‘New Zealand desperately needs a stronger commitment to cycling as a means of everyday transport.’

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) announced today (28/08/2009) details of an $8.7 billion investment in New Zealand over the next three years through the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP).  However BikeNZ CEO Kieran Turner says the announcement is a mixed bag for cyclists, and a much stronger commitment to cycling is critical to improve transport options in NZ.

"New Zealand is bucking international trends by pouring increased investment into road infrastructure, while providing few solutions for increasing cycling and walking as a form of transport. Investment in cycling infrastructure in NZ needs to catch-up to international standards."

NZTA Chair Brian Roche said the key challenges New Zealand face with land transport were improving the efficiency of key transport routes, easing severe congestion in key urban areas, and improving safety and access to markets, employment and areas that contribute to economic growth.

"Cycling unlocks so many of the governments key land transport priorities such as easing congestion and improving safety in built-up areas," said Mr Turner.

"Cycling is not only pollution free, it delivers so many other economic  benefits such as a healthier work force, cheaper modes of transport, lower reliance on foreign oil, and a more effective way of moving around cities, leading to higher productivity.

"Cycling is growing strongly in New Zealand with an 80% growth in recreational cycling since 2000. However, very few Kiwis are choosing cycling as a mode of transport. A feeling of insecurity and low awareness of cyclists on the road, combined with minimal or poor cycling infrastructure mean New Zealanders are turning to more expensive solutions such as driving.

"The 3-year NZTA funding programme must be strongly linked to the new government Road Safety Strategy review to deliver significant progress on improving road safety for cyclists.

"BikeNZ's online community RideStrong are demanding 1.5 meters when passing a cyclist to become law, obliging a greater awareness of cyclists on our roads and enforcing road planners to consider creating room for cyclists. Through RideStrong, BikeNZ will be submitting the view of the masses and the 1.5 million kiwi cyclists during the government Road Safety Strategy 10-year Review.

"The government has committed $51 million to walking and cycling infrastructure over the next 3 years. Despite strong regional demand, government is significantly reducing funding for cycling infrastructure over the next three years. New Zealand requires a maintained commitment to cycling infrastructure to even come close to meeting current demand.

"$6.5 billion have been allocated to new and improved national and local roads over three years. Yet New Zealanders will never see real change unless cycling and walking are allowed for in any roading development. An integrated policy that flows down to local councils is vital."

The NZTA is currently developing criteria and guidance for walking and cycling model communities for release in December 2009. Model communities will address road traffic congestion through a variety of tools to make walking and cycling a practical and safe travel option

"The development of model cycling and walking communities is a fantastic initiative. We applaud the new government and NZTA on moving forward with model communities.

"Cycling ‘Demonstration Towns' in the UK have proven very successful in increasing the number of journeys made by bike. We're looking forward to assisting the NZTA make real progress on developing model walking and cycling communities during this 3-year plan.

"BikeNZ are dedicated to working with government, and regional and local authorities to deliver positive change to New Zealand's transport solutions."

NZTA have identified cycling skills as a core element in getting more New Zealanders cycling; maintain funding at $1.7 million.

In August BikeNZ launched a pilot nationwide cycling community program in the Bay of Plenty, Rotorua in Gear, but require a commitment and further investment from government in rolling out a national cycling development programme.

"If we look at overseas trends in relieving city congestion and stimulating economic growth- cycling and walking are key priorities and have proven to be cost effective. London, Paris, Copenhagen and Perth have all committed to developing strong cycling infrastructure and a culture of travelling by bike.

"BikeNZ are eager to help authorities deliver programmes that effectively make getting around safely by bike, part of the everyday routine of New Zealanders. "

In detail:

- Only 1% of cyclists, and 2.5% of the overall population ride to work. (2006 Census)

- Since 2000 there has been an 81% increase in recerational cycling (Sparc)

- Despite the growth of recreational cycling and the purchase of bikes, the average km's cycled per week per person for transport has consistently dropped since 1989, from 2.4km to 1.3km in 2008. (Ministry of Transport 2008)

- The number of cyclists killed or injured has been trending upwards since 2004, at a time when the total distance spent cycling as a means of transport has fallen, showing improving safety for cyclists should be a priority. (Ministry of Transport 2008)

- This NLTP allocates $51 million for the walking and cycling infrastructure activity class for 2009-2012. This is approximately the midpoint of the Govt Policy Statement on Funding range of $30 million to $75 million and reflects the activity class's role in providing increased mode choice and resilience in the transport network.

- New spending as part of the National Land Transport Programme 2009-12 on cycling and walking facilities drops from $17.9 million in 2009/10, to $10.0 million and $10.6 million in the subsequent  two years, despite an anticipated high demand for these funds from councils according to NZTA. (National Land Transport Programme 2009-2012, NZTA)

From Ridestrong.org.nz