Maybe this is why child obesity is growing

November 22nd, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Walking is no longer the most common way to get to school– and cycling rates have dropped even more dramatically over 25 years.

A new Ministry of Transport report, 25 years of New Zealand Travel: New Zealand Household Travel 1989-2014, examines long-term travel trends, including how schoolchildren commute.

Children are more likely to be car passengers now than 25 years ago, and far fewer are cycling to school.

For primary school children in the late 1980s, 42 per cent of school journeys involved walking, followed by being driven (32 per cent), using public transport (13 per cent) and cycling (12 per cent).

By 2010-2014, the walking rate had fallen to 29 per cent, while more than half of primary school children’s journeys were as car passengers (57 per cent). Public transport had fallen slightly to 11 per cent, with cycling declining by much more, to just 2 per cent.

So the proportion of primary school children who would walk or cycle to school has fallen from 54% to 31%.

Cycling to school saw a similar drop for secondary school students – falling from 19 per cent to 3 per cent of journeys.

Why? I used to cycle to school. Great way to be fit and often faster than the bus.

Studies had found that the main reason for the fall in cycling rates was the belief that biking to school was dangerous, the party said.

Is it more dangerous than 25 years ago?

Tags: ,

A new Wellington-Hutt link

November 14th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A $35 million seaside path linking Wellington and the Hutt Valley has been confirmed.

The NZ Transport Agency announced on Friday it had plumped for the more expensive seaside route for a cycle and pedestrian pathway to finally unite the valley and the city, and siphon cyclists off the busy highway.

Consent applications were expected to be lodged next year and the agency would look to start construction on the pathway in 2019 at the latest.

Wellington Cycling Action Network spokesman Patrick Morgan said the decision was a long time coming, with calls for a cycleway mentioned in Hansard records from 1905.

“This ticks all the boxes, it’s going to be a great tourism asset, it’s going to ease traffic congestion and make parking easier in Wellington.”

He said the pathway would boost cycle safety by drawing riders away from the highway.

“Most people can’t travel between the Hutt and Wellington by bike, because they don’t want to mix with State Highway 2 traffic.”

There is a sort of cycleway at the moment but it is very narrow and stops 250 metres from Petone, on the wrong side of the road. So to get to Petone you have to then cycle into oncoming traffic!

A proper dedicated path for cycling, walking and running will be very popular.  Once it is built I’ll be brunching in Petone a lot more!

In a rare moment of motorist and cyclist unity, the Automobile Association’s motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon said the announcement was “very good news”.

“It’s extremely good news because the current route is inadequate and forcing people to ride on the road, which is a much higher risk.”

Agency central regional director Raewyn Bleakley said the preferred option would act as a buffer against events such as the 2013 storm that saw waves crashing onto the railway and highway, “contributing to massive disruption”, she said.

Frith said the extended seawall would prevent debris being blown inland from the sea and would be designed to “minimise sea spray and, where possible, to withstand environmental effects”.

“It will be well maintained to ensure it is kept clear of any hazards for cyclists. The result will be a far safer route for cyclists, and a more resilient rail and road corridor.”

So good for motorists also.

Tags: ,

Cycleways for Wellington

September 10th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

After plenty of big talk about changing the face of cycling in Wellington, the council has written a big cheque to match.

The Wellington City Council has agreed to spend $101 million on new cycle lanes across the capital over the next 20 years, with $30m being spent in the first three years to really get the programme going.

Wellington’s ‘Master Plan’ for cycling, which was approved by the council’s transport and urban development committee on Wednesday, identifies the CBD, eastern suburbs and the route between the railway station and Ngauranga as the first areas for development.

Cycling in Wellington at present is not massively different from playing Russian Roulette – albeit with slightly better odds.

Hutt Rd was the only real option for reaching Ngauranga, while Kent and Cambridge terraces, Tory St, Taranaki St, Victoria St, Cuba St, Karo Drive, Willis St and the waterfront would all feature in the CBD conversation, he said.

Please, please have the Hutt Road cycleway actually link all the way up to Petone, not stop 300 metres short as it currently does.


Looks a decent plan.

Tags: ,

A cycling passing law?

September 3rd, 2015 at 6:33 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Government is considering a law that would require overtaking drivers to give cyclists up to 1.5 metres of space. 

Associate transport minister Craig Foss has asked officials to look at enforcing a buffer zone. They’ll also examine whether trucks should have “side-under run” devices, which prevent pedestrians and cyclists from slipping under wheels.

The proposals were recommended late last year by the Cycling Safety Panel. A dozen cyclists were killed on New Zealand roads in the past two years.

Ten experts on the panel, including Olympic cycling gold medallist Sarah Ulmer suggested a minimum passing distance of 1-metre where speed limits are 60kmh, and 1.5 metres on faster roads.

This is already law – with fines of up to NZ$400 – in Queensland, Australia.

This sounds pretty sensible to me.

The one area where it could be challenging is some of the steep roads around Wellington, where there simply isn’t room to have 1.5 metres space to pass. Most motorists don’t mind slowing down to cyclist speed until it is safe to pass, when the cyclist speed is 25 km/hr. But when the cyclist speed is 5 km/hr, then you can get some large buildups of traffic behind them.

Tags: ,

$333 million for cycleways

June 26th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Telling the Prime Minister to get on his bike might normally get a minister sacked. 

But on Thursday Prime Minister John Key and Transport Minister Simon Bridges visited Rotorua to announce a $333m cycleway investment programme that Bridges says will change the face of cycling in New Zealand.

That’s a huge investment. I doubt any other Government has ever done so much to promote cycling.

