Submissionto Timaru District Council
Draft Long Term Council Community Plan
On behalf of Squeaky Wheel
Strategic Planning Manager
Timaru District Council
PO Box 522
Wednesday 13th May 2009
RE: DRAFT LONG TERM COUNCIL COMMUNITY PLAN 2009-19
SUBMISSION FROM SQUEAKY WHEEL
Thanks for theopportunity to make this submission on the LTCCP (2009-19). Squeaky Wheel is alocal cycling advocacy group with approximately 60 members, and links withlocal cycling groups. We are affiliated with the national Cycling AdvocatesNetwork (CAN). Squeaky Wheel is dedicated to promoting cycling as an everydayform of transport in South Canterbury.
Squeaky Wheelcongratulates the Council for including some active transport goals, outcomesand expected levels of service in the Transport Activity of the draft LTCCP. Inparticular we applaud the commitment on page 147 to deliver the implementationof ‘active transport projects' (Operations) and to review and develop ‘ActiveTransport Plans' (Strategy, Policy and Planning).
However, we alsorecognize that the Draft LTCCP's approach to active transport suffers from alack of co-ordination, and a lack of integration into the overall plan. This isevident in the way terms are used in the plan; for example:
- The "delivery of parking" means only car parking. We assert that cycle parking needs to be specifically written into the plan alongside vehicle parking so that it is automatically included in the planning process.
- Monitor traffic counts means only vehicle traffic. Cycles are also traffic, and need to be counted too so that the Council can accurately assess whether its commitment to "Initiatives to increase active transport modes" and "...change in people's travel modes" is succeeding (LTCCP pages 139 and 140)
- "Road surfaces are smooth" means only for vehicles. The road roughness ratings notably include no provision for the smoothness requirements of the bicycle.
The New Zealand Transport Strategy and the Government Policy Statementrequire councils to grow the active transport modes. If cycling is to grow atthe rate required, there needs to be a shift in mindset on the part of theCouncil, from regarding cycling as a fringe activity of choice for a fewpeople, to regarding it as an integral and essential component of the TDCtransport network.
What Squeaky Wheel is seeking (in brief):
- Review and ratification of the Active Transport Strategy (ATS), and a prioritized, budgeted and timelined implementation of its initiatives.
- Parking installed outside the front entrances to theTDC building and the public library.
- Building regulations requiring provision of convenient, secure cycle parking in or alongside public buildings and facilities.
- Active pursuit by the TDC of progress by NZTA towards coherent on-road cycle lanes on State Highway 1 through the Timaru urban zone.
- Similar progress towards provision for cyclists on other state highways in the District - e.g. widened shoulders, cycle-walkways.
- A realistic financial commitment by the TDC to increasing the mode share of cycling in the District.
Please see ourrequests in more detail at the end of this submission.
In the TimaruDistrict Council's Draft LTCCP, Transport Activity, the following CommunityOutcomes relate to cycling; (alongside each we have proposed some ideas aboutinitiatives that would encourage an increase in cycling):
1. Quality Infrastructure:
- ‘that it meets community needs':
Community needs include those of cyclists e.g. forcoherent, safe, direct, convenient routes, and for convenient, secure parking.
2. Strong, prosperous, innovative economy:
- ‘adequate parking assets provide good access to local businesses':
This communityoutcome must include parking for cycles. The Timaru District Council operates14 public car parking facilities. Some of these facilities even have park andpay machines that are undercover, with their own special roof to keep them andthe person paying dry. How many of these facilities provide cycle parking? Isany of this cycle parking undercover, for the comfort and convenience of thecyclist? How can the Council encourage people to cycle if they have nowhere topark their bikes?
Like motorists,cyclists need convenient, safe parking close to their destination, which doesnot conflict with other road-space users e.g. pedestrians. New York City'sPlanning Department (DCP) website tells us: "Recent studies by DCP havefound that the lack of a safe and secure bicycle parking facility is a leadingfactor preventing people from cycling to work." Refer: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/bicycle_parking/index.shtml
Auckland RegionalCouncil (ARTA) in 2007 published a guidance note for cycling facilities. This containsextensive, practical advice on best types and locations for cycle parking:Refer: http://www.arta.co.nz/assets/arta%20publications/2007/Cycle%20Parking%20Facilities%202007.pdf
3. Vibrant,safe, caring communities:
- ‘transportation network designed for safety, ease of getting around...comfort of users, minimal impact on the environment...'
Cyclists safety, ease and comfort also need to be cateredfor e.g. room to ride, on appropriate road surfaces, with secure,convenient places to park. Cycling does have minimal impact on theenvironment.
Safety:the cycle lanes in Timaru are a help. However, the CBD streets do not haveprovision for cyclists and neither do the State Highways, even where they crossour urban areas. Concern about safety on the road is the most frequently heardtopic raised when cyclists discuss certain routes, especially the statehighways, and Evans Street and the Hilton Highway in particular. This is theroute that Squeaky Wheel believes has the greatest potential to increase cyclecommuting in Timaru.
