I wish to vent my spleen at the unbelievably thoughtless and elitist actions of Council in
determining - against the wishes of the majority of people canvassed in public meetings
- to install cycle ways in the Ponsonby / Grey Lynn / Westmere areas.
To add insult to injury, when trying to find out where the proposed, and currently being implemented, cycle ways are, the Council website maps are virtually unreadable.
Secondly, prior to any such radical and invasive construction work being commenced, surely the logical approach would have been to:
a) Improve public transport
b) Secure alternative viable arrangements for those affected, eg residents parking and/ or alternative parking areas for use by locals.
Putting to one side the enormous task of improving public transport, addressing local issues of parking in the relevant residential areas would seem to be a rational and
productive starting point. No one can set up a café or a development without ensuring there is off-street parking provided for. Why can the Council arbitrarily implement such a development as the cycle ways without providing compensatory parking options?
Even resident parking that may be implemented from Richmond Road to the Arch Hill / Ponsonby side won’t be put into effect until April next year at the earliest, following consultations in November.
Any residential parking for the Richmond Road to Garnet Road side isn’t even on the planners’ horizon so it could be at least one to two years before any consideration is given to parking for these residents. In the meantime, there are few, if any remaining places to park. It is ironic that, even when residential parking has been introduced, as with Freemans Bay, a significant amount has then been taken away from all those living in Franklin Road by the imposition of cycle ways both sides of the street.
Ponsonby and Grey Lynn, in particular, were created as working class communities with little or no “off-street” parking. People have bought and done up these properties with the understanding that public roads would afford parking when no off-street was available.
It has taken some 20 years for the West Lynn shopping area to become a community hub with small traders, established businesses and a thriving community centre. In the space of less than six weeks the heart has been ripped out of it. Already businesses are
relocating to areas that do provide for people to be able to park and shop.
In the October issue of the Ponsonby News, Ms Pippa Coom (a keen cyclist herself) says leaving a car at home becomes more of a viable option for more people. Where does Ms Coom suggest people “leave their cars at home” now when no alternative solutions have
been found for the many who have no off-street parking?
It appears that no consideration has been given to the significant devaluation of home properties without off-street parking - without any commensurate compensation from Council. It appears that scant consideration has been given to the small trader businesses which cannot afford to lose passing traffic able to stop and shop.
Many houses in these areas are now “cycle way-bound” with no provision for dropping off children, goods and groceries, no provision for tradespeople or visitors etc, let alone parking overnight for the home dwellers.
You can’t “leave the car at home” when there is no place to leave it. Further it will be increasingly dangerous trying to access homes from or to cabs or buses with cyclists flying past - more often than not with headphones on and oblivious to the slower children or elderly trying to navigate the cycle ways.
Given that Auckland is a volcanic city - not flat like Amsterdam, New York etc - the likelihood going forward is that more and more cyclists will use electric bikes. This will only exacerbate safety concerns.
In the short strip from Surrey Crescent to Fisherton Street in Grey Lynn 14 car parks are being taken away with only 3 planned to be remain with the new cycle way. These numbers are based on the site plans provided to me by a nice man at Council who sympathized with the fact none of us could make head nor tail of the plans on the Council website. One only has to drive past in the early morning hours prior to commuters arriving to see that those parks are taken by residents. Where will they park now?
Ms Coom says the new cycle ways will mean new travel ways will have opened up via a connected and safe network and that the cycle network will have created a 44% increase in people on bikes using it - some 45,600 in 2016.
What Ms Coom does not say is that the majority of these people are using the cycle ways for recreational use - at the expense of the majority of people who, in the absence of sufficient public transport, still need their cars to commute to work.
Again, when comparing that cycling number with the actual number of people who live and work in Ponsonby / Grey Lynn / Westmere, this number smacks of elitism and evokes the Marie Antoinette quote, “Let them eat cake” with respect to all of us who live and work in these areas.
The enormous impact of these elitist cycle ways is to deprive large numbers of homeowners of safe and nearby parking, thus diminishing the value of our homes. These highly disruptive cycle ways are also sending many small trader businesses packing. Great thinking Mr Goff and Ms Coom. Happy cycling while we’re choking on your cake.
KAREN SOICH, concerned resident, Grey Lynn