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Why we need more than cycle lanes

wellington with welly sign

by Gregor Thompson
I am what people outside the cycling community would consider a cyclist. I cycle to work, I cycle to my friends’ houses, I reluctantly cycle up The Terrace to Victoria University, I’ve cycled both of the major New Zealand islands and I’ve cycled the circumference of Taiwan. For me it’s a convenience, one that is good for the environment and one that keeps me relatively fit.

I’m personally not fond of typical cycling buffs all that much – I find they over-prioritise the sport. The buffs who work in the industry are the worst. They have tendency of condescending people as if they were born with the information and know-how they currently possess, as if when they were born with the ability to disassemble and assemble bicycles. This condition is common to all staff that work with specialised goods but seems to be acutely severe among bike salespeople. Not everyone who drives a car is a mechanic. I’m sorry I didn’t oil my chain; no I haven’t changed by break-pads recently and no I don’t care that the bike seat is actually called the “saddle” but the post that holds it up is the “seat post”.

Despite the customer service deficit, the spandex-zealots appear to be getting their way. Wellington is currently partway through the long and very-hip-right-now process of becoming more cycle friendly. This is a great thing and will in theory help Wellingtonians reduce their carbon footprints. As the coastal cycle route edges further round Evan’s Bay, I expect it to entice some keen eastern suburbanites. I do however remain apprehensive about whether many people are prepared to hang up the engine and whether or not it’s realistic to expect cycling infrastructure to bring emissions down and ease congestion. Even if we can manage to navigate our way past the patronising custodians of the eco-friendly commute.

Reason one is that Wellington is a meteorologically and geographically your average cyclist’s worst nightmare.

Wellington has a horrendously volatile weather system – the windiest in the world on numerous metrics in fact. In no other city does anyone ever talk about the direction of the wind, not even just as much, genuinely at all. The terms “norreasterly” and “sowwesterly” are as unique to Wellington as ordering coffee whilst talking on a cellphone is to Auckland. Anyone who’s ever ridden a bike before knows that cycling into a headwind is considerably worse than cycling with a tailwind is good. There’s no zero-sum-game here, wind always equals bad.

Then there’s the hills. I’m a 25-years-old, I’m supposedly in my prime and I cannot get to Kelburn Parade without giving my classmates the impression I’ve just committed a bank robbery.

The proposed cycle lane up Brooklyn Hill is a much needed and excellent safety precaution for those already cycling but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that it’ll make folk salivate at the idea of blowing their knees out every evening after work. As much as I love cycling, I do not, for the life of me accept it as a solution to get motorists off the road in a city that’s cross section looks more like that of a dirty pile of washing than the flat, symmetric, neglected and sodden Persian rug underneath it.

Cycling cities – Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Paris, Utrecht etcetera – are all flat, 17 out of 20 of the most cycle friendly cities are either situated around rivers or river mouths, or in the case of the low countries, on reclaimed land, not dissimilar to The Hutt or Christchurch. The other three are still flat. Wellington is not flat; neither is Lisbon or San Francisco. Ordinary Alfacinhas and San Franciscans don’t cycle either.

Less than 30% of Copenhagen’s households own a vehicle. Wellington’s car ownership is closer to 80% with 42.5% of households having access to 2 or more cars. It has risen 18.2% since 2013 despite the new cycling infrastructure. In the south, Christchurch introduced 13 new cycle ways in 2015 resulting in a nominal increase in cyclists, the negligible rise in bikes has been largely attributed to expensive to buy and expensive to maintain single-seat E-bikes; an excellent option for champagne socialists but not realistic for car-pooling families or lower-income earners without a generous subsidy program. It appears the cycle lanes have had little effect besides producing an all-out asymmetric civil war between Toyota Hilux drivers and fist-shaking cyclists, stoking the fears of any prospective transport experimentalists. In fact, the worst place in the country for car ownership is the garden city. If cycle ways don’t encourage Cantabrians in the flat and mild cyclist’s wonderland, how on earth will they work in Wellington.

There’s an explanation for this. Barring cycling freaks with suspiciously European names, New Zealanders just aren’t cycling people and never really have been. There is no Tour de la South Island. Asides from the city dwelling walkers among us, we’re wake up, get into garage, drive out of garage, park car, get into work and complain about the weather kind of people.