National is balanced when it comes to transport – it invests in roads, bus lanes, rail and cycle. Some one the left promote is as either or – they want next to no funding for roads because they hate cars. But the reality is the different systems are complementary, not substitutes. Sometimes I bike, sometimes I bus, sometimes I walk and sometimes I drive. I want investment in all the modes of transport.

Bridges says that as well as the 13 cycleway projects announced in January, an additional 41 will receive funding as part of the Urban Cycleways Programme.

“This is the single biggest investment in cycling in New Zealand’s history,” Bridges says.

“This will make cycling a safer and more attractive option.”

The safer it is, the more people will do it.


Still cheaper than trains!

April 27th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Press reports:

A $156-million Christchurch cycleway plan is under attack from two economists, who say the city council could buy new cars for every convert to cycling for the same amount of money.

University of Canterbury finance professor Glenn Boyle and PhD student James Hill have analysed the Christchurch City Council’s business case for the major cycleways programme and say it is “excessively optimistic”.

Boyle said the 18,000 increase in cycling trips expected as a result of the new cycleway network roughly translated into an additional 9000 people cycling. For $156m, the council could buy all those people brand new Suzuki Altos. 

That’s still cheaper than the rail proposal a few years ago in Wellington that cost over $100 million and would have reduced peak time cars by only 90 a day. In that case, you could have got each person a helicopter!

“Every Christchurch household is faced with an average bill of at least $1100 in present value terms for facilities that are predicted to only attract a relatively small number of cyclists, will result in more cyclist accidents and deaths, have at best zero impact on congestion, and yield highly uncertain health benefits,” the pair said.

The cost of building Christchurch’s proposed major cycleway network has jumped in price from an original estimate of $69m to $156m but a business case presented by the council earlier this year claimed every dollar invested would give a $5 to $8 return. 

Boyle and Hill studied the assumptions those figures were based on and have concluded the likely return was almost certainly less than $2 and probably less than $1.

I’m a fan of cycleways,but they need to make economic sense. The 120% or so increase in costs obviously makes it a less economic proposition.

“It’s estimated that the cycleway network will save more than $300m in travel time for vehicle commuters due to lower traffic congestion. But this figure turns out to be based on average savings of just six seconds per trip, which realistically, has an economic value of zero. It takes no account of the time costs imposed on motorists by the priority given to cycleway commuters at some intersections so the true time savings are certainly less than six seconds and probably negative,” the pair said.

Fair point.

The business case for the cycleways programme had been prepared by consultants QTP, in accordance with the New Zealand Transport Agency’s economic appraisal manual. It had been peer reviewed and accepted by NZTA for the council’s funding assistance requests.

“As much as people want these facilities and there is an obligation on the council to provide options for people to get around, we must also ensure we make wise investments,” Clearwater said.

University of Canterbury geography professor Simon Kingham said he had read Boyle and Hill’s research and believed they had gone into it determined to pick holes in the business case.

The benefit-cost ratio (BCR) in the council’s business case was entirely consistent with other studies around the world,while Boyle’s BCR figure was totally inconsistent, he said.

I don’t think it is a bad think to have someone pick holes in a business case. We should welcome that. And rather than dismiss the criticism, a point by point analysis would be better.


Young on Wellington Cycleways

February 19th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Nicola Young writes in the Dom Post:

I want to see more Wellingtonians riding bikes. It’s a cheap way of getting around, it’s great for fitness, and for many, it’s a far more attractive option than waiting for a bus. …

People often say, “I want to ride my bike, but the roads aren’t safe”, so it’s right that the Government and the city council are putting tens of millions of dollars into improving cycling infrastructure. With this huge, proposed increase in expenditure comes a responsibility to make sure Wellington ratepayers – and taxpayers – get maximum bang for their bucks.

Wellington city does not have a costed, master plan for building a network of cycle lanes, yet this is a requirement if we are to access some of the $100 million cycling infrastructure pot. And that’s why Wellington missed out on the first instalment of government funding.

The ideal cycleways are dedicated ones, not ones that share the roads with motor vehicles. Even if you have your own lane marked on a road, you are always nervous about any nearby vehicles.

Also an off road cycleway can be a lot cheaper than making changes to a road.

Common sense says new cycle lane infrastructure around the CBD would have that maximum impact, rather than a location like Island Bay, which in commuting terms is very much “end of the line”. But until we’ve studied the data, we’re guessing. It’s hardly a way to spend millions of dollars.

I’ve been asking for a thorough, fully costed proposal for bike infrastructure across Wellington since the middle of last year. It will make the case for spending rates infinitely stronger, and now it’s needed to unlock the rest of the government funding on offer.

Sounds reasonable.

The Wellington City Council’s transport committee has delayed the improvement of cycling conditions in Wellington through its sheer incompetence. Its chair, Andy Foster, and the mayor both claim to support bike lanes but have done almost nothing for Wellington’s cyclists in their combined 38 years on the council.


That’s why it’s important that all councillors will now get a vote on the cycle lanes – no more vanity projects like the Island Bay “Cycleway to Nowhere” – and a master plan based on hard evidence. Then we can start work on bike lanes, and cement Wellington’s reputation as one of the world’s most liveable cities.

Hard to disagree that an overall plan is preferable to ad hoc decisions.

Tags: ,

Bike sharing for Christchurch

November 25th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

A group of Cantabrians are trying to set up a bike share system in Christchurch. They’re trying to crowd source the $45,000 cost.

It’s a great idea, especially for such a flat city. The bike share system in London is hugely popular and useful. Hopefully they’ll get enough support.


