On Thursday I dropped by the Art Gallery Cafe for early coffee /breakfast with staff from Auckland Council and Auckland Transport who are part of a casual group which meets monthly to talk about cycling. It was set up by Andrew Trevalyn, who works in the Council’s Takapuna planning team, and commutes daily by ferry and along Sandringham Rd by bike.
The group was fun to be with and interested in Cycle Action’s current hot projects and latest successes. They got me stirred up with some terrific offers of help in key areas where we need their skills and knowledge. These offers align with the practical partnerships we are working on more and more with AT and NZTA involving projects like the Nelson St off-ramp and Nelson Street pilot, bike parking initiatives and ‘behind the scenes’ collaboration to help fast-tracking delivery of the Tamaki to Glen Innes cycleway and the cycling and walking projects at Waterview.
This all came about because of Andrew’s initiative to get speakers along to chat. Stephen Town, has also been along least a couple of times since he became CEO of the Council. This doesn’t surprise me as he was a superb champion of cycling while he was the NZTA’s Auckland Regional Director. Ernst Zollner has taken over this role at the Agency, and is continuing to provide similar leadership for cycling at the regional and national levels.How lucky are we?
Andrew is a living lesson on the rigours of winter cycling, as he’s one of those multi-talented, broad-minded people who ride a bike for transport as well as for fitness/recreation. He takes sensible precautions about lighting up and wearing bright to be seen, but we all know that doesn’t make us bullet proof. Here’s the photo I took to show you how visible he is –Andrew has had a few avoidable crashes in the past year caused by motorists not looking and seeing him. His most recent was on Sandringham Rd. Here’s his story – “I was riding my bicycle in the cycle/bus lane travelling south on Sandringham Road and was approaching Eden Park. There was a line of cars to my right and as I approached Walters Road a gap appeared within the line of cars.
I slowed down, (between 25-30kph) thinking there may be chance a vehicle might be going to cross my path. I kept looking at this gap and suddenly a vehicle did appear. I shouted repeatedly ‘no, no, no, but the driver kept moving into my intended path.
This meant there was no way I could avoid a collision. I eventually hit the vehicle’s rear left side falling onto Sandringham Rd at the intersection with Walter Ave.”
Andrew and his mates at Council and AT working for better cycling conditions are doing a staunch job, and we love having them on board to help Cycle Action. But their efforts and ours with the paltry budget available for cycling will not make the difference we all need. Our bottom line has to be Council allocating more money – 3-5 times the current annual budget – to allow those 60% of Aucklanders who recent AT surveys tell us would like to cycle more on safer infrastructure. Allowing this huge increase in people cycling to occur will change our road culture so motorists start to expect to look out for and see people on bikes as a normal part of Auckland’s roads.
It is only when we make this culture change on Auckland roads that we will have a chance of avoiding crashes like Andrew’s recent one. Cycle Action is gearing up for a national and local campaign to boost spending on cycling infrastructure to make the difference needed – we’ll be in touch soon to bring you on board !