Kevin Hague

Rally brings hope for safer cycling

by Kevin Hague

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?