'No choice' but to change attitudes towards transport

At the Shaping Our Futures forum in Wanaka are Phil Tisch (left), of Wanaka, and Cam Read, of...
At the Shaping Our Futures forum in Wanaka are Phil Tisch (left), of Wanaka, and Cam Read, of Queenstown. PHOTO: MARJORIE COOK
Wanaka is "absolutely ripe for the picking" to demonstrate a "mode shift" in attitudes towards transport networks, Queenstown Lakes district councillor Quentin Smith says.

Mr Smith was one of the presenters at an independent Shaping Our Futures forum in Wanaka last Wednesday night.

Gridlocked roads, carbon emissions and stressful journeys were front of mind for the 30 attendees.

The facilitator was former Queenstown Lakes mayor Vanessa van Uden, who backed Shaping our Futures forums when she was in office.

Mr Smith chairs the district council’s infrastructure committee.

He said there was "no choice" but to change attitudes towards transport.

Wanaka’s constrained network meant it was ideal to implement change.

The small urban environment set the town up for relatively short trips, on relatively flat ground.

The town could reinvent itself as an attractive destination for visitors who enjoyed active transport.

The community was motivated to create change, Mr Smith said.

"We don’t have a choice. There’s no future in relying on a single-passenger car to get around ... We cannot get to net zero [carbon emissions] in New Zealand without transforming our transport network ... We cannot afford the infrastructure for single-passenger cars."

Also speaking at the forum were NZ Transport Agency manager of behaviour and choice Jeremy O’Brien (attending from Wellington via teleconference technology) and Auckland-based mode shift transport expert Louise Baker of engineering and infrastructure company WSP (formerly known as Opus).

Mr O’Brien asked people to reflect on what could make cycling or walking an "awesome" experience to rival the popularity of driving, while Ms Baker said changing transport behaviour could be complex, complicated, chaotic or simple, depending on people’s mindsets. People needed to address their barriers and motivations to change, as well as their triggers for action, she said.

At question time, people asked how soon Wanaka would get public transport, how realistic change was when Wanaka was not likely to become a bustling city and what impact would autonomous or e-vehicle fleets have.

A similar transportation forum was held in Queenstown on Thursday.

A report from the forums will be fed back to policy and decision makers in local and central government and other agencies.

 - Marjorie Cook

 

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