National spending less than half needed on urban cycleways – Ministry of Transport

National ignored official advice and is spending less than half what was originally recommended by the Ministry of Transport on urban cycleways, the Green Party has revealed today.

Documents obtained under the Official Information Act show that the Ministry of Transport (MOT) recommended in July that the Government spend $260 million on upgrading urban cycleways. The Government rejected this advice, announcing only $100 million of new spending over four years despite years of ‘insufficient funding’.

“National’s $100 million investment into cycling infrastructure is not enough to do the job properly,” said transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter today.

“Auckland alone needs over $100 million invested in safe, separated cycleways.

“By reprioritising spending in the National Land Transport Fund, the Government can easily invest $100 million a year over the next ten years to build a network of protected cycleways and pedestrian infrastructure in our towns and cities so people can walk and cycle safely.

“More cycling infrastructure will make cycling a serious, cost effective transport option for short trips. More than half of peak hour trips in New Zealand are less than five kilometres – a distance that can be easily cycled by most of us.

“Surveys show New Zealanders want to cycle more, but they don't feel safe.

“National’s token investment won’t significantly change the numbers of people who are able to cycle.”

The newly disclosed papers also show that National cherry picked eight cycling projects with little consultation or collaboration. The Minister admitted that “most of the projects are yet to be fully investigated, and there is some uncertainty around benefits and costs.”

“National’s rushed approach just prior to the election suggests this initial move to invest in cycling was politically motivated,” Ms Genter said.

“MOT pushed for ‘a more robust governance arrangement’ to ensure the best use of the funding rather than build projects that were politically motivated.”

Ms Genter also recommended expanding membership of the Urban Cycleway Investment Panel to people who actually understood the needs of urban cyclists and were expert in delivering the kind of cycling infrastructure countries like the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark have enjoyed for decades.

“Released papers show the only group currently short-listed for membership on the Urban Cycleway Investment Panel is Bike New Zealand,” Ms Genter said.

“Groups representing city cycling, like the Cycle Advocates Network (CAN), also need to be represented along with the very best engineering advice so that we build cycleways that are fit for purpose making it easier for more people to make more trips on bicycles.

“The sooner we build safe, separated cycleways, the sooner New Zealanders will enjoy the many benefits: cleaner air, less traffic, better fitness, and extra money in their pockets. We have the budget to build a world-class network of cycleways within ten years.”

Link to cycling cabinet papers