Month: December 2014

Trust me, you’ll know if a cycleway has been designed well.

Complete?

You are invited to wait here before turning right into the new cycleway.

I went out recently on my bike to photograph some parts of the new Dominion Rd Parallel Cycle Path. (#domcycle) I ride it regularly with the #NinjaPrincess. We know it well. It’s for that reason that I have been watching this project closely. I have written about it before and I will have plenty more to say about it once it has been officially opened. I have been told that it will be officially opened and ready for the new school year in early February 2015. Apart from turning on the traffic signals, all the infrastructure appears to be complete. But even if some amazing new infrastructure is installed during the next 4 weeks of the New Year holiday period, I still believe that this new cycleway project will fail to deliver on its brief of…

…making cycling an attractive, easy, and safe transport and recreation option for communities around the Dominion Road corridor…

Let me explain why.

If Auckland Transport was serious about getting more people riding bicycles in this vicinity, the whole project would have been handled differently.

  • There would be full community (household, school, business) engagement.
  • There would be targets set and and those targets would be shared with the key stakeholders.
  • There would be extensive promotion and marketing.

And what about the new infrastructure?

Well, let’s put it this way. I always know if a cycleway has been designed right. The #NinjaPrincess is my expert in such matters. She is one of the customers whose needs should be considered most highly when such infrastructure is being designed and built.

Give me a city that is made to fit the people, rather than a city where the people are made to fit it.

It is certain that every box in the performance specifications, set by the traffic engineers, has been ticked. But that is no guarantee that it will be a design that is conducive to the wider range of the 8-80 demographic. There is a difference between surviving and flourishing.

So while I don’t pretend to have the expertise of the traffic engineers who have installed this new infrastructure, nor do traffic engineers have the same valuable world view that the #NinjaPrincess possesses. It would be nice to think that her view has some value in the process of designing and building cycleways.

There seems to be an underlying assumption that the presence of speed bumps, green paint and some signalised intersections will automatically;

  1. slow motorists down,
  2. reduce traffic flow,
  3. make motorists give people on bicycles more space when overtaking,
  4. make people on bicycles ‘feel’ safer,
  5. increase the number of people riding bicycles without any further intervention.
Yes, it looks like cycling infrastructure but is it effective?

It’s called cycling infrastructure, apparently.

This is also my justification for the limited fondness I have for the bicycle training sessions that Auckland Transport offers to school students. The onus needs to be taken off the children and onto the engineers and politicians who are responsible for creating the urban environment that we live and move in.

‘Cycling’ is sport and recreation. ‘Riding a bicycle’ is everyday activity. No sweat. As easy as walking, but faster.

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It’s about more than just the ‘cycling’.

The response to the above vine has been muted compared to previous ones. I can see that it doesn’t obviously fit into the themes presented in previous vines. But let me explain the rationale.

If you are a ‘glass half empty’ kind of person, then the government’s recent announcement to continue spending the lion’s share of the transport budget on motorways for the foreseeable future would probably give you the sense that you really are going round in circles; that little progress is being made. What’s the point? Spend more time with your family, go tend to the garden. Do something that provides you with more positive and immediate feedback.

However, I would like to offer an alternative interpretation. Research shows that the most effective strategies for achieving behaviour change is to model and induce the behaviour that you wish to see and be consistent and repetitive about it. If we accept this to be true and accurate, (I can vouch for it because I use it to great effect in the classroom everyday), then it has very serious implications for the quality of the message that is being conveyed.

Wheeled Pedestrian Cycling is all about presenting the image of cycling that appeals to the people who are not currently riding a bicycle. Hence the tag line;

‘Cycling’ is sport and recreation. ‘Riding a bicycle’ is everyday activity. No sweat.

That’s the message I was trying to convey in the video, below. It’s not about cycling. It’s about everything but. If you share that understanding, please watch it again and share it with friends and family. It’s far from perfect and it will be met by derision and skepticism by some, but share it anyway. Because it will help present an alternative vision of what riding a bicycle is all about. And that is what we really need. The World needs more #wheeledpedestrians.

Oh, and the vine was also an opportunity to practice my video editing techniques for a video I am currently working on this summer holiday. Stay tuned.

‘Cycling’ is sport and recreation. ‘Riding a bicycle’ is everyday activity. No sweat. As easy as walking, but faster.

Get involved via: Twitter, FacebookFlickrVine or Instagram.

Or, enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.