Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: One Hundred and Thirty-one Million Reasons to Copenhagenize Christchurch

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  • Ross Mason,

    Wood you believe I did that!!!

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1497 posts Report Reply

  • John Monro,

    Thanks for the article, David, I’ve looked longingly at the way some European cities just seem to be able to get on and improve their cities without the pathological attachment to the private motor vehicle that happens in the public and the planners here. Your ideas for Christchurch are great, yet here in NZ we are going to spend $11 billion on new motorways. So even more than the Copenhagenisation of Christchurch, I would like to see the Denmarkisation of New Zealand, it would make rather more sense then the Australianisation which seems to saturate everyone’s mind in NZ.

    In which case other things that help cycling are :

    • Much higher taxation on petrol
    • High taxes on new and imported secondhand motor vehicles
    • Many more streets pedestrianised – this is a vital part of a cycling infrastructure.
    • Lower speeds in residential areas, say 30kph,
    • Higher investment in high quality modern public transport. Light rail. Integrated ticketing. etc. paid for, if needed, with a congestion charge on private vehicles.
    • A rather more densely populated central city, there must be major opportunities in rebuilding Christchurch to develop mixed use areas with shopping, pubs, apartments, squares, parklets, and keeping the bl..dy motor car in its place. (My wife and I have a car each, so when I appear anti-car, I am more pro-walking/public transport/cycling/humane urbanisation. We also have a bicycle each, Wellington is far from an ideal city for cycling as it’s so hilly, but for those living in the flatter areas here, then there’s certainly room for more cyclists. ) Areas not suitable for building should be abandoned, and as as many families as possible encouraged to think differently about their life-style in Christchurch, the last thing we need is more sprawl and yet more productive land put into concrete. There may need to be financial incentives initially.
    • There is something rather odd about New Zealanders, as even the cyclists here, at least in Wellington, are appallingly aggressive, disobeying road signs, riding stupidly, and generally being idiots. Put a New Zealander on wheels, cars, cycles, skate boards, whatever, and you go barmy. I think I’m taking education here. A few fines to unruly cyclists might not go amiss either.
    • Nice architecture, Copenhagen is a beautiful city, most New Zealand cities fall well short. Christchurch has to aim very high in its rebuilding. I am not that enamoured by New Zealand architecture, which is almost universally banal. If you have nice streets to cycle on, it’s much nicer than feeling you’re cycling in some urban canyon or industrial park.
    • It’s a totally holistic approach, that is part local, but also importantly national. There needs to be real change in mindset in the politicians/planners/public, starting at the top. I am not confident that our present administration or even Labour have a clue, petrol heads rule and drill baby drill seems to be the present ethos.
    • It’s great there are enthusiastic people like you to guide us and hopefully get some real traction in the council/government. As always, significant change in society starts at the bottom.
    • Would Prof Jan Gehl of Copenhagen be prepared to help?
    • Before the oil shocks in the late 1970s, Denmark’s GDP per capita was around US$ 17,750, New Zealand’s around US$17,250, almost identical. Following the oil shocks, Denmark and New Zealand seriously diverged as to how they would manage the economy. Denmark made long term plans in regard to energy use, high taxes on petrol/cars, energy efficiency and alternative energy resources, amongst many other things, New Zealand went to a laissez-fair market driven economy, where long term planning is an anathema and energy resources were squandered. The result is that now Denmark’s GDP per capita is US$56,147 and New Zealand’s US$32,000. In other words, a) New Zealand’s infatuation with Australia is infantile, b) high petrol taxes and lots of bicycles are an essential component of a thriving economy.

    PS It is true that Australia’s per capita GDP is nearly as great as Denmark’s, but which country is actually more comparable with ours? Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Norway are also much wealthier than we are.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2011 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to recordari,

    The Shining... the pipes, the pipes...

    NSU Quickly Moped 1957

    No need to mope...
    I hear antibikeotics clear up NSU, quickly!

