We were chased by the Herald’s Transport reporter on Sunday night to comment on Auckland Transport’s new cycling budget for the next 10 years. He had been reading the Auckland Transport Board report which appears to show lots of new money for cycling. It sounded fabulous, but our Infrastructure Adviser advised us to be cautious, as his reading of the budget suggested we might possibly be seeing an accounting exercise, rather than new money.
We have been trying to clarify the situation since Thursday. We had reason to be optimistic, because Auckland Transport’s Hearings report on the budget acknowledged the strength and quality of the submissions asking for more money for the Regional Cycle Network. The Hearing report allocated new money for some projects, but referred the issue of cycling money to Auckland Council. We were subsequently told informally by Auckland Council that the cycling budget had been doubled, but we needed AT to give us certainty.
Auckland’s dedicated cycle funding is mostly spent on the Regional Cycle Network which is designed to provide more safety and connectivity on key cycling routes. The official transport goal for many years has been to complete 50% of the 1,000km Network by 2016. Auckland Transport reports that 280km have been completed to date, but cyclists who use these routes know this is not correct. There are pinchpoints and missing infrastructure on all of the ‘existing’ routes. These hazards and deficiencies compromise the safety of even the most experienced cyclist. Cycle Action is working pro bono on a pilot programme with AT on quick fixes for a few routes, but only $150,000 has been found from this year’s budget for the road repairs /changes.
We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the new budget (starts 1 July) will make more money available. We’ll report again once we get more clarity.