Lets get Political

Local body elections are coming up, and we think it’s worth making cycling an issue.

The more people are talking about it (and asking questions, sending emails, signing petitions, etc), the more all the councillors and candidates will take cycling seriously. This is win-win for us – segregated cycle lanes are awesome, (as those of you who have experienced them overseas will know) and will get more people cycling, which makes it safer for everyone.

So what can you do?

  • Email councillors and those standing for council (scroll down for the list*) councillors tell them that YOU want them as councillors to (list quoted from the Love Cycling page);
  1. Have safe cycle routes to all schools and cycle lanes on all main recreational and commuter routes.
  2. Increase off road options for recreation and commuting that integrate with on road options.
  3. Dedicate a level of financial and human resources that reflect the popularity of biking and is equitable to that given to other transport, recreation and cultural infrastructure
  4. Allocate $24 per head in 2014 to improving cycling infrastructure(to see what WCC currently spends per head)

*Mayor and Councillors are listed at
http://wellington.govt.nz/your-council/mayor-and-councillors

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Coroner’s inquest – the media angle

The coroner’s enquiry into recent cycling deaths is coming to a close in Christchurch this week, which has got the media (albeit only the morning news shows) talking. I have to be honest, and say that I wasn’t expecting anything new from these interviews, just the usual focus on hi-vis and who is to blame. But I was pleasantly surprised by both. The interviewers seemed genuinely interested and the interviewees were eloquent, articulate and made some bloody good points!

 

See for yourself:

 

From the Nod for Jane Facebook page, here’s an interview with Jane’s sister, Tina:

http://tvnz.co.nz/breakfast-news/cyclists-and-motorists-equally-blame-video-5461857

 

And here’s TV3/Firstline’s take on the inquest; an interview with Glen Koorey.

http://www.3news.co.nz/Cycling-deaths-inquest-in-ChCh/tabid/309/articleID/300895/Default.aspx

 

I’ll try to keep adding links here to any relevant articles.  Please add them in the comments if I haven’t already.

 

Our own Patrick Morgan graces the cover of Cook Strait News!

Perhaps you noticed that handsome bright blue clad cyclist on the cover of last week’s Cook Strait News?

pm-csn

It was none other than Cycling in Wellington’s (and CAN, CAW, etc.) own Patrick Morgan!

In the article, Patrick describes the Wellington City Council forum on Cycling that was held 2 weeks ago, and attended by more than 200 members of the public.  He also discusses how Wellington was recently rated “the worst city in New Zealand to ride a bike”, and how plans for improvements to cycling in the city, such as the Southern Bikepass, could make cycling easier and more attractive to Wellingtonians.

Check out the article and get the full scoop.  Hooray to Patrick for being the poster-boy for Cycling in Wellington!

You may also recognise another Cycling in Wellington author’s face in the issue…

 

Wellington City Cycle Forum – 1 May 2013

How happy are you with cycling in Wellington? The Council wants to hear from you.

Her Worship the Mayor of Wellington Celia Wade-Brown invites you to the Wellington City Cycle Forum. The Forum is to discuss cycling and issues affecting cyclists in the city. Existing and prospective cyclists will have an opportunity to find out more about what the Council is doing and to join the discussion about what more needs to be done.

The forum will be in the Council Chambers, 101 Wakefield Street on Wednesday 1 May 2013. The forum will begin at 5.30pm, with light refreshments provided from 5.00pm.

Agenda:

1 – what Council has done

2 – what Council proposes to do – including updates from recently completed feasibility studies investigating the Great Harbour Way, Island Bay to the city and the South Coast

3 – key cycling routes – have we got our understanding of the network right ?

4 – new initiatives cyclists would like to see

Registration is essential for catering and venue purposes. Please RSVP to cycling@wcc.govt.nz by 24 April.

Another “no-brainer” Coroner’s Report

Word has spread quickly about the latest coroner’s report into a cycling fatality. Superintendent Steve Fitzgerald was killed in June 2008 while riding his bike home from work. Five years later we get a thoroughly investigated report from a concerned coroner.

This report puts heavy emphasis on the need to make hi-vis clothing for cyclists compulsory. Wellington coroner Ian Smith makes this suggestion (amongst other more sensible ideas) despite the knowledge that Mr Fitzgerald was wearing hi-vis and lights at the time of his death. Not only that, but he was an experienced cyclist and a former top traffic cop. To add insult, the driver in this case, was found guilty of careless driving, and the infrastructure was also found to bare more than it’s share of responsibility (and little has been done in the following five years to make any improvements to the situation).

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Not all is bad, however. The coroner also makes some very sensible suggestions. He recommends driver education in regards to cyclists, he recommends more thorough cyclist education in schools (which thankfully Wellington is already onto – but lets push them to make that compulsory), he recommends a 1m gap between motor vehicles and cyclists (isn’t the current road code recommendation 1.5m?) and clearer rules regarding the use of cycle lanes. These are all good sensible ideas. And if you look at overseas countries with much lower road tolls, you’ll see that this is the approach they take.

