Submission to the Nelson City Council Draft Annual Plan 2014/2015

The focus of this submission is primarily Nelson City Council’s role in providing cycle infrastructure and planning around transport behaviour.

Context

Nelson City Council is investing in developing a range of cycle ways, lanes, and trails as part of urban and reserve/forest-based cycling facilities. This submission strongly supports this investment by Council.

In the past cycling may have been viewed as a low volume recreational or transport choice. More recently, increasing numbers of Nelson residents are using Council cycling facilities and so removing pressure on the roading network. This is confirmed by the 26% rise in people biking to work in Nelson (2006-2013 census figures) compared to a national increase of 16%. Significant growth like this underlines the considerable potential for cycling in Nelson as a community, tourism and wider transport activity.

Bicycle Nelson Bays shares the view of a recent Nelson Mail editorial that: “The more our local councils build facilities catering for two-wheelers, the greater the numbers that will use them. This in turn means: extending the life of existing road facilities, including parking; reducing peak-time traffic snarls; potentially healthier and happier people …and citizens generally in closer connection with their community.” (28 March 2014)

What Council is doing - specific projects

Walk and cycle to school projects

Broadgreen Intermediate gives a glimpse of what’s possible when good, safe infrastructure is provided that allows Nelson children to make their own way to and from school; 60–70% of students regularly cycle to school in fine weather, and around 50% on wet days. The implications for freeing up parents’ time and money - and freeing up roads at peak times - are clear.

These are very measurable benefits, but not necessarily captured by Council performance measures. Council does however have performance measures like:

“Minimised social and economic costs of crashes on the transport network: The social cost for Nelson’s worst 10 intersections was $6.7 million in 2012 compared with an average of $4.4 million for the previous five years.”

This performance goal is therefore not achieved, but achieving it will be directly related to the walk/cycle to schools projects. Research out of Christchurch has looked closely at the role of parents’ daily ‘school run’. What is well established is that a large proportion of peak period traffic (and congestion) is made up of ‘school run’ vehicles. What has been less clear in the past is the role of this pattern in vehicle accidents. The Christchurch research has established that although overall vehicle accident rates are declining in NZ, the school run times of 08.00-09.00 and 15.00-15.30 are the times when vehicle accidents are increasing (this increase isn’t occurring in the later 17.00-18.00 rush hour period).

As we have argued in the past, these walk/cycle to schools projects are therefore a critical social, community and economic investment for Nelson. Funding for these needs to be protected - and in time added to - so that routes to schools are made safer and more effective, and are spread more widely across Nelson.

St Vincent St. 

The new segregated cycle path is an excellent start in providing a safer route into the CBD from the south for current and potential shoppers, commuters, school children and recreational riders. However, Bicycle Nelson Bays has submitted to council in the past that best practice for this type of design is to have cycle-priority crossings where possible on such paths. This would bring the facility into line with the design used on the rest - the majority - of this route through Stoke. Applying the current inconsistent design approach means this route will be less safe - and less used. We therefore urge Council to allocate funding to address this necessary improvement work.

We are pleased to see that the Railway Reserve to CBD cycleway has further funding allocated in 2013/14 to extend this facility nearer to a complete connection into the CBD; incomplete cycle routes are like incomplete roads - they discourage use. The removal of the Halifax Street cycle lane from 2014/15 projects is supported by Bicycle Nelson Bays only if an adequate alternative approach can be identified and planned for as soon as possible.

Rocks Road walk/cycle project.

We note that this project has been renamed from the “Rocks Road 4 metre shared path project” and this renaming suggests a more flexible and realistic approach. As Bicycle Nelson Bays submitted to last year’s Annual Plan, an off-road Rocks Road cycleway has the potential to create a stunning facility, but we recognise the project is not without considerable political, engineering, funding and safety challenges. Extending the timing of this project also therefore seems prudent.

From the outset it has been clear that a good deal of work would be necessary to make even the current path adequate for the existing number of (minimal) users - in a number of places it’s not easy for pedestrians to pass each other and some pushchairs/buggies won’t fit on the footpath. There would also seem to be a good deal of remedial/maintenance work needed for the road and safety fence. We urge Council to retain a focus on the viability and funding of a Rocks Road walk/cycle facility as a separate issue to the remedial/maintenance work identified by this project.

