manager, Jolisa Gracewood, who is transforming our communication on social media and elsewhere.
A Sweet and Irresistible Force
Jolisa slipped into our life so naturally, so calmly, so sweetly …. so how did she deliver a revolution? Her warm, welcoming and easy tone in all our blogs, twitters and Facebook items are deceptive. Behind them is a smart, sassy and sophisticated intelligence that is helping us reach further every day, and is brining heaps more new people on all sorts of bikes into our realm.
Outbursts of Belief
I’m excited to see widespread signs of new belief in cycling, every day, on the streets, trains and ferries. We’re far from nirvana, but people are demonstrably keen to have fun and be more visible on bikes across Auckland, and the new money and the new builds over the next 4 years will be there to help them feel more and more confident about doing just that.
Events like AT’s Open Streets in March brought thousands of supporters into the city to play. Our wonderful Jessica’s Bike Gang Challenge provided a magic element for us in highlighting just how many different people are out there on bikes, and how eager they are to take to the streets.
We’re seeing terrific energy in suburban bike groups, which we’re embracing and expanding under the umbrella of ‘Bike Burbs’. Bike Devonport and Bike Te Atatu were well underway at our last AGM and are an example for us all. Mr T’s Mangere group is inspirational in all its forms, PATH continues to lead the way in Mt Roskill, and Avondale and Grey Lynn are the new kids on the block.
We’ve got a big job ahead to reach out to every single one of Auckland’s 200 suburbs, so we’re super grateful that AT is sponsoring Carol Green to work with Debbie Lang on new ‘bike burb’ events and promotions. (We know the bike folk are out there, so we hope you’ll check in if you’re starting up a local group, or even just thinking about it.)
Thanking our team, friends, allies and media
Committee and Associates Our Committee are known for their dedication and expertise. They’re legends! Kirsten is so much more than our clever Secretary – she’s a strategiser, organiser and challenging force that keeps Paul and me on our toes. Max, Steve and Tim are pushing projects forward in all directions, with the help of others on the Committee.
But Cycle Action is so much more than a smart Committee. We rely hugely on our Associates – people like Phil Robinson (who rides the NW Cycleway most days and in touch with project staff about any issues needing action) and Prof Alistair Woodward from Auckland University’s Tamaki Campus, whose students have been on site recording cyclists movements at the Ngapipi Rd/Tamaki Drive intersection to prompt AT to consider urgent safety improvements.
We’d love to have more people like Phil and Alistair, who so generously share their expertise and their time to make the city better for all of us!
NZTA and AT NZTA continues to be a wonderful source of practical support and professional collaboration for Cycle Action. We ever grateful for the goodwill and support from the Agency’s CEO, Geoff Dangerfield, Ernst Zollner, Brett Gliddon, Elizabeth Collins, Dougal List and their teams plus the contractors on NZTA cycling projects across Auckland. (Special mention to Brian Robertson from Fulton Hogan, who continues to be a joy to work with in so many ways!)
AT is now in a key role to change Auckland for cycling, with the inspirational leadership of Kathryn King who deserves our wholehearted support. We’re delighted that AT’s cycling and other staff are energised and supported by Kathryn. Promising times ahead.
Media With more and more people riding bikes, it’s not surprising that the media is increasingly interested in our work and cycling issues in general. We’re grateful for that – we are always happy to read and watch well-made stories that convey what the city looks and feels like from the seat of a bike, what the big issues are, and what to look forward to.
SkyPath We are full of awe for Bevan Woodward, whose leadership and outstanding personal dedication have brought SkyPath to its success this year. We are so proud of Bevan and his team! While we’re optimistic, the project is not yet over the line. Still to come in the immediate future are 3 Environment Court appeals, wind tunnel testing, and a call from the NZTA for extra bridge strengthening. (We continue to question why SkyPath is still so dependent on private and volunteer efforts when it’s the top priority project in Auckland’s cycle network. Imagine if other transport modes were treated like that, waiting for individuals to get organised and make things happen!)
A leap into the future – Bike Auckland: for a better city
The transformative year ahead is not just about those in the cycling sector around us: Cycle Action itself is on the brink of major change. A rebrand is on the way, which will give the organisation wider appeal to Aucklanders on bikes, and transform both the perception and the reality of cycling advocacy. We want to emphasise the bigger picture: that people on bikes make our city a better place – for all of us.
As Bike Auckland, we will maintain our expert, engaged, fiercely optimistic programme of cycling advocacy – trust us, that history and dedication is not going anywhere! – with the addition of being a friendly face for more inclusive outreach, a central hub for the ever-evolving bike burbs, and a kickstarter of epic events that bring the city together on bikes.
This is the first step in a fundamental and timely metamorphosis for our organisation. It also recognises a crucial and wonderful fact — that we have thousands of allies out there already, in the form of every single person who ever hops on a bike in our beautiful city, no matter how old or young, whether they do it every day or on the weekend, and whatever they wear. Kids, commuters, MAMILs, students, mums and dads, weekend riders, anyone who fancies taking a walk or a hire-bike across SkyPath – we know you’re out there, and we are here for you.
We’re looking forward hugely to our fresh new look – to be unveiled very soon, watch this space! – and we know you’ll love it too.
We have a lot to do in the year ahead. I always prefer to judge people on their results, rather than their brave words, so let’s get on with it. I end in asking for your continued superb support, and thank you for the honour of being the Chair of Cycle Action Auckland, soon to be Bike Auckland.
27th August 2015
That’s the gist of my report to the meeting last Thursday. It was wonderful to see so many faces, old and new – we were spilling out of the small meeting room, with three dozen or more in attendance. We know you weren’t just there for the pizza, cake, and beer!
A special thanks to Peter Bos of Cycle Action Waikato for coming up from Hamilton to share the excitement and report on similar levels of optimism in his ‘hood. We also were glad to see friendly faces from AT (hi, Zane!) and Leightons who are working on the St Lukes project (cheers, Elise).
There was a palpable energy in the room, aided by exciting presentations. Kirsten and Jolisa reported on the past and future of our group, and Bevan gave us an update on Skypath (cautiously optimistic there will be good news before Christmas!). We also had two thoroughly inspiring overviews of what’s coming in the way of bike infrastructure, from Steve (North Shore) and Max (everywhere else). We hope to get those overviews up on the website soon in graphic form, so you can see how thoroughly the city will be transformed over the next few years – and so we can track progress in the delivery of this amazing basket of goodies.
We also raced through the regular business including the election of officers. I’m thrilled to confirm that most of the current committee will continue to serve, and note the addition of Greg Nikoloff to our team. Welcome aboard, Greg!
Now, let’s get cracking…