Tranzmetro, this is what could be achieved

28 02 2013

Tranzmetro‘s new Matangi trains have an internal width of about 2.4 metres, and a bike on average is 1.8m long, so parking on a slight angle will give plenty of room for a bike to be stored on a train.

Copenhagen’s S-tog trains have a carriage in the middle of each train, with a one way system, where you enter with your bike at one end of the carriage, and get off at the other.

The inside of  the carriage looks like this:


Bikes on trains are an important part of integrated transport, and should be encouraged by making it easier than it now is, be for way more than 3 bikes per train, and should be available for all services and not just off-peak. If crowding is an issue increase the frequency of service. It is more cost effective to increase the cycling options between Kapiti and Wellington than to build a billion dollar motorway for 3.25 billion dollars.

Info from the Cycling Embassy of Denmark.

Cyclists advised to wear clown suits and flashing neon glitter hotpants

21 02 2013

With a recent coroner’s report into the 2008 death of a cyclist at the Petone roundabout there have been his and others’ calls for cyclists to wear hi-viz clothing. It’s a very strange call considering he could have advised to invest in safe separated cycle infrastructure instead, and especially strange when considering the victim, Stephen Fitzgerald, was already wearing hi-viz clothing when he was struck and killed by the truck.

The coroner has also called on motorists to give cyclists a metre of space when they pass. Someone should tell the coroner we ask for at least 1.5 metres, so he is calling on motorists to come closer and scare us even more.

Now the NZ Association of Optometrists has chimed in with their advice for cyclists to put biomotion reflector markings on their knees and elbows, presuamably so we can look more like crash test dummies, so it helps the ambulance officers to find us in the dark or something.

My first reaction to all this is to think that like the mandatory helmet laws this is really a reflection of the relative political power of motorists versus cyclists. Motorists hate cyclists because we’re not caught in traffic as much as them, and we glide past on the inside, and sometimes they even have to slow down and give way to cyclists. If it really was all about road safety then speed limits for cars would be cut, and motorists would have to wear helmets too. But why address the real problem of too many cars going too fast with poorly trained and inattentive drivers on poorly designed roads, when you can just score an easy political point against cyclists and mandate another condition pretending it is for their own good? Mandatory hi-viz clothing in the middle of a sunny day on a cycle path, the Waterfront, or even the Hutt Rd shamozzle does absolutely nothing to increase the real safety of cyclists. It just tells the general public that cycling is more dangerous than it really is, and participation rates are going to fall, as cycling becomes even more denormalised in New Zealand. The rest of the world is going the other way and is promoting cycling and building safe infrastructure. New Zealand is once again cack-handed and backwards, behind the times and a bit of a laughing stock.

So if hi-viz,  helmets and biomotion reflector markings are a sop to motorist’s guilty conscience or more a way to try to put us in our place, then what other suggestions could we make for them to drive us further into a fringe activity?

How about some colourful clown clothes and a big red nose:


Or perhaps we should all wear hot pink sequined hotpants (I believe they sell them and neck ties to match  in Men’s sizes at Munns on Willis Street:


Feather boas could also be worn, but be warned; they’re scratchy.


Maybe what is really needed is some kiwi ingenuity and Wellington cyclists should team up with the Wearable Arts people and they can all make us great costumes that will make us standout so that we don’t get run over by trucks anymore:


Really I think we need to dress the streets up, rather than ourselves. Something like this on Hornby St, Vancouver will do:


Here are three suggestions:

– when making cycling policy ask cyclists what they want.

– when planning for transportation infrastructure ask cyclists what they need.

– really, really, really don’t go the hotpants.

Government needs to step up to the plate on cycle infrastructure funding

13 02 2013

Recent news stories, these last few days, in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch all show that there is a significant push in each city to improve cycle infrastructure.

In Wellington and Christchurch this will be from rates and in Auckland, embarassingly, but fitting the sad ideological zeitgeist, it will be a private public partnership funded by tolls. Cars will be able to drive over the Harbour Bridge for nothing, but cyclists and pedestrians will be paying tolls. Imagine stinging tourists $5.00 for the pleasure of walking over the bridge and back. They’ll be telling their friends when they get home that New Zealand ripped them off.