Wellingtonians also need cars for other reasons than going to work. This could include visiting someone or something that isn’t in Wellington on the weekend for instance. The city slicking Europeans – largely attributable to population density – have excellent, affordable and regular regional public transport networks. This permits them to take excursions without the need of a vehicle. Our lack of such infrastructure and proud admiration for the outdoors results in us keeping our cars handy. I don’t expect anyone in their right mind to choose weathering Evans Bay in a winter southerly over the Toyota Camry in their carport.

The countless surveys that claim something along the lines of “30% of people want to cycle to work but only 7% do” do not, to my mind, substantiate anything. Of course, everyone wants to cycle to work, everyone wants to do everything. We do not blame the lack of gyms for people’s irregular visits to them despite their weekly commitment of $20 a week.

It is not just physical and mental barriers that worry me, there is also a pretty significant and interesting criminal aspect to this.

Bike theft in Wellington is rife. It appears that as demand for bikes goes up so does bike theft, who knew! My uncle who didn’t want his name shared (his name is Sven) has had his bike stolen two times in the last six-months and four times in the last three years. The poor guy is so pissed off he’s going out and telling people not to buy bikes.

Asides from excellent familial anecdotal information, there are some other concerning signs. The Wellington Stolen Bikes Facebook group has just shy of 2,000 members, the Wellington Polyamory and Open Relationships group has only 433. By my calculations, that means bike thefts outnumber orgy enthusiasts by 4-to-1.

This isn’t helped by a supply problem. Other cycling cities have theft issues, a French friend of mine once told me that bicycles are a circular economy in Paris. “You take the bicycle off someone else and another someone else will take your bicycle, it is not a problem mon ami.” This system is not ideal but is not the be-all-and-end-all in France because of the millions of excess bikes circulating through the economy. Europe manufactured the better part of the world’s bike supply for the entire 20th century.

On the 12th of December there were over 230,000 second-hand bikes for sale on the French equivalent of TradeMe, Leboncoin.fr. On TradeMe there were 3,284, many of which were new and being sold by listed vendors. Leboncoin doesn’t let commercial enterprise on their website. After adjusting for population difference France roughly has a domestic second-hand bike supply that is four times the size of ours; as a result quality bikes are significantly cheaper. This is consistent throughout the European single market.

The lion’s share of European commuter bikes are old, they’ve all been stolen once or twice and are not suited at all to Wellington hills even if they did exist here. The theft and difficulty of replacing bicycles easily and affordably in Wellington genuinely is a problem, even after we overcome our fear, our physiques and mindsets.

The Police suggest people take time to prevent their bikes from being stolen and recommend “a solid D-lock for securing your bike, as some smaller bike locks are easily cut through.” and to “store your bike in a secure area off the street.”

Tell that to my uncle who just had his D-locked up bike stolen from the third floor of a private carpark building and the numerous livid cyclists on Wellington Stolen Bikes who’ve had their bikes stolen despite, on occasion, using 2 separate locks.

My cynicism leads me to believe we need far more intervention than simply facilitating bike journeys – our environment, our habits and our market require considerably more attention than your typical biking city. The Pedal Ready program helping children get cycle safe is an excellent example. To dent emissions, we need to take big steps. I suggest making EVs affordable faster, make the school zoning system less elitist to shave off commutes and fast-tracking light-rail. Although since the decision makers of this city have a propensity to fence-sit, maybe I’d settle for a generous E-bike subsidy scheme, bowling Te Aro toilets and replacing it with a secure 24/7 bike park with a custodian and general tougher policing on bike snatchers.

Maybe my pessimism is unwarranted. Go ahead and prove me wrong Wellington.

Read also:
Patrick Morgan: our unstoppable bike boom

32 comments:

  1. Claire, 1. February 2021, 11:57

    Thanks for your refreshing honesty regarding biking in Wellington. Not for the faint of heart. Let’s do a cost analysis against actual riders. Or is it a build it and they will come scenario? Electric cars on the roads hopefully will now be speeded up after the Commission report. And maybe apartments without parks and chargers will become white elephants.

