Wheels of change for commuting public

June 16, 2017

Wheels of change for commuting public

A cyclist on Quay St finds freedom on wheels. Photo: Madison Levy

The latest snapshot of cycling in Auckland shows four out of five Aucklanders support investment in biking.

The numbers certainly back that up: in the last year there were 45,600 new cyclists in Auckland, enough to populate the city of Nelson.

Walking and cycling manager for Auckland Transport Kathryn King said the percentage of travellers using cycling for transport to work in Auckland was one per cent. “If we continue to invest in cycling we could reach three per cent, in line with a city like Melbourne that has been investing for many years.”

But a city such as Auckland was at least 30 years behind European cities with a strong tradition of cycling.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has proved a big fan. “Cycling is an important part of Auckland’s transport system. It gives Aucklanders transport choice, lessens pressure on our roads, reduces carbon emissions and helps people to stay fit and healthy,” he said.

The Auckland Cycling Account noted bike commuters were four times more likely than car commuters to have achieved the recommended 150 minutes of exercise a week.

Ms King said it was important for cycling behaviour to become normalised, so that it was natural and intuitive rather than something special or different.

“AT has a role in communicating the new cycling infrastructure and encouraging people to try it.”

A key statistic highlighted in the cycling account was the 62 per cent increase in day cycle trips in the city centre in the last three years.This would increase even more as e-bikes became more popular, Ms King said.

Reflecting on the potential impact of e-bikes in Auckland Ms King said, “Import numbers for e-bikes were 3000 in 2013 and by 2016 had grown to 14,000.

“E-bikes remove certain barriers to cycling, making it more accessible, particularly for people who need to travel further or people who want to get around without getting too hot,” said Ms King.

She noted in Northern Europe the costs of e-bikes had fallen dramatically making them much more affordable, with an e-bike in Auckland now costing from around $1500.

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