However, the emphasis in this report is on hi-vis. Which frankly appals me. Not because I am 100% opposed to hi-vis. (The other day, while riding to the Go By Bike breakfast at 6am in the morning, I was decked out like a Christmas tree. It was dark and very early. I was taking the scenic route around the bays, and I didn’t think that my hi-vis reflective vest, yellow reflective slap bands and six flashing & steady front and rear lights – on top of the fact I was riding my bright yellow box bike – was too much. But then as soon as I was on the bike path at Oriental, of course it did seem a tad excessive.) But because the victim was wearing hi-vis.

CAN spokeswoman Jane Dawson points this out in her comments to the DomPost,

Cycling Advocates Network spokeswoman Jane Dawson told the coroner high-visibility clothing would not have been a relevant intervention in Mr Fitzgerald’s death, and instead wanted the Hutt City Council and the Transport Agency to bear some responsibility for the roundabout being too narrow and not allowing for cyclists.

It just seems so utterly ridiculous to suggest that a little paragraph, with the word ‘compulsory’ in it, in a piece of legislation tucked away somewhere in the Crown Law Offices (or wherever such things are kept) would have somehow protected Mr Fitzgerald and the numerous other sensible cyclists in this country from being hit by an inattentive or under-skilled driver or becoming the victim of poor infrastructure.

It is victim blaming in the worst sense – when the victim actually has done everything right and the driver and infrastructure are clearly to blame. It’s like blaming a child for being bitten by a rogue dog. You can force all children to be wrapped in bubble wrap (or kevlar?) every time they’re outside, but doesn’t it make more sense to tackle irresponsible dog owners?

The coroner claims it’s a “no-brainer”; I’d like to see his scientific evidence for that. Show me the country where hi-vis was made compulsory and cycling deaths stopped. Show me the country where nothing was done about infrastructure or education and the road toll dropped. I’m happy to show him countries where the opposite is true – where they spent real money on cycling infrastructure and not only did they make roads safer and more pleasant, but more people took to their bikes and the overall population is healthier. Perhaps the Coroner has misunderstood the meaning of the term ‘no-brainer’ – he must think that there’s no brains involved in leaping to this conclusion. Surely?

Sadly this is not the first time in the past year that a NZ coroner has jumped to such conclusions, and it seems now the Ministry of Transport are starting to listen. If only he hadn’t put in that red herring about hi-vis, which the media jump on so gleefully, to undermine his serious and sensible suggestions regarding education and infrastructure. If anyone at the Ministry, at the Coroners office, or at the NZTA is listening: please, please, please don’t be fooled into thinking compulsory hi-vis will make a smidgen of difference. Please take your responsibilities to NZ citizens, NZ cyclists and all our road users seriously. Please make effective change. EDUCATION and INFRASTRUCTURE. There is so much evidence that this works that it seems pointless to list it here. They are ‘no-brainers’.

Let people make their own choices about when and where to wear hi-vis, and take responsibility for their own actions. But give them a safe environment and provide them with correct information. Design bike lanes which don’t put them in harms way. Educate from an early age. These are simple and easy things to do. And they work. They really do.

Hi-vis is not a ‘no-brainer’.

 

See also this story from TV3 news, 15th Feb. and what the rest of the world thinks of this (or at least the UK).

Last chance to nominate for Roll on Wellington Awards!

After their roaring success last year, the ‘Roll on Wellington’ awards return for 2012.

Six categories will showcase the wonders of cycling in this great city, including the best and not-so-best of Wellington cycle infrastructure.

The categories are:

 

    1. Most cycle friendly shop or cafe
    2. Best piece of cycling infrastructure
    3. Most cycle friendly public transport personality
    4. ‘Most room for improvement’ – cycle infrastructure Hall of Shame
    5. Most cycle friendly employer
    6. Best…..anything you like ‘bike’

 

We know you’ve all got an opinion or two so send in your nominations here.

You can put in a nomination for each category, or just one or two.  


Nominations close November 30 and winners will be announced at the Cycle Aware Wellington Christmas party, December 4 from 6pm upstairs in the Paramount Cinema lounge, Courtenay Place

Confidence boosted by new-found cycling skills

Scoop has a great update on the Pedal Ready courses which Marilyn and her team are taking to schools around the Wellington region. If you have kids in school, make sure you get their school to run a course next year and check out the website for some great resources!

http://community.scoop.co.nz/2012/11/confidence-boosted-by-new-found-cycling-skills/

http://pedalready.org.nz/

From scoop:

Local events such as the Porirua Grand Traverse could have dozens more cycling entries in coming years, thanks to the KiwiSport-funded initiative Pedal Ready.

Almost 60 pupils at both Russell School and Corinna School in Porirua have completed the basic cycling skills programme. Many children got on a bike for the first time and finished Pedal Ready with greater overall confidence… [read more]

“On yer bike mate: How kids on bikes might just save the world” – Nigel Latta

For those of you who missed the ‘2 Walk & cycle Conference’ up in Hastings last month, here’s a taster.

Nigel Latta – 2 Walk & Cycle Conference from Little Fighters on Vimeo.

“On yer bike mate: How kids on bikes might just save the world”
(presentation with no slides due to copyright concerns)
24th Febuary 2012
2 Walk and Cycle Conference “Making Smarter Connections”
Hastings, New Zealand

For those of you who have time (the video is 50 minutes plus long!), feel free to make a note in the comments of key points (and their timecode) and I’ll try to cut down a shorter ‘highlights’ version at some stage.

I’ll also post Roger Geller’s presentation soon.