Ah, those Wellington superlatives…

Cool bike uses uncool bike parking.

Well, now, hmm.  I read in the Dominion Post that the Wellington City Council is considering an increase in parking fees and a 2-hour extension of the time during which a fee would be charged.  If you didn’t see the article, maybe it’s because you’re on your bike and you’re all too happy to see a few less cars making quick left turns in front of you to score a precious parking place.  I’m with you.

But I’d like to air some qualms.  (Qualms are better after they’ve had a chance to breathe.)

Aside from raising a fair bit of revenue for the city (about $2.3 million per year), the fee increase would grant Wellington the questionable honor of offering the most expensive parking spots in New Zealand. I say questionable because there doesn’t seem to be any thought given to accommodating an alternative method of transportation that serves the other stated purpose of the potential fee hike: “turning over vehicles to promote economic activity.”  Or at least, it’s not been reported.

So, I mean, hello?  People on bikes spend money in town too.  People on bikes go out for drinks.  People on bikes buy clothes.  They drink wine and eat kebabs and see plays and movies and concerts.  They also don’t hog up to 25 square meters of space when they leave their vehicle to do this shopping.  Oh, and they pay taxes that go toward the roads that they share with cars heading into town to pay exorbitant parking fees.

Unfortunately, when these silly revenue-generating parking policy discussions are advanced, it seems like the powers-that-be are blind to one of the likeliest consequences of the change– a bunch more bikes going to town to avoid the excessive cost of parking. After all, who wants to ride the bus?  (Er, at least until they have bike racks.)

It’s all well and good to discourage cars from parking in the city; I’m a fan (even if that’s not really the purpose of the proposal). But what about providing for the increase in more sustainable travel options?  If the fees are going up, I hope the Council recognizes the easy value they could add to the city center (and its economic activity) by adding or improving bike lanes and establishing more bike parking.  Even if the fees don’t go up, it’d be pretty nice if the Council considered some decent incentives to get and keep people riding.  Because driving isn’t getting any cheaper.  Gas is pricey, cars are pricey, and parking is pricey even before a price hike.  So… I think it’s fair to assert that the cycling community is only going to get bigger.  How about planning a little for that?  And telling us about the plans?  I’m just sayin’.

Ring ring.


2 thoughts on “Ah, those Wellington superlatives…

  1. Simon Kennett

    I wonder…if the increase in fees results in faster turnover of parking spaces, it might actually result in more people driving into the CBD (maybe at the expense of other modes). But if it also resulted in the more efficient use of existing parking space, then it could reduce the demand for more parking space (and improve the chances of on-road cycle lanes being approved). Trouble is, there will always be those who argue we don’t have enough parking (if they ‘have’ to park a whole block or two away from their destination).


  2. atom

    in other words megan, anything that increases the inconvenience or cost of driving should result in more people using other modes of transport? we’ll see. i used to be addicted to car’caine and no price was too high to keep me from getting my fix behind the wheel. people will complain when fuel holds at $3/l and they’ll complain louder when it climbs beyond that, but most will do nothing but complain and keep paying their local fuel dealer so they can get their fix and for a short time, be happy.

    it’s like the frog in the pot – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiling_frog

    the pain and inconvenience of increasing driving costs is only half of the story. there has to be a viable alternative to driving or people will feel trapped in their cars.

    how much of that 2.3M$ per year will be earmarked for bicycle parking, and other cycling/walking projects to support/promote/facilitate cycling and walking as viable transportation options around the city? in terms of motor vehicle infrastructure, that’s a trivial amount of money; but for walking and cycling infrastructure that’s actually a lot of money.

    there are parts of the city where bicycle parking is good; parts where it is consistently beyond capacity; and parts where it is completely missing. as cycling CONTINUES to gain share we’ll need more parking.

    the real turning point will be when business either install their own bike parking (has to be good quality and good quantity; rusty old wheel-benders don’t count) or beg the city to install parking for them – http://www.grist.org/biking/2011-04-11-the-economic-case-for-on-street-bike-parking

    so long as on-street car parking is profitable for the city (regardless of whether or not it’s actually profitable for business) i won’t hold my breath for on-street bicycle parking. but i’d still like to see more [good] cycle racks around the city.

    note to local businesses: stop insulting cyclists (read: customers) with crappy racks. in the CBD look at moore wilson, common-sense and new-world to see what bicycle parking should look like (not that those are all perfect, but they’re all good). look at pak-n-save and woolworths (kilbirnie) as examples of what NOT to do (rusty old wheel-benders; at P&S very poorly located). of course people who ride bicycles buy more than just groceries.


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