    This beast was born the same year as me...
    maybe I could get someone to "do me up" too !
    Only one owner! - spent alot of the time in a shed, parts may be a problem...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5051 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Jake Pollock,

    People who cycle longer distances for exercise and recreation aren't wearing it to annoy you, just as people who wear running shoes to go jogging aren't trying to frighten off people who are running to catch a bus.

    nice analogy

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16759 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to John Monro,

    Put a New Zealander on wheels, cars, cycles, skate boards, whatever, and you go barmy. I think I’m taking education here.

    Cyclists (and skate boarders) are currently disproportionately young men. That goes a long way towards explaining it.

    If cycle skills are still taught at schools, I'm not convinced about what's being taught. My daughter, in about 2003, was told *by a constable instructing at the school* to ride on the footpath. Mind you, in that part of Auckland, it was the safest thing to do.

    We have to untangle some safety contradictions where real safety is increased as more people cycle, but people won't take it up if they perceive it to be dangerous, and those who aren't bothered by danger also aren't bothered by being good cycling citizens.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2968 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I lycra up on my commute, but for anything under 10k it's not worth bothering with.

    With the training you do, I expect you haven't even warmed up by that point?

    Who, these days can repair anything? who can change a tap washer or a tyre. Or repack a flange or even rewind an armature?

    Actually, it gets worse. I had to "fix" the bicycle I lent my sister a few weeks ago. After mucking around for ages searching for the hole, I realized all that was wrong with it was that she had not understood how to operate the hand pump, and it was just a bit flat.

    Anyway there's nothing stopping you getting a simple cheap bike and riding at all. Who's going to laugh at you? Not me, or anyone here.

    You've never been mocked? I'd love to say I'm so cool all people ever do is high-five me as I ride past, but actually....and I don't wear lycra.

    Wear what you want my friend. Frankly the lycra brigade is just happy to see other people on bikes.

    Yes, I've never been given any shit by them. The closest I get to any reproach is the contemptuous ease with which they pass me. Also, if I ever stop to check the bike out, they're usually the kind of people who will ask if I need a hand. I see them as enthusiasts, just a different and in many ways complimentary class. We wouldn't have the amazingly good bikes we have now without those kind of people, just as so many improvements in cars come from car racing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8591 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    In my Uni days (many years ago now) I used to wear long, flowing, brightly-coloured satin and velvet garments while riding my bike. This was partly because I liked wearing them anyway, and partly because I figured motorists were more likely to notice me and therefore less likely to hit me. O'course, they may have been more likely to hit other things. :-)

    Wear what you want.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3468 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    • Much higher taxation on petrol
    • High taxes on new and imported secondhand motor vehicles

    Too much stick! The carrot of improving cycling infrastructure is a better idea. The idea of putting a sin tax on petrol use causes more harm than good, IMHO.

    In other words, a) New Zealand's infatuation with Australia is infantile, b) high petrol taxes and lots of bicycles are an essential component of a thriving economy.

    Australia is actually quite a cool place, you know. Number one destination for New Zealanders for a reason. High petrol taxes are justified if they are being spent on improvements to transport infrastructure, not as a sin tax. I consider improvements to cycling infrastructure to be of benefit to motorists as well, one of the better returns you can get. Sell it that way rather than slamming 95% of NZers about their cars - that will just alienate the cycling cause. Rural people would be particularly bitter on being taxed just because city slickers on bikes don't like their style. Similarly with the enormous demographic who occupy the outer suburbs. If on the other hand, cycle paths that made their kids safer on the road were to become widespread, it's a pretty easy sell.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8591 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Via Joshua Arbury's wonderful Transportblog. An inspiring video on the world's cities, innovative thinking, and climate.

    That e2 transport series should be compulsory viewing for the rebuilders of Christchurch.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Okay, just making a more detailed response to DaveC’s comments...

    I really didn’t want to get into the cycle lane vs. cycle path debate (a perennial topic in the engineering postgrad common room), as I see Copenhagenization as being about getting the numbers of cycle commuters to Copenhagen levels, and then reaping the economic benefits. The exact details of how you design the cycle infrastructure are just that: detail engineering. That said, of course, you don’t want to design a cycling disaster area (the Milton Keynes ‘Redway’ system is often cited as an example of this).

