“An electric vehicle in every garage is the slowest and most resource-intensive way to decarbonise transport”


We have a chance to stem the tide of climate emergency.

The Climate Change Commission will soon put its recommendations to the Government – it’s up to us to make a submission on their advice before Sunday.

Their transport targets are unambitious: they don’t go far enough for active transport modeshift. We need you to tell them that bikes are the solution they need, and cannot ignore.

With our quick submit guide, it’s easier than ever to have your say!

Copy and paste the text below in your submission, to ensure that the commission urgently prioritises sustainable transport modes.

CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT

Transport is culpable for nearly 40% of Auckland’s emissions, and 20% of the rest of New Zealand’s. To stem the tide of the climate emergency, we must decarbonise transport by 2030.

To meet this crucial target over the next nine years, we need a 700% increase in active transport modeshare at the very least. The Climate Change Commission’s recommendations do not go far enough; an electric vehicle in every garage is the slowest and most resource-intensive way to decarbonise transport. Relying on them brings a flow on impact of more urban sprawl and more roads. In other words, more environmental damage.

Bikes, on the other hand, do not emit gas. Cyclists have 84% lower CO2 emissions from all daily travel compared with non-cyclists. Modeshift is the only way forward.

The main barrier to major, widespread uptake of cycling is a lack of well connected infrastructure. During Paris’ first COVID-19 lockdown, 50 kilometres of pop-up bike lanes were installed. Cycling has boomed – 60% of people riding the lanes are new to cycling altogether, and 62% of Parisians support those temporary lanes becoming permanent.

Shortly after, Milan announced a plan to create 35 kilometres of new bike lanes. Mexico City announced a similar plan for 53kms of cycle paths, while Montreal committed to rolling out nearly 300kms of temporary bike and walking paths. Vancouver has also swiftly met its climate friendly transport targets by prioritising key safe cycling links.

London’s “Streetspace Plan” announced an addition of 50 kilometres of protected bike lanes, expanded pedestrian areas, and 30 “low-traffic neighborhoods”. Within six months, Mayor Sadiq Khan had created 90 kilometres of cycle lanes and 96 low-traffic neighborhoods. This has generated a 200% increase in cycling and huge public health benefits.

Our friends at Greater Auckland put it best: a climate appropriate response would be to see a massive and rapid roll out of a safe network.

Half of all trips made by car in Auckland city are under 6km, and 75% are under 12km. These are easily cyclable distances! Build the networks, and the masses will come.

Bike Auckland’s Big Backyard Bike Count, for instance, which ran in 250 locations around Auckland city during Level 4 lockdown, found that the neighbourhood travel mode share was 19% people on wheels, 42% people on feet, and 39% using private vehicles

Let’s not forget, we’re here because the clock is ticking. Electric vehicles are far too expensive to be a viable fix; active transport is a more cost-effective and significantly faster solution. ⅔ Aucklanders already say cycle lanes are good for their neighbourhood.

Although New Zealand’s cycling infrastructure is comparatively skint, when good cycleways are built we see a boom just like Paris’. The Northwestern Cycleway was completed in 2012, and by January 2020 the number of annual bike trips on the path had nearly quadrupled.

Safe cycling and walking have endured decades of neglect. Affirmative remedial work will be needed fast in the coming years, to give everyone healthy low-carbon options for the short trips that make up a major proportion of the everyday journeys that New Zealanders take.

The opportunity at hand far exceeds the excitement of finally taking meaningful climate action. We have a chance to implement real change that will help to build a fairer, more equitable Aoteroa. Active transport offers so many exciting benefits beyond the elimination of emissions.

As comprehensive active transport networks work hand in hand with public transport, accessibility within our cities would flourish.

A multi modal network extends access to groups who we currently exclude: lower socio-economic communities, people with disabilities, tangata whenua and women and children. All of us would benefit from safer, more affordable transport choices. We would enjoy cleaner air, quieter streets, better mental and physical health, and more connected communities. The more we build, the better this proposition gets – this cannot be ignored when considering our options for dealing with climate change.

Electric cars stand in the way of all of these opportunities. Waka Kotahi’s recent research paper on the relationship between transport and mental health found that active modes such as cycling and walking are associated with better psychological health.

Not only is cycling key to our climate response, building cyclable cities will make us happier.

It will also make us safer. Drivers, pedestrians and people on bikes alike are maimed and killed by cars every year. The best way to reduce overall road fatalities is to embrace mode shift.

The case for active transport is overwhelming, and cannot be ignored. That’s why our transport agencies have mode shift mandates, climate action imperatives and design manuals.

But they sit on their hands.

All the groundwork has been laid by advocates inside and outside the agencies. All that remains is the courage to deliver, urgently, what we know we need for a more affordable, equitable and climate-resilient country.

This is why we urge the Climate Change Commission to:

• Set ambitious targets for mode shift to active transport. We recommend 25% of all trips by walking, cycling and public transport by 2030, and 66% of all trips by walking, cycling and public transport by 2050.

• Recommend a ring fence of funding exclusively for active transport projects at a level which reflects these targets – 10% of the total transport spend should be for active transport priority projects.

• Recommend that any trade-in or subsidy scheme for electric private vehicles also extends to electric bicycles and other e-micromobility.

• Recommend that road renewals programmes urgently work towards implementation of complete active transport networks and safe streets.


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