The state of support for cycling infrastructure in Dunedin/NZ.
Yes it's been a few months since my last blog post, I've been away in Melbourne trying to get the business that we closed in 2017 restarted. Was it successful? Hard to say, Melbourne's lockdown has been very hard on the CBD and there's few retailers or cafes that have survived, it is in my view completely unnecessary (no I don't believe that COVID is the pandemic that its stated to be) and I definitely blame Daniel Andrews for it. In fact I think that he's probably corrupt along with Tim Pallas but that's for another blog article. Anyway to change tack a little here's a response I made on a cycling infrastructure course that I'm doing about the state of local politics and its impact on cycling infrastructure in Dunedin (which is almost identical to Melbourne's btw).
In Dunedin NZ we have a pretty myopic Council despite supposedly being led by a Green Mayor (in actual fact he represents the establishment). Here's an article that includes several photos which make it very obvious what the main problem is and its concentration on roads shows why there's currently no sign of it improving;
The only part of that 100m+ slated for improvements to roads (because of the new hospital build) for cycling is 2.5m for a bicycle stand in the centre of the city. But the surrounding infrastructure to get the cyclists to that point is not there and the reality is that the current allocation of about 5 single places that you can lock up your bike on in the central city is perfectly adequate.
A side issue here is that the hospital build is currently being done on land that is barely 1 metre above sea level in a coastal city with the harbour about 400 metres away all of that distance on reclaimed land (yes the hospital build sits in the 19th Century harbour). This happened because of collusion amongst the local MP, the head of the University and the Mayor with the approval of the Labour NZ Government which is widely seen as progressive around the world but which is in reality a party that is not prepared to rock (the very conservative) boat. It is a terrible decision.
The regional council which also has some say in the city area (they run the buses for example) has recently replaced a Labour oriented Council head who probably had some sympathy with cycling (not a lot though) with a more right wing head of the Council who has no interest in cycling.
So there's not exactly a Council in place, or a support for it from elsewhere, that is oriented to providing other means of transport around this city and that consequently any efforts will be token.
The central government of NZ has also, over the last 20 years or so, got into the very bad habit of interjecting themselves in local politics (as well as schools) and councils work under the knowledge that the central government can actually replace them with commisars (to use a Roman term) as they did (a previous conservative oriented National Party government but it matters not) with Environment Canterbury;
Marian Hobbs is accused of asking the Labour Government to do this on her behalf to keep herself in the role of the head of the Otago Regional Council last year.
So our main problem is that our local, regional and national democracy has been subverted and that we have a hard time being heard.
Comparing this to the world, which these days is also lacking for democracy, and searching for a world paradigm I'd suggest that some of the tyrants elsewhere are probably a little more supportive of cycling infrastructure than the tyrants that we have in NZ are.
I'm sorry if this upsets your understanding of NZ as a progressive country.