Reflecting on Campbell Live last night – ‘Cycling with Mayor Brown’

Jan 31, 2014
Reflecting on Campbell Live last night –  ‘Cycling with Mayor Brown’


Len Brown cycling
Len Brown cycling last night on Campbell Live

We’re grateful to Lachlan Forsyth for taking the Mayor cycling to discuss what is needed for those who bike in Auckland. We recommend you read today’s Transport Blog on the Mayor’s moments of inspiration during his bike ride on Campbell Live last night.

Once again cyclists are indebted to Transport Blog for their quick, intelligent informative response on a transport issue of moment. Full marks, TB, for the focus on the creeping paralysis of the Auckland cycling budget and delivery of the cycle network in the past 3 years. We also applaud the blog comments. Like them, we ask why politicians think the cycling community will be excited by a 30 year timeframe to connect up the city’s critical cycling infrastructure, when other transport modes are benefiting already from the project led investment needed to make our city liveable.

I could have called this blog – ‘Mayor Brown – where were you when we needed you in the last Council term‘. I watched Campbell Live in amazement, as our Mayor seemed so relaxed and full of comment about cycling while riding around Auckland’s streets. It was a revelation to Cycle Action, as he didn’t have time to engage with us last Council term.

At one point last term his office advised Cycle Action the mayor may do a Sunday ride with the mayoress on a safe route, if we could suggest one. We got no response to our suggestion instead that he ride with some of his city’s cycling commuters in winter, travelling in bus lanes on Symonds Street or on the NW Cycleway. These are his citizens who leave cars at home, while they shrug off the weather to maintain their daily cycle commute to places of work, school or study. We similarly got no response when we met the Mayor to report we needed his help to get AT to prioritise fixing the 270 km of the ‘completed’ regional cycle network – of which a big part was reported in 2012 by AT’s own consultants as ‘not to standard’ (i.e. unconnected, too narrow or otherwise unsafe and in some cases simply non-existent despite being on the maps). This is the same network the mayor was so effusive about while riding on camera with Lachlan Forsyth.

We’re pleased Lachlan took the Mayor on the partly completed Grafton Gully Cycleway, which NZTA said in the Herald last week they are ‘racing’ to complete by September this year. I loved this image, as it backed up a commitment I was given in December that the NZTA will be ‘pulling out all stops’ to meet this date. I  believe them, as I judge politicians and organisations on their performance. We trust NZTA’s proven record of ‘on time and budget’ delivery, its superbly designed cycle bridges and expansion of protected cycleways. They may not have as many cycleway projects as we want, but when they do one, they deliver in style.

The fantastic Beach Road cycling path - but when will it be a reality?
The fantastic Beach Road cycling path – but when will it be a reality?

It’s a shame the Mayor wasn’t up with the play on AT’s slow delivery of their part of the Grafton Gully Cycleway (the section on Beach Rd). A bit of homework or good briefing would have told him AT are not planning the ‘seamless’ project promised back in late 2011. He should know that pulling out all stops’ and ‘racing’ don’t appear in media releases for AT cycling projects.

We congratulate the Mayor for announcing he will contact the CEO of AT today to ask him to change traffic lights across Auckland urgently so they are activated by cycles as well as motor vehicles. I can’t think of a cyclist who won’t give a cheer for the Mayor if and when we see this urgent fix. (Imagine the benefit in reducing the incentive for cyclists to run red lights!).

While he’s in touch with AT, we advise the Mayor to ask to see the pile of messages from his cycling citizens who have been requesting AT for years to make traffic lights work for cyclists without needing a car to trip the ‘green’ phase into action.

Cecil Street, South Melbourne - It is all about political will and leadership
Cecil Street, South Melbourne – It is all about political will and leadership

Cycle Action spent the last part of 2013 working steadily and productively on a pro bono basis with AT, AC and NZTA to prioritise the projects needed to make cycling safe and pleasant for all of Auckland citizens. The next step is for them to sign off this list, so budget can be allocated in the next 2 years  to roll out ‘project led investment’ as per other modes. We hope the Mayor’s office will come on board this collaborative work, and give what is so overdue in Auckland – genuine political leadership on cycling from the top.

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