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One for the Crikey! files

Cyclelicious reports that Transport for London studies have shown a 70% increase in cyclists on the same routes between 2009 and 2010. The key factor is the pilot Cycle Superhighways scheme which paints blue cycle lanes on designated routes.

Boris and friend

The thing I like about cycle lanes painted in a designated colour is that it sends a clear message that bikes are a priority in our city. At present our cycle lanes are mostly unpainted asphalt with the occasional bicycle stencil, or every now and then a bit of green is painted in, but it’s the same green as the bus lanes. As well, the asphalt lanes are bordered with a white line that looks a heck of a lot like the the line designating parking.

(I bet having a coloured bike lane would stop people parking on the cycle lane by Point Jerningham and down at Balaena Bay, and it’s a nicer way of being reminded than having a tow truck turn up don’t you think?)

Now, I know I read a lot of stuff that is heavily biased towards cycling, but I see so many studies that point to cycle infrastructure as a massively positive thing in terms of tax-dollar investment, local economic gains and personal health, and I never, really never, see anything that comes even close to suggesting anything else. I know that there’s a lot of competition for the ratepayer dollars among the many excellent services the region’s councils provide, but with the extraordinary bang for buck cycle infrastructure investment provides I just can’t understand why it isn’t in the top 10 priorities.

I’d like to see our regions councils work together on this one to compile a comprehensive round-up of the studies that underpin other councils’ investment (Sydney —  A$255 million, New York – god only knows but I bet it’s squillions, Portland – probably a lesser amount than New York) and then lobby heavily – really heavily – to get central government on board. And yes, I know that NZTA or whatever they are these days don’t fund city streets. But not all of Wellington’s roads are under the councils’ control – including (I think) Cobham Drive, not to mention the road between the Hutt and Wellington City.

As well, there are other relevant government departments. The Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Economic Development. Tourism New Zealand (really, John, why on earth wasn’t the national cycle trail money spent in some of the places the cyclists already are???). The Ministry for the Environment. Not to mention that the outcomes of this investment would help us meet our international law obligations such as Kyoto. I could go on and draw slightly longer bows to the Ministry for Social Development and a few others. I mean, doesn’t this sound like the kind of whole-of-government approach we’ve been hearing so much about for the last couple of years?

So come on guys, let’s get this thing moving!

EDIT: We really need a good marketer for this. A person/agency that can put together shiny things extolling the dollar benefits, the health benefits, the environment benefits etc etc etc. Feel free to put your hand up.

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