Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The hard road to a cycle-friendly city

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  • Greg Wood,

    On behalf of all of the moderate, frustrated parents who give a shit about *all* of the issues – including having to repeatedly try to decode the signs and explain to kids that protest is ok, but lying and attacking people sucks – I'd like to say thank you for this post.

    Now back in Aucktown • Since Dec 2006 • 86 posts Report Reply

  • Northshoreguynz,

    Given the crap you've had to put up with on Twitter, a very restrained post, Russell.

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2014 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*,

    Am I right in thinking that driveways are the hardest things for cycle lanes?

    Island Bay, Garnet Rd.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report Reply

  • Patrick Morgan, in reply to James Littlewood*,

    Good question, James. I'd say the hardest thing is managing change - whether it's to a street layout, shopping area, driveways or parking, Councils need to have their act together, make a compelling case for change, talk it through with all affected people, take feedback on board, adjust the plan, and implement it carefully. Best guide to this is Streetfight, by Janette Sadik-Khan. https://www.amazon.com/Streetfight-Handbook-Revolution-Janette-Sadik-Khan/dp/0525429840

    Wellington • Since Jun 2011 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    I think part of the problem is we are in unknown territory.

    New Zealand isn't The Netherlands and Auckland IS hilly and most importantly kiwis LOVE their cars.

    So changing our roads to try and attract people to cycling and walking really is an unknown country. Yes we can learn form Copenhagen and Utrecht but some of their solutions are not appropriate for NZ.

    AT will get it wrong. And for all that consultation is lovely and important the public will also get it wrong. We have to be willing to try things and if it's wrong then we have to suck up our egos and fix it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4427 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    AT will get it wrong. And for all that consultation is lovely and important the public will also get it wrong. We have to be willing to try things and if it’s wrong then we have to suck up our egos and fix it.

    This is pretty much what I think. Coming down like a ton of bricks on AT for getting something new a bit wrong isn't helping anyone, and it needs to develop skills and practices for taking the public along on these projects.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Patrick Morgan,

    I’d say the hardest thing is managing change – whether it’s to a street layout, shopping area, driveways or parking, Councils need to have their act together, make a compelling case for change, talk it through with all affected people, take feedback on board, adjust the plan, and implement it carefully.

    Yep.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Green,

    Phil Twyford posted on Facebook a few days ago about John Bonner, the cyclist who was killed in Te Atatu last week. One of the 'occupy' people used his post as an invitation to hijack the comment thread and further their agenda.
    I nearly went nuclear in response, but I thought better of it and deleted my incomplete reply because I have some sensitivity.
    That they will jump on every opportunity, including extremely inappropriate ones, shows how far they are willing to push their batshit ideas.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2008 • 53 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Carol Green,

    Phil Twyford posted on Facebook a few days ago about John Bonner, the cyclist who was killed in Te Atatu last week. One of the 'occupy' people used his post as an invitation to hijack the comment thread and further their agenda.

    I've butted heads with them in the past and seen a similar screaming lack of empathy. I won't go into it here – I'm trying to not make this conversation about them – but it was pretty awful.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    There is also another problem that has to be addressed.

    We need to get people to understand that the life of a cyclist really is important.

    That should be obvious but at the moment too many people are not behaving as if cyclists lives are important at all.

    To some degree I can understand the purely selfish attitude that says being allowed to park ones car on the street is more important than a cyclist's life - because it's simply selfish. Unless someone you love is a cyclist it really doesn't matter if a cyclist dies because they had to ride in the same place as the trucks so that your car can sit on the side of the road instead of in your garage. It is selfish but selfish is normal.

    In the same way the impatient drivers who pass too close and too fast or cut cyclists off or use cycle lanes as a shortcut are simply selfish and they don't care if a cyclist they don't know or care about personally is killed or horribly crippled.

    The one I can't understand is the equation they use at AT and at NZTA.

    That's the equation that calculates the average reduction in travel time that is equal to a cyclist's life.

    That's the equation that was used to decide that drivers in Te Atatu should be allowed to get home a minute earlier and that the cost of a few cyclists lives was an acceptable trade.

