Annual Plan submission from CAN to Wellington City Council 2016

Tena koutou katoa,

My name is Hilleke Townsend and I'm here today on behalf of the Cycling Action Network.

I've been called in at the last minute so please go easy on me! This is my daughter, Maia, who has promised to behave during the meeting. Also since it's an election year, she'll be available for photo opportunities during the break.

But on a more serious note, having her here serves as a pretty good reminder that the decisions this council makes have long lasting ramifications. They not only affect current residents, but also future Wellingtonians. And with the draft "Low Carbon Capital" plan, climate change is a big deal in this annual plan, and we fully support this. However, I think it's really important that you keep those future Wellingtonians in mind when you make decisions on what to do and how much. We owe it to them to do our best. And that might mean that we give up a few luxuries now so that they don't have to survive with none.

Today I'm here representing the Cycling Action Network. Cycleways are a hot topic right now. Guaranteed a headline. But politics aside, if done well, they make a lot of sense. We need to reduce our carbon emissions. But we need to do it faster. Transport emissions make up a third of NZs total. Cycling isn't the only solution, but it's a necessary one for short journeys. Imagine if we could not only make a dent in those emissions, but also improve our air quality, reduce congestion and have happier healthier residents at the same time. And have NZTA pay for most of it! We should be leaping at this opportunity.

So, what I'm asking you today, on behalf of CAN, is to:

* support the cycleways being developed, deliver on these plans. No more delays or excuses because everyday you delay more people are putting their lives at risk on what are, quite frankly, crap bits of infrastructure, like the Hutt road. And through air pollution and future affects of climate instability.

* these cycleways need to be safe and attractive. Auckland has set the bar high with their iconic pink path. Let's show them what Wellington is capable of!

* We want to thank you for upping your game in terms of engagement. This is important to get the social license to build quality infrastructure. I've been talking to random people who have zero interest in cycling but have heard about the drop in days. Which is great. There have been scurrilous rumours claiming that the "Cycling zealots" don't want widespread consultation. This couldn't be further from the truth. We want to get communities involved, because, if you must know, our not so secret agenda is simply to get more people on bikes, more often. And this is best done by building stuff that people like. Good quality and well-designed of course, but it also needs to be embraced and supported by the community. So we thank you for improving your consultation on the Hutt Road and eastern suburbs projects. And please do keep working on it, because we all know it's not prefect yet!

* I'm told that two thirds of feedback on the Hutt road support the designs. That's a pretty good pass in my book for what is a significant change to the status quo. I'm sure we could always go back to the drawing board and with unlimited time and money we design something amazing - skypaths or elevated runways over the water - but we need something practical now. When the majority of people are happy with the design, and huge numbers of Wellingtonians are saying they'd bike more often if they had safe routes, and even without safer routes the numbers are increasing, this project in particular shouldn't be delayed.

Contrary to some opinions, I'm not anti-car. In fact I drove here today, and at the moment that's my main form of transport. But that's because I don't have a choice. Most Wellingtonians don't think they have a choice. They'd like to have a more active commute, or a cheaper one, or one that takes them along a lovely scenic route rather than being stuck in traffic in a dark stinky tunnel. But they think it's too dangerous. Too hard. Too smelly. That's not going to change unless something visibly changes. Something that removes those barriers. Something that gives them a choice in terms of what transport mode they take. Good quality cycleways.

And the reality is, if Wellington is serious about making a dent in our carbon emissions, we need to tackle this culture of single occupant personal motor vehicles. We need to give people a choice. We could start using "congestion charges" and what not, or we could provide better alternatives. Cycling is one option, which because of the UCP funding, makes so much sense right now.

I'm asking you, on behalf of CAN, as well as my children, to make decisions about the future of our city that they will thank you for.

Thanks for your time.


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