Breaking the cycle of broken cyclists

Breaking the cycle of broken cyclists

In a move that could save the ratepayer up to $4.7 million over the next decade, the Dunedin City Council (DCC) decided last week to reallocate its road-sealing budget towards improving Dunedin’s cycleways.

While a pre-draft budget created in January had initially reinstated part of the seal extension programme, Councillor Jinty MacTavish stressed that the money would be better spent on improving the city’s cycleways.

MacTavish told Critic, “the desire for cycling infrastructure is evidenced by the number of submissions we have had on the topic to our Annual Plan in the last two years. If you put cycleway submissions together, they number far in excess of any other topic…there are hundreds of submissions at each Annual Planning round. On the other hand, I counted about three submissions on the need for seal extensions this year.”

A number of Otago students from youth organization Generation Zero were among those opposing the road-seal budget, with members of the Dunedin group presenting oral submissions to the DCC on 10 May calling for improved active public transport systems in the city.

The organiser of Generation Zero’s transport submissions, Letisha Nicholas, said increased funding to cycleways would benefit both motorists and cyclists. “If cycleways are improved then drivers and cyclists can both feel more at ease on the roads, as there is currently a horrendous amount of injuries and deaths of cyclists in Dunedin each year.”

Nicolas said the diversion in funding may be a case of the Council listening to students, and encouraged them to become further involved in local council issues. “In the DCC's current position with the Stadium debt, they can’t afford not to listen to public opinion. Also, given that the students are a massive part of this city, they certainly can't ignore us.”

The new proposal was put to vote on 15 May, and passed 7 votes to 4.
This article first appeared in Issue 13, 2012.
Posted 7:40pm Sunday 27th May 2012 by Margot Taylor.