    We really do need to change our culture.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4427 posts Report Reply

  • stever@cs.waikato.ac.nz, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yes...AT are learning...and you learn nothing unless you try, make mistakes, and try to do better next time.

    I've been cycling (again) in London recently...and though it is of course very different from Auckland there are some lessons there too, the main one being that once you get through the painful part, people really respond positively, and suddenly you have cycle traffic-jams (surely the mark of success for a traffic planner :) ). The CSs (Cycle Superhighways) are amazing...but very expensive, and worth every penny.

    Hamilton • Since Nov 2006 • 73 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Green, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yep, sorry Russell. I think I just wanted to say that out loud. It's been a tough week.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2008 • 53 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    We really do need to change our culture.

    Here in Chchch, they are going to start fining people for parking on the grass berms – even on the streets (like ours) that they narrowed by almost two metres to create the new wider berms – this widening also makes a once easily traversable street effectively one way if there are cars parked on both sides (or you have to go at a crawl to pass oncoming cars and not take off wing mirrors) – no room for cyclists on this road and the new pavements are hard up against the property frontage so iittle leeway for cars emerging to avoid passersby .
    Hard to know what they were aiming for with all the ‘improvements’ – no one has gained anything but more weed laden berms to mow for the council.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7743 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7743 posts Report Reply

  • JessicaRose,

    The principal of Point Chevalier primary school is very keen to see an offshoot to his school, where 200 kids ride every day.

    As a board member with a remit to provide both increased and safer transport options, I can say that this principal might be in for some very happy news care of Albert Eden LB.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2011 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • Glen Koorey, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Here in Chchch, they are going to start fining people for parking on the grass berms – even on the streets (like ours) that they narrowed by almost two metres to create the new wider berms – this widening also makes a once easily traversable street effectively one way if there are cars parked on both sides (or you have to go at a crawl to pass oncoming cars and not take off wing mirrors) – no room for cyclists on this road and the new pavements are hard up against the property frontage so iittle leeway for cars emerging to avoid passersby .
    Hard to know what they were aiming for with all the ‘improvements’ – no one has gained anything but more weed laden berms to mow for the council.

    I'd say what they're aiming for is a slower residential street so that people don't use them as racetracks or rat-runs. Have to wait a bit until the oncoming car has gone past, so that you can get through? Great, a local street should be like an extension of your driveway. And if it's slowed down enough (and ideally a 30km/h speed limit added to it), and unnecessary through-traffic is discouraged away, then people cycling can quite happily ride in the traffic lane. That's pretty much the philosophy behind the neighbourhood greenways for cycling - we opened another one in Christchurch today.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2013 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • Glen Koorey, in reply to Russell Brown,

    This is pretty much what I think. Coming down like a ton of bricks on AT for getting something new a bit wrong isn't helping anyone, and it needs to develop skills and practices for taking the public along on these projects.

    It's important to realise too that the Netherlands of this world didn't get it right the first time either. What you often see over there is second-generation (if not 3rd- or 4th-generation) infrastructure, refined over time as they have seen what works and what doesn't (and they still keep testing and tweaking).

    We have the advantage of being able to borrow some of this insight for our own stuff, but it still needs a lot of "NZ-ising". In just the 3 or so years that we have been building new-style cycleways, I have to say that the design standard has been improving as each one comes out. And we already have a 2nd-generation separated cycleway in Christchurch, where Ilam Rd has been redone from the 2013 original layout.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2013 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    The transport experts put in five traffic pacifiers out in Titirangi mainly due to having four schools off the same feeder road but also partly due to a petition that circulated stating that boy racers were attaining speeds of over 300 kph. It is west Auckland but..Anyway the sleeping policeman at the roundabout was so steep that you had to stop before driving up it and the third hump down the hill was next to a speed camera, interfering with revenue, so they both had to go. The practice of slowing stuff down still seems to be in its infancy.

    Since Mar 2010 • 368 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce,

    It seems like every cycleway in this city has a different design/approach. Some of them are not even instantly recognizable as cycleways to be quite honest.