The reality is that at the moment government funding for cycle infrastructure is miniscule. The summary of the NZTA’s National Land Transport Planning for 2012-2015 doesn’t even mention bicycles. It is budgeted to have $53m of funding for the years from 2012-2015 for all footpaths and cycle funding. That is less than $18m a year, or about $4 per person per year. That $53m out of a total budgeted $4,449m budgeted on roads. That is 1% of funding going to active transport, ie walking and cycling. Currently more than 1% or people get around on foot and by bicycle

There are about 1.27 million cyclists in NZ – about 31% of the population (by comparison, there are about 3 million people with car licences). There are about 750,000 regular cyclists (cycling at least once a month) in NZ – about 18% of the population. About 144,000 or 3.5% cycle nearly every day. Yet these people get less than 1.2% of the road transport funding.

There’s no other way to interpret it, but presently cyclists and pedestrians are being ripped off by the government.

Government needs to step up to the plate on cycle infrastructure funding. Cities all over the country are crying out for more funding. They are resorting to raising rates, or unbelievably, tolls.  Extra funding needs to be forthcoming.

Investments in cycle infrastructure typically have benefit to cost ratios much greater than road projects. Improving urban transport infrastructure improves cities. It reduces congestion on the roads, and enables people to get around by public transport. Cycling and walking improve air quality by taking cars off the road. It fights the obesity epidemic. This should be a no-brainer. Cycle infrastructure is a common good, benefiting everyone, even the people who don’t use it.

The amount of money available from the NLTF for local councils to implement cycle projects should be increased, even up to an amount of $50m or $100m a year. Cities and towns should still match the funding, maybe not at 50%, but at 20%. Each city should be able to plan and build their networks without fear that it won’t be funded.

Of course the projects should still stack up, but not to the NZTA’s extremely narrow conditions that seem to only want cycle infrastructure if it decongests a highway. Cycle infrastucture projects should be done for their own sake, e.g. for extending the network of safe cycle ways into a useful grid, or for adding extra cycle parking in strategic spots or for other valid reasons.

The demand is there, the pent up demand, waiting for safe cycle infrastructure, is there and the induced demand from people who don’t yet know that they will want to cycle is there too.

A thousand people cycled into Wellington City for a free breakfast this morning for Bike to Work day. They got free bananas and bagels. They didn’t get their fare share of road transport funding.

On dooring

8 02 2013

Cycle lanes should exist to keep cyclists safe. They should not be there just to keep cyclists ‘tamed’ on an otherwise busy street. Yet when they are built in the “door zone” then they just are not safe. The Dom Post article on dooring was written because of this report:

Otago University’s Injury Prevention Research Unit report on dooring.

In New York they found definite advantages to building the safe separated lanes, with the added benefit that the extra buffer from the road, and the extra foot and cyclist traffic boosted local businesses.


Badly designed bicycle infrastructure can have fatal consequences. I’ve a photo of the crash scene, which I am not going to post, but this happened on Cumberland St in Dunedin this year. Dunedin cyclists have been asking for years for something better on the one ways through town. Why haven’t they got it already?

And why hasn’t Johnsonville got safe cycle lanes yet either?

We need to get the message, of safe cycling infrastructure, to sink into the minds of every traffic engineer, every councillor and every politician in the country.

Look what would be possible with the political will to value cyclists’ lives over parked cars, from Hornby St, Vancouver. I particularly like the planters on bidirectional cycle lanes. Very apt for Featherston Street?


Ngauranga to Wellington – Part 1 – Kaiwharawhara Bridges Proposal

6 02 2013

(Note some of the images here are mine, some are screenshots taken from from GoogleMaps, and WAMS)

There is a bit of a rumour that the WCC is looking at options for joining Ngauranga and Aotea Quay with bicycle infrastructure. It’s time to dust off my tin foil hat, fold back my skull, and chuck my ideas into the ring. This will be the first of 2 or 3 posts on the topic and this one covers north of the Interislander Terminal.

