It’s budget time: help set local priorities for a bikeable city

Mar 01, 2017
It’s budget time: help set local priorities for a bikeable city

Bike Auckland

What should the city be spending on biking and walking links over the coming financial year? Luckily, you get to say! Auckland Council is consulting with the public on its budget priorities for 2017-2018. Feedback is open until Monday 27 March at 4pm. All the info you need, including the link to the online feedback form, is here.

The big question…

Question 1 on the feedback form is about rates, which are set to rise. The question is: even though Council has found some $15m savings in the meantime… should it still go with Option A, the originally proposed 3.5% increase?

In Council’s own words, this amount (approximately an extra $1.55/week for the average household) will allow the city to “invest even more in things like transport, walking and cycling infrastructure, and sportsfield development.” It also allows breathing room for other positive initiatives like the Living Wage proposal for Council staff.

By contrast, Option B’s 2.5% rise (approx $1.10/week) would fund a bare-bones budget; and Option C’s 2% (90c/week) would mean the city would have to delay delivery of some of what’s planned.

We say YES to Option A.

Why? Because when it comes to building the bikeable Auckland we all dream of, Auckland is at a tipping point for seeing the value of its investment so far. The network effect is kicking in: more and better bike connections => more people on bikes => more and better bike connections, and so on. After decades of underinvestment, we’re finally getting there – so let’s keep rolling!

Meanwhile, on the local level…

To make that citywide investment pay off, another key step is helping the city’s 21 Local Boards see the value of bike-friendly neighborhoods. As part of the budget exercise, they’re setting their priorities for the coming year  – and as a local, you have a say in what they focus on.

Click the Local Board Priorities tab on the budget page to see their priorities statements for all 21 boards. (Not sure which LB area you’re in? Find out here.)

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We’d love your help in finding the bike projects – and the bike silences – in each Local Board’s to-do list, so we can help them think strategically about targeting their budget. Here’s what to keep an eye out for:

1. Greenways

Greenways are walking and cycling links through parks and waterways, as well as via quiet local streets and other connections. See for example Otara-Papatoetoe’s plan for Otara Lake, or Hibiscus and Bays’ commitment to delivering on their Greenways plan.

Some Local Boards already have fully consulted Greenways plans – and a few have Greenways projects underway. Other Local Boards don’t mention them at all.

We think every board should have a Greenways plan, at the very least – especially given the new design guidelines from the city, which allow for creative thinking and beautiful design. If your Local Board doesn’t have a plan, speak up! And if they do have one, speak up to make sure they’re getting cracking on at least one major project from their list.

2. Local transport budget

Each Local Board also has a fund from Auckland Transport to put towards ‘local transport projects,’ i.e. anything involving streets and footpaths on the road reserve. Some mention this upfront and ask for suggestions on how to spend it. Others don’t mention it at all.

Waitemata and Puketapapa, for example, both spell out they have “approximately $400,000 per annum for local transport projects” and ask “What projects should we prioritise for this fund?”

Key fact: this money gets left on the table if Local Boards don’t have a plan to spend it. Both Waitemata and Puketapapa have strategically used this funding to help fill key gaps in their growing bike networks. So we encourage you to speak up for any cycling improvements that could be supported by this specific funding.

3. Hidden bike benefits

Sometimes a project doesn’t look like a bike project, but will have significant benefits for encouraging more active transport, and for just helping people get around. An example would be Albert-Eden’s Chamberlain Park Master Plan  which will open up the park via shared paths, creating new access for a significant number of residents.

What projects are on your Local Board’s list of priorities that you can support because they’re bike-friendly – or could be even more so? For example, if a town centre or village square upgrade is on the cards, does the plan include decent bike parking? Any hard curbs that could be ramps instead? What else could help create a ‘bikes welcome’ town centre?

Also keep an eye out for a Local Board commitment to Vision Zero principles – slower speeds, calmer traffic – and support it loudly wherever you see it – because calmer streets really are better for everyone.

4. Yawning silences

Some Local Boards are still figuring out how people on bikes fit in. Maybe it’s because bike folk often slip quietly through the streets, making do with what’s there, without raising our voices to say ‘Hey neighbours, we’re here – we count, and we vote!”

By being a squeaky wheel, you can help your local board see the local desire for more bikeable neighborhoods – and what the rewards would be, beyond just more people on bikes.

And you don’t have to do it alone: in fact, the only thing better than a squeaky wheel is a whole gang of them. Do you have a Bike Burb group in your ‘hood? If not, would you like to start one up? We can help.

5. Leveraging new infrastructure

Many Local Boards are very smart when it comes to creating and enhancing links to new paths, especially the major cycleway projects happening in their area.

For example, the Orakei Local Board strongly supports crucial links to the ‘Orakei Spine’: the Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive pathway being built through its green backyard. This is fabulously strategic thinking… and our Bike ‘Burb on the spot, Bike Eastern Suburbs, is encouraging the board to think even bigger and heal a significant severance in the neighbourhood, by supporting an additional connection (between Gowing Drive and the new pathway).

Likewise, we could ask: how are Albert-Eden and Whau planning strategically around connections to the soon-to-open Waterview Shared Path? How is Maungakiekie-Tamaki thinking about local cycling links that work with or without the East-West Link? How is Kaipatiki planning to welcome the flood of Skypath bike traffic over coming years? And there are many other examples across the city.

We need your help to cover the map. Find out which LB area you’re in (here), then skip over to the budget consultation page to see what’s proposed by your Local Board. Please alert us to any big projects, shortfalls, or gaps in the bike-friendly vision for your part of town. We look forward to your comments below!

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Bike Auckland is the non-profit organisation working to improve things for people on bikes. We’re a people-powered movement for a better city. We speak up for you – and the more of us there are, the stronger our voice!

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