    As DaveC points out, some cycle lanes can provide a safe environment. And, in fact, a number of studies have shown that some cycle paths are more dangerous than cycle lanes.

    BUT:

    Firstly, the ‘dangerous’ cycle paths cited in these studies seem to be examples of bad engineering design. In particular, the parts where the cycle path intersects with a conventional road. To me this is a design flaw in the intersection design, rather than being a flaw in the concept of the cycle path per se.

    Secondly, the cycle lanes cited in these studies are (mostly) quite different from what we call cycle lanes in New Zealand. For example, the cycle lanes near my neighbourhood in Christchurch are 1 metre in width (I’ve just measured them). In Denmark, the minimum standard width is 2.5 metres (older lanes are 2.2 metres). Internationally the standard recommended width seems to be at least 2 metres, with an absolute minimum of 1.5 metres. My take on the cycle width recommendations in other countries is that – on the surface of it – ‘skinny’ cycle lanes don’t offer much more safety than no lanes at all. Indeed, there have been studies suggesting that they are more dangerous than no cycle lanes (although I personally don’t find this conclusion very convincing).

    Furthermore, the cycle lanes in Denmark are slightly raised from the road (approximately half-way between kerb height and road surface height). Similarly, lots of Dutch cycle lanes have some sort of physical (not just paint) marking that separate the cycle lane from the road proper. Indeed, I think that in New Zealand we would actually regard Danish cycle lanes as cycle paths (that happen to run beside the road).

    So we’re not necessarily comparing apples with apples if we apply these studies to Christchurch.

    Having criticized our skinny cycle lanes in Christchurch, I would still much prefer them to no cycle lanes at all. My personal experience (not a scientific study) is that motorists often become enraged when they perceive that cyclists are on their territory, i.e. on the road. By having a ‘declared’ cyclist territory this appears to have a beneficial psychological effect upon Christchurch motorists, making them happier to have cyclists on the road. Having had motorists throw everything at me from abuse to eggs to an (empty!) vodka bottle, I appreciate something that will sooth them a little.

    If you want my opinion on the mix of cycle systems that we should consider for Christchurch (bearing in my that traffic engineering is not my field).

    1. Conversion of some conventional roads into nominated cycle roads that limit (or ban) motorized through-traffic, have a 30 kilometre per hour speed limit, and wide Danish-style cycle lanes.

    2. For busy roads (that are already controlled by traffic lights) use wide Danish-style cycle lanes – but where the width isn’t feasible, use narrower Danish-style cycle paths. Both lanes and paths should go through the conventional traffic light system with cyclists getting their own signal (a number of the cycle paths going through Christchurch’s Hagley Park already do this).

    3. Where Danish-style cycle paths or lanes are impractical then use New Zealand style ‘skinny’ cycle lanes.

    4. In all cases, where possible, route the cycle lanes and cycle paths through Christchurch’s numerous parks. Again, careful intersection design is needed where these rejoin the normal road.

    Which is about all that I should say on this topic.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 988 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I'd actually go further with my point above, that every kind of public transport should be sold to motorists as enhancing what they do. Because it does. Every person on a bus or a train or a bike is a car off the road, which makes driving a little bit easier. In fact, it's better than building roads for motorists, because it's a shitload cheaper.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8591 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to 3410,

    That e2 transport series should be compulsory viewing for the rebuilders of Christchurch

    Josh Arbury should be compulsory for them to at least engage with. Along with others who know what they're talking about such as Dr Haywood.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16759 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to David Haywood,

    Having criticized our skinny cycle lanes in Christchurch, I would still much prefer them to no cycle lanes at all. My personal experience (not a scientific study) is that motorists often become enraged when they perceive that cyclists are on their territory, i.e. on the road. By having a ‘declared’ cyclist territory this appears to have a beneficial psychological effect upon Christchurch motorists

    +1

    But I have to say it makes me boggle when I look at the width of the cycle lane, and see those ads telling motorists to keep 1.5m between themselves and cyclists, and for cyclists to keep 1.5m between themselves and the doors of parked cars. Where are all these spare metres hiding?? It's like the cycle lane is some kind of Tardis!