Currently the only bit of bike infrastructure is the Hutt Road shared path which is essentially a wide footpath with some painted bits, parked and turning cars and random powerpoles. I wrote about it a couple years ago in the Kaiwharawhara Shambles.  Obviously I’m not too enthusiastic about it.

In my mind the best route north of the Interislander terminal is along the seafront, east of the railway line and east of the motorway:

Looking north from Fort Buckley

South of there, there are a few obstacles to going along the seafront and any cycling route is going to have to go around the ferry terminal, the cement wharf, the railyards and further south, the log wharf and the cruise ship wharf:

Obstacles along the Coast

So it is necessary to cross the motorway and the train lines, just north of the Interislander,  in the vicinity of Kaiwharawhara Point, with the added advantage that with public access, the land around the point can be restored into a park:

Kaiwharawhara Point

Whilst it would be possible to skirt around the back of the InterIslander terminal and go under the elevated motorway just south of the Kaiwharawhara Stream, that leaves getting over the railway lines, so I think the best place to cross the motorway is near the sign gantry  just south of Kaiwharawhara Station. In fact I’d replace this gantry with a bridge with the electronic speed signs put onto the side of the bridge:


There is also a bit of space between the motorway and the rail lines:


So here is a diagram showing the crux of my idea for a series of bridges. From a cyclists perspective riding south along the seafront path I’d come to the new Kaiwharawhara Point Park and I’d ride up the ramp to the bridge over the motorway, and then turning right if I wanted to I’d go to Kaiwharwhara Station and its bridges, which is handy for getting to the Kaiwharawhara Bridle Trail and up to Khandallah)  or I’d turn left and I’d go along the elevated path (raised with fill) on the space between the motorway and the rail lines, and go over the bridge over the railway line to another elevated section alongside the Kaiwharawhara Stream (which could be built on a bit of surplus land bought or acquired from the tyre shop and its big carpark) and go down the ramp to the Hutt Road shared path and then south towards Wellington (and the subject of further posts). Or here is the interesting bit, instead of going down the ramp, go over the bridge over Hutt Road and through the tunnel that goes through the hill under Fort Buckley.


Yes, a tunnel through the hill, this hill. The photo shows where the bridge across the Hutt Road would go.

Across Kaiwharawhara Stream

It would be a short tunnel, and then a bike path would be cut to follow the contour of the hill, above the shops and factories on School Road and Kaiwharawhara Road, and below the Johnsonville train line. And it would follow the contours up the gorge past the fuel tank, and then become the Ngaio Gorge Cycleway.

The advantage of the Ngaio Gorge Cycleway is that it would lead to the Waikowhai Street, Ottawa, Khandallah, Burma and Moorfield Roads to Johnsonville route (itself which needs safety improvements for cyclists). That is the way to Tawa, Porirua and the North. It also, with the lift at Crofton Downs cut out a lot of the uphill.

The advantage of the tunnel, and the route cut into the hill above the shops and factories at the bottom of the Ngaio Gorge is that it cuts out a busy congested section where cyclists have to share the bus lanes.

The advantage of the bridge scheme as a whole is that it makes the coastal route north of Kaiwharawhara feasible, and a safe, separated cycle route between Wellington and Petone and the Hutt makes for a great ride, a safer city and less congestion on the Hutt Road (if 1000 cyclists a day used it that’ll be a lot less cars stuck in traffic on the Hutt Road.)

Also note that the bridges over the Hutt Road, the railway lines and the motorway are all at the same elevation. This means if you were riding from the Ngaio Gorge and heading north along the coastal path it would all be at the same height until the ramp down from the bridge in the Kaiwharawhara Pt Park.

Cost wise it would be4 bike bridges, some ramps, some fill to elevate some sections, and a short tunnel (plus the other tunnel, and an elevator further up the Ngaio Gorge Cycleway). Plus the cost of the path along the seafront whether it be on reclaimed land, or some structure built over what space there already is. It would be moderately expensive, but then again investing in separated quality cycle infrastructure is the right thing to do.