We need to talk about parking…

taxi parked in Hutt Rd Cycle Path
Parking on the Hutt Road Shared Path

Roads and streets evolved for walkers and horses, then bicycles, then cars. But cars changed how we use road space. Walkers, horses and bicycles generally leave the road at the end of the journey.  Cars needed to be parked. See how Cuba Street changed between 1910 and 1930

Cuba Street, 1910  (Alexander Turnbull Library)
Cuba Street, 1930 (Alexander Turnbull Library)

In 1910, one new fangled car is parked on the street, and the rest of the road space is available for traffic. By 1930, up to 20% of the roadspace is taken up by parked cars.

How does this relate to cycling? Virtually all cycling projects affect parking. To improve the Hutt Road shared path it will be necessary to reduce the (technically illegal) parking. In constructing the Island Bay Cycleway, some parking had to be removed to allow good visibility for residents entering driveways.

On street parking is expensive. A US report calculates that land, construction and maintenance can cost US$1000-3000 per year for a parking space. In addition, there are environmental costs – parked cars don’t enhance the feel of a city – and opportunity costs – if car parking prevents us from building a bike lane, the parking has cost us the health, social, and sustainability benefits the bike lane would have engendered.

But most on street parking is free, meaning that ratepayers subsidise people who store their cars on the street. This encourages decisions that are not good for the city as a whole.  People buy a second or third car for their household, without having to factor in the cost of storage. The more cars you have access to, the more you drive, the greater the carbon emissions you produce, and the more congestion you create.  People buy cars even though they are living in a house without off street parking, since ratepayers will subsidise their car storage.

There are people who say “I NEED to park my car on the street”. This may be true. However subsidised parking means that many people park their car on the street because their off street parking is being used for other purposes. A survey of a Mount Cook street found that 80% of garages were being used to store things other than cars. Some people park on the street simply to avoid the hassle of backing out of a driveway!

Wellington garage (Daryl Cockburn)

WCC’s Cycling Framework states that “The movement of traffic will take priority over on-street parking” and the Parking Policy says that “Street space is a scarce resource and priority for use for parking needs to be considered against other uses”.

Dealing with parking when planning roading projects should be simple. We decide how much space is required for traffic: buses, pedestrians, bikes, and cars. If there’s space left over, we can consider using this for parking.

A new approach to parking is not necessarily a bad thing for people who need to drive cars. Removing car parks enables traffic to move more efficiently, as an Australian motoring organisation acknowledges.  Removing parking doesn’t have to mean that drivers can’t park. Donald Shoup, an expert on parking policy, points out that pricing can be used to ensure that at least 15% of parking spaces on a block are available. If the free space is less than that, we increase the price, allowing people to decide if they really need to park their car, or whether they’d be better to use another travel mode. CBD carparks now have sensors that detect whether a car is present. We could allow free or cheap parking until the 15% limit is reached, then increase the charge to free up parking spaces again. This technique of “demand responsive parking” has been successfully trialed in San Francisco.

Changing subsidised parking is politically difficult. But we need to talk about parking, and change the conversation from “how can we save the parking spaces” to “is subsidised parking a good use of this road space?” That will help us achieve a livable city and sustainable transport.

Want better cycling? Have your say today.


Good news: the city council is planning to invest $4.3 million in cycling next year, up from $1.8m.
But without strong community support, we could lose that funding, and be stuck with a few green bike boxes and crappy bike lanes.
Our Council needs to limit any increase in rates, and also has to fund libraries, pools, events, earthquake strengthening etc.
We need to let our Councillors know that  safer and better cycling is a top priority.

Please go to  Draft Annual Plan 2014/15 and fill in the online submission form. Only takes a couple of minutes.
Here’s some ideas from CAW: http://can.org.nz/caw-2014/have-your-say

If you prefer, send your thoughts to annual.plan@wcc.govt.nz
Do it today.
Feedback closes on 11 March.

Roger Geller – How and why American Cities are succeeding at bicycle transportation

And here it is: Roger Geller’s presentation from the conference (with a little bit of the Wellington conference used as a filler when I had to switch cards).

Again, please feel free to leave comments regarding key points (and time-codes) so we can use these to persuade the powers-that-be to give us some of those ‘pennies’!

“How and why American Cities are embracing and benefiting from bicycling”
Roger Geller (Oregon’s Bicycle Coordinator)

Thursday 23rd February 2012

2 Walk and Cycle – Creating Smarter Connections
Hastings, New Zealand

Wellington City bus review

GWRC is “proposing” new bus routes across the city. At first, I was thinking this really doesn’t affect me, since I ride a bike. A few times a year now I’ll take a bus. Then something caught my eye in the summary of proposed changes:

75% of people would be within a ten minute walk of the expanded network of core services compared to 58% at present

Does that potentially remove 15% of cars from the road? This does affect bicycling. Ugh… Now I have to read and understand it. Here’s the PDF, which is also available in hard-copy at most libraries. The same information is also available online, and there are some  community sessions coming up.

So far, the only detailed analyses I’ve seen of the proposed changes are on Bus News:

There’s some Q&A on Stuff.

Although somewhat off topic, this is probably a good opportunity to remind GWRC about some elements of the public transport system that affect us:

  • Bikes on buses
  • [Better] Bicycle parking at bus-stops (especially if you live more than 5-10 minutes walk from the nearest bus stop! Or the nearest off-peak bus stop. Or the nearest bus stop with service more than once every 30-60 minutes.)
  • “Bus only” lanes should allow bicycles, at least off-peak (excluding the rail station bus terminal)
  • The “improvements” to Manners St still seem like a disaster

I’d also like to see a free loop around CBD, with [most] outlying services terminating at the loop. Transfers could be done from one end of the loop to the other. This would encourage people to not drive in CBD, and be a great local experiment (and foot in the door) for getting rid of the fare-box and moving towards 100% subsidized bus service. Don’t laugh, free buses have been proven PROFITABLE for cities around the world.

Submissions are due by Friday 16 March. Before I make my submission, I’d like to hear what y’all have to say. Thanks for sharing!


Bikes bringing more value than timber

As they say, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

The economic value of mountainbiking in Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest has been estimated at five times its annual timber revenue and looks set to increase as promotions raise awareness of what is on offer.

A study by Crown Research Institute Scion shows the median annual recreational value of mountainbikers using the forest is $10.2 million – well above the $4.6 million earned through export revenues.


It’s the economy… stupid?

The more I look at bike-related stuff, the more I come to understand that riding bikes is about economics – and not just in terms of Nga Haerenga-type cycle tourism or saving yourself a few bucks on petrol.

Like so much of the burgeoning bike-promotion information, this infographic is American-centric. It has plenty of application here though. While we’re not in quite the same depth of trouble economically, we’ve got plenty of economic challenges of our own. One of those is the health dollar.

With 63% of us reported to be overweight and obese, our health spend is not going to get smaller. In fact it’s going to go through the roof. Those are your tax dollars, folks – and it’s your quality of life.

Now, everyone knows that moving more makes your life better. Less heart disease, less diabetes  and my goodness if those don’t happen to be two of the top expenditures in our health system.

So how about directing some more of our tax and rates dollars towards making it the easiest thing in the world to ‘take a seat’. I want bikes to be the most obvious option for nipping down to the dairy, going to work, or taking the kids to school.

What I don’t want is to be spending my tax dollars on amubulance-at-the-bottom-of-the-cliff rubbish. That’s economically stupid.

Biking And Health
Created by: Healthcare Management Degree