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3468 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    So many great comments here that I can’t reply to them all individually. But a couple of quick responses:

    Lisa Black wrote:

    David – would you mind if I excerpted some of your article for a Cycling in Wellington post?

    Go right ahead. And thank you for posting all the excellent bike ‘porn’.

    Fooman wrote:

    1. Just spent the past week in the Netherlands:
    a) Very suited to cycling (flat!)
    b) Lots of cycles (1:1 cycles to car in the rural region, up to 20:1 in central Amsterdam).
    c) Helmets not compulsory

    Yes, it's possible (though hopefully not) that the compulsory cycle law could be the major social obstacle to the Copenhagenization of Christchurch.

    uroskin wrote:

    Consider too that buying/owning/running a car in Denmark is considerably more expensive than in NZ

    Yes, this is a good point. I'm not in favour of an excise tax to motorists, but I would be in favour of 'front-loading' registration costs, insurance, and WOF onto the per liter fuel price. This would better connect the motorist (in terms of price signals) with the true costs of running a car. Of course, it would not cost the average motorist any more, but it would be a much fairer system than we have at present, and would be much harder for motorists to avoid paying their rego (or not having third party insurance).

    I'm researching another blog on this very topic -- should be ready in a few months -- so more details soon.

    Patrick Morgan wrote:

    Cycling Advocates Network is working hard on bringing this vision to Chch, and elsewhere. Check us out. Help us to help you.

    Oh, believe me, I've checked you out. You're doing great work -- keep it up!

    Gregor Ronald wrote:

    I remember my first trip to Christchurch as a kid in the 50s - my father took me into the Square at 5pm just to watch the huge tidal wave of cyclists that poured through the central city and on to the suburbs. It left a lasting impression on my 7 year old mind.

    Fascinating stuff!

    George Darroch wrote [many sensible things]...

    Exactly, George. Totally agree with your points about the availability of proper (Dutch style) commuting bikes, and the need to 'normalize' cycle commuting as an activity (rather than just something that freaks do). Commuting in your normal clothes should be easily possible for most cyclists; I always used to enjoy watching what the Dutch could carry on their way to work. Best thing I saw was a double-bass.

    These are important issues that will need to be tackled.

    Raf Manji wrote:

    I couldn't imagine a city more suited to cycling than Christchurch. Our new CERA boss is a mad keen cyclist so expect that to be at the top of the agenda. Also pretty cool that we had 4 different reps from Copenhagen around the TEDxEQChCh conference.

    It would certainly be great if this was at the top of the agenda -- anyone know what Gerry's attitudes to cycling are?

    John Monro wrote:

    I’ve looked longingly at the way some European cities just seem to be able to get on and improve their cities without the pathological attachment to the private motor vehicle that happens in the public and the planners here... Would Prof Jan Gehl of Copenhagen be prepared to help?

    You won't find much argument from me on most of your points. Jan Gehl has already written a pre-earthquake report on central Christchurch -- it'd certainly be great to get him involved in designing cycle infrastructure.

    BenWilson wrote:

    I’d actually go further with my point above, that every kind of public transport should be sold to motorists as enhancing what they do.

    I quite agree -- that's certainly the way that I see it (and why I can often agree with the ACT party on the subject of toll roads).

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 988 posts Report Reply

  • Lisa Black, in reply to John Monro,

    • Nice architecture, Copenhagen is a beautiful city, most New Zealand cities fall well short. Christchurch has to aim very high in its rebuilding. I am not that enamoured by New Zealand architecture, which is almost universally banal. If you have nice streets to cycle on, it’s much nicer than feeling you’re cycling in some urban canyon or industrial park.