Squeaky Wheelsupports the campaign by the Road Safety Coordinator to encourage road users toshare the road. Because most roads and streets are designed primarily forvehicle traffic, continued efforts are required to educate motorists abouttheir responsibilities regarding cycle lanes, and on sharing the road withcyclists.
Ease:cycle commuters, like motorists, prefer the most direct route, which is usuallythe road. An off-road route needs to take them through to their destination ifpossible e.g. the Bay Path would be easier to use for cycles if it took theuser right into the city. Cycling isalso easier with somewhere to park, handy to their destination.
Comfort:this requires a good surface, which is not one designed for trucks.
4. Healthy, educated, proudpeople:
- ‘the transportation network helps encourage healthy lifestyles by supporting active transport...'
Many cyclists inthe District are already enjoying the health benefits of active transport, andmany more will commute by cycle when routes are completed into the CBD and onState Highway One through to Washdyke, and when secure, convenient parking is provided.
Ideas for supporting active transport:
- exploring the formation and regular meeting of a steering group for the implementation of the Active Transport Strategy, and ensure that it has representation from the spectrum of walking and cycling and other users;
- drawing up a detailed implementation plan for the Active Transport Strategy including a timeline;
- undertaking counting and mapping of cyclists, their destinations and the routes they take, would like to take, or avoid because of real or perceived barriers;
- setting ambitious SMART targets for the increase of active transport (see page 53 of the LTSA document at http://www.ltsa.govt.nz/research/reports/274.pdf for examples)
- providing parking (see number 2 above);
- taking the initiative on behalf of the district's cyclists to work with NZTA to improve the cycle-friendliness of the District's state highways;
- encouraging and enabling staff to keep up to date with active transport design best practice and to implement projects to that standard;
- "promote and facilitate travel plans for...workplaces" (page 141 draft LTCCP);
- "In conjunction with ECAN investigate opportunities to improve linkages between public transport routes and cycle-walkways." (Timaru District Council Draft Active Transport Strategy page 7) A Neighbourhood Accessibility Plan, sponsored with funding that is available from the NZTA through the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP), would be an ideal way to research and improve these linkages. Refer: http://www.landtransport.govt.nz/road-user-safety/walking-and-cycling/neighbourhood-accessibility-planning.html
5. Attractive and desirable district:
- ‘transportation network that supports a range of transport modes.'
Improving linkages between modes, as above, is important tomaximize the benefits that can be gained from a sustainable transport policy.
6. Healthy, valued and accessible environment:
- ‘transport network designed for environmentally friendly modes of transport.'
This includes all those things covered above. It isimportant to remember that the networkincludes the state highways and rural roads.
The Vision for Transport (LTCCP page 138) includesthe following goals:
- enhance our physical living environment
- sustain the environment that sustains us
These goals arevague and difficult to measure. Does the later mention of the Active TransportStrategy and the Sustainable Transport Strategy (is there one?) point to thedistrict's response to achieving these goals? However, relying on these separatestrategies can have the effect of sidelining these goals, especially if thereis no real desire to tackle these sets of challenges.
The District's Active Transport Strategyremains a draft more than four years after it was written (drawn up in 2004,published in 2005). These Strategies are impossible to find on the Council'swebsite. This does not augur well for their implementation. The ATS is due forreview this year, having been reviewed last in 2006. However it appears thatthe last time real consultation with the community took place was when it wasfirst written.
The references tocycling in the Vision statement seem to start from a belief that we don't needmore cycling, e.g. under the heading Community and Personal Health:"...promote more walking and improving cycling facilities", not"promote more cycling".
Promoting morecycling is what Squeaky Wheel believes the TDC needs to do if it is to meet thetargets that the New Zealand Transport Strategy and the Government PolicyStatement on Land Transport Funding 2008 have given all local authorities:
- To increase the mode share of walking and cycling from around 18 percent to 30 percent by 2040;
- A growth in active transport modes of one percent per year.
Specific mention is made in these documents of "encouraging peopleto change to other modes of travel" and of "making walking andcycling safe, easy and attractive travel choices".
To meet thesetargets TDC will need to work hard to achieve an increase of cycling in theDistrict, especially for commuting, by actively encouraging people to cycle. Itis important therefore when considering cyclists in the LTCCP and the ATS toinclude potential cyclists. Thisleads to such questions as:
- How many cyclists are there at present?
- How many potential cyclists are there?
- What barriers and disincentives are there that discourage people from cycling?
In order toanswer these questions the Council will need to:
- count cyclists
- assess numbers of potential cyclists (latent demand)
- ask potential cyclists what things are discouraging them from cycling
To date no work appears to have been done on eitherasking or answering these questions. To fund a growth in active transport modesto 30% of all trips some might think it would be necessary to devote 30% oftransport funding to the development of these modes. However to be realisticthe amount that the Timaru District Council has voted to active transport -$50,000 every second year - is not going to enable the staff to make muchprogress.
