Rally brings hope for safer cycling

Yesterday, along with my colleagues Keith Locke and David Clendon (and Jacinda Ardern from Labour), I had the pleasure of attending the Bikes for Life rally in Auckland which you may have seen on the news last night.

The rally was called in response to the recent spate of deaths we have seen on our roads.

The husband (Roger Wolfe) and brother in law (Dean Scanlen) of one of those killed in the Morrinsville crash, Kay Wolfe, both spoke, expressing their grief at her loss and calling for more action to ensure safety on the roads.

In particular, they asked for more intensive driver training and also more focus on removing carparks from busy roads which are heavily used by cyclists and pedestrians.

It was inspiring to see so many people attending the rally and to hear Mike Lee (pictured below with Keith and David), chairman of the Auckland Transport committee, make such a positive speech. It is clear that the new Auckland Council will make cycling safety a priority, which is excellent.

The spokesperson for Cycle Action Auckland, Barbara Cuthbert, also spoke. She said that to improve cycle safety they are calling for:

  • more continuous cycle ways in urban areas and more shoulders for cyclists on rural roads
  • more cycle training for kids and adults
  • a fresh new public awareness programme that would help to raise drivers and cyclists awareness of how to co-exist safely on the roads

They are also calling for more funding to go into cycling and walking – which right now receive less than 1% of national transport spending. I support all of these objectives and am working to achieve them in my role as the Greens’ spokesperson on cycling. It feels to me as if there is a great deal of momentum building from more and more people wishing to ride their bikes and demanding the right to be able to do so safely, as the law and the rules of a civilised society also, surely, dictate.

As people probably know, I spend my holidays riding bikes, and (in my time off) have started planning where we will ride in January. One of the downsides of the MP job is that I can’t take my holiday in my preferred late March/early April slot, when temperatures are dropping, campgrounds and hostels aren’t booked out and there is less traffic on the road. Instead it’s got to be January, which means choosing quiet backroads and less popular destinations to make the experience as pleasurable and safe as possible. About time I didn’t have to do this, isn’t it?

8 thoughts on “Rally brings hope for safer cycling

  1. Where are the safest places for rural cycling in NZ? Anybody know where to go if you want to do a nice overnight or 3 day trip…

  2. Christchurch city?

    My experience of cycling around a lot of NZ is there is no safe place for rural cycling. Narrow roads and grossly impatient drivers seem to be the norm.
    In a fairly unpopulated flat area like Southland you can get off the road when you hear a car.

    Christchurch city and to a lessor extent Hamilton are the only places where motorists know that cyclists exist.

    Oh! Forgot Wellington. They know you are there, but they try to kill you.

  3. Where are you based Lucy and what sort of cycling experience do you want? (like do you want to be able to leave from your back door, and what kind of hilliness do you want, camping, hostels or what?) I have toured in most parts of NZ, and while it’s true that there are risks pretty much anywhere there are some great backcountry routes.

  4. Nelson is one of my favourites. Especially around Motueka and Takaka. Once you have puffed over the hill there is not much traffic outside the Holiday season.
    Some good walks/mountain biking behind Motueka from the Graham valley to Cobb or all the way to Karemea.
    Nelson city is well set out for bikes also.

  5. The ride from Nelson to Motueka has just got a lot safer with the Ruby Bay bypass taking all the heavy traffic off the scenic coastal route. Unfortunately Transit has kept costs down on most South Island realignments by doing land swaps with neighbouring farmers so the old roads are rarely retained as quiet alternatives to the state highway. Another rare exception to that rule is on SH1 in north Canterbury at Hawkeswood. Google maps sattelite view can be a useful planning tool.

    Sealed shoulders were introduced to accomodate the off-tracking of the longer trucks permitted since the 1980s and, according to the MoT’s cost allocation model, are mainly funded from a special RUC levied only on heavy trailers with a smaller contribution from cars to cover the safety benefits of sealed shoulders. To get more extensive use of sealed shoulders there is going to have to be some significant benefit to those paying for them. One way to do that would be to increase the value of life used in the BCR calculations to match the value used by the safest OECD nations which would make saving lives more beneficial compared with saving time and would thus shift the roading emphasis from building urban motorways to building safer rural roads.

  6. Still in that neck of the woods, one of the cycle-tracks being built under our agreement with National is a Tasman loop, which will take riders more or less to the foot of the Takaka Hill. Should they wish to the Hill is actually pretty manageable. Even though it is NZ’s longest continuous climb at 11km (and then there’s a bit of a false summit before climbing again) it’s mostly not too steep. Once in Golden Bay and outside the peak holiday season the riding is usually pretty good, as Kerry says.

    Today we had the announcement from the NZ Conservation Authority that the Heaphy Track will be reopened to bikes between May and September, starting next year. That makes it possible to ride from the Bay through to the West Coast, and one of the world’s greatest road rides (albeit in need of a some increased safety measures). I, for one, am pretty excited about that prospect!

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