We also urge council to be clear about what it is aiming to achieve on this project. Countries like Holland and Denmark, and increasingly in the US and Australia, are not gaining road network efficiency through increased cycling by building race-tracks for cyclists. The past image of cycle commuters as a ‘hard core’ riding at high speeds and where necessary sharing space with vehicles on the road is not Council’s target for future cycling growth. The numbers of these cyclists is always likely to be small. The real potential for cycle commuting involves ‘ordinary people’ riding ordinary bikes at a leisurely pace. This fact - evident wherever a modal shift has been successfully achieved - must be factored into council’s approach to Rocks Road.

Public transport

Bicycle Nelson Bays has consistently supported Council’s commitment to providing public transport as a transport alternative that increases the efficiency of our roading network. We note Council’s aim of “public transport services that meet the transport needs of the community with an equitable sharing of costs, fare recovery ratio 2012-2015; 30-35%.” Since “the fare recovery ratio in 2012/13 was 63 percent” we would question whether this ratio means that fares are higher than they need to be. This is important if Council want to develop a more sustainable public transport model, since lower fares will induce more demand and build a habit of use. We would also encourage Council to continue to ask Tasman District Council to reexamine it’s position on supporting public transport.

Where to from here.

Council has achieved a great deal in the past through progressive improvements to infrastructure, and the current package of projects with a substantial R-Fund contribution looks to be creating a major step-wise increase in cycling behaviour. There is good evidence for the economic wisdom for this investment.

Our concern is that such projects may outstrip the wider strategic context for cycling - Council’s ‘map’ of what it wants to achieve in transport and recreational cycling. The existing Cycle Strategy was written in 2006 and was expected to run through to 2010. (The same situation applies to the 2005 Pedestrian Strategy). Eight years ago the progress that is evident now had not occurred - and neither had the predictable consequences.

One of these consequences is that pressure from successfully increasing cycling numbers on council facilities (mountain-biking or road/cycle path cycling) will involve a transition period where conflict between users also increases. This has been apparent on the roads, cycle paths, and MTB trails. Similarly predictable is that providing a high quality surface on the St Vincent St cycle path while not upgrading the adjacent footpath results in pedestrians voting with their feet/pushchairs/mobility scooters and moving to the new cycling facility.

Taking a strategic approach to planning for cycling doesn’t mean having a current Cycle Strategy, it means adopting an approach that looks for these predictable phases and consequences of change and plans for them.
We would go further and suggest that Council adopt a ‘transport strategy’ - an approach that no longer separates out driving, parking, cycling, pedestrians, and public transport as if each of these were isolated engineering challenges. All of these activities are a part of our daily habits of transport. In the real world these activities are all closely inter-connected; changing aspects of one of these is very likely to impact on the others.

As Nelson City Council continues to look for ways to make Nelson a more liveable, vital and sustainable (including economically) city, Bicycle Nelson Bays looks forward to working with Council on the vision Nelsonians have mapped out for this city in the Nelson 2060 document.

We would be grateful for the opportunity to speak in support of this submission at the public hearings.


Chris Allison
John-Paul Pochin
(For)
Bicycle Nelson Bays

Submission to the Tasman District Council Draft Annual Plan 2014/2015.

The focus of this submission is primarily Tasman District Council’s role in providing regional cycle assets and in particular its support of the Great Taste Trail. 

Context

Tasman District Council has invested - and continues to invest - in developing a range of cycle ways, lanes, and trails as part of urban and reserve/forest-based cycling facilities. This submission strongly supports these efforts by Council. In the past cycling may have been viewed as a low volume, private recreational or transport choice. More recently, large and increasing numbers of Tasman residents are using Council cycling facilities. This significant growth underlines the potential for cycling as a community, tourism and wider transport activity.

