Speak up to make safer cycling a priority in Auckland Council’s Emergency Budget for 2020/2021, Consultation closes Friday 19 June.
It’s decision time. Facing a half-billion dollar loss of revenue due to Covid-19, Council is proposing cuts to every area for 2020/2021, and they want your feedback, urgently. Here’s an overview of the situation, and here’s more detailed info on how the decisions were arrived at.
So, how tight is the budget? Very. Even the best-case scenario of holding the rates rise to 3.5% will mean cuts, pauses, and delays for cycleways, road safety, libraries, clean water, and many many other things we care about. A 2.5% option would mean even more cuts, and anything lower than that doesn’t bear thinking about.
There’s painful irony in the suggestion that cuts to road safety may result in more human loss than New Zealand experienced from the virus that led to the cuts. It’s also deeply worrying to picture Council slowing down a cycling programme that was already moving at glacial pace.
And the climate clock is ticking more loudly than ever: that ten-year window we thought we had is now more like 18 months. But contracts that are already signed will go ahead, even on projects that aren’t that good for us or the climate. And good work that hasn’t gotten underway yet will be delayed further, doubling down on inequity.
Investment delayed is investment denied, and we’re seeing the results of decades of neglect and underinvestment in things that matter. Need an example? One of the projects mentioned for delay is “the Mangere cycle route”. What Mangere cycle route, you ask? Great question! It’s a vital project in an under-resourced part of the city, deemed valuable in the business – but not enough for AT to earmark funding or move toward detailed design. So, because it’s already been delayed, it’s now set to be delayed even further! That’s unfairness squared – and it’s just one example.
Yikes. Is there any good news?
Central government might be able to plug some gaps with its shovel-ready funding, and the local economy might bounce back faster. But at this point, nothing is guaranteed. While we don’t envy our Councillors the difficult decisions, they’ve asked us to weigh in – so we must speak up for what’s important.
We know cycling is one of many things you care about. It’s also fundamental to so many other priorities – equity, access, climate action, public health and the environment, for starters.
And, as our cuzzies at Greater Auckland note, one of Council’s own key considerations for these budget decisions is “protecting the most vulnerable.” People on bikes are surely in that category. But it’s about so much more than that.
During lockdown, we all saw afresh how essential bikes are. They keep us and our neighbourhoods happy, healthy, and moving. They’re a boon for families, an affordable option for daily travel, a contribution to a cleaner, greener Auckland. We got a glimpse of how amazing it feels when people can bike for local trips.
We’re now watching cities all over the world making enormous strides, and fast, delivering hundreds of kilometres of quick, value-for-money bike routes, along with low-traffic neighbourhoods and school streets to unlock gridlock and reconnect people for the post-Covid recovery.
Auckland can join this move in the right direction!
In desperate times, we don’t despair – we take action! So please, speak up:
- if you were one of the thousands who rediscovered the joy and ease of local biking during lockdown
- if you bike every day, and still can’t believe how long it’s taking to build the long-promised network
- if you’re one of many Aucklanders whose new car is an e-bike and you need somewhere to ride it
- if you wish kids all over Auckland could safely bike to school
- if you’d love to bike yourself, if only it felt safer to do so
- if someone you love rides a bike and all you want is for them to get home in one piece
- if bikes aren’t your thing, but you value climate action, nicer neighbourhoods, healthy kids, and safe, lively streets
This is your moment. Speak up for an Emergency Budget that keeps bikes in the picture, alongside everything else we value right now!
The Bike AKL Quick Feedback Guide
There are just 4 questions and it should only take a few minutes
Feedback closes Friday 19 June.
Q1 is about the rates increase.
We strongly suggest you support the 3.5% option. Why? Because anything less means even more drastic cuts. The rates postponement offers a safety net for those hit hard. (Note: you can also suggest a higher rise if you wish).
Q2 is about a rates postponement option for people affected by Covid-19.
We suggest you support this, for the obvious reasons – it’s a necessary option.
Q3 is about suspending the targeted rate paid by accommodation providers.
Your call – we suggest you support this, as it makes sense under the circumstances.
Q4 asks what’s important to you. Here are key points you could cover:
- Firstly, ask Councillors to prioritise safe cycling and safe streets.
Let your Councillors know why this is essential for you. Tell them what it would mean – for you personally, for your friends and family, for young and for old, for your vision for Auckland.
And remind them why it’s worth it. Every person on a bike is one less car on the road, one more seat on a bus, one more journey to health. Every dollar invested in bike infrastructure returns more than $20 in long-term benefits!
- Secondly, ask Councillors to rebalance the transport cuts to protect the vulnerable, as promised. For example, they can:
- Apply a strong climate lens to pause, reduce or cancel transport projects that don’t meet our climate action targets – and fast-track those that do
- Apply a strong equity lens to urgently improve healthy and affordable transport choices – for working people, for those on stretched budgets, for Maori and Pasifika, and for children.
- Require Auckland Transport to quickly deliver tactical bikeways, tapping into the Innovating Streets 90% support rate to accelerate the work
- Encourage AT to try school streets and low-traffic neighbourhoods, which would make all-ages cycling safer overnight
- Prioritise road safety for public health, with more safe speed zones, speed cameras, and red light cameras (and making sure any fines go into Auckland’s own coffers, to fix our roads)
- Get better value for money out of road renewals. AT will spend at least $162m in the coming year digging up and resealing streets – make sure they’re built back better for safer walking and biking, not replaced “like for like”.
- Lastly, you can also upload a file with your feedback! Might we suggest sending a photo of you and your family on bikes, to help put a face on how Councillors can protect the vulnerable and enhance the city?