…well, we think we have, on cycle advocacy. But I recently was curious about how far CAA (and it’s website) itself had come -and what topics occupied us almost a decade before. So I checked how our website looked at a time before I myself got involved.

The earliest archived version I found on the web was this 2004 goodie (all links in the archive are clickable, though they may take a while – look under newsletters for what we were up to then). This seems to be the earliest time CAA had a website.

Some of the old issues have disappeared (could you consider a Council actually having 0% cycle growth as a target nowadays, as Auckland City Council did in 2004?), some we still face today (still no cycleway over the harbour bridge 8 years later, shame!). Some items that we have mostly achieved – such as making cycling part of (pretty much) all major roading designs. But most of all, we still have the same passion.

Thanks to all who represented CAA then (including those who still volunteer today) – we hope we are making you proud.


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11 responses to “Have we come far…?

  1. Thanks Max for that research and nice words. I am moved to respond!
    I joined in 2007 and was won over by Bevan Woodward’s effective leadership! It seems like we’ve achieved a lifetime of work! what keeps me going is the endless high 5s and celebrations of wins- that’s what happens when we choose to work with the winners! And the camaraderie of shared pizza with the big, strong, fun committee.
    And I’m still here!
    I am leaving the day I see Auckland Transport marketing to Aucklanders to “ride a bike for transport”, “combine bike transport with Public Transport”, and “leave their cars at home”.
    That’s the Auckland I want my granddaughters Scarlett & Ruby to grow up in. I use my professional skills as a full time Cycle Action volunteer and sit on the Board of BikeNZ to achieve this vision.
    What’s the point of teaching Scarlett to ride a two wheeler if everyone around her is too scared to ride on Auckland’s roads?
    When I retire- I am going to guide people by bike around our city. I’ll call it ‘Barb’s rides’
    I’ll concentrate on older people, and mothers and kids!

    Love to hear from other older timers with cycle Action than me!

  2. I put that 2004 website together, with the aid of a ‘Web Pages for Dummies’ book 🙂 It was the first one CAA ever had.

    At that time we reckoned CAA had already come pretty far. We had a fairly functional committee for the first time, in the sense of there being more than one person doing stuff (there were at least two or three of us spending a few hours of our precious spare time on CAA). We were actually getting consulted on some council projects before they happened, which was a new thing then. We had a social bike ride every month, and had started hiring a venue for meetings and having guest speakers at them.

    When I first joined in 1999 the meetings were held around an old upended door in the basement of Adventure Cycles in Fort Lane. Things did get done, mostly by Stephen Knight, but the meetings mainly felt like a place where the few beleagured cyclists left in Auckland could meet and vent their frustrations!

    It is great to see how things have moved on, from Bevan’s time as chair onward, with people able to devote seemingly almost all their waking hours to CAA, which makes a lot of things possible that you just can’t cram into a few spare hours here and there.

    I also take my hat off to all the people who put their passion and time into CAA in its early days in the mid-late 1990s. Their achievements may not look so impressive compared with what is being done now, but their job was infinitely harder than ours. That was a time in which no level of government had any interest in cycling. There were no strategies in place saying that anybody wanted more people to ride bikes. It was a massive uphill battle to get anything to happen at all.

    Good on ya everyone! Pedal on.

    1. Adrian – I feel you.

      It was enough of a shock to immigrate here from Europe in 2005 (joined CAA 2007 or early 2008, after reading an anti-cycling opinion piece by Brian Rudman) and finding the most normal thing in the world, cycling, turned almost into a statement of dissent! What an upside-down change. In retrospect, this was almost the only area where I really experienced culture shock when moving to NZ.

      The situation was dreary, but at least we had some clear glimmers of hope – having had an even worse situation in the 90s might have put me off my initial interest in advocacy, and maybe off Auckland itself. Thanks for all the hard work you folks did, with little visible benefit to buoy you up at first.

      1. I am stunned by this treasure – thanks so much for this blog, Max. It highlights that Cycle Action has a powerful and enduring message. What a legacy! The achievements we mark up today or next year, are shared by all of those who came before us. Kia kaha!