Bicycle Nelson Bays shares the view of a recent Nelson Mail editorial that: “The more our local councils build facilities catering for two-wheelers, the greater the numbers that will use them. This in turn means: extending the life of existing road facilities, including parking; reducing peak-time traffic snarls; potentially healthier and happier people …and citizens generally in closer connection with their community.” (28 March 2014)

The Great Taste Trail

We understand that this year, as in previous years, Council will be receiving a number of submissions from organisations and the wider community regarding Council’s approach to funding the Great Taste Trail. Bicycle Nelson Bays acknowledges the need for Council to both contain its debt and to be selective about which infrastructure and community projects it can and does fund.

In this respect Council is to be congratulated on its past support for the trail, which has seen the route completed from Richmond to Wakefield to the south and in the west through to Motueka with an extension to Kaiteriteri. As Council is aware, user feedback on this facility (and indeed on TDC walkways and cycleways generally) is very good, and as noted in the Draft Annual Plan the highest use sections are those which are now completed. 

There is no question, however, that the real economic return from the trail for the Tasman region and its residents (and therefore for Council) is connected to having sufficient length of this type of off-road trail available to attract out-of-region visitors for multi-day visits. While it’s good to see that Council has included further funding for the Trail in its Long Term Plan it should be noted that this timeframe greatly delays completing the whole asset. This not only delays the benefit to the region, but it allows competing regions and their cycle trail products and services to become well-established as an alternative to this region. That outcome will have a further negative impact on local businesses and communities.

In relation to Nelson-Tasman Tourism, Council has publicly questioned whether rates sourced from all ratepayers should be used to directly fund one industry. This same argument would appear to be applied to the Great Taste Trail. The point needs to be made however that Council already funds infrastructure which supports some local businesses at a significant cost to ratepayers (e.g roads primarily used by forestry and mill vehicles), and infrastructure which supports local tourism businesses is in principle no different. If Council is making a choice to support some aspects of the local economy and not others, the decision-making behind this selective funding will need to be transparent to those affected businesses and their related local communities.

Council may also feel - with some justification - that it has not received a reasonable level of central government funding as a contribution towards the significant cost of completing the Great Taste Trail. In relation to the funding received by New Zealand Cycle Trails projects in other regions this has left TDC with a disproportionate financial burden. While this is a valid issue for Council to address with central government it should be noted that this situation stems, in part at least, from the approach taken by TDC in negotiation with NZCT at the outset of the funding process. In contrast to other regions TDC would not commit a set sum to the project so a corresponding figure for central government’s contribution was unable to be requested. As a result, central government chose its own level of (relatively low) contribution to the project. It is to be hoped that future TDC approaches to negotiating funding for its New Zealand Cycle Trails project draw from this experience - and the very costly outcome.

Local Cycle Facilities

Bicycle Nelson Bays understands that Tasman has a different level of funding from the New Zealand Transport Authority for cycle facilities to that of Nelson City. This may go some way in explaining the greater development of urban and rural cycle infrastructure in Nelson, and the 26% rise in people biking to work in Nelson (2006-2013 census figures) compared to Tasman’s 12%, and the national increase of 16%. 

We have no reason to believe, however, that the demand for the opportunity to use bikes for transport in Tasman is half of that in Nelson. National and international surveys reveal that the lack of adequate, safe cycling infrastructure is suppressing demand for transport cycling and there is no evidence to suggest that Tasman is an exception. We are also aware that the cost-benefit ratios of building cycling infrastructure in NZ is often several times that of other roading and transport projects, so a commitment to adequate cycling infrastructure is fiscally responsible in addition to being responsive to community need.

As the community’s demands for more and safer cycling infrastructure grows within Tasman we believe that Council will come under increasing scrutiny over its allocation of funds to roading projects that do not accommodate cycling needs, and to roading projects and upgrades that have high capital costs and low cost-benefit ratios. This scrutiny is likely to become intense if Council continues to place safe, community-requested cycling facilities as a low priority.

