With Auckland Transport’s response to Mayor Brown’s letter in late October, many of us are feeling despondent about the futures of the proposed cycleways for your areas.
Kyreena from Bike Avondale has put together this handy guide for writing to our elected representatives. Although this piece has a focus on the Connected Communities Programme, these tips are great for writing to our representatives about any transport project, such as the Inner West Street Improvement Projects which have recently stalled.
The Connected Communities programme aims to give safe cycle routes and bus priority along arterial roads – done well, this would be a major achievement connecting many communities into our slowly expanding cycle network.
Although there has not been a clear statement about the project as a whole, Auckland Transport has stated that one of these, the Upper Symonds st and New North Road Upgrade project, has been “temporarily paused”. They inferred that this is to enable them to engage with the recently elected Council and Local Board representatives, as well as so they could receive the Letter of Expectation from the Mayor and the annual Statement of Intent.
Another Connected Communities project, the Great North Road improvements project (which has been in the making since 2014 and has strong public support) has received vocal opposition from local Councilor Mike Lee.
With current bus driver shortages and the upcoming rail line closures this means that we’re looking at a future of cancelled trains, cancelled buses, and no safe climate-friendly transport alternatives.
We encourage you to reach out to your Local Board and Council representatives to express why this matters to you, showing them that their community cares about these projects, and to ask them to voice support for their local Connected Communities projects to Auckland Transport.
I’ve put together everything you need to send an effective email to representatives about getting the work back on track.
Skip to the bottom of this post for an example email.
Or, read on to learn more about the Connected Communities projects and how emailing your representatives can help.
If you want help, feel free to send me your draft and what you want help with at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy to proof-read or provide feedback.
About Connected Communities
In a nutshell, it’s a large piece of work which will provide safer spaces for walking, cycling, scootering, using mobility devices, and also provides for better public transport along 12 key arterial routes throughout Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland. The overall outcome would be – you guessed it – communities that are more connected!
The work is intended to future-proof selected arterial routes for in-coming massive population growth by making public and active transport safe, reliable, fast, and accessible so as to prevent car induced gridlock. Additionally it plans to introduce more trees and plant life, and space for businesses to have outdoor seating.
Although there are 12 key routes identified, the current focus is on four; the New North Road corridor, the Manukau Road corridor, the Mt Eden Corridor, and the Ellerslie-Panmure corridor.
You can read more about the “Connected Communities” work at: https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/connected-communities/
The Great North road improvements project was funded by Central Governments Urban Cycleways Fund in 2014, has since been delayed consistently, and then was bundled into the Connected Communities programme. It has already gone through many rounds of consultation and had a planned construction date of 2022. In late October we were very excited to see preparatory works begin on this route.
However, it is now one of a set of cycleways that are being attacked by Councillor Mike Lee.
The first official Connected Communities corridor to be consulted on was the Upper Symonds St to New North Rd upgrade route which also stretches along a portion of Rosebank road. The consultation has included engagement with community panels, relevant stakeholders, and the wider public about the preferred approach for the corridors.
The final round of consultation (on the preferred route) should have already begun but, as usual, it is behind schedule, and in October Auckland Transport announced it would be “temporarily” paused. This project likely would have set the tone for how the other Connected Communities routes would be approached. But it now seems like construction may not start until after 2025 – if at all, considering that some elected representatives have been vocally against investing in cycleway projects.
The delay on these projects is not only a waste of money, it is also causing a loss of potential in terms of safety and transport choice.
Why write an email to local representatives?
If the Local Board and Council representatives show support for the projects then Auckland Transport will be more likely to prioritise them and to get started! We want them to get back on track so that we have safer cycleways sooner, allowing more people to have transport choice! With the rail line closures for much of 2023, this is an important time to give people the safe choice to switch to cycling instead. Auckland Transport can do this by putting in a fast and cheap interim pop-up cycleway along these routes with bus priority at intersections.
It’s important that you write to your Local Board and Council members in your own words; to show that you really care about the issue. Copy-pasting is easy for the time-poor, but ineffective. If you want help or a proof-reader, contact Kyreena at email@example.com and let them know what you want help with specifically.
To help your local representatives to understand the urgency and repercussions of inaction, and why it’s in their best interest to support the work, here are some things to cover in your email, in your own words:
A personal connection
- Consider doing some research about the Councilors and local board members to find out what their priorities and interests are (You can see their campaign summaries at https://policy.nz/2022).
- Have they said or done anything useful to our cause in the past that you can mention?
- Are there values that you share e.g. better public transport, lower rates, or less congestion?