    Could we not take the time to come up with a standard template approach and only vary from that when absolutely necessary?

    Seems to me if would a lot safer (drivers know a cycleway when they see one) and cheaper to build and importantly maintain.

    We've got concrete, tarseal, pavers.
    We've got about 5 different types of flexi posts, planter boxes, rubber separators, concrete separators, no separation.
    We've got pink, rainbow, long blocks of solid kermit, short pieces of kermit, different colours of kermit, no kermit.
    We've got in berm, inside parked carks, outside parked cars, no parking.
    We've got raised platforms at road crossings, we've got paths that go back onto the road at crossings.
    We've got single direction, we've got bi-direction, got shared cycle/pedestrian.
    We've got against the traffic flow, with the traffic flow.

    Seems a very expensive way for AT to "learn".

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 497 posts Report Reply

  • Aaron Schiff, in reply to Glenn Pearce,

    As a relatively inexperienced cyclist, I completely agree with this. I'm often left wondering "where am I supposed to go now?". This list of inconsistencies is just the beginning. There must be a dozen different styles of shared path, for example.

    Since Dec 2017 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Bring back bells on bikes...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7743 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I think part of the problem is we are in unknown territory.

    Can I suggest that the territory you're in is called "ignorance" and your options are learning from the experience of others, or making the same mistakes as they did? There is a huge amount of research and experience available on this, as on so many other topics. There is almost certainly information about what's happening, what's planned and why, if you looked for it.

    New Zealand isn't The Netherlands and Auckland IS hilly

    The same is true of everywhere outside the Netherlands. People still cycle. Portland, Sydney, London, San Franciso FFS. Auckland is unique just like all the other cities are.

    and most importantly kiwis LOVE their cars.

    My experience, and understanding of the research, is that dependence isn't love, and people "choosing" to use the only viable option doesn't indicate commitment. What a lot of people have is an entirely reasonable fear that changes designed to make driving slower and more difficult will not be countered by improvements to other transport modes that offset them.

    Especially when powerful people say 'there will be winners and losers", the powerless people have good cause to expect that the powerful will win and they will lose. Again.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1118 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    Changing transport modes across a city is hard. You'll get resistance from all quarters as well as unexpected support. And people will make mistakes. It takes time, and effort, and long periods of quietly grinding away by dedicated people.

    I'm just glad to hear about the improvements. And grateful to the people doing the work.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1118 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Moz,

    New Zealand isn't The Netherlands and Auckland IS hilly

    The same is true of everywhere outside the Netherlands. People still cycle. Portland, Sydney, London, San Franciso FFS. Auckland is unique just like all the other cities are.

    The point is that folks jumping in and saying "but they did it this way in X so it must work in Auckland" just isn't helpful.

    Auckland has a low population and an even lower density than most exemplars.

    Our solutions can learn from other cities but odds are they will be unique to Auckland in the end - we need to accept that it will take some fiddling around to get it right.

    It also worth remembering that we are doing this at a different time to most other cities - e-bikes are a game changer that will change cycle path design at the same time as they enable more access. Cars are different now, a mix of stupidly big SUVs and hybrids is changing driving as much as it changes the cycling environment.

    That doesn't excuse some obvious stuff ups - nobody should think a 1 metre wide cycle path defined by a white line is reasonable.

    So yeah I stand by the statement that Auckland will need unique solutions that are going to be different and that will take effort.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4427 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Moz,

    Can I suggest that the territory you're in is called "ignorance" and your options are learning from the experience of others, or making the same mistakes as they did?

    Can I suggest you try not being unnecessarily rude?

    I said "part" and I meant "part". Making the same mistakes as everywhere else is not smart but neither is assuming things that work in one place can be transplanted to Auckland and will work exactly the same.

    AT, NZTA, Bike Auckland, Gen zero and the others engaged in this are all aware of that things will need to be fitted to Auckland. The problem is the public isn't as aware both of the experiences in other cities and the problems of adaptation.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4427 posts Report Reply

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