Cycleways versus car parks

by Maximus
Cyclists are, at all times, at danger of getting hurt, maimed and killed by clashes with motored vehicles unless they are in completely separated bicycle lanes. You might think therefore, that given the chance, any sane resident in Wellington would leap at the chance of a network of cycle routes being planned through Wellington.

A safe, high quality, carefully thought out and well implemented bike network would enable residents to safely ride from the outskirts of the city into the centre, free from any chance of being killed or maimed by vehicular traffic.

Instead we have a situation where a group of self-centered people in a small suburb are actively protesting against a bicycle lane for all, because of a falsely perceived loss of parking for those very vehicles of death and destruction. A loss of about 35 car parks along a street where nearly every house already has extensive off-street parking.

What is at the root of this problem? Why is this happening in Wellington, home to the most well-educated, most liberal, most intelligent community of New Zealanders in the country? How is it that in the very city with the best, the most extensive, and the most widely patronized public transport system, a city that has more mountain bikes per person than any other capital city on the planet, a city that embraces the outdoors and the access to the wilderness that so embodies this marvelous tiny capital of ours, that this process was in danger of going off its perfectly formed 26 inch rims?

In Europe, several hundred million people live, sometimes even in harmony with each other, in a continent criss-crossed with rail lines and local trams. Nationwide and citywide cycle trails are apparent, as are intercontinental motorways for their extensive system of trucking freight from one country to another. Huge juggernauts of commerce thunder along their designated routes of asphalt, while cyclists remain completely separate on their own cycle path, or in their own segregated cycle lane.


Even in heavily cycled parts of Europe, like Amsterdam or Copenhagen, cyclists happily cycle along at a leisurely pace, no helmets necessary, and none ever worn, secure in the knowledge that they will suffer no harm, as they will not come into contact with a car or truck, or bus, ever. Mothers, fathers, children and grandparents can all safely cycle along, sharing road space with just other cyclists, or sometimes with pedestrians, not dressed in stretchy Lycra, not wearing fluorescent or reflective clothing, not wearing pointless pieces of polystyrene balanced atop their heads, because they know that they are in a safe place. A place where they cannot get hit by a car, a truck, or a bus.

They wear ordinary work clothes, ride ordinary bicycles, and lead ordinary lives safe in the knowledge that their lives are not in danger from being ended suddenly and savagely by the imposition of several tonnes of speeding metal into their physical beings.

There is only one way for cyclists to be safe, and that is for them not to be sharing the same piece of asphalt as the cars, buses, and trucks on the road.

This is an edited version of an article published yesterday on eyeofthefish. Read the full article here.

Read also
Cycleway from Island Bay gets a second go-ahead
Cyclist injured on SH2 at Petone



  1. Garth Cockerill, 28. August 2014, 19:09

    Would the writer tell the readers how many cars use The Parade in Island Bay per day, how many people use the buses on the Island Bay route per day, how many cyclists use The Parade in Island Bay per day, how many cyclists have been injured, or killed, whilst using The Parade in Island Bay, and how the indebted City Council can afford the cost of making ‘cycle-ways’ in The Parade in Island Bay.
    Cycle-ways through major cities are wonderful in cities like Amsterdam, but Wellington!

  2. CPH, 28. August 2014, 21:23

    Garth – the data on the different transport users is all available from the council, so I suggest you go look it up for yourself. It’s not up to the writer to do the legwork just because you can’t be bothered.

    For the record the council just declared a $1.3 million surplus so there’s the cost of the cycleway right there.

  3. Maximus, 28. August 2014, 22:32

    Thanks Garth for your questions, and thank you CPH for your excellent answer. Garth – I’m not sure why you seem to think that these things are possible in Amsterdam, but unachievable in Wellington. Want to know why Holland has such an excellent cycle network? Because the Dutch grew sick of their children getting slaughtered on the roads by cars and trucks, and they protested, and got up in arms, and demanded better cycle facilities from their civic leaders. It took them 40 years, but they started, and now they’re there. We are starting very much later, but we are smaller, so we can get there sooner. There can be no compromise over safety on the roads.

    In answer, a little, to your questions:
    “The Census population of Island Bay – Owhiro Bay in 2013 was 8,526, living in 3,249 dwellings with an average household size of 2.73.”
    Also – route 1 from Island Bay is one of the busiest, best patronized cycle routes in the capital.
    I think you will find, if you hang around for a few more years after the cycle lane is built properly, that cycling will rise dramatically.

  4. Jenny, 29. August 2014, 11:11

    Guess what Garth there have only been 2 non-fatal accidents in Island Bay in the past ten years. So to you Maximus the argument to correlate Wellington to Amsterdam is a dumb one! We do not have children being slaughtered by cars and trucks! It is a safe road as deemed by NZTA. All Garth seems to be asking for is fuller statistics to back up your argument. Any good writer would be happy to do this.

