Rise in bitterness between motorists, cyclists: councillor

Signs should be so straightforward you never have to think twice about their meaning. But this...
North end cycleway signs. Photo: Gregor Richardson

An overhaul of Dunedin's cycleways and parking layout has caused outrage, with commuters convinced they are getting a raw deal.

There is growing tension between motorists and cyclists in the city and city councillor Lee Vandervis fears plans to scrap all-day free parking from large swathes of the central city will only add to the sentiment.

"What used to be a 10-minute city to get across has become a 20-minute city.

"It's not the cyclists' fault - it's the people who have designed inappropriate cycleways," Mr Vandervis said.

The rise in bitterness between motorists and cyclists was apparent, he said.

A couple of months back a video circulated social media of a contractor calling on his colleague to run over a cyclist with a truck, while another story about a cyclist hitting a child led to a torrent of online vitriol. At the start of the year a motorist drove into a cyclist and then honked his horn as the panicked man struggled to free his trapped bike.

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While the war was being waged between motorists and cyclists, the battlelines had been drawn by the Dunedin City Council and NZ Transport Agency due to the design and location of cycleways in the central city and diminishing car park numbers, Mr Vandervis said.

Lee Vandervis
Lee Vandervis
The latest plan from the council will convert 150 free car parks in the city into paid ones, only adding to the tension.

"There's an awful lot of workers in the city that can't get a park anywhere they work and have to go as far up as the town belt to get a park they don't need to pay for and go to work," he said.

"It's a shame the anti-cyclist sentiment is growing because the anti- sentiment should be against the DCC and the NZTA, who are actually the people driving the lack of car parks, the narrowing of roads and the congestion we are now facing."

However, the council's transport group manager Richard Saunders said he believed the parking issue was a red herring.

"My view is that's a bit of a media beat-up trying to use two quite emotive topics to generate some stories," he said.

"Yes, cycleway work can affect parking but we do any number of projects that can impact parking across the city and we undertake safety projects that put extra parks back in as well, but they don't seem to get reported on."

Richard Saunders
Richard Saunders
The council's car park surveys had actually shown the numbers of parks in the city had grown, but they were not apples-for-apples comparisons in area or survey method, making it unclear where parking numbers sat.

But Mr Saunders said he was hearing the concern from commuters.

"There is only limited parking in the city," he said.

"We hear of people wanting to access all-day paid parking need to get there before 7.45[am] to get one of those or they're gone."

AA Otago spokesperson Malcolm Budd said motorists and cyclists needed to show calm even as frustrations grew due to the perfect storm of delays created by cycleway construction, the building of a new bus hub and the loss of parks.

"I would definitely say there's work going on [to address the problems] and hopefully the outcome at the end of it is that it will resolve these issues between motorists and cyclists," he said.

"There's a lot of motorists getting frustrated with the situation at the moment, but I think everyone's just got to be calm."


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The DCC has eliminated HUNDREDS of free carparks in the past 5 years or so. Slowly making more and more 'paid parking' or short term (60-240 minutes) forcing workers to pay through the nose or walk for 20-30 minutes. On top of that, cycle lanes are now the cream on top of it all adding to the frustration of the majority (who pay road taxes) and are paying for the freeloaders (cyclists). This is why drivers are peeved. Vote them out!

What happened to 'user pays'? Should not cyclists be taxed for the costs of infrastructure? If this was to happen many of these pet projects would die the death they deserve-at the drawing board. There is so little cost accounting vs benefit responsibility with the DCC!

Not sure where you have been living Otagoldeas, but everyone gets taxed for infrastructure in Dunedin... or have you forgotten about rates? Its what pays for all the local public stuff. Over $50 mill per year last I checked. And then general taxes for the rest of it. Most cyclists also pay 'road taxes' as most also own a car. If you want user pays, then road taxes would be much higher.

The argument that most cyclists own a car and hence pay road taxes is fine so long as they're using the road, but it has no relevance to paying for expensive new cycleways. Just because I have a pool membership doesn't entitle me to use the gym in the same building without paying extra.

Everybody pays rates and taxes for some things they want and many things they don't want. Cycleways are no different in this regard. The real issue is whether a disproportionate amount of public resources are being poured into them relative to the net public benefits they provide, and whether some form of user-pays levies are necessary.

Otagoideas , userpays?, What about people in risky sports that don't pay ACC ? It's the same thing. Your argument is silly , money is spent on many many different things in this City that only some of the people use....the Stadium being the big one....how about we make the people that use the stadium pay for it ? You're probably thinking that the stadium is different , is bring in money to the City....Well so do tourists riding bikes , just as the stadium has indirect/obvious benefits to the City so to do cycle lanes. How many people who hate the cycle lanes keep voting Cull in I wonder.

