Motorcyclists shut out of plans
Wellington’s motorcyclists are fed up with being left out of the city’s transport conversations, but the council says it won’t back the ‘‘inherently dangerous’’ mode of transport.
Members of Bikers Rights Organisation of New Zealand (BRONZ) believe they aren’t being given the same attention when it comes to the city’s long term transport future, and they’re right.
The council’s city networks chief transport advisor Steve Spence confirmed this sub-section of motorists is often deliberately left out of consultations.
‘‘The position taken both at local and national level has been that motorcycling can’t realistically be encouraged as a mode of transport because it is inherently dangerous when compared with, for example, travel by car or public transport.’’
Other main centres didn’t take that stance, with no similar council policies in place across the Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch city councils.
‘‘Motorcycling is not a priority mode for the city but we do see them as a viable transport choice to achieve our strategic outcomes for network efficiency,’’ Christchurch City Council’s head of planning and strategic transport, Richard Osborne said.
Hamilton City Council network operations team leader Robyn Denton said the transport unit did not discourage any transportation types, but overall supported increased public transport.
Auckland Transport spokesman James Ireland said the organisation did not ‘‘actively discourage motorcycling’’ but was very active in promoting safe motorcycling.
In the past five years to date, 232 people have lost their lives in motorbike accidents – including 22 this year alone.
In comparison, since the beginning of 2017, 175 people have died in car accidents and nine cyclists.
BRONZ president Byron Cummins said it was disheartening to hear so much talk from the Wellington City Council about catering to cyclists, while motorcyclists were largely left out.
‘‘There are millions of dollars earmarked for cycles and nothing – zero – for motorcyclists. It’s not even on the table.’’
But Spence said: ‘‘Unlike cycling, there are no obvious health benefits [of motorcycling] to counter the safety disbenefits.’’
Despite that, growing numbers of people are commuting by motorbike – or power cycle – nationwide.
In the most recent 2013 census, more than 26,000 people said this was their main means of travel to and from work, up from 19,692 in 2006.
Motorcyclist Mark Hill, believed motorbikes were a ‘‘practical and viable alternative to a car in all weathers’’ and should be championed by the council.
‘‘The rise of commuting grade scooters, which happily cruise at max motorway speeds, come with weather protection, anti-lock brakes and storage.’’
Cummins often attended the council’s Safe and Sustainable Transport Forum to ensure, at the least, the number of parking spaces was maintained.
‘‘Since 2011, they basically tabled looking at anything to do with motorbike parking which, on one hand, means they won’t upset the status quo but it also means they’re not interested in expanding it any further.’’
‘‘We’re part of the cure, not the problem but we seem to just keep getting pushed further out.’’
But Spence said the council’s focus was on getting the public, motorcyclists included, to consider safer, more environmentally friendly transport options.