  5. Garth Cockerill, 29. August 2014, 19:09

    I would still like the answers to my questions.
    As for the WCC having a $1.3 million surplus – could they lower the rates then?

  6. Maximus, 30. August 2014, 9:08

    Garth, if you want answers to your questions, i suggest you do your own research and find out those answers yourself. Same to you Jenny, I’m not at your beck and call. You seem to miss the point. If we want to encourage cycling, we cannot do this on the existing roading network. People used to feel safe cycling on roads – when I was a child, I cycled 5km to school everyday. Now, parents are too scared to let children cycle to school, and instead they drop them off at the school gates, ironically creating even more traffic and drastically worsening the situation they are trying to reverse. The situation of congestion at the Basin Reserve is almost entirely due to this (the ‘congestion’ round the Basin evaporates during school holidays). Part of this reeducation of the public to feel more comfortable in using bicycles as a normal means of transport, is to provide completely safe, traffic-separated cycle paths. And the city of Wellington is starting with Island Bay. Don’t fight it – embrace it – and in 10 years time, you will see the change.

  7. CPH, 30. August 2014, 9:46

    Maximus – There’s no point in providing facts and figures to Grumpy Garth anyway, it’s not like he’d believe them.

  8. Jenny, 30. August 2014, 17:16

    No need to be rude CPH. To me it looks like he is just asking some relevant questions.

  9. CPH, 30. August 2014, 19:00

    Jenny – they may well be valid questions but there’s no reason why Garth can’t answer them for himself. All it takes is a web browser and a basic familiarity with Google which doesn’t seem to be a lot to ask in this day and age. Maximus has gone to the effort of researching and writing his article and if you and Garth disagree with it then you’re welcome to research and write your own response. Just don’t expect the rest of Wellington to spoon feed you. If you think the original article is wrong then prove it, that’s the way life works.

  10. Bruce, 31. August 2014, 13:44

    I have a problem with comparisons between Europe and New Zealand when it comes to cycling. The problem sits with the way ACC levies are applied to NZ road users. In many countries in Europe it is compulsory for motorists to have accident insurance. In others such as Denmark the state treats all accident victims, (not subsidised by vehicle registration). In the Netherlands they have a faulting system: the driver is personally liable and may be sued.
    In New Zealand the original ‘no fault’ concept of ACC has been skewed by an actuarial approach to funding. It is still no fault but somehow funded by some sections of the community perceived to be the cause (or easy targets).
    So where does this leave the NZ cyclist? Well it starts with the perception that, in some way, they are non-contributory to the cost of accidents. This cant pervades all cycle activism. Nothing wrong with this you might say, after all it is activism. From my perception, as a motorist (and motorcyclist) in Wellington who sees this every day it’s more like ‘the running of the bulls’.
    My point of view; I would like to see all cycles registered, if they are to be used on the road, and the users get licences. To keep it statistically fair, the levy should approximate that paid by motorcyclists. Once we have that on track and from the extra levies we can build more cycle ways.

  11. Sridhar Ekambaram, 31. August 2014, 21:50

    To Garth and Jenny, here is a statistic that might interest you.

    According to the last census, 2% of Wellingtonians cycle to work. However, if you look at just Island Bay residents, 8% of them cycle to work. It is the highest percentage in the city.

    Sure there have been only 2 non-fatal accidents in Island Bay. However, there is still a lot of danger for cyclists out there, especially for children. Survey after survey and study after study has shown that if you build safe segregated cycleways, a lot of people start cycling and these people are not doing so currently because it is not safe enough for them.

    Of course, having a safe cycle way just in Island Bay is not enough for those needing to commute to the CBD for work. It has to be there all along the way. Island Bay is only the first phase. Discussions and planning are going on for the second section.

  12. Sridhar Ekambaram, 1. September 2014, 8:01

    @Bruce, how about making traffic offenders pay a higher ACC levy ? According to NZTA stats, two-thirds of car-cycle crashes are caused by motorists. So why not make motorists pay a higher levy? You have raised a good point about the perception that cyclists don’t pay any ACC levies, and you seem to agree with this perception. If so, that is flawed. More than 90 percent of cyclists own cars as well, sometimes more than one. Obviously, they don’t use their cars when they commute by cycle. Yet they pay the same ACC levy for their cars as those who use them more often. So it’s not that they don’t pay any levy.

    Of course, motorists’ ACC levies are not used to pay for road building or maintenance, which are paid for by licence fees and general taxes (both contributed by car-owning cyclists as well). So why should cycleways be funded by ACC levies from cyclists?