A cheaper way to increase cycling

August 21st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Jamie Whyte announced:

“The National party yesterday announced a $100 million cycle-way that just happens to go through the marginal seat of Hutt South,” said ACT Leader Dr Jamie Whyte.

“The Greens want to spend many hundreds of millions on cycle-ways. ACT’s contribution to this bidding war for the cyclist vote would double cycle use and cost nothing,” said Dr Whyte.

“We need only abolish the law that makes wearing a cycle helmet compulsory. Since 1994, when Parliament established an instant fine of $150 for failing to wear a helmet, cycling has declined by over 50%. Overseas experience also indicates that laws making it compulsory to wear a helmet dramatically reduce cycling.

In fact a study from The Netherlands found that not having a compulsory helmet law has led to much higher levels of bike use.

“This nanny state law does not even save lives,” said Dr Whyte.

“On the contrary, it costs lives. Before the legislation, few people died from cycling accidents and, of those who did, only 20% died from head injuries alone.”

“Research reported in the New Zealand Medical Journal (see shows that, over a 10 year period, only 20 Aucklanders were killed in cycle accidents and only 4 might have been saved by wearing cycle helmets. This same New Zealand Medical Journal article concluded that life years gained from the health benefits of cycling outweighed life years lost in accidents by 20 times” said Dr Whyte.

This is what The Netherlands study found also.

“The diminished health resulting from the reduced cycling caused by compulsory helmet-wearing costs 53 premature deaths a year. ACT would simply abolish the $150 fine for not wearing a helmet. That would save $100 million on cycle-ways in marginal seats, double cycle use and save 53 lives a year,”  said Dr Whyte.

I’d do both.

Note there is a huge difference between saying helmets should not be compulsory, and saying that people should not wear them.

One day I suspect someone will try and mae helmets compulsory for skiing!

Tags: , ,

$100 million for urban cycleways

August 18th, 2014 at 4:16 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The National Party is promising to spend $100 million over four years in new funding on urban cycleways. 

National rolled out its big guns to try to whip up some enthusiasm for the new proposal, but the massed ranks of reporters were barely interested.

Prime Minister John Key and Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee visited the Petone foreshore for the announcement this afternoon. 

They attracted a journalistic throng but questions about cycling were over in a flash, then the attention turned to the continuing fallout from the publication of Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics. 

Key’s repeated suggestions that the rest of the country would be more interested in cycleways or other initiatives fell on unresponsive ears.

Petone was chosen as the location of today’s announcement because work is under way to develop a route for cyclists between there and Ngauranga alongside State Highway 2.

Key also noted the national cycle trail network launched in 2009 had  grown to 2575kmm with 10 trails in the North Island and 12 in the South Island.

One can be in favour of both roads and cycleways. I am.

Tags: ,

A mountain biking capital

April 30th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Wellington could become the urban mountainbiking capital of the world, a group of city bike enthusiasts say.

They have asked Wellington City Council for $60,000 to create a business plan and unlock “a unique global opportunity” which could bring multimillion-dollar benefits.

The attraction lies in the central city’s proximity to world-class tracks which could put it up with Rotorua and Queenstown as a destination for mountainbikers in New Zealand.

The next time I’m in Queenstown, I’m definitely taking a mountain bike up the Gondola. Looks great fun. A visit to Rotorua to mountain bike is also planned.

Wellington Offroad Riding Department instructor Ash Burgess said no other city had such good tracks close to downtown.

“In 10 minutes you can be on beautiful trails, and we want to capitalise on that,” he said.

Businessmen Matt Farrar and Anthony Edmonds told the council economic growth and arts committee yesterday that the city had to take the chance to become a “jewel in the crown” of New Zealand mountainbiking.

They believed a 10-year investment could lead to the capital attracting more tourists, more business and more skilled migrants from overseas.

Tourists would stay longer in the city and it could attract more people looking for adventure tourism opportunities as well as potential new Wellingtonians.

“There are a lot of people like us out there who want to go biking without getting into a car,” Farrar said. “Here you have the opportunity to bike to work, to commute back [home] or go for a ride at lunchtime. [It is] unique by New Zealand and global standards.”

Wellington is great in having trails so close to the CBD. But I agree with Matt Farrar (no relation apart from the fact we have the same parents) that you want to be able to go biking without needing a car. As a new cyclist I’ve learnt that taking your bike into the city is semi-suicidal!

Rotorua’s mountainbike sector was worth an estimated $15 million a year, forecast to grow to $30m.

Mountainbike trails could be an alternative to cycle lanes through some parts of the city, Farrar suggested, and the group would look at funding from the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Edmonds said there was real money in biking and an investment would be good business.

Councillors made some positive comments about the idea, with Nicola Young saying it was “really exciting”.

There’s heaps of people crazy about mountain biking. They’ll travel and spend to be able to cycle. Some people will even decide which city to live in, on the basis of how good they are for cycling.

Tags: ,

Otago Rail Trail Day 3

March 27th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar


Yes that is frost on the ground. We left at 8.30 am and it was freezing – almost literally. Around 1 degree and it was nasty. My fingers were frozen and the wind bites through the jacket. The first 4 kms or so was very unenjoyable. But fortunately both the air warmed up, as did we. Next time I’m wearing full polar gloves, not fingerless gloves!


Well above the river.


And then closer to the river.


Then we hit some nice open country. We had 42 kms to cover in the final day but had to do it in three hours to make the shuttle so had one brief stop in Hyde only.


Once the day warmed up, it became easily the best of the days. Lovely sunshine, mainly downhill or flat and stunning scenic views.