     
  2. Francis McRae, 1. February 2021, 14:01

    Sensible conservative: how am I meant to move a piano with a bicycle? How am I meant to get to my home on the top of a remote mountain? I can’t plow my field with a bicycle. [via twitter]

     
  3. luke, 1. February 2021, 14:07

    Disagree, the Scandinavian countries cities are hardly flat mild weathered utopias yet people cycle in large numbers there. The key is quality infrastructure.

     
  4. Ray Chung, 1. February 2021, 14:51

    Hi Gregor, an excellent article and thank you very much for this. Have you ever considered running for council? For some reason, we have councillors who have no idea what the real situation is with cyclists in Wellington and you’ve elucidated this most succinctly! These councillors continue to push the mantra that 30% of Wellingtonians want to ride a bike but I have doubts about the surveys that they commission to ensure that the results agree with what they want! Very much the same as the Planning for Growth and Central Library submissions.

    My bike is hanging in the garage and, every Spring, I have good intentions of getting it down and going riding so I must be one of the 30% plus. My partner has bought an e-bike but it seems to me that she’s still driving her car just as much as prior to buying it. The Island Bay cycleway still requires millions to be spent on it and really, how many people use this? Same with the Cobham Drive cycleway.

    Let’s stop wasting all this money on cycleways and spend it on our decrepit water system.

     
  5. Mark, 1. February 2021, 14:57

    A wonderfully worded opinion piece Gregor, but I am surprised how you glossed over the e-Bike, which is nothing short of a game changer. The addition has made Wellington the equivalent of flat and calm. I was a reluctant purchaser of a bike with an engine 18 months ago and have since used the car a handful times beyond long haul family trips. I live atop a large hill and the convenience of the e-bike has meant I ride considerably more, because almost all of the barriers of the past are irrelevant. You note that eBikes are solely the realm of “champagne socialists,” but I am not sure what this is based on, particularly in a city like Wellington that has the highest salaries in the country and everything else (particularly housing) is so expensive in relatively. My father, like many of his elderly friends, recently bought a good looking ebike for $2k. When you factor in saving of fuel, parking, your time (if in the city) and arguably more importantly the physical and mental health benefits over sitting frustrated in traffic, I think most people in this city could stretch to it. Our family made the decision to purchase an e-cargo bike over a second car in 2019. Whereas it wasn’t cheap ($8k with all the accessories) it was cheaper than safe, reliable car. I take the kids to school on it every day and with the large basket, also do the shopping. If need be, we can even fit Mum and the dog, although it does look a little odd. I genuinely think the easiest change to reducing emissions, infrastructure needs, obesity, mental health and many other problems that plague this so-called liberal city is to change the 70s mindset of needing 2+ cars per household. I think that just getting people to trial them will have a remarkable conversion rate as you don’t meet many ebike riders who aren’t pretty happy about their daily outings. Perhaps use 1% of the LGWM budget to buy a pool of trial bikes could be a solution in addition to making roads less one-dimensionally car and park focussed

     
  6. Ms Green, 1. February 2021, 16:01

    Thanks Gregor. Love the research you have done. Not all “industry buffs” are condescending! Find one who is not!
    Just for your information: the inner City ‘Paddington’ terrace houses now being built on the corner of Jessie and Taranaki Streets have no carparks but will have a bike park.
    I live on the fringe of the city, so have decided, as my contribution to lessen carbon emissions, to have no car. Instead I have legs to walk with, public and other available transport if I need it on occasion. My legs don’t need D locks as they don’t get stolen. The reality is I do not need one car let alone two or more.
    By the way the “second hand” bikes on the French Trade Me site are probably all stolen bikes; at least that’s what we discovered to our surprise when we bought our second hand bikes in London over 50 years ago.

     
  7. TrevorH, 1. February 2021, 17:18

    Nice column. The huge amounts of cement that seem to go into Wellington’s cycleways and the tankloads of diesel to power the vehicles which build them likely far outweigh any reductions in emissions achieved from their scant usage by cyclists. It’s time to call it a day on this “hip” obsession. There won’t be a city if we don’t get our 3 waters infrastructure renewed and strengthened.