  3. Most of the archive material which tells Cycle Action Auckland’s story is in hard copy – remember those days? I rescued 3 or 4 small boxes of historic material when Cycle Action closed the city office. There are some wonderful treasures dating back to the 1970s and 1980s, right through to 2008 and beyond, capturing the efforts of previous Committees and tracing the DNA of CAA back to links with Friends of the Earth and other activists. This is a real part of Auckland’s social history and it would be great if someone could capture the spirit of the of the beginnings of CAA while the people and records are still accessible.

    Would anyone would like to take it to sort through and write up an article telling the story?

    One thing the archives show immediately is that lots of the things cyclists were talking about 30 years ago are still the same today.. And access across the Harbour Bridge is still as really big issue for lots of Aucklanders, not just cyclists. Check out http://www.getacross.org.nz for the latest news on the SkyPath project

  4. The hard-copy archives are really important and I do hope we can preserve them. I’d offer to take them on if I had any storage space, but Adrian and I are really seriously short of space as it is, in our small flat. Could we find a volunteer to scan the materials, so that we have a “backup” electronic copy? And, so that future generations of cyclists will be able to see what we did / are doing now, I thoroughly recommend keeping careful archives and backups of current activities… Has CAA got a volunteer with a library/archiving background?

    1. Hi Sally, we won’t throw the stuff away, and if Kirsten is getting really sick of storing them, I will take em (but I don’t think that was what she was saying).

      Can’t really offer to spend time scanning them / giving them some historical review at the moment though. Flat out, as soo often.

  5. PS I remember editing some of those newsletters, in spare time while trying to write my phd – and I never found out if people actually read them, so it’s nice that Max has discovered them after all this time. I guess it’s easier to get feedback now, using blog posts etc, to keep people informed, so long as they know to come to this website.

  6. Thanks for digging this stuff out Max. And thanks to Adrian for the kind words – but we must mention folks like Kurt Brehmer and Bruce O’Halloran. I got involved with CAA sometime in the early to mid-1990s when I spotted a public notice placed by Kurt of a monthly meeting in Bruce’s CBD basement bike shop (Adventure Cycles now being out in Pt Chev, not far from the zoo). We would turn up, drag out the table, Kurt would bring a couple of jars of home-made honey, and something between three and six people would try to come up with a plan. We did give the council a hard time – I remember Kurt, Peter Watson and I tabling a 1980 council planning document at the 1997 cycling conference in Hamilton which had pretty much the same wording as the 1997-98 ACC cycling strategy document. Bruce had the 1980 document stored away in his filing system. I almost felt sorry for the young planners who were proudly promoting the 1997-98 strategy. Same problems, no real progress. And the phenomenon of putting newbies on the ‘cycle round’ for councils (it’s not real planning, so is an opportunity for youngsters to cut their teeth) has only recently changed. But to give the council credit, I have a photo of myself, then council transport and roading committee chair Catherine Harland, and the Topp Twins as two wooly jumper-wearers on a tandem, opening the Waterview-central city part of the NW cycleway in 2000. And since returning to Auckland in mid 2010, I’ve been happily commuting to town daily using the cycleway (which thankfully got rid of the more gnarly bits at the bottom of Kingsland). So back at you Adrian and Sally – you were both instrumental in much of what has happened not just in Auckland but NZ …

    Keep up the good work CAA. I may not be actively involved currently but am pleased to see so many amazing folks who are…

    1. I gather David Knight had an important role in getting the NW Cycle Route in as well- though not sure if he was acting through CAA or more as a lone operator?

      It’s a shame Kurt is now dead and unable to tell us more about the early days. Sally and I visited him at his home in Avondale sometime in the early-mid 2000s. He must have been in his late eighties by then but was still riding around, and giving any bureaucrats hell that strayed into his path. I think I learned three things from Kurt: Never. Give. Up.

      1. I think that has been well-encoded into the DNA of CAA. We sometimes tussle about the HOW, but that one is pretty clear.

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