- Mention why it’s important to you that it gets back on track; tell a personal story.
- Refer to the 2020 board plan (Find your local board plan here).
- Mention the impending rail closures and the need for safe alternative transport options.
Ask your representatives to tell Auckland Transport that they consider the Connected Communities programme to be a high priority and they support the routes in their area. They can also ask Auckland Transport to provide a fast, cheap pop-up interim cycleway along the routes, creating a safe alternative transport option while the trains are not running.
Consider your wording: you may be frustrated and furious, and with good reason. By all means express that in your email, but it will be more effective if the main focus of your email is dedicated to why it matters to you as a resident and the best course of action. Keep it succinct; rambling and repetition will detract from the message.
See the example email at the end of this post.
Who and how to contact
It’s preferred that you email all your local board members and your council representative into one email; this ensures all members are aware of your message.
It’s best to stick to emailing your own Local Board; don’t email all the boards across Tāmaki Makaurau.
The major Connected Communities routes that have been paused affect the following local boards:
Whau local board:
The Whau website has information on their agreed directions for your reference. Fasitua Amosa and Sarah Paterson-Hamlin are both very supportive of Connected Communities, and Catherine Farmer has shown interest. Unsure of the others.
You can find the Board contact details here.
Councillor: firstname.lastname@example.org (who is likely to be supportive)
The Albert-Eden website has information on their agreed directions for your reference. Christina Robertson is very supportive of the Connected Communities project. There’s a good chance Julia Maskill and Margi Watson will be supportive. Unsure of the others.
You can find Board contact details here.
The Waitematā website has information on their agreed directions for your reference. Anahere Rawiri and Alexander Bonham are likely to be supportive. Unsure of the others.
You can find Board contact details here.
Ok so I sent the email; now what?
You wait patiently and choose whether or not to respond. It’s perfectly ok to not even read the response(s) if you don’t feel you have the bandwidth.
If you do want to respond, remember to stay polite and respectful even if the response makes you frustrated. Rudeness will close the door. I recommend offering to do some legwork yourself because they’re likely overwhelmed with work and triaging their time e.g. offer to send through the options for their area of interest.
If the response is unhelpful, look up the responders campaign promises (find each elected official’s campaign promises at https://policy.nz/2022, (Whau board plan here, Albert-Eden plan here, and Waitematā plan here) and see if you can find an alignment there you can point out e.g. tell them it’s a great opportunity to deliver to their campaign promise of less traffic.
If the person still doesn’t show any signs of supporting the cause after you respond, cut your losses and move on. Perhaps share who has and hasn’t been helpful with Kyreena at email@example.com so she can note who is and isn’t an ally.
If you want support with responding feel free to forward to Kyreena at Kyreena@gmail.com and let her know what you want help with specifically.
Email subject line: sum up your email
e.g. “We need to get Connected Communities back on track.”
[Your chosen opening e.g. Tēnā koutou katoa]
First paragraph: Get to the point about why you are writing. Maybe briefly congratulate them on their new / re-appointments.
e.g. “I’m writing with concern for Auckland Transport’s choice to delay the “Connected Communities” work. With impending rail closures, the community really needs your support to get it back on track.”
Body of email: Explain why they should support the continuation of the Connected Communities programme – talk about what’s good about it, and if you or someone you know has been involved in the consultations. Mention what it will do for you personally, and how it would benefit them by aligning to the aims of the 2020 board plan. You can also mention the coming train line closures and how a fast and cheap pop-up interim cycleway along the Connected Communities route could provide a solution for that disruption. Make it feel worth their time and low-risk.
e.g “We’ve been very happy with the consultations involving people from all walks of life along the corridor getting together to shape the right solution. I was very excited by the prospect of safer streets, less traffic, greener spaces for all to enjoy, and fit for purpose active transport options. My neighbours’ kids are driven to school every day because their parents are too afraid to let them walk or bike along the busy Rosebank road. Connected Communities would make it safe enough for my neighbours’ kids to walk and cycle to school without their parents worrying about them.”
Final paragraph: Respectfully state again what action you would like them to take, perhaps how it aligns to the board and council plan promises, and offer support if you want.
e.g. “Please let Auckland Transport know you consider “Connected Communities” to be a high priority and want the project to continue. It will go a long way towards achieving the boards 2020 promise of “high quality natural environments and sustainable lifestyles” and “safe, easy and sustainable options for getting around”. I’m happy to provide any further information or support if needed.”
[Your chosen sign-off e.g. ngā mihi nui]
[Your signature, name etc]
Thank you for your advocacy and mahi towards a safer, more connected region!