     
  8. Conor, 1. February 2021, 19:21

    Gregor – wait till you hear how hard it is to move everyone by car when you are constrained by geography. Your mind will be blown.

     
  9. Matt, 1. February 2021, 19:59

    I really disagree with this cynical attitude towards cycling here in Wellington. It’s a great place to ride in parts and it is only going to get better in other parts. e-bikes solve most of the perceived barriers mentioned, though they aren’t necessary, we’ve cycled much longer without them than with them. How often do you move a piano Francis? Really? What a comment – you don’t do it with a Suzuki Swift either. And Ray, if your wife drives just as much after buying an e-bike, sell it or give it to someone who will use it. We are not going to build ourselves out of congestion. We need more people riding, walking and taking public transport. We need safer cycling infrastructure and bus priority lanes in the key places. People will change the way they get about once they realise how truly inefficient it is. Or are we all just frogs in a slowly boiling pot of water?

     
  10. Stephen Edlin, 1. February 2021, 20:31

    I like what you have written Gregor. A reliable and fast bus service is what Wellington needs for the office workers. As economies become more sophisticated, service providers seem to increase.I just can’t see an electrician or plumber rocking up astride a bike, and that goes for all the other hands on workers who keep a city running.
    It’s a fanciful dream to think thousands of Wellingtonians are going to hop on their bike, and with a smile on their face brave the Miramar cutting.

     
  11. Robert, 1. February 2021, 20:41

    It’s an interesting read. My response to your summation for Christchurch is as follows. You don’t mention RAD Bikes, Aranui Bike Fix Up, Bike Bridge, Go Cycle Christchurch – training-plus getting kids and the underprivileged on to bikes. Five schools run the Bikes in Schools Programme. These are little wins that span all prosperity demographics, shining a light for a city that is just at the beginning of a cycle journey and is about 20 years short of a goal to be as successful as Copenhagen is now. (A city having already gone through decades of considered infrastructure development). Of the 13 cycleways implied as operational back in 2015 here is a breakdown: 4 are fully completed, 3 are half completed, 2 are under construction, 1 is being consulted on and the final 3 are sort of planned and may be completed by 2028. Results of analysis of cycle counters (just completed) report that the completed major cycleway counters indicate 10% growth pa in numbers for the last 3 years. Growth in counters placed on major roads without separated infrastructure is 8% pa for 3 years. So we are on track to have growth targets well met. Hardly the ‘ little effect” referred to. And we don’t have half the network yet.

     
  12. Mike, 1. February 2021, 21:39

    I’m sorry that you’ve got a bit of a chip on your shoulder.

     
  13. tb, 1. February 2021, 21:46

    I’m baffled. This seems to take 50% right information and extrapolate wildly. San Francisco for example is big on cycling, but its public transit works. Driving doesn’t. And any number of U locks will be defeated, but you might have some hope by combining separate U locks and cable locks. I hope this isn’t needed in Welly yet.

     
  14. Ben Schrader, 1. February 2021, 22:30

    Push bikes have been my main form of transport in Wellington for over 40 years. I learnt as a boy that it’s usually the quickest way to get to where I need to go and it remains so for me today. I generally find that most motorists are considerate to cyclists and I’ve only been knocked off my bike by a car once – the driver was mortified because he was also a cyclist.

    I continue to be bemused by all the vitriol directed at cycleways – sure, the Island Bay one is a dog – on the grounds that more cyclists using them would make more room for motorists. A win, win.

    But it’s also obvious that you can’t have them everywhere. A better option in places where streets are too narrow for cycleways is to lower the speed limit to 30kph. This would make it easier for motorists to see cyclists (and pedestrians) without dramatically increasing travel times.

    Lower speed limits would make the streets feel safer for everyone and encourage more people to hop on their push or e-bikes. It may even lessen the need for cycleways in the first place.

     
  15. Nick, 1. February 2021, 22:45

    I’ve cycled from Petone to Wellington for about nine years. One day a week on the train to get my shirts into work, then four days on the bike. It gets the blood moving in the morning and means I get home in plenty of time. I get 50 minutes+ of exercise a day without spending out on a gym. Like you I also cycled the length of The Terrace daily for about five of those years and treated it as my interval training.