    We'll always need industrial areas, but I reckon that the more people ride their bikes, the more attractive streets become. When you're on a bike you engage more with your surroundings and therefore have something to say about them. Because of this I think bikes are excellent tools for building communities.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2010 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • Alice Ronald, in reply to Lilith __,

    It's like the cycle lane is some kind of Tardis!

    WANT!

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 48 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    People who cycle longer distances for exercise and recreation aren’t wearing it to annoy you, just as people who wear running shoes to go jogging aren’t trying to frighten off people who are running to catch a bus.

    That's true. But imagine if shoe stores only sold running shoes, hiking boots, and cheap ballet flats, and were reluctant to stock calf-length boots because 'they won't sell'.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2136 posts Report Reply

  • Lisa Black, in reply to David Haywood,

    thank you for posting all the excellent bike ‘porn’.

    Heh. Heh. There's more where that came from, young David ;) ;)

    Actually, it's to bike porn that I owe my revived interest in riding bikes. I saw a few pictures of women looking elegant on bikes and realised that I probably COULD do it too, and I stopped finding reasons to not.

    A lot of what we try to do at Cycling in Wellington is make riding sexy. It's just good marketing.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2010 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Commuting in your normal clothes should be easily possible for most cyclists; I always used to enjoy watching what the Dutch could carry on their way to work. Best thing I saw was a double-bass.

    I think here the infrastructure (to bring things back on topic somewhat) and the culture of drivers (which again can be helped by infrastructure, public political support, and socialisation) is crucial. If riders are expected to be part of traffic, by necessity they usually ride quite fast. I do this, partly from need, partly from enjoyment, but it's not for everybody, and not even for me all of the time.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2136 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Jake Pollock,

    That said, what Jack said about dedicated cycling clothing being more comfortable for longer rides is 100% correct. People who cycle longer distances for exercise and recreation aren't wearing it to annoy you, just as people who wear running shoes to go jogging aren't trying to frighten off people who are running to catch a bus.

    I cycle for exercise (ideally, combined with transport to places I need to get to, but not always) and I'm glad I got over any squeamishness about cyclewear. Lycra and similar fabrics are really comfortable on a bike, in summer and winter.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18964 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Lycra and similar fabrics are really comfortable on a bike, in summer and winter.

    I think lycra puts off would be cyclists a lot more than the helmet laws. Just putting it out there.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lilith __,

    Yes, it's possible (though hopefully not) that the compulsory cycle law could be the major social obstacle to the Copenhagenization of Christchurch.

    I Gandhi this one a lot.

    I always used to enjoy watching what the Dutch could carry on their way to work. Best thing I saw was a double-bass.

    Prettiest thing I saw was a bike with two gorgeous girls on it, both dressed as if they were going clubbing. One was sitting side-saddle on the frame. Neither wore a helmet and both were wearing heels.

    I think lycra puts off would be cyclists a lot more than the helmet laws. Just putting it out there.

    Hard to know for sure, the helmet being compulsory feels a lot more intrusive than the non-compulsory lycra. Also, the helmet fucks up your hair, which I expect matters to women a lot more.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8591 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to BenWilson,

    both were wearing heels

    Heels are actually surprisingly fine to pedal in (or the fairly blockish ones I like are, anyhow). They hook around the back of the pedal very conveniently, possibly also increasing the efficiency of the upstroke, depending on the type of heel and the angle of your foot. :-)

    the helmet fucks up your hair

    Yes!!! But so does a head injury. I'd rather take a few moments fixing my hair on arrival than not wear a helmet.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3468 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lilith __,

    I'd rather take a few moments fixing my hair on arrival than not wear a helmet.

    I presume you don't go in for anything elaborate?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8591 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to BenWilson,

    I’d rather take a few moments fixing my hair on arrival than not wear a helmet.

    I presume you don’t go in for anything elaborate?

    True, I'm more Farrah Fawcett than Natalie Portman. Just how my hair happens to be!

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3468 posts Report Reply

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