Public Transport

We note that ‘public transport’ does not arise as a topic in the Draft Annual Plan 2014/2015 apart from being listed as an area of responsibility for the Council’s Engineering Services Committee. The level of TDC contribution to public transport services between Nelson and Richmond, which serves the populations of both areas, is at best a puzzle. At worst it is a strong argument for the benefits of amalgamation of the region’s unitary authorities so that such regional issues might be sensibly and equitably addressed. We hope with that in mind TDC will reexamine its commitment to supporting public transport in the near future.

We would be grateful for the opportunity to speak in support of this submission at the public hearings.

Chris Allison
John-Paul Pochin
(For) 
Bicycle Nelson Bays

Timeless Wheels

Timeless Wheels

It's the Heritage week starting this weekend and the theme is 'transport'. Bicycle Nelson Bays, in conjunction with Nelson City Council, is kicking this off the week with a great event for the whole family tomorrow (Saturday 12th) - "Timeless Wheels".

Pick up a map and quiz from one of the bike ships in Nelson CBD or from the Bicycle Nelson Bays gazebo in Founders Park from 2pm then Cycle, scooter or run along the Atawhai Shared Path to find the answers to the clues. Hand in your completed quiz at the BNB gazebo back at founders by 4pm and hang around for prize giving at 4:15.

Some great prizes have been donated from some of the local bike shops including Cyclelogical, UBike, Kelvin Cycles and Bike Barn and there are lots of spot prizes too.

Get Moving will be there to tune up your bike if you need it and don't forget to check out the new (old) bike display at Founders.

Extra prizes for best Past-Present-Future bicycle costumes !

Rediscovering your Childhood

John-Paul at 11yo with bike, brother and sister

There was a time when you didn't need a mountain bike to go off road or more than three gears to get up a hill.

This is me on top of Holcombe Hill near my home in Lancashire with my brother and sister. I remember this bike well. It had been my uncles and it wasn't new when he had it so I don't know how old it was. I loved it though, not so much for what it was but for where it could get me. Bikes were just part of growing up; it was how you got to your friends house, the sweet shop, the park, to school or just away from it all. It gave you independence and it's a childhood memory that many of us have in common.

Times have changed though and while some of us haven't stopped cycling and others are now rediscovering it, fewer children cycle now and many adults haven't cycled since they were a child. We thought therefore it might be nice to remind everybody what it was like for us growing up with the freedom, the fun and the health benefits that cycling gave you.

If you have a photograph of yourself with your bike from when you were a child please email it to us with a bit of background information (something about the bike and where the photograph was taken for example) and we'll post the image on our website and Facebook page.

If you don't have a digial version and you don't have a scanner you can just photograph the print with a digital camera or mobile phone (outside on a cloudy day works great).

Click here to see more photographs from other cyclists.

Common Sense on Shared Paths

sharedpathrules

On Sunday I became a pedestrian on a shared cycle path. For me this is a very rare occurrence and, as I generally cycle most places, I felt very much like a fish out of water. I was walking because I'd left my bike behind to run down the path from the Honest Lawyer to photograph the people that were taking part in the Kiwiana Fun Ride. Once the riders in the event had passed, I started to make my way back to the start. As I walked back, my mood which had been very positive at seeing a wide range of people enjoying being out on the fun ride, turned sour.

Unfortunately this track (and I suspect others) seems to be viewed as a dedicated cycle track by a number of people, generally travelling way too fast to be using this shared facility. I felt extremely vulnerable walking back (more concerned for my camera than my own well-being if I'm honest) as cyclist after cyclist raced up behind me with no warning. A small movement to either side at the wrong moment and I would have been hit very hard by a cyclist travelling at what I suspect is close to 30km/h. At one point a female cyclist overtook me going so fast she was unable to slow down sufficiently for the corner and a family cycling the other way was forced off the path to avoid being hit. This behaviour is unacceptable and it threatens to undermine all the good work that is being achieved by the council and cycle groups.

Sharing these paths safely comes down to two common sense rules:

  • Warn other users as you approach from behind and slow down when passing
  • When approaching blind spots slow down, keep left and approach as though a cyclist or a walker is in the blind spot, possibly coming the other direction and on your side of the path

If you can't follow these rules stay off the shared paths, it's that simple !

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