Some linked up thinking between public transport and cycling

12 12 2009

There are three stories that kind of taken together add up to some linked up thinking:

The Golden Mile

Sir Robert Jones’s vision for the Wellington Golden Mile . For those not familiar with Wellington the Golden Mile is the main drag from the railway station (and horrid little bus station) past the main bit of shops (I don’t shop in them because of the cigarette smoke, but sign this e-petition to help with that), onto Willis Street, Manners Mall and then Courtney Place (the in place to be a drunk in Wellington). Most of the Wellington (and Hutt) buses coming into town go down this route (except for one way detours around Manners Mall, soon to be opened up to buses again). Before 1964 it used to have the trams too.

Sir Robert wants to put the trams through again. Cut the cars, and cut the buses and introduce a bike rental scheme with bikes every 100 metres along the Golden Mile .

I believe taken into a wider scheme his ideas could be brilliant.

Firstly the trams:

Trams should travel the Golden Mile and then through the Hataitai Tram Tunnel:

and then through Kilbirnie and onto the Airport (with branches to Lyall Bay, Miramar and Seatoun like they used to before 1964). North of the Golden Mile the trams should get on the train tracks at Wellington Station and then go on the Melling and Johnsonville Lines. At Melling the tram would come off and go through the Hutt CBD onto Waterloo Station, and the Johnsonville Line could be extended to run along the road as a tram to Glenside and Churton Park, and at Glenside it’d have an interchange with a new station on the North Island Main Trunk Line just as it exits the tunnel that runs under Newlands.

Secondly the bike scheme bike stands shouldn’t just be along the Golden Mile, but everywhere they’d be useful. So at every train station, along the tram route, at the airport, along the seafront, at the universities, and all throughout the city and suburbs in different locations. Not only should they be in Wellington, but everywhere, including small towns. So in a town like Fielding, there’d be one stand of bikes at the station (with a regular train service to Palmie) another few around the centre of town, and then more out towards the schools. Work on these kind of rough figures:  for every 1000 people doing say an average 2,500 journeys a day and the bikes being used for 20% of all journeys, and each bike being used 4 times a day on average, you’d need 125 bikes.

Thirdly we need better bike infrastructure, including separated from the road traffic if the traffic travels at any speed, but also out of the noise cone of that traffic. On the Golden Mile there’d be no taxis or motorcycles or buses. Only trams, and pedestrians and cycle lanes.

The second story is that Auckland is introducing an integrated ticketing system. So Aucklanders will be able to ride buses, ferries and trains with the one ticket. Thales won the contract (yep the French Defence Company go figure, so Aucklanders won’t be paying too much for it oh no) and Infratil lost it. That is probably a good thing. I reckon the Snapper scheme in Wellington is pretty rubbish. I need a Snapper Card for the Wellington Buses. I need a Newlands Mana smart card to catch a bus to the northern suburbs and in Porirua, and neither of them work on the trains or the Days Bay ferry, or the cable car. Brilliant hey? Infratil are spitting the dummy and putting in a Snapper system on the bus routes in Auckland they control. Chaos and madness ensue. Privatisation is wonderful. The Auckland scheme is expected to go national, which’ll be brilliant. The Australians are having incompatible schemes in each city, and blowing big bucks on the Melbourne and Sydney failed schemes too. Maybe the Auckland scheme should go to all of Australia and NZ.

If I ran the NZ government I would have got some bright kids out of varsity and said we want a contactless smart card system and there are two types we want. The first is an anonymous one for all the ferries, buses, trains, cablecars and trams in the country, and the second is exactly the same, but it’s not anonymous and you can ride all the ferries, buses, trains, cablecars and trams in the country plus you can use it for the cycle hire schemes. The cycle hire schemes have got to know who you are to counter theft and disappearing bikes. So you only need one card, but you could have two if you were the paranoid type.

The third requirement is that both types can be recharged with credit at home (or via mobile phone) with a reader that plugs into a USB port or something. A bright bunch of straight out of university kids could work all this out and buy the best right stuff from around the world to get a working system going. It’d be millions of dollars cheaper than buying a system from Thales.

And the fourth requirement is that the helmet rule for adult cyclists (or anyone 14 or over) should be shelved. Helmet rules cripple bike hire schemes, and they aren’t necessary for the risk of injury, seeing how pedestrians and motorists are at equal or greater risk and don’t need to wear helmets.

And the third part of this puzzle, the bike hire scheme. To see what they are like see this new story:  Copenhagen has announced the winners of its new phase of bike hire schemes. These things have had mixed success, and it does depend on how you set the schemes up. See this blog for a bit of a discussion on the effectiveness of different schemes. I paraphrase it here: “The Netherlands has a public bicycle scheme called OV-Fiets. It has the emphasis of specifically targeting people who need bikes at the ends of journeys on public transport.” And that is the key to it:

You ride your own bike (or a rental scheme bike) to the station without fear of being killed because of inadequate bicycle infrastructure. You catch the train that now has more frequent service because more people are using it, because at the end of the journey, you hire a bike and ride to near where you need to go, deposit the bike at another bike stand, and walk to the final destination.

It’s all linked up, and it is automobile-less. It only needs some political will, or lacking that, some political will in a place like Copenhagen or somewhere in Holland, and maybe it will permeate here in 10 or 20 years time.

Walley Trickett and his great art almost gets it right, but he needs to paint in some bicycles.

to come  in future blogs… pedal electrics, enclosed recumbants, rechargable battery swap schemes and further doing away with the automobile.

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