    It is the most practical way to get in and out of the city. I’d like to see the car driver who can go from central Petone to Wellington at 7.30am, find a parking space, and get in to work inside 25 minutes. Or the driver who can get through the crush of cars on SH2 at 5.30pm in the same time.

    I need a shower anyway, so if it rains … well I get wet. Wind can be mitigated by route, or by sheltering behind the long queues of stationary cars on SH2, or by the hills.

    Yes, I have a car to ferry large items around (like the kids) but other than that it sits on the driveway gathering dust. And it’s one car for the household.

    Ebikes are expensive but not that much more than medium quality road bikes. They are a game changer. The problem with electric cars is that they take up the same space on the road as petrol vehicles, still require space on the road to park, and still have an occupancy rate of about 1:1. So they create the same traffic and cause the same jams. Ebikes are the compromise many have already taken up, at 5-10% of the cost of an electric car. And yes, a good public transport system is essential. But to get it to work properly you need fewer cars on the road.

     
  16. Peter S, 1. February 2021, 22:51

    Bravo Gregor, for telling it like it is! While I’m as “green” as they come, I truly believe cycling is not the magic solution to congestion. You are correct that Wellington has the major twin challenges of weather and hills, even when e-bikes are taken into account. As someone who moves about often in the eastern and southern suburbs, I have to say I am amazed at the extremely low usage of the Island Bay and Crawford Rd cycle lanes, even over the height of summer. Is there any public information on their usage?? I expect the Cobham Drive cycle lane will be equally underwhelming.
    Another major disincentive to cycling is the time factor. Riding a bike more than 2 or 3 k’s takes up a fair amount of time. I can hardly pop up from town to Karori to visit my mum during lunch-hour on a bike, electric or not. Doing that by bus isn’t exactly viable either. Before I get jumped on as an evil car fanatic, I do not commute by car. I use either the bus, or a motorbike/scooter. Really, the most efficient form of transport when time is included in the equation is the motorbike. There should be lots more of them, and more parks for them please WCC. I have never had the need to shift a piano on my motorbike either.
    So, what is the magic solution to congestion? Why, public transport of course! Lots more of it, faster, and cheaper (or free). And maybe a touch of congestion charging as well.

     
  17. Ella Borrie, 1. February 2021, 23:05

    Kia ora Gregor, I’ve been cycling in Wellington for a year, it sounds like we have had similar experiences! For me, the biggest challenge has not been the hills/rain/wind but the proximity of cyclists with cars. I truly believe a few well placed separated cycle lanes, or low traffic streets, would make cycling much safer in Wellington. Bring the infrastructure on!

     
  18. Dave B, 1. February 2021, 23:27

    Goodness, what a sad article from someone I would expect to have a more positive view of cycling in Wellington. Sure the weather can be rotten here. It can also be rotten in England and Scotland where I lived and cycled before coming to Wellington 35 years ago. If necessary you put on your thermals, your wind-breakers and waterproofs, but in my experience the internal heat I generate while riding means that I don’t have to do this in Wellington’s relatively warm climate where it rarely snows or freezes.

    Yes, Wellington is hilly and I am glad that it is. Otherwise it would be flat and boring like Christchurch. Cycling up hills brings a great deal of satisfaction if you select the appropriate gear and the appropriate mindset. I still cycle to work and reckon I must have ridden up the Ngaio Gorge (or equivalent alternative routes) at least 10,000 times. And I know all about bike thefts. I lost two bikes to thieves but this was in Glasgow and Sheffield (UK), not Wellington. This is a problem everywhere, but I suspect it is less of a problem in Wellington than in many places.

    To me the biggest hassle with cycling in Wellington is the constant need to watch your back for traffic as you are forced out into the traffic-stream by parked vehicles, and also to watch your front for doors about to fly open from the same parked vehicles. The relief of being able to ride on a protected cycleway that is free of these hazards is palpable. Even a simple kerb-side bike lane where parking is not permitted, is a help. Better cycling infrastructure does not need to cost a lot. But it does tend to become expensive when it has to be threaded through or around car-dominated street-scapes without impinging on the parking privileges that car-users enjoy. This is the crux of the matter.