  13. Bruce, 1. September 2014, 12:10

    @Sridhar, I agree that, with adults at least, most cyclists pay a levy on their car. However I pay a levy on one car and two motorcycles. I can only drive/ride one at a time.
    I’m not anti cycle, far from it, but instead anti the way the levies are applied. If, using your example, two thirds of car-cycle crashes are caused by motorists then it follows that one third are un-indemnified, using the NZTA funding formula.
    If the NZTA methodology is to be correctly applied, either all road vehicles are licensed and pay appropriate levies or all tax payers fund the system and no road vehicles attract a levy.

  14. Sridhar Ekambaram, 1. September 2014, 13:51

    Don’t worry Bruce, even cyclists own multiple cars. Also you are looking at the one third figure. If you look at the remaining two-thirds, most of it is again already gobbled up by motorists as they keep bumping into each other. Which means it is possible no one (especially motorists) pay that two-thirds at all. So if the same fairness is to be applied, then motorists should be paying even more levy to cover two thirds of car-cycle crashes. If that were the case then yes I will agree to cyclists covering the remaining one third. Is that a fair suggestion for you?

    By the way, you never know which levy covers which type of accident. Your home accidents are probably covered by levies added to your income tax, which is supposed to cover mainly workplace accidents. Or it could be that the levy you pay for your car licence could be covering home accident injuries.

    The other option could be to remove ACC from the picture and go for plain private insurance. In countries like Belgium, insurance companies have accepted motorists are at fault in majority of car-cycle accidents so a) have upped premiums for car insurance accordingly and b) don’t wait for a police report on who is responsible for the crash. In a car-cycle accident, the cyclist is immediately paid out of the motorist’s insurance. But that could multiply (not just increase) the cost of insurance for motorists like you. So now you can choose between the existing ACC for which you are already paying quite a low levy or a costlier insurance based system.

  15. Ian Apperley, 1. September 2014, 14:45

    You go away for a break and look what happens.

    Here are the facts: The current daily number of cyclists is estimated to be between 450 – 650 and with cycle lanes, that would less than double to 700 – 1000. That’s from Opus International as part of the report into the Cycleway.

    And from the Red Design Report: The proportion of residents travelling around the region by cycling is increasing. (Naturally.) Cycle as a mode of transport is low compared with other modes – 1% of all travel and 0.4% of distance travelled. Males are more likely to cycle than females, but evidence suggests this gap may be closing. Access to a bicycle has steadily increased in the region over the last few years.

    Key barriers to cycling identified by residents (other than access to a bicycle) are safety, environmental factors (e.g. weather. Terrain), and time/convenience. People’s perceived barriers to cycling are quite universal, with only slight variations from one locality to the next.

    Cycling has a higher relative risk compared to most other modes of travel – making up 1% of all travel, but 12% of injury crashes on the region’s roads. After a peak in 2007/2008, cyclist injuries have declined over the last few years. This correlates with an increase in cyclist numbers over this time, supporting the theory that a critical mass of cyclists can contribute to safety.

    Wellington residents are more likely to regard cycling as a possible option for work/study trips than any other trip types. Although the Wellington region has a high level of public transport use, integration with bicycle travel is low – only around 1% of train passengers integrate their trip with bicycle travel. In other cities with high public transport use, integration with bicycle travel has allowed for greater patronage (particularly where Park and Ride facilities have reached capacity).

    Expenditure on cycling facilities in the region has significantly increased over the last decade, but is a very small proportion of total expenditure in the National Land Transport Programme (0.2% in 2010/11).

  16. Garth Cockerill, 1. September 2014, 19:15

    Wellington being encouraged to create cycleways like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, even Christchurch and Napier – impossible!
    1) Roads that were created for horse and cart, tramcars, cars, in terrain that dictated narrow and twisted roadways.
    2) Topography that would bring more than a sweat to many a European cyclist!
    3) Weather that blows a cyclist one way half the time, and good luck on the way home!

    682 cyclists per day (from Maximus and Sridhar) wanting to spend $1.3 million on the Island Bay section alone – and that is only the start. And according to today’s Dominion Post, the difficulties from there on have still to be ‘sorted’. My sincere sympathy to Wellington ratepayers.

    And, for the activists’ information, I am not against cycleways per se – only against them being thrust on communities by minority groups in situations that are frankly ridiculous.

  17. Sridhar Ekambaram, 1. September 2014, 21:33

    @Garth, you are talking of just the current cyclists and you think cycleways will limit number of cyclists to what it is now. Incorrect. The cycleways are an investment to get more cyclists on the roads.

    And for all your points on why cycling is difficult in Wellington, in the same condition, cyclists’ numbers have gone up by 75% between the 2006 census and last year’s census, the highest percentage increase for any region in NZ. Surveys have shown there is latent demand for cycling waiting for safe cycleways.

    And an update in cycle technology. Cycles now come with gears that make it easier to go uphill. Power assisted bikes make it even easier. And coming to work in the morning doesn’t involve cycling uphill for most cyclists. It’s only when going back in the evening that it involves quite a hilly climb. Which means most cyclists can arrive at work with very little sweat. And most major work places offer a shower facility so after cycling to work, you can have a quick shower and make yourself more presentable.