You ask what happened to user pays, yet you clearly feel you should be entitled to free parking. Why should anyone be entitled to free parking, particularly when you think about the amount of space this takes up for cars which are just sitting there unused all day. You have other options when it comes to getting from A to B if you don't want to pay for parking, whether that be walking, public transport or getting on a bike!

The cyclists which you refer to as freeloaders are taxed for the costs of infrastructure by the way. They contribute tax from their pay as income tax and through their purchases as GST. Just like everyone else. Also don't forget, in most cases, cyclists are also motorists and therefore pay a share via Vehicle Licensing Fees and fuel tax.

You exemplify the emotive.

Well done, Richard Saunders was blaming the media.

And God forbid anyone should have to walk. Or, worse, take a bus to work... or car share. Eeww.

There is a deluded cohort of DCC employees and councillors who think if only they wish hard enough Dunedin will become a cycling mecca. Now if we all gather enough pixie dust that my happen.
Until then people need to realise that 3/4's of people live on the hills. It isn't realistic to think that 75 year olds will be cycling Copenhagen style to work, shopping or whatever.
But reality won't stop zealots. The cycleway spending isn't anywhere near done.
We still have $30million to complete the Port Chalmers path. Untold millions ($15mill plus) to resurrect the Wingatui and Caversham tunnels. A ferry service which will undoubtedly be council subsidised to get phantom tourists from Pt Chalmers to the Peninsular.

Fret not dear ratepayers, you will be paying far more in the years to come. With little to no benefit to 90% of residents.

And yet, if all those who could cycle or take buses actually got off their lazy butts and did so, then there would be no problem finding parking in town for those who actually do need to use a vehicle...

Well, maybe not those over 75, you have to be realistic. They might want to drive, take a bus, or maybe use one of those new-fangled electric bikes that go up hills like they aren't there. And for everyone who does take the plunge and leave their car at home, there is more road and parking for the remaining cars. So the other 90% of poor, ignored ratepayers do actually get a benefit after all...

Lee is spot on about this. I've never known so many people united in anger at the changes happening in the CBD to the roading/parking/cycleways. We are being told what is good for us, whether we want it or not, and the council continuing to remove parks is only infuriating people more. The DCC is on an ideological trip and refuses to listen. Richard Saunders' response in the article above is a perfect example of this. People are really p'd off about the traffic congestion, cycleways and lack of parks, and the ridiculous bus hub is only making matters worse. It's all very well telling people (or assuming) they shouldn't bring cars into the city, but that's not the reality. Most people live on a hill in Dunedin and don't want to or can't cycle to work or to do their shopping and other tasks in the CBD. It's about time the council (and NZTA) stopped barging ahead with highly unpopular roading changes and started listening to what the people of Dunedin are telling them. And, while I'm at it, why were the parks removed outside the Moray Place post office? Absurd place to remove parks!

It’s a big chaotic joke.
Who on earth wanted all these cycle lanes through the city anyway!
You hardly see them being used and the city is slowly becoming clogged up with lights failing to work and move traffic.
I mean seriously who wants to get wet or blown off their bike by cycling to work each day, it’s not as if we have the perfect climate.
How about building an outer ring round skirting the city first !!!

It makes little sense to think that cyclists and cycle lanes are the main cause of the problem. Surely when a drive across town takes longer or car parking spaces are occupied, then it is the other car drivers which are occupying this space. I see very little ranting in the media from car drivers about the existence of other car drivers on their roads. Do people feel aggrieved when they walk past another car "stealing" their free parking spot? We are lucky in Dunedin to live in a city where the existence of cars only cause 10 to 20 minute delays across town, rather than other cities where the delays are measured in the hours due to the overabundance of cars.

I suspect some people parking at Moana Pool are not swimmers. Pity the DCC doesn't have any 'park and ride' plans (as far as I know). The new bus hub would make transfers to the central city straightforward. And blaming the media amounts to an ad hominen attack : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

Why should cars be the only means of transport and therefore take up all the road. Apart from those people who live out of town, such as Waikouaiti, Mosgiel, Peninsula etc who need cars to get to work and shop, perhaps more people could, take a bus, walk, and heaven forbid bike. The next thing you will moan about will be electric scooters. Its a good thing all the detractors don't live in places like Hong Kong, Singapore and the Netherlands, bikers out weigh the cars 10 to 1.

Ah yes, if only Dunedin could return to being a city in decline, an irrelevant, half-forgotten, chilly ex-metropolis, a conveniently distant Southern home for equally distant aged relatives. It was so easy back then, one could drive across town in minutes, and barely ever needed to share the streets with anyone, and the parking, oh, it was parking Nirvana! Happy days indeed.

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