27th Aug – FURTHER UPDATE: We sincerely apologise to our readers and all those who knew better than our original blog as to the source of this funding. We need to place on record that, the Govt’s money is new crisp notes from the Consolidated Fund.
The Government has announced today that it will allocate $100m over the next 4 years for new urban cycleways. (Note : original ref to asset sales / GPS underspend is incorrect).
The media release for the funding is introduced by this comment – ‘Mr Brownlee says National recognises that commuting by bike has health benefits and takes pressure off other transport networks, but says cycleways in our largest centres are fragmented and offer varied levels of service.’
Good to see the Government understands what has been internationally accepted for some time in relation to the benefits of cycling. And it’s a relief to know the Government agrees with the weeping sore that is cycling in all our major cities – the lack of safe connectivity.
The release refers to the cycle funding given to Hastings and New Plymouth, which are small cities where a relatively small level of new cycling money has delivered transformational change as part of a pilot programme. With this compelling evidence we record our surprise that the Government has not seen fit to invest equivalent and therefore larger amounts of money in the 4 main cities – Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.
To quote the media release again -“Many people cite safety concerns and a lack of infrastructure as reasons for not cycling, so we’re going to begin building cycleways to a standard that delivers real incentives for commuters to make a change.
“Building more comprehensive cycling networks will require new infrastructure to connect existing routes and expand the network into wider urban areas.
This is a good start and we applaud the move. But we have to ask why the Government has taken such a timid step. Let’s remember 60% of Aucklanders told Auckland Transport last year they would cycle if they could use safe connected routes. This is hardly a fringe element in Auckland.
$25m would part fund the Tamaki to Glen Innes cycleway that is being fast tracked in Auckland as a collaboration between the NZTA and AT. In time it would help with other vital priorities for Auckland – cycleways up and down SH1 that were flagged as vital by Cycle Action in early 2011. Of course, this overlooks the SkyPath which is the top project supported in Auckland and likely to remain dependent on funding from people cycling and walking across the harbour.
This focus on Auckland takes no account of the major new routes needed in Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Or of the safer routes to connect with public transport hubs which are the real game changer for transport choice. $25m a year will barely touch the sides of this need which grows with each year that passes.
We take heart from the comment at the end of the media release that the GPS (Government Policy Statement) for transport may also increase cycle funding.
‘Aside from the $100 million announced today, is there any other future funding available for cycleway developments?
The draft Government Policy Statement on land transport 2015/16-2024/25 (the draft GPS 2015) proposes up to $103 million be available for walking and cycling projects (including cycleways) over the next three years. This investment will be complemented with funding from local government, and is in addition to this urban cycleways funding.
The national campaign led by cycle groups in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin and Generation Zero recently sent 3,500 submissions asking the Government to triple its current proposal to spend $30m per year for cycle and walking investment.
Can the Government be trusted to listen and respond in good faith when it considers this serious response to its draft GPS?