Guest post by Scott Wickman, Senior Transport Planner, NZTA
Barbara Cuthbert asked me back in October to think about doing a monthly guest blog to try and provide a bit more of a public face to the NZ Transport Agency. I agreed that it would be a good opportunity to give a bit more visibility to the NZ Transport Agency, but then promptly procrastinated on the basis of too much work and not being sure about what to write – both poor excuses. So here we go.
For those who don’t know me from some of the CAA events that I have attended, I am a senior transport planner in the Auckland regional office of the NZTA. In the spirit of transparency, I should state up front, I do not cycle to work. In fact, this week was was the first time I have ever ridden my bike to work. I usually take the bus as it’s convenient and sheltered – but am finding the experience of riding to work agreeable so far after the several trips I took this week.
I’ve been given this blog spot in part due to my privileged position of being the walking and cycling champion for the NZTA projects within Auckland and Northland. Over the past 3 years that I’ve been at the NZTA I’ve had the good fortune of being able to develop strong relationships at Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, and with Cycle Action Auckland. I’ve been able to lead the development of several NZTA projects as well as have input on a range of other initiatives from both the NZTA and Auckland Transport.
From where I’m sitting, the view is looking quite promising for pedestrians and cyclists alike. The support and desire to improve walking and cycling infrastructure is ever growing. And with the recent establishment of Auckland Transport as the sole agency responsible for Auckland’s local transport network, the ability to create meaningful change has seemingly become a whole lot simpler.
I am excited by the future outlook both professionally and personally. Professionally, it’s invigorating to be part of something with such positive momentum. With the help of Cycle Action Auckland, we have been able to keep walking and cycling at the top of the agenda and explore new ways that we can collectively create that step change for Auckland. And personally, it’s encouraging to think that perhaps in a few years time, my adopted hometown will have become a place where people are no longer reluctant to cycle, and we are all comfortable sharing the roads as either a cyclist, a driver or a motorcyclist.
Over the holiday period, my partner and I went for several bike rides with our 15 month old son. He loves going for rides because he’s able to see everything that’s going on around him. And for us, it’s a great way to get out and get some exercise. However, as new parents we’re perhaps a bit over protective at times, and would rather use the footpaths on some of the busier roads. Of course this not only has its own dangers, but can also reduce the convenience and enjoyment of the ride.
I have a few thoughts as to future topics that I can post on here, such as the NZTA’s role in cycling in Auckland, how the NZTA and AT are working together to improve cycling, and some ins and outs of the funding process. I’d also like to toot our own horn on occasion and shout about what we’re doing with our current and future projects.
As you may be aware, there are a few projects nearing completion, and others just underway, so it’s an exciting time for us. I’m just a guest here though and my real goal is to remove my monkey costume and ditch the clipboard. If there’s anything in particular you would like to know about in terms of the work that we do at the NZTA, please shout out and I’ll add it to my list for future topics.
I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday break. I look forward to sharing some of my thoughts and experiences with you in the future. And hopefully by doing so I’ll also be able to break down some of the NZTA (Transit / LTNZ / LTSA…) preconceptions that have developed over the years.