I’m not likely to get the chance to perform live again on the stage of Devonport’s gorgeous art deco Victoria Theatre (the oldest purpose-built picture theatre remaining in NZ). So, imagine my delight to be on the panel after last Sunday’s screening of the Bike vs Cars documentary. And what great panel colleagues! Patrick Reynolds as MC, Ryan Mearns from Gen Zero, AA’s Barney Irvine and AT’s Kathryn King.

Bikes vs Cars discuss panel Vic Theatre

To be honest, the discussion was a walkover. We should have shipped in a mad Rob Ford from Toronto, if we wanted a feisty argument. But then again, why bother? It’s actually great to be on the same page!

We all agreed the real issue in Auckland is not so much bikes vs cars, but more how we make our streets friendlier for bikes faster, so we all have more choice on how we get around. And luckily we were engaged by stimulating questions from the audience. Thanks, team!

While I’m into thanks – huge congrats to Chris Werry and co from Bike Devonport, and Philipp Jaser from Victoria Theatre for making the screening happen. And kudos to AT’s Zane Bray and Debbie Lang for supplying the bike racks and bike checks.

How’s this image for a popular vote for cycling? As Green MP Julie Anne Genter tweeted on the day, Devonport looked like Amsterdam for a moment there. That’s the dream!

Bikes vs Cars bike parking

I’m still savouring classic moments from the film.

I loved the nostalgia of the historic footage of Los Angeles’s citywide boardwalk cycleways, wide and beautiful. (Was that a quaint little toll booth we saw, as well?), and I joined in the quiet cheering for the local bike advocate who is looking to rescue what can be saved. It brought to mind the unremembered history of when boardwalks for bikes were as matter-of-fact a part of city-building as roads for cars; indeed, with many such boardwalks designed to connect cities to each other, they were the original superhighways.

I was also deeply moved by the sobering footage of cycling in Sao Paulo – the devastating numbers of cyclists killed on the roads, the heartrending ghost bike ceremonies…  and the overview of the motorway madness, like tentacles choking the city.

On that note, I was listening on Monday to NZTA’s Auckland Highways Manager Brett Gliddon on National Radio, as Alice the giant boring machine broke through to complete the Waterview tunnel project. “You can’t get rid of traffic completely,” he said, and pointed out that the Waterview Connection “doesn’t completely fix congestion, but it provides choice and resilience and that’s the key thing.”

Choice and resilience – for all modes of transport. That’s exactly what we’re talking about.

The best part of the film for me – indeed, it made us all fall back in our seats, drooling – was the scenes of Sao Paulo transforming 40,000 parking spots into 400km of new bike lanes in the space of one year!

It’s true, as Patrick said to me, with a metropolitan population of 11 million, Sao Paulo is a bit bigger than Auckland, but even if you scale that down to fit, it’s the equivalent of 4,000 Auckland parking spaces swapped overnight for bike lanes. Picture that!

Or imagine what you could do with just 400.

Heck, even 40 would be something… gotta start somewhere! Bring this on for Auckland, AT CEO Mr David Warburton!

Anyway, I was thrilled to be on the discussion panel, and so glad I saw the film, which provides much food for thought. A wee bit of editing mightn’t have hurt – you definitely get your money’s worth out of the length of it – but if you missed it last weekend, do get to the second screening if you can, this coming Sunday.

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