We stopped to celebrate having done 150 kms. Yay.


I just love Central Otago views and you soak them up so much more when cycling through them than driving through them. Superb.


Just to prove I was on the trip also!


The memorial for the train disaster in 1943 near Hyde.


This was rather cool. At first I thought they might be statues as they looked so still and just standing guard. But eventually they flew off.


The last few kms are very straight, and fast.


More great scenery.


These km markers from the original rail line were very useful as you got to know where each town is in relation to them. The end at Middlemarch is at 64.

Often when cycling along, I reflected how amazing a train journey along here would have been.


Middlemarch has a few remains from the train line.


Yay, at the end. We ended up cycling 172 kms in 48 hours! As one of our party only started taking up cycling six weeks ago (and me only three months ago) this was a very good effort.


Then we had a shuttle bus take us back to Queenstown where we once again enjoyed great views, and excellent wind and tapas at Eichhardts.

Despite some challenging conditions, absolutely loved doing the Rail Trail, and already planning the next trail. For those thinking of doing it also, here’s some advice.

  1. Do it in at least three nights, not two. It is hard going, unless you are an experienced cyclist. Almost everyone we met on the trail was surprised at the distances we were trying to do each day, and it left less time for entertainment
  2. Make sure you have really really warm gear, no matter how sunny the day looks, but also ability to strip off if you get too hot.
  3. Consider getting plastic bags to wear over your sock or shoes, in case it rains. Cycling in wet shoes and sock for five hours is not so much fun.
  4. Stay in Clyde the night before if possible so you have an early start on Day 1
  5. Have your valuables such as cameras and phones in a plastic bag in case it rains as panniers get soaked.
  6. While only a 2% slope, be prepared for it to be a long slog up.
  7. Don’t believe people who say it is all downhill after the highest point. It is mainly flat and downhill, but still has a few sections with an uphill gradient
  8. Try and stay at Muddy River Creek in Lauder and Kokonga Lodge if you can, with perhaps a night in Wedderburn between.
  9. Definitely do the alternate route of the river trail to Alexandra in the morning, even though it is longer.
  10. Trail Journeys were very good on customer service and helpfulness, but their administration was a bit loose as the booking for a shuttle back to Clyde was wrong. So double check all the bookings, but the staff were good sorting the problems out.
  11. Definitely go do it – the scenery is amazing, and far better than photos can portray.
Tags: , ,

Otago Rail Trail Day 2

March 26th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar


Started off around 9 am and popped into the cafe at Lauder to get some food to eat while cycling as 21 kms to the next cafe.


A rare bridge that is curved!


The view from the bridge.


At times the scenery looks like you are in the US West. On the first day we saw an actual cowboy – well a guy on a horse with cowboy hat and neckerchief. I observed this section would be ideal for an ambush by Indians!


This is the former campsite of the tunnel makers.


And the first of two tunnels. You are advised to use a torch and to walk through. I did neither :-)

It is a bit scary in the middle, as you really can’t see anything but a distant light and if one did ride into the wall it would be very painful!

After this it started to rain and rain heavily. We got soaked. Even worse it was raining from above and below. In the stretch before Oturehua it was basically a five km long puddle, which with no mudguards just sprayed water upwards non stop. My feet got drenched.

We had an early lunch at Oturehua. The plan was to lunch at Wedderburn but we needed hot soup and pasta now. Dried off slightly, and then headed back onto the trail with it raining even harder. Fair to say we’re all wet, cold and a bit miserable.

But then after half an hour or so, the rain (mainly) stopped. This was very welcome!


Those old bridges are like human vibrators. Very jarring as you go over them, but fun.


A cute tint cottage in the trees.


And finally after a long slog up the hill, we’re at the highest point. There’s snow on the hills in the distance and it is damn cold.


Downhills are fun! Less so on gravel. When doing 30 km/hr you really don’t want to fall onto gravel. Luckily I didn’t, but one close skid.

We stopped in Wedderburn for a drink at the pub and warmed up some more. We’re all still pretty cold so we decided that would be our last stop and just do the final 31 kms to Kokonga in one go.


Don’t think I’ll swim in that one.



Finally got to the very welcoming Kokonga Lodge.Peter Jackson stayed here when filming, and you can see why. Superb food and hospitality and a great fireplace.

In the shower my ankles were itching madly. Finally worked out it wasn’t craft insect bites, but the legs thawing out!

Had a very nice dinner, but was so exhausted I fell asleep at 9 pm. It was a hard 64 kms of riding with the weather, and we had a head on wind for the last 5 kms.

The final day is just 42 kms, but we have to be at Middlemarch by midday so an early start.

Tags: , ,

Otago Rail Trail Day 1

March 25th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Had a great night in Queenstown staying at the superb Villa del Lago (stunning views) and a few wines (okay five bottles!) along with superb rotisserie chicken at the Searle Lane Bar & Rotisserie.

Despite that we were up fairly early and Trail Journeys picked us up at around 9 am. A fairly quick drive to Clyde, and we grabbed the bikes and we were off. We decided to do the Clyde River Trail for the section to Alexandra, even though it is 7 kms or so longer. Figured the views would be worth it, and it was.


Starting off by the bridge in Clyde.


The river trail part was very beautiful in parts, but also a bit challenging where there was gravel, slopes and bends.



A lovely part with the trees leaning over.



This was very cool – a seat in a bath.


These old rail bridges are bloody bumpy.


A falcon keeping watch.


One of the many old buildings on the trail.


The view from another bridge.