In the draft LTCCP document, when proposing levels ofservice that will be provided, the only performance measure under "ActiveTransport strategies are developed and implemented" is that School travelplans are developed annually.
School travelplans are an important initiative. Squeaky Wheel supports the establishment ofthe School Travel Planner position. However the first Active Transport Policylisted in the ATS reads: "Assistschools, groups and employers whowish to formulate travel plans that encourage walking and cycling." This is an opportunity to set aperformance measure for cycle commuting that involves other groups andemployers too. For example:
- Targets could be set for the number of cycle commuters to and from work in the CBD and in Washdyke.
To facilitate this Squeaky Wheel would like to see the School TravelPlanner position, at present half-time, become a full time position and coverworkplace travel planning too.
Increased cyclingas a mode of transport is supportive of TDC's stated Community Outcomes andTransport Vision:
- it will assist progress towards sustainability
- it will relieve future demand for CBD parking
- it will assist in achieving health improvements
- it will assist in reducing the carbon footprint
- it will assist in achieving a vibrant, safe and attractive district
The LTCCP needsto be more proactive to increase cycling, not wait for an increase in demand tohappen by itself. On page 140, under Addressing Environmental Sustainability,the Plan itself states: "Achieving future sustainability will requirechange in people's travel modes to the Active Transport modes..." Movingpeople towards usage of the Active Transport options needs the active enablingand encouragement of the Councillors. Everybody is busy and finds activetransport options easy to avoid, choosing the car as the easiest option. In SqueakyWheel's view the Council needs to commit effort and finance to make cycling asafe, easy and attractive travel choice.
Squeaky Wheel's suggestions for the LTCCP (in detail):
Squeaky Wheelseeks that the Council engages in a more proactive and coordinated approach tothe encouragement, development and growth of cycling (and other forms ofsustainable transport) in the District by including the following decisions inthe LTCCP:
- That the Council establish an implementation plan for the outstanding projects in the Draft Active Transport Strategy (2006), including who is responsible for what, priorities (based on the greatest potential to foster and encourage cycling and walking in Timaru), timeline and costings.
- That the Council includes funding in the plan for secure, covered cycle parking in the planned new parking building in the CBD, and cycle parking directly outside the front entrances of the TDC building and the public library, and that the cycle parking is designed and built to current best practice standard.
- That the Council adds to the District's Building regulations requirements and recommendations for the provision of cycle parking as well as car parking in public buildings and facilities in the district, making provision of cycle parking mandatory when public buildings and facilities are being constructed or refurbished.
- That the Council prioritise provision for cyclists (preferably on-road) on the State Highway 1 route through Timaru, particularly on the Northern side including the Hilton Highway where traffic volume growth of 40-80% is predicted in the next 7 years (Source: Timaru Transportation Study, Table 3).
- That the Council makes a commitment and allocates resources to enable staff to actively pursue discussion and planning with NZTA to improve provision for cyclists on the State Highways in the District, with particular reference to the NZTA's plans for Seal Widening and Pavement Smoothing on State highways and for a Canterbury Cycle Pinch Point Strategic Study. In particular, that consideration is given to seal-widening and cycle ways or cycle-walkways linking Pleasant Point, Temuka and Geraldine with Timaru, to enable safer commuting along these routes (State Highways 8, 72 and 1 and also from Geraldine along state highway 79).
- That the Council commits to continuing the present cycleways into the heart of the CBD as part of a strategy to make our CBD more supportive of active transport modes and less devoted to the motor vehicle. Some likely possibilities for inclusion in such a strategy are: to set aside some of the parking presently allocated to car parking to allow cycle parking; to consider how demand management and parking policies may lessen some of the vehicle traffic at present coming into the CBD to help lessen some of the negative effects of cars and improve accessibility for people.
- That the Council commits a realistic amount of finance in the budget to see these projects through to completion (more than $50,000 every second year).
Timaru in the future!
Finally, Squeaky Wheel would like the Councilto show some real inspiration and vision for the future of active transport,and cycling in particular, in our District. In our community are large numbersof very keen, committed cyclists. They are out there every day, both on and offroad, contributing their time and effort to the good health and well-being ofour community. They need the Council's whole-hearted support.
As councillors you are also devoting your time andeffort for the betterment of our community. If you are looking for a vision ofhow your contribution will be remembered in times to come, why not adopt avision of Timaru as a mecca for cyclists, a shining example of a district thatfully embraced the ideal of active, sustainable transport?
Thank you for your time. We look forward to theopportunity to speak to the Council about this submission.
If you would like more information or clarification ofany points raised in this submission, please contact:
31 Main Road
Pleasant Point 7903
Phone: 614 8777