Making the case for protected cycleways in Manurewa

This is a guest blog piece by Richard Casey from Bike Manurewa. Richard lives and works in Manurewa, teaching at one of the local high schools. He is passionate about safer streets, particularly so that his students are safe to travel actively to and from school. He has written this blog to support the cycle improvements part of the Manurewa and Māngere Transport Choices submission which closes 4 October 2023.

Welcome to Manurewa, one of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s sprawling outer suburbs. If you’re riding on a school morning, you might see me and my children on the way to the local high school, where I teach, and where my children are students. Navigating the busy traffic is a challenge; it takes some local knowledge to know the safest alleyways and side streets. For most people in Manurewa, because of the unsafe streets, it’s difficult to imagine life without a car, so a car becomes a necessity – whether you can afford it or not.

Recently Auckland Transport sought to create a new protected cycleway along Mahia and Roscommon roads. However, the majority of our Local Board fought against it and the project was cancelled.

Screenshot from the Manurewa Local Board 15 June 2023 meeting minutes – found here.

A new proposal for Manurewa has come up for consultation. ‘Manurewa and Māngere Transport Choices’ is a package of cycling, walking, and public transport improvements, funded through the Climate Emergency Response Fund. It includes safety improvements for the painted cycleway on Browns Road, the road where my school is located, as well as Weymouth road. Paint is not protection, and cars regularly park in this painted cycle lane, forcing people on bikes into the busy road corridor, or putting them at risk of being car-doored.

Map showing the painted cycleways that are proposed to have protection added. Image from Auckland Transport website.

Bike Auckland note: this package also includes upgrading the existing shared walking and cycling path through Moyle and Māngere Central Park, and adding a section which will create a more connected cycle network. Triple Teez have been advocating for this mahi (work) and we are excited to see it!

Have your say by 4 October for the Manurewa cycle improvements part of this project.

I knew the Local Board would again attempt to block this, but I wasn’t prepared to go down without a fight. This is the road my students, my children, and I ride every day; this time it was personal.

With the blessing of my principal, I surveyed staff and students from my school so their voices would be heard. Feedback from my school was unanimously in support of the cycleway and I heard some great statements.

“As a reasonably new cyclist, a female of 17 years, I ask you to reconsider the pros of these proposed improvements. I love biking to school, it is more efficient and healthy (physical and spiritual). Having barriers separating us from other vehicles would also get more cyclists on the roads.”

Highschool student, Manurewa

“I have tried cycling to work and it was great for my fitness, energy & stress levels. However, there was enough risk from motorists that I have not cycled to work in over a year. The more protected cycleways there are in South Auckland, the better.”

Staff member, highschool in Manurewa

I presented these to the Manurewa Local Board as part of my case for protected cycleways in Manurewa. You can watch the video presentation in the Bike Manurewa Facebook Page through this link. My case:

  • Local Boards do not always represent everyone in our community. 34% of residents in Manurewa are under 18 and do not get heard in the Local Body voting system. Who will let their voice be heard?
  • Even though cyclists may be a minority on the road, we are the most invested in bike infrastructure. While motorists may be concerned about the inconvenience caused by cycleways, we’re concerned about lives.
  • The viability of cycleways should not be based on current cyclist numbers. With roads hostile to cyclists, of course numbers will be low. Decisions around cycleways should be based on the future potential gains of not only cycling but other forms of micro mobility such as e-scooters and e-bikes could also use the lanes.
  • With new zoning rules, housing density is rapidly growing, yet there is no room for new roads. New solutions need to be found to get our growing population around.
  • Cycling is an investment in the future. Hard data from around the world shows that cycling infrastructure pays for itself many times over.

Disappointingly, it appeared the Local Board had already made up their minds and they allowed little time for me to present the feedback or make a case. They voted 5 to 3 to oppose all the cycleway improvements.

But all is not lost. Supportive Local Board member Joseph Allan told me that Local Boards do not have the final say. This was very encouraging. So we took our case straight to Auckland Transport and Waka Kotahi through email. They were very receptive and glad that we could demonstrate local support for the project.

If you live, work, or regularly travel to / through Manurewa I encourage you to submit feedback online through the Auckland Transport website. The survey is open until the 4th of October. Together we can make the case for a safer, more bike-able Manurewa.

Image supplied by Richard Casey

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