    I agree regarding the annoying tendency of certain sports-cyclists and bike-shop assistants to look down on ‘lesser’ cyclists who are not in the clique. I also agree on the need for much more and better public transport, and that this should be the mainstay of the strategy for getting people out of their cars. But cycling is also an important part of this. And I definitely agree that the pessimism of the writer is unwarranted!

     
  19. Elric, 2. February 2021, 8:48

    Did enjoy the read even this quite pessimistic one. I disagree with a few points and especially the hilly/bad weathery Wellington. I’ve been cycling EVERY day for the past 2 years and it is insane how busier are the commuter packs all around Wellington. Wellingtonians WILL cycle lots if cycling infrastructures are built.

     
  20. Joey, 2. February 2021, 9:35

    What a strange article – entirely glossing over the enormous cultural shift towards more cycling that e-bikes have encouraged. My 69 year old father, who was a terrific cyclist his whole life until his later years when his fitness began to fail him, has been given a new lease on life thanks to his recent e-bike purchase. God knows he could ill-afford to be knocked off his bike however – cycle lanes are a must. As they are to me, a daily commuter to work by bike forced to ride along footpaths and multi-lane roads and different sections in order to get to work in one piece. We 100% need new and more cycle lanes.

    However a point has definitely been made when it comes to bike theft in Wellington – the Facebook “Wellington Stolen Bicycles” page is a concerningly busy page, and there does seem to be little police interest in finding solutions to the matter. Likewise with the Wellington City Council, far-and-few secure bike parks unfortunately. Every man for themselves.

     
  21. Rich, 2. February 2021, 10:42

    There’s so much wrong in this article … I can’t help but feel it is written to provoke (and ‘bravo’ you have succeeded). Most of it can be de-bunked, but some will buy into it.

     
  22. Susie, 2. February 2021, 13:28

    Surely providing bike lanes is not just about getting more people to bike but protecting those of us who already do. As a regular bike to work commuter I know it is not a matter of if I get hit but when – not a feeling I ever experience as a walker or a driver. My partner who loves riding a bike just will not get on one in Wellington, except during lockdown when we went out almost daily. When I see people with kids on their bike I cringe. It would be great to have the ability to feel safer cycling in Wellington.

    Teaching kids bike skills is essential but they need a safe place to use those skills.

     
  23. Ray Chung, 2. February 2021, 15:01

    Hi Matt, thanks for that suggestion. My wife put her bike on charge with the intention of taking it out today seeing it’s such a beautiful day but I beat her to it and took it for a ride myself!

     
  24. julie mitchell, 2. February 2021, 21:10

    I just bought an e-bike for Xmas and have biked to work every day since. I previously took the bus to work but then changed to a vespa after the bus network fiasco doubled my commute time. The scooter was good but I wanted to squeeze more fitness into my day and those barriers to regular cycling (killer hills, wind and commute time) meant the Vespa was just easier. Enter the ebike -actually an e-mountain bike and now i can leisurely cycle up Mt Vic and ride the trails home. I think more e-bike uptake will get cars of the road and people fitter. I think there is still a time and place for the Vespa but will be using it a lot less as the bike is fun and fast. Give it a go for sure. Much cheaper than a car and gym membership.

     
  25. Gregor Thompson, 2. February 2021, 21:25

    I cycle everyday and don’t own a car, and of course I want everyone to join me. I just don’t expect them to. My intention with this article was not to criticise cycle lanes, although I appreciate that’s what the title suggests. The more the merrier (clever ones) as far as I’m concerned, they suit my lifestyle excellently. Part of it was to rally fury and get people to bike just to spite me, the other is that I am unconvinced about the efficacy of cycle lanes to convince those of us who do not already cycle to do so. Perhaps I got carried away, I enjoyed playing Diogenes. It is my opinion that we have a lot more to overcome than an infrastructure deficit and that we ought to be aware of that. The article posted after this one is an encouraging testament to that.

    Also, for those of you who already cycle and have cycled for some time – excellent, but I’m afraid you’re not the ones I’m worried about.