    Cycleways are not being thrust on to communities. The Island Bay cycleway has been going thru a good amount of consultation. Sure there were a few hiccups in the beginning but that is being made up now. And some people can never be satisfied no matter how much is done. I think you need to take a fresher look at the benefits of cycling – it’s not to satisfy a minority group but an investment into a future mode of transport that is already on the rise in Wellington with returns to the community and not just cyclists.

  18. Garth Cockerill, 3. September 2014, 19:48

    The cost of an unsafe cycleway through island Bay – $1,300,000. As my grandchildren would say – “You are joking me!”
    How did the cost get to grow to $1,900,000 without anything being done yet? Nearly a 50% increase in cost! That actually costs each person in the Island Bay area (your figures) $222.8 each – that is per man, woman, and child. How many ratepayers are there?
    How much advice did ‘traffic planners’ get before they put in a round-about at The Parade/Dee Street intersection? And did they get that right? No! How many times was that altered? And now you wish to remove the accepted practice for traffic flow, roundabouts, and put in traffic lights. Traffic lights are an accepted sure-fire way to interrupt traffic flow.
    A nearly 50% increase in costs for the easiest section of ‘the (sort-of) plan’…. The total cost looks like being very, very big.

  19. Maximus, 3. September 2014, 23:39

    Garth Cockerill – have you been to Copenhagen lately? The city is quite old – the roads are narrow, and twisty. The city is flatter than Wellington, about as flat as the Island Bay Parade, and the roads were created there for horse and cart and pedestrians and cyclists…. Seeing as European cyclists regularly cycle all over that very mountainous continent, I think they would do just fine on Wellington’s moderate hills. They have a thing over there once a year – a little jaunt known as the Tour de France, that goes across the Pyrenees – have you heard of it? Your comments are all spurious.

    Your figures: yes, low at present. Look back 10 years at the cycling figures from Hawkes Bay – also very low. Now, thanks to the spending of millions of dollars on cycle ways across the Bay, cycling levels have gone up several-fold. Masses of people there are now into cycling. Build it and they will come.

  20. Garth Cockerill, 4. September 2014, 19:09

    How can you compare the topography of Copenhagen to that of Wellington? May I quote you? “The city (Copenhagen) is flatter than Wellington, about as flat as the Island Bay Parade….” You wish to compare the city of Copenhagen to a main thoroughfare, that runs along the bottom of a large valley, in a small part of the city of Wellington? Stand in the middle of The Parade and look around you…hills! Big hills! And by the way, the only cars you see on the “little jaunt known as the Tour de France” are those used as back-up for the cyclists, most of whom would have trouble passing drug tests.
    Napier spending “millions of dollars on cycle ways….” – millions? To the best of my knowledge, there is only one cycleway though the suburbs, and the rest are wonderfully sited all around beach fronts, rural land – out in the open where locals and tourists can enjoy them thoroughly.
    Cycleways though Wellington – a very different proposition. And if the cycleways cost millions in Napier, goodness knows how much they are going to cost in Wellington.

  21. Maximus, 4. September 2014, 22:16

    Garth – Just because you live on the Parade and have a cycle way proposed to run past your driveway, don’t feel that you have to rain on everyone else’s parade. I’m trying to be reasonable, but you seem obstinately stuck in a rut, twisting my words. You said that Wellington was too hilly for bicycles, and our roads were built for horse and cart – I pointed out that so were most of Europe’s streets as well. Yes, we have hills in Wellington, but so what? We also have flat areas, like the area you live in Island Bay. I’m not comparing the whole city of Copenhagen to Island Bay Parade – that would be a moronic thing to do, I’m pointing out that they too have flat areas, and twisty streets in some places, and they all ride bicycles, all the time. Even their Queen rides a bike I think. She uses a cycle lane. It goes past her house.

    The point I was making about Napier is that they are building safe, separated cycle ways, and the population is loving it. Whether the bike paths are in the city or the country, the point is that they need to be separate to be safe. They didn’t start off by doing a master plan, or by saying that they would consult with every person on the route – they actually started off with the local Rotary Club raising money, pouring a strip of concrete, and it has grown from there. The paths have spread through the countryside, along the flat river banks, and now they are venturing up the hills into Puketapu, and Havelock North. People are loving it.

    Look, what I am trying to get across is that there is a need for safe cycle ways, in order to get people to feel safe on a bike again. Putting small children on a bike, next to a lane of traffic that can have cars, trucks and buses, is not a responsible or sensible thing to do. Neither is putting big people there a good idea either. Can we agree on that point?

  22. luke, 5. September 2014, 7:47

    Just get on and build the cycleway already. They are long overdue.


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