The campaign has been so successful it has made cycleways an election issue in this year’s forthcoming local body elections.The depth of public disquiet over the headlong rush to build cycleways, anywhere and at any price, has caused one cycling enthusiast, the Minister of Transport Simon Bridges, to sound a note of caution after meeting aspiring Mayoral candidate Jo Coughlin.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges said Wellington's cycleways had faced some of the loudest opposition in the country.
Mr Bridges said he was okay with the council slowing down to make sure the community did want the cycleways.
"What Jo's been impressing on me is the cycleways can't just be done in an ad-hoc, lackadaisical way," he said. "They've got to be done right ... properly.
"We've got to satisfy both ourselves, as government and council, but also the people of Wellington."
Councillor Paul Eagle said Mrs Coughlan's plan was good, but he would like to see the Island Bay route sorted out first.
He agreed the current cycleway plan felt like it had been forced through.
"I'll be frank about this, this has been a pet project of the mayor, Celia Wade-Brown, and the chair of the transport committee, Andy Foster," he said.
"They have really just rammed this through, I'm sick of it.
"Any mechanism from anyone that says we can bring this to a halt and sort out the Island Bay cycleway first, I'll be supporting."
Auckland Councillors should not underestimate the anger of residents around the city who have had their essential road maintenance budgets cut to pay for new cycleways that are little more than vanity projects for the yuppies in Generation Zero. The additional 3.4% so-called ‘Transport Levy’, set to become a perpetual Council tax on top of rates every year into the foreseeable future, is being used predominantly to build more cycleways. Yet cycleways are only adding to the traffic congestion in Auckland.
A good example of this waste of ratepayers’ money is ‘Skypath’, a multi-million dollar ‘private’ project that is underwritten by the ratepayer. Local residents in Northcote have protested the unsuitability of the route and the dangers to public safety should the project go ahead, but so far their warnings have fallen on deaf ears.
One Councillor has spoken out and, like Simon Bridges, is sounding a note of caution.
North Shore councillor George Wood says although SkyPath's capacity is not yet known, Auckland Council should take a conservative approach to entering into a commercial arrangement on the project.
"The whole economic viability of SkyPath revolves around the return that will be achieved from the tolls paid by users," he says.
"I will be strongly urging Auckland councillors to not make any rash decisions which could cost ratepayers a lot of money in the future."
Darby should take note of the backlash by Wellington residents over ill-advised and costly cycleways that achieve nothing in terms of solving congestion problems but in fact add to them. Increasing rates by over 3% to rates every year to pay for them may yet prove more costly than Darby realises.