The stretch up to the Chatto Creek Tavern was pretty tough as was uphill and a head wind. The gradient is only 2 degrees but when it goes on for some kms you really feel it. Speed drops from say 23 km/hr to 12 km/hr. We were very ready for lunch as it was 2 pm. Very friendly service.


I loved this, the cat sitting under the table waiting for food scraps.


Some great views as we keep heading up.


Then we got to the Muddy Creek Cutting B&B. They have geese, roosters, turkeys and a peacock – plus a very friendly dog.


This is the place we stayed in. It is first class. Can not recommend it highly enough. You should stay here even if just driving through the area. It’s a mud house and the inside is beautiful,and great fireplaces.

Even better is the food – we had very very slowly roasted lamb. Also some more wine, but not as much as in Queenstown luckily.

Overall a great day but harder than I expected. We cycled 56 kms, and I’d never done more than 25 kms before. And it was all off road, and quite loose shingle at times. My legs were remarkably painful and burning at the end.

Tomorrow we have 64 kms to cycle. Heading from Lauder to Kokonga. Quite a bit of uphill but yay also some downhill.

Tags: , ,

A Green policy with some merit

March 15th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Greens have announced:

The Green Party has announced a new policy to make walking and cycling to school safer.

We will invest $200 million in new transport infrastructure so kids can cycle and walk to school safely and to ease congestion on New Zealand’s roads.

Our aim is to get most kids walking or cycling to school again by making it a safe and pleasant experience.

A generation ago, most kids walked or cycled to school. Today, only a third do When kids walk or bike or ride their scooter to school, it’s good for their health, it’s good for their learning, it eases congestion and it’s good for the environment.

I agree with the aim of the policy. Far better to tackle obesity by making it easier for kids to cycle to school, than trying to ban large easter eggs and tax certain foods.

Allocate $50m a year for four years to build modern, convenient walking and cycling infrastructure around schools: separating kids and other users from road traffic, giving a safe choice for families

The $50 million a year seems a figure plucked out of thin air. I’d rather a smaller sum spent on say a couple of dozen schools and measure the impact it has on cycling rates before committing to a larger spend.

The latest research shows that we can get up to $20 of gains for every dollar spent. That’s a billion dollars of gains for each year’s $50 million investment.

First of all it isn’t 20 to 1. Eric Crampton points out they’re comparing benefits in 2051 to the cost today, not taking into account the cost of money over the next 40 years.  At even a 5% discount rate $1 today is $7 in 2050. And the benefit to cost ratios they cite range from 6:1 to 20:1 so in fact they may not provide a net benefit. As I said, it could well be beneficial, but if it really was a 20:1 benefit – would have happened by now.

A key is whether the rate of kids cycling to school will increase as they have assumed. Best to test it, before you spend $200 million.

The other issue is paying for it. They say they’ll divert money from roads. They should be more specific and say explicitly which current road project they will scrap. To be credible it has to be one that has not yet started construction.

But overall not a bad policy.

Tags: ,

Mountain Biking

January 29th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

An advertorial post from Evolution Cycles:

Whether you are an experienced mountain bike rider or are just getting into mountain bikes, New Zealand’s North Island has variety of riding opportunities for every skill set. Whether you want to experience the blood curdling rush of high speed downhill or slowly meander along a flat road, you will find it in the North Island.

Mountain bikes are a great way to see New Zealand and cycling is very popular here. Getting out of a motorized vehicle and onto a two wheeled device powered by nothing but legs, is a great way to get a discover the country and all it has to offer. You will experience unique wildlife and the serene countryside you as you have your adrenaline pumped like never before. Here’s my top 10 list (in no particular order), I welcome any criticism and comments. I’m happy to update this list if I’ve missed someone’s favourite spot!

#1 Waikato River Trails – this network for mountain bikes has trails for all ability levels. There are boardwalks, farmland, forest and riverside with a wide range of interesting geological formations and notable landmarks. This network of trails runs 100 km and goes from Lake Karapiro to Atiamuri’s hydro dam.

#2 Summerhill Farm – for beginners on mountain bikes, this privately owned park has something for everyone. There are trails for walking or riding that take you through native forest and green farmland. There is a single track and also a skills area. Guided tours encompass a combination of kayaking and biking, giving you access to a variety of islands that are located in the Tauranga Harbour.

#3 Woodhill Forest – this beautiful (and incredibly popular) forest contains 150 km of tracks for every level of rider. There is also a network of 50 bike trails throughout this area. Many people would put this right at the top of their list, it’s one of those places you must see when visiting New Zealand. You might recognise this forest as the White Witch’s camp in the Narnia film series.

#4 Waihi and the greater Coromandel Peninsula area offers a range of rides (and terrific walking tracks) through this historic region whether you prefer a guided tour or to go it alone.

#5 Te Aroha – This mountain bike track is tucked snugly into the lower part of Mount Te Aroha (where I lived for 5 years) and features a scenic 10km ride that is open all year round. Every 500m or so, you have a choice of expert or beginner track (one of my favourite features). The track takes you past bush covered foothills, mountain streams, past the Mokena Geyser (the only know hot water soda geyser in the world) and waterfalls. While living there, I worked for the council and helped build some of this track myself, so it has a special place in my heart.

#6 Rotorua Thermal Region – a globally renowned destination for many dedicated mountain bikers. Rotorua is one of my favourite places to visit, we go there several times a year. The Redwood Forest (part of the Whakarewarewa forest) is a popular location and bikes can be hired at the location itself. There are local cycle shops that hire bikes as well and maps are also available almost anywhere. Just a few minutes drive from town, these tracks cover over 70km of very unique terrain beautiful surrounding views.

#7 Pan Pac Eskdale Mountain Bike Park – This park is one of the largest mountain bike parks in New Zealand. It is located with a privately owned commercial area – the Tangoio Forest. The park has been developed by the Hawke’s Bay Mountain Bike Club for use by all mountain biking enthusiasts. There are some spectacular views from the 290m peak of the mountain and more than 80km of trails to be ridden by anyone of any skill level.

#8 The Whirinaki Forest Trails were rated “ride of the trip” in 2009 by Australian Mountain Bike Magazine. These trails include the 36km Moerangi Trail and Whirinaki Loop track. A serious bun burner, these trails are sure to satisfy even the biggest adrenaline junky.

#9 The Central North Island Ruapehu region offers 14 tracks for every level of cyclist which includes the Tongariro Forest Park’s 42 Traverse track which covers 46km of challenging terrain on a volcanic plateau.

#10 Taranaki downhills – the 18 km Whangamomona Road is located along Forgotten World Highway and offers a grade 3+ mountain bike trail starting with the “Bridge to Nowhere” and ending at the Whangamomona Pub. This trail is not for sissies, and was carved into the rugged landscape over a 100 years ago

So that’s the list, I hope you’ll be able to visit some of these amazing places the next time you want an adventure!

Written by Daniel McCarthy from Evolution Cycles

Evolution Cycles offer a massive range of bikes, scooters, bike components and accessories. We are also the only bike store offering Free Shipping NZ wide. Visit Site>

Tags: ,

Cycling safety

January 13th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Having had friends suffer some horrific injuries while cycling, I’ve been reluctant to buy a bike for use around Wellington, as we have so few cycle lanes and pretty narrow roads.

You shudder when you read reports of collisions between vehicles and bikes, because the vehicle driver merely gets a nasty shock while the cyclist can get broken bones, maimed or killed.

But some cyclists can do more to be safer. The Herald reports:

Cyclists accounted for 60 per cent of red-light runners surveyed at four Auckland intersections, the city’s transport authority has revealed.

Car drivers were responsible for 37 per cent of 360 red-light breaches observed by Auckland Transport, and buses, trucks and one motorcycle made up the balance.

The survey was taken nine months ago, and used by Auckland Transport to formulate safety messages aimed at encouraging all road users to obey red lights, but was not publicised at the time.

Cyclists are 2% of road users so making up 60% of red light runners is a massive over-representation.

She referred to a presentation by a senior Auckland Transport official which won an accolade at an engineering conference, noting many instances of red-light running by cyclists were left-hand turns or motivated by riders wanting to get a head-start on other vehicles for safety reasons.

“Overall, cyclists’ red-light running is a relatively infrequent and safe behaviour,” corridor and centre plans team leader Daniel Newcombe said in the presentation.

Among recommendations he made to the Institution of Professional Engineers’ transport group conference was for cyclists to be allowed to turn left on red lights, while treating the manoeuvre as a “give way” and assessing the risk to pedestrians.

The trouble with doing that is noted here:

Police believe John Tangiia, 37, was probably freewheeling down Parnell Rise on Tuesday before turning left into Stanley St and colliding with a truck which appeared to have a green light while crossing the intersection from The Strand.

Personally I think turn left on red if safe is worth investigating as a law change for all road users, not just cyclists.

Despite the concern about last week’s death, which remains under police investigation, he noted a 64 per cent reduction in serious cycling injuries in Auckland in 2012 compared with 2011 – from 51 to 18.

Always good to have some hard data. Wellington had 33 serious injuries which reinforces to me how cycle unfriendly most of Wellington is.

The Ministry of Transport has some interesting data on cycling injuries. In terms of Police reported crashes with injuries the numbers have been basically declining from a recent high of 895 in 2008 to 783 in 2011. The low point was 559 in 2000 and it increased most of the eight years in between. If we go further back it was 1054 in 1990 and declines for ten years in a row until 2000.

Of course the better data would be number of injuries per x hours spent cycling.

MOT reports that cyclists had fault in just 37% of crashes and primary fault in just 23%.

Tags: ,

Waikato River Trail

January 1st, 2014 at 7:14 pm by David Farrar

Waikato River Trail

EveryTrail – Find hiking trails in California and beyond

Had a lovely day doing around 26 kms of Waikato River Trails. My longest distance on a bike since school. Lots of fun. Want to work myself up to be able to do 75 kms or so in a go.

Tags: ,

Christchurch Cycling

November 3rd, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Press reported:

The Government’s transport plan for Christchurch is being hailed as another big boost for cycling in the city.

Keith Turner, chairman of the cycling advocacy group Spokes Canterbury, said the cycleway initiatives could put Christchurch on a par with bustling cities like Copenhagen.

Earlier this year the Christchurch City Council agreed to invest nearly $70 million on creating a new network of suburban cycleways.

Now the Government has confirmed plans to turn the new central business district into a cycle-friendly area by slowing down traffic and building separate cycle paths where possible.

“It is everything we hoped for and everything that people were asking for as part of the Have a Say campaign,” Turner said.

Under the government plan released on Wednesday, key cycling routes will be prioritised for cycling and some paths will be for cyclists only.

Christchurch is such a flat city, that it is made for cycling. In Wellington cycling to and from work can be a form of Russian Roulette!

Would be good to see Wellington City Council do what it can to make Wellington a safer city for cycling.

Tags: ,

Can’t people tell it was a joke?

February 19th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A Wellington businessman who has declared “open season” on cyclists has outraged cycling advocates who say his comments are frightening and dangerous.

David Ware, managing director of publicly listed mobile radio company TeamTalk, wrote an editorial in the latest company newsletter railing against cyclists.

He calls them “sodding road vermin”, “roadkill”, “weasels in Lycra”, and said “it’s time to declare open season”.

“More than anything it’s their unbridled arrogance that gets up my nose.

“Unlike the rest of us they don’t pay road user charges or extra ACC premiums. But in spite of being guests on our roads they think they have some god given right to ride wherever they bloody-well please, whenever they please.”

However, Mr Wade said he had just bought a bike and would let readers know how he went.

The editor of Tim Pawson said the article was “distressing and appalling”.

He said it was frightening to see such anger in the editorial.

Oh good God, it is a pisstake.

The “editorial” is here. David Ware has just taken up cycling. He is actually taking the piss out of anti-cycling views. Does anyone think you would seriously write an anti-cycling rant and then announce at the end that by the way I am now a cyclist.

David is well known for being slightly wacky. He once settled a commercial dispute with an arm wrestle. His company’s annual reports are half annual report and half cocktail guide.

Tags: ,

Coroner recommendations

February 18th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Eric Crampton blogs a list of recent Coronial recommendations, including:

The problem we have is Coroners only look at how to reduce deaths. They seem to often miss any requirement for balance such as whether their recommendations are practical or affordable – or if they may have undesirable consequences.

Lucy at Cycling Auckland takes issue with the last recommendation:

The Coroner made two recommendations, both of which I feel quite strongly would not help to improve cycling safety. Irritatingly, neither of them seem very relevant to the actual accident he investigated.

First, as mentioned in the media, he recommended that the wearing of hi viz should be made mandatory for all cyclists because he saw it as a “no-brainer.” He doesn’t present any evidence to support this view.

This recommendation seems oddly unrelated to the case, given that the crash happened at 5.20 pm when it was just getting dark and Stephen Fitzgerald was wearing both reflective hi viz stripes and functioning lights.

So it is not even relevant to this case – but the Coroner just thought it was a good idea. It isn’t.

The problem with both of these recommendations, in my opinion, is that while they would probably make individual cyclists safer if they followed them (although it’s arguable in the case of hi viz, because there is some evidence that drivers give cyclists more space when they look less experienced) overall they make cycling less attractive.

This is particularly true of the hi viz recommendation. Even riders such as myself, who have very little interest in fashion, would probably be put off by a permanent requirement to wear hi viz.

Because I don’t particularly want to walk around the supermarket or go to work in hi viz, such a law would require me to permanently wear a hi viz vest over my normal clothes. This would not only be hot in summer but also would be annoying to carry around when I reached my destination.

Obviously, of course, riders who actually care about how they look while riding – such as teenage girls or the Frocks on Bikes types – would quite likely choose not to ride at all if hi viz was mandatory.

I’ve yet to see a single person support the Coroner’s recommendation.

Tags: , ,

Another daft Coroner recommendation

February 15th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A Coroner is calling for high-visibility clothing to be compulsory for cyclists after a top road safety cop was struck while cycling in Petone.

Superintendent Steve Fitzgerald – who served for five years as New Zealand’s top traffic officer – was killed in the Lower Hutt suburb while cycling home from work in Wellington to Eastbourne on June 19, 2008.

The truck driver who hit him, Desmond Wilson, was found guilty of careless driving causing death, ordered to pay $2000 reparations, and disqualified for nine months. 

Now, Wellington Regional Coroner Ian Smith is calling for high-visibility clothing to be as compulsory as helmets for cyclists, enhanced cyclist education, a one-metre gap between motorist and cyclist be added to the road code, and clear rules about when a cyclist must use designated lanes only. …

‘Turning to the issue of hi-vis clothing it is in my view a no-brainer. It should be complulsory for cyclists to wear at all times when riding in public.”


First of all, if you are cycling at night you are a special sort of moron if you do not wear hi-vis gear.

But do we want a country where it is illegal to ever ride a bike if you don’t have hi-vis clothing?

Even on a country lane on a bright sunny day?

And don’t even think about how many Police hours would be spent on checking if a cyclist has their hi-vis clothing on.

I recall the report about how the lack of a helmet law in the Netherlands has led to vastly more people cycling there, and overall health gains.

Imagine how many people would be put off cycling with such a daft law?

The suggestions on the one meter gap and the rules about using designated lanes seem worthwhile though.

Tags: ,

Cycleways in Chrstchurch

February 13th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Lois Cairns at The Press reports:

If Christchurch is to become a city for cyclists, then the city council should spend the $69 million needed to create a city-wide cycleway network.

That is the view of Cr Aaron Keown, who says that if the council is serious about turning Christchurch into the Amsterdam of the South Pacific, it needs to put its money where its mouth is.

He said number crunching by council staff showed that if ratepayers were prepared to accept an extra 1 per cent increase in their rates, the network could be funded and built within two years.

“The average household in Christchurch pays $1600 a year in rates, so a 1 per cent rate increase is an extra $16 a year,” Keown said.

“If the people of Christchurch really want a cycle network, are they prepared to pay an extra $16 a year for it?”

Christchurch looks to be an ideal city for cycling as it is so flat. The idea of cycleways is a good one. However I am unsure about the robustness of the $16 a year figure.

There are around 140,000 households in Christchurch. $69 million is in fact $492 a household. Not $16.

The story refers to it being funded within two years. So that would in fact require $250 a household per year – not $16.

This wasn’t hard to calculate. It would be nice if media had the resources or inclination to fact check claims made by politicians, rather than just report on them.

