Letter to Timaru city councillors re: proposed new aquatic centre

Dear Timaru City Councillors,

re: proposed new aquatic centre,

Squeaky Wheel, a voice for cyclists in South Canterbury, would like to pose some questions about how the plans for the proposed new aquatic centre cater for the cycling sector of our community.

The plans as released in the newspapers emphasise the potential health benefits of such a centre for the people of this district, as summed up in this sentence in the publicity:

"The proposed Aquatic Centre has a real focus on wellness and catering for all members and age-groups of the community."

The Timaru District Council's Active Transport Strategy includes in its Vision statement the following:

‘The Council, together with the Timaru District community, will realise the potential that the district offers to maximise participation in active transport.’

However, there is nothing in the plans to explain what provision has been made for convenient and safe access, parking and storage for cycles.

As a clean, sustainable form of transport, cycling needs to be encouraged as a primary means of transport to the facility, alongside walking (and of no lesser importance than driving).

My questions are as follows:
  1. How is it proposed to make cycle access safe, from the main road (Evans Street) at the Te Weka Street intersection (where traffic lights are proposed in the next few years), to the facility?   e.g. ability for cyclists to activate lights (when installed) so they can cross, enhancement of the pedestrian crossing on Evans Street, provision of cycle lanes on Evans Street and Te Weka Street. Most Timaruvians who use the facility will come from the far side of Evans Street.
  2. How is provision to be made for cyclists to safely access the centre to and from the street?   e.g. cycle lanes, room to dismount, removing potential conflicts with pedestrians and vehicles.
  3. How is provision to be made for secure cycle parking facilities as an integral part of the building, at the front entrance and deliberately public, both to make them convenient and to discourage vandalism and theft?    e.g. beside front entrance, fenced, under cover, stands that frames as well as wheels can be locked to, helmet storage. 
  4. How is it proposed to use this opportunity to enhance the health benefits of the centre to the community by encouraging more people to cycle and walk to the centre and fewer people to drive to the centre?   This is also important in order to limit the amount of traffic congestion that many submissions have suggested will be generated by the facility. 
  5. Does the Council have access to good information about high quality bicycle parking and storage facilities, such as the facilities that are being installed in many other cities around the world today?  Squeaky Wheel can provide pictures, references and specifications for these if requested.
It will be too late once the facility is built with our rates. Cycling is a force for good health in South Canterbury, and needs to be provided for in a positive way in a public facility such as this. It is important that provision for cycling and sustainable transport are built into the plans from day one, not tacked on as an afterthought.

Regards - Jon Harris
for   Squeaky Wheel

Phone: 614 8777
email: jon.jan@xnet.co.nz
website: http://can.org.nz/southcanterbury  Join our group today online!
Meetings: 5.30 pm, first Tuesday of month, Community House, Strathallan Street.


For your information I have included some references for best practice in other cities:

This year (2008) the Toronto city authorities decided "that ... secure long-term bicycle parking facilities ...(be included)... in the design and construction or rehabilitation of all publicly owned City facilities." http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2008/pw/bgrd/backgroundfile-11865.pdf

"Recent studies by (New York) Department of City Planning have found that the lack of a safe and secure bicycle parking facility is a leading factor preventing people from cycling to work.
"The increase of cycling in the city will yield fitness and health benefits for riders as well as the potential benefits of alleviating congestion, improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions."