iBikeiVote_Logo_55mmNZ General Election – 20 September 2014

After the event

The results are in to the extent we know a strong National Government will be in power until 2017.  Not the best outcome for cycling, but it could have been worse had the ACT/Conservative block exerted an undue influence.

National have promised additional funding for urban bikeways.  Rest assured we’ll keep them accountable to their promises, and work with AT to ensure the Auckland component of this funding is used to best effect.

Let’s review in 2017 and see what’s been delivered!

Before the event

The NZ General Election is coming up on Sat 20 September 2014. We’re not going to insult your intelligence by telling you who to vote for. But we are going to inform you which political parties will tilt the playing field to encourage more people to cycle more often. So if you’re tossing up between two parties, perhaps our policy summary below may swing the balance.

We’ll start by identifying what changes we’d like to see in the Transport portfolio in particular:

  • A greater focus on cycling in the Land Transport Funding GPS (Government Policy Statement). Typically this will arise from a reduced focus on economic growth at the expense of all else, and an increased focus on sustainability…
  • …Resulting in a greater level of funding for cycling infrastructure to separate cyclists from motorists.

Simple as that. No increases in taxes, just a shift in the allocation of existing funding so more is spent on cycling, and less is spent on roading projects of dubious benefit. There are a few other aspects around law changes we’d like, but let’s focus on the most important, and see what the parties say.

We’ve gathered material and comments from various sources, and given the parties a star rating, with five stars being exceptional, and zero stars abysmal. Happy to be corrected if we’ve misrepresented a party.

National – 2 stars

  • Focus on projects supporting economic growth, value for money and road safety
  • Focus on RONS
  • Spend $100 million over four years on urban bikeways, in addition to $127m on walking and cycling nationally.

We say – this is more of the same from National, despite a recent boost.  We’re judging National on their historical performance. John Key’s been in the news lately promoting cycling, but how much is just spin before the election?

Labour – 4 stars

  • Rebalance transport spending from “low-value ” projects to congestion-busting, growth investments.
  • Exceed National’s walking and cycling spend
  • Ensure that future roading projects will make provision for cycling, for example by bikeway design alongside roads or with separate bikeway networks.
  • Make cycle and pedestrian safety a priority and ensure that legislation, the road code and by-laws are made sufficient to protect all road users.
  • Introduce new safety zones across suburbs and towns during school commuting hours, to help facilitate safe cycling and walking to and from school.
  • Increase walking and cycling investment significantly.

We say – a lot of good stuff from Labour here.  Some firm numbers would be good however – with money tight, how certain is their committment?

Greens – 5 stars

  • We will rebalance the transport budget to spend less money on roads, and more money on walking and cycling infrastructure.
  • Substantially curtail RONS projects
  • Encourage local authorities to develop safe and direct walking and cycling routes at a local and regional level, and expand networks of paths connecting streets in urban areas.
  • Investigate the need for clearer liability for crashes involving active modes so that motorised vehicles involved are liable unless the pedestrian or cyclist has been reckless.
  • Further develop the nationwide network of safe and attractive cycleways using paper roads, road and rail corridors, and reserves as far as possible, where these can be constructed and used without damaging conservation, historic, ecological or wilderness values.
  • Ensure that public transport services are ‘cycle friendly’ as a condition of receiving public funding.
  • Improve cycle safety on the open road by widening roads and creating more cycleways, and increasing driver education.
  • Spend $100m annually on walking and cycling.

We say – the Greens have nailed this one.

NZ First – 3 stars

  • Scale down RONS in favour of rail
  • Seek to increase funding for well-designed cycling and walking commuter routes in the cities, and to and from schools and tertiary institutions
  • Require the NZTA to develop a National Safer Cycling Strategy aimed at reducing the number of serious cycling accidents.

We say – some good intentions here, but “seeking” is a weak statement. Would like to see more published commitment from NZF.

Maori – 4 stars

  • Reduce transport disadvantage by shifting focus from private cars to make public transport, walking and cycling core activities.
  • Improve people’s connections to their environment in rebuilt neighbourhoods with a focus on community safety, including separated walking and cycling paths, and lower speed limits for areas with high pedestrian counts.

We say – the Maori Party is definitely on the right track here.  We’d just like to see a bit more of a focus on committed funding.

Conservative – 0 stars

  • Nothing that mentions cycling on their website, or inspires any confidence that cycling would receive a greater share of funding.

We say – their opinions on climate change are completely wacky, so you’ll see no cycling initiatives here.

Internet Mana – 3 stars

  • Provide separate pathways for pedestrians and cyclists, and lower speed limit in areas with high pedestrian counts.

We say – some good intentions. Perhaps a 4, but if you look at their Transport policies generally you start to feel a little uneasy.

ACT – 1 star

  • Focus on roads, including tolling
  • Scrap the compulsory bicycle-helmet law to double cycle use without spending taxpayer’s money on separated bikeways.

We say – separated infrastructure must come first, and that requires funding.

United Future – 3 stars

  • Encourage greater use of cycling and walking as alternative transport methods, through better cycle lanes and walking paths in urban/suburban areas and in the countryside, to discourage the use of cars for shorter trips
  • Encourage Councils to increase off street parking spaces and remove on street parking to make room for better cycling infrastructure
  • Encourage cities and towns to introduce bike share schemes in order to increase use of cycling in inner cities
  • Encourage car parks to be developed on the edge of CBDs, where land is cheaper, accompanied by more cycle lanes, walking paths, low cost buses or trams, and bike share schemes to take people the last mile or two into CBDs
  • Initiate a full review of the effects (negative and positive) and the overall benefit of the compulsory helmet law.

We say – on the right track.  While encouragement is good, commitment is better.

So remember

We need to start telling the politicians leading our city, our country “I bike.  I vote.”