Tags: , ,

Guest Post on Accepting Drugs in Sport: the Case of Pro-Cycling

October 30th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A guest post by Mike Wilkinson, a former Ironman tri-athlete and a keen Tour de France follower:

The downfall of Lance Armstrong in the sport of professional cycling now seems complete.  Yet, as the dust settles, many are left wondering what’s next for pro-cycling: can it recover its credibility?  Or will it once more be tarnished by the brush of doping?  There seems little cause for hope, unless the Armstrong scandal helps the public reach a new acceptance of drugs in particular sports like pro-cycling.

Much has been written about Lance Armstrong. including allegations that he’s brought the sport into disrepute.  Although I’ll say that we can hardly expect successful pro-cyclists to behave like Mother Teresa, I have little to add about the man’s career.  I think, however, that there’s one important thing to keep in mind: the significant role of drugs in professional cycling goes well beyond just Lance Armstrong.

Before Armstrong, so many of cycling’s big names have tested positive for drugs.  They include Armstrong’s former rival, Jan Ullrich, five times Tour winner, Miguel Indurain and even the man who’s arguably the greatest road cyclist of all time, Eddy Merckx.  

Drugging does not seem confined to just individual athletes, either.  In 1998, the year before Armstrong won his first Tour de France, pro-cycling went through the Festina Affair.  It started when a team car that was stopped by the authorities at a border crossing and was found to be packed to the gunwales with EPO and other performance-enhancing drugs.  The case sent shockwaves throughout the sport and resulted in the trial of 10 people, including cyclists, team doctors and team managers   There were plenty of calls for pro-cycling to clean up its act following that fiasco, too.

But why is doping so rife in pro-cycling?  For my part, I think people need to appreciate just what the sport involves.  In the Tour de France, for example, competitors ride approximately 3500 kilometres.  Over that distance, the winner sets a phenomenal average speed of around 40kmh. And even with that pace, riders get just two rest days through the 23 days of the race  

I don’t doubt how hard it is to be a professional sports person in any code, but surely there are few sports where competitors operate so near the upper bounds of human endurance.  Cyclists must face a massive temptation to seek performance from wherever they can find it.

Some are calling for some sort of amnesty in which riders can come clean.  Whether or not that happens, you have to wonder just how long it will take for riders will start doping or not.  When someone in a race performs well, everyone else is going to think that person’s doping and they should, too.

Do others share my scepticism that the sport can clean itself up?  Yes, including some pretty important people.  One big name sponsor Dutch bank, Rabobank, has been involved in cycling for 17 years.  Yet, after the Armstrong scandal, it announced it was ending its sponsorship of both men’s and women’s professional cycling, saying that it was “no longer convinced that the international professional world of cycling can make this a clean and fair sport.”

What does it mean for something to be a fair sport?  Surely, it’s that players know the rules and abide by them.  What if the rules were changed so that a level of doping was acceptable?  If everyone was able to take drugs, wouldn’t the sport still be fair?

While cyclists might by themselves reach this point, it’s doubtful that the general public would accept any sort of doping.  This is my reason for writing this post for Kiwiblog and not for some cycling forum.  Isn’t it time that we woke up and ask whether, for some particular sports, a level of doping might be ok?

For my 2c I think it is desirable that top titles are won by those who are the best athletes, not have the best chemists. However it would be great to have a “main” Olympics and a “freak” Olympics where anything goes from drugs to biotechnology – and have the winners from both compete against each other :-)

Tags: , , , ,

Whale v Duck tomorrow

August 20th, 2011 at 4:52 pm by David Farrar

David Fisher in HoS:

In a year of mismatched and painful political races, tomorrow’s is likely to be the silliest.

The blogger known as Whaleoil will face off against the “bovver boy” of the Labour Party in a 60-kilometre bicycle race in Auckland’s eastern suburbs.

In a sport often called “chess on wheels”, the bike race between Cameron ‘Whaleoil’ Slater and Trevor ‘Duck’ Mallard will hear little mention of the word “mate'”.

There is mutual loathing.

That’s a little tough. More opponents than enemies.

The contest came after Slater goaded Mallard by calling him “cripple” over his badly broken leg.

The elder statesman of the Labour Party lashed back, calling the comfortably-padded Slater “blubber boy'”.

“I bet he is too chicken,” Mallard said.

Well, he did accept.

It is worth remembering that Trevor did challenge Whale and call him chicken. So Whale had little choice but to accept.

And Slater – known for obsessively hounding issues – has turned his compulsive nature to the race and cycled about 15kg off his frame.

Best thing Labour has ever done for Cameron.

Slater, who Mallard calls an “obsessive character”, is relentless.

“He is a cripple. And he’s running a crippled campaign.'”

Slater has been in training and, as his physical fitness improved, so did his mental health.

Slater had publicly struggled with depression, and credits getting off anti-depressants, good vitamin B levels and a good diet with the improvement.

I should see if Trevor would challenge me to a half marathon – could be just the motivation I need :-)

Otago University zoologist Philip Seddon said whales in the wild would always be faster than ducks.

“Almost whatever kind of whale you thought about,” he says.

Seddon – who runs the university’s Wildlife Management Programme – said smaller whales were faster.

Slater’s time could, perhaps, dictate whether the blogger was truly small and dangerous.

“Maybe he’s an orca… a killer whale,” said Seddon.

I love how they went to a zoologist for a comment!

The race starts at 1.30pm tomorrow, at Musick Point reserve at Auckland’s Buckland Beach.

If you’re up in Auckland go along to view the fun!

Tags: , , ,