     
  26. Bryan Crump, 3. February 2021, 12:15

    Thanks for the article Gregor. I agree, we can’t get Welly moving with cycleways alone, we also need some serious investment in better public transport, but I think you might have overlooked the game changing nature of the e-bikes; they eat up hills and blow away headwinds, so many more people (often older folk too) are riding them. Also, as you know yourself from experience, cycling is just so frick’n awesome; saves money, gets you fit, cheers you up. I do think cycle lanes have a part to play in getting the pedal joy out to more people. It’s also a shame the number of kids cycling to school has fallen over the past few decades. For many of us, getting a bike was our first real taste of freedom (and responsibility- cos’ you have to take care of yourself and fit in with others on the road). I’d love to see more kids enjoying that experience.

     
  27. Conor, 3. February 2021, 17:04

    Stephen – Best the rest of us get on our bikes, in cycle lanes, so we don’t hold up those plumbers and others who need to drive somewhere.

     
  28. Joe, 8. February 2021, 14:09

    I don’t have a bike, I am a diesel guzzling ute driver. I don’t begrudge the establishment of bike lanes … just the idiots in spandex who ride on the road beside the lanes.
    Who pays the road user charges and funds medical costs for bike riders: Acc levies within vehicle registration, license fees for cars and drivers, road fitness costs etc etc.
    These “wonderful community assets” are in the main created by reduced road width for the vehicle users who fund the roads, leading to further frustration in wellington’s narrow winding topographically challenged environment.
    One hour of transit on a rare calm Saturday morning at the Evans Bay mid point roundabout was 980 cars, 8 pedestrians, 47 scooters/motorcycles and 17 bikes (4 on the road).

     
  29. h, 8. February 2021, 19:42

    Joe, almost all of those “spandex” bike riders also pay registration for their vehicles, license fees, and road fitness costs… you’re the one clogging it up and you have the audacity to be angry at them?

     
  30. Mike Mellor, 9. February 2021, 10:23

    Joe: “vehicle users who fund the roads” is a myth, sorry – except for state highways, roads are largely funded by ratepayers.

    But motor vehicles (moving and parked) take up most of the road space, create the road wear etc that requires maintenance, produce nearly all road-related emissions (with their associated environmental and health costs) and generate nearly all the damage and health costs that come from collisions, so isn’t it only fair that their users should pay most of the costs of roads?

     
  31. John Monro, 9. February 2021, 13:09

    Wow!! whoa!!. I am now retired but still at the age of 70 I commuted by bicycle most days from Hataitai to Johnsonville, up the Ngaio Gorge. I did this very easily, I had an electric bicycle. I could cycle up the Brooklyn Hill at 25 kph with no more effort than cycling along the canals in Amsterdam. You fortunately rescue the worth of your article by your comments at the end in regard to electric bikes and the help that can be provided to encourage their use. It is true Wellington’s weather, and in particular the wind, can be hazardous and unpleasant, but what about snow and ice in Amsterdam or Copenhagen and the truly bitter winds you get there over several months of a continental winter. Are you suggesting that New Zealanders are actually an effete bunch of pansies, and all that rugby machismo is just a front for a physically inert population? Perish the thought. But it is true that for the most part the cyclists you do see in Wellington are Lycra’d young men and women on their practice run for their next triathlon event. The joe blogs commuter is, or at least was, in my experience, a rare velocipedist indeed. In regard to theft, which you unhelpfully make rather a big thing of, the council should provide lots and lots more bicycle racks which you slide the bike into, like an open locker, with a toughened steel clamp that goes through the frame, bring your own sturdy padlock so that it’s pretty well impossible to steal them. Certainly electric bikes would make a nice catch for a thief. But some sort of national register of bikes might make them harder to sell. Bicycle retailers could organise something. It’s a pity that there’s something about the NZ psyche that, when given wheels, whether two or four, a macho intolerance takes over, and everyone shouts at everyone else.

     
  32. Henry Filth, 15. February 2021, 5:57

    I really enjoyed the sense of entitlement which swells and swills across the comments.

    God bless the New Zealand Middle Class.