Te Atatu: A Change in Attitude

Sep 24, 2014
Te Atatu: A Change in Attitude


A Bike Te Atatu poster that is up at the local green grocer [Ed.: And just one of the many local businesses that will flourish with more walking and cycling.]
A Bike Te Atatu poster that is up at the local green grocer
A guest post from Jemma Nissen of Bike Te Atatu

Out in Te Atatu Peninsula, it’s easy to ride your bike or walk where ever you want to go.  Well, easy enough, and definitely easier than most places, by a long shot.

And, consequently, many people do ride and walk but not nearly as many as could.

Unfortunately, our cultural attachment to cars runs deep – as can be seen by the criss-crossing of cars doing short trips around the Pen (myself included).  So, even in optimum conditions; flat, no through road, short distances – riding and walking doesn’t just take off as you might expect.  It’s not bedded into our psyche – it’s not in our culture.  And it needs to be.  There are so many barriers to getting people on bikes and walking but my impression is that the biggest barrier is in the mind – the collective mind.

Riding and walking to get places is so much more than what it sounds, it’s an approach to life, it’s an ever-changing dynamic between the individual and the local community, the road/street, society and nature.  The idea behind the ‘Moving Forward Initiative’ is to really address these issues by building a whole community toward a total solution, essentially supporting riding and walking locally to the point that it becomes culturally normative.

We want to see a change in attitude – and we want everybody else to get the picture.  We want people to see and experience first hand all the juicy bits of riding and walking – the stuff you don’t know about, until you do it.  And it needs to be for everyone.

So, the proposal;  it’s simple (courtesy of Bryce Pearce)

  • A 50k network that’s a couple of loops with a central spine,
  • 30k slowed neighborhood zone everywhere else
  • separated bike lanes on the 50k roads.

Voila, you can get anywhere you want to go!  If ever there was a ramp to slide you into the sea of change, this is it.

Of course, as the proposal has developed and we get more feedback some things have been refined and it’s evolving as we go.

We’ve added a stage to the proposal, which is revitalizing the local walkways between blocks by working together with the community.  Ideally, by the time this proposal is realized, the community will be doing all of our championing.  I recently posted a photo from Adelaide the Te Atatu Peninsula Facebook page and there was a deluge of responses – 99 in six hours – many of them very disparaging, but by the end the loudest detractor was admitting the merits of the idea, and dozens of supporters had come out of the woodwork to defend something they had nothing to do with.

Everybody needs to be heard and everybody needs to be on board.  Just because it’s a bloody good idea, doesn’t mean we can roll out the same attitude that got us in this situation in the first place.

It’s a tall order but we can do our bit – especially together.

te-atatu-town-centre-existingThere’s about a dozen of us working on this behind the scenes and recently we met with Barb and Max from CAA (and Ina from AT) to refine parts of the prototype at a ‘Design Workshop’. It’s great to have them keeping an eye on what we’re doing and helping out where they can.

te-atatu-town-centre-proposedHere’s a look at the proposed section for the Main Street that we’ve worked on with CAA. The idea is that by removing one side of parallel parking in the Te Atatu Town Centre, we can put a protected southbound cycle lane on the east side. On the west side, the angled car parking is retained (a big thing for the local retailers), but is moved back – there’s heaps of space – so a protected cycle lane can be put into place. The protection would also be extended as far south as to get cyclists safely to the off-road cycleway leading to Te Atatu South and the NW Cycleway. And the best thing is that this all can be done as a pretty easy trial, with little permanent / physical works needed. Bike Te Atatu and CAA will be working to get AT to agree to such a trial.

Editor’s note: A year ago CAA started a bit of a hush-hush project with AT higher-ups, to discuss possible cycling “pilot projects”, that would be quick, and transformative. We were asked to develop a shortlist of ideas, and after lots of internal discussion came up with three projects: Nelson Street Cycleway (which has since gathered some major speed), an upgrade of the Mt Albert Road / Carrington Road cycle lanes to a partially protected layout (which probably won’t be able to proceed, at least as a pilot project-style one) and… protected cycle lanes on Te Atatu Road. In fact, our proposal was very similar to what Bike Te Atatu came up with, and we have cooperated on it since.

If you want to look more closely at the proposals there’s an overview on biketeatatu.org.nz

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