2018 By-election Survey Results

Northcote by-election blog post

 

On Saturday 9 June 2018 voters in the Northcote electorate (which closely aligns with the Kaipatiki area) are heading for the polls to elect a new local MP, given that Jonathan Coleman is resigning to take up private sector employment.

 

Bike Kaipatiki saw this as an excellent opportunity to canvass candidates on local issues relating to transport, with an additional focus on cycling topics that are close to our hearts.  We made it clear that responses would be shared with our members and the general community to assist them in understanding where each candidate stood.

 

To date we have received responses from Dan Bidois (National), Shanan Halbert (Labour), Rebekah Jaung (Greens) and Stephen Berry (ACT).

 

Each candidate received the same questions, and their responses are verbatim.  Where candidates have made public statements on the same issue we have included that as well for further elaboration of their position.  We have also asked Dan Bidois to clarify some of his responses as annotated.

 

Transport GPS

The new Government’s GPS presents a number of changes in direction, prioritising safety, access to a wider range of transport options, the environment and value for money over its previous incarnation.  We see this as a positive move for cycling, especially its focus on safety and increased funding for cycling infrastructure.

 

What are your thoughts on the new GPS, and what it will mean for the Northcote electorate?

 

Dan Bidois, National:

The major impact this will have on Northcote is that the new GPS will require Northcote motorists to pay new petrol taxes of 25 cents a litre to fund the Government and Council’s tram down Dominion Road. This means Northcote motorists will be paying hundreds more in taxes a year but receiving no new transport projects for that.

 

Shanan Halbert, Labour:

It’s great to have a GPS that delivers a much more balanced approach than the last government’s, with a focus on road safety, public transport and active modes. Labour is delivering a 248% increase in funding for walking and cycling improvements, 46% increase for public transport, and 42% increase to local road improvements. As your local MP, I will work with the local board to advocate that we get our fair share of these funds to improve our local cycleways and roads.

 

Rebekah Jaung, Greens:

I think it is great to finally see investment in sustainable and active transport infrastructure. We have a public transport champion in Julie Anne Genter and I am excited to see positive change in the way we plan transport with her leadership on the issue.

Stephen Berry, Act:

Safety for cycling is always important, however, GPS will not solve the massive congestion issues in Northcote as it makes no provision for the construction of new motorways. I'm standing on a platform of completing Auckland's motorway network in the next 10 years. My top priority is that a part of the project will create a Northcote Harbour crossing linking Northcote with SH16 which bypasses Onewa Rd, SH1 and the CBD

 

Auckland Transport Alignment Project

The ATAP package commits $28 billion to Auckland’s transport requirements over the next decade, with a significant focus on public transport, walking and cycling as well as roads.  In particular, walking, cycling & local board priorities receive $0.9 billion, of which $640m is committed to cycling infrastructure. We see this as a huge positive. Contributing to the budget is $1.5 billion from a Regional Fuel Tax, which we also see as a positive, though a bit of a blunt instrument until more sophisticated Travel Demand Management systems can be introduced.

 

Similar to the GPS, what are your thoughts on the ATAP plan, and what it will mean for the Northcote electorate?  If you are not in favour of the fuel tax, what funding source would you use to replace it?

 

Dan Bidois, National:

The new version of ATAP released by the Government and Council does not do anywhere enough for Northcote, despite asking us to pay for it. There are announcements for all other parts of Auckland except Northcote, which isn’t good enough. Vague commitments around more funding for public transport and roading aren’t good enough – we need to see specifics for our area. We cannot trust the Council politicians and bureaucrats to deliver for Northcote, so I’ll fight for a comprehensive plan that gets us our fair share, and addresses our local needs.

 

If the Council and Government could manage its spending, they wouldn’t need to tax hardworking families more – on average, an extra $700 per family per year in new taxes.

 

Shanan Halbert, Labour:

With ATAP, Labour has fronted with a fully costed plan that will help fix our traffic in Auckland that I support. For Northcote, we will get:

·         redevelopment of the downtown ferry terminal ($60 million) that services the three ferry routes to the area (Northcote Point, Birkenhead Point and Beachhaven),

·         Bus improvements in the city centre ($40 million) where buses from the North Shore will terminate,

·         Seapath ($40 million) between Esmonde Road and Northcote Point,

·         and Skypath ($68 million) across the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

On top of that, as you mentioned in your question, there is the $900 million for walking and cycling, as well as local board initiatives. As a strong local voice, I’ll work with everyone locally to get more investment here in Northcote.

 

Rebekah Jaung, Greens:

The regional fuel tax is an imperfect policy solution which would not have been necessarily if our transport infrastructure had not been mismanaged for the last 9 years. I do think that prioritising public and active transport and ensuring safety are all steps in the right direction. Investing in transport infrastructure all across Auckland will benefit the many residents of Northcote who work outside of the electorate or all of us when we are travelling elsewhere in this city.

 

Stephen Berry, Act:

I'm open to the creation of cycle lanes on major arterial transport routes, but on other roads this needs to be weighed up against the impact on parking and small businesses. Like the GPS, I do not believe the ATAP will fix Northcote's transport issues because it offers very little aside from extensions to Busways and Skypath/Seapath. Nothing short of a Northcote Harbour crossing is going to have a genuine impact on congestion.

I agree that a fuel tax is a blunt instrument; it is paid for by those who may not be contributing to congestion and is highly regressive. I do not see why low income families in South Auckland commuting to jobs far from the CBD should be paying it. Act advocates reducing existing fuel tax levels and implementing congestion charges through Electronic Road Pricing, currently used by both New South Wales and Singapore.



SkyPath & SeaPath

The ATAP cycling infrastructure budget has provision for SkyPath, a walking and cycling link over the Harbour Bridge, and SeaPath, a shared walking and cycling path between SkyPath’s northern terminus and Esmonde Rd along the motorway corridor.  Bike Kaipatiki has long lobbied for both of these projects, and we’re delighted to see their planning and budgeting advanced.

 

You are probably aware that the Northcote Residents Association lobbied hard against SkyPath, but were ultimately unsuccessful as Resource Consent has been granted.

 

What are your thoughts on these two projects, and the benefits (or not) they will bring to the Northcote electorate?

 

Dan Bidois, National:

I support an integrated SkyPath and SeaPath as it offers another choice for residents to get around the city, but I also want to ensure that affected residents’ concerns are taken into account. We also need to ensure that there is sufficient supporting infrastructure, particularly around parking and ablution facilities.

 

Dan has also been quoted in the NZ Herald on 11 May here on SkyPath and SeaPath as per the following interview with Simon Wilson:

I asked him about SkyPath, the proposed walking and cycling addition to the harbour bridge.

"I think there are better things to do with taxpayers' money than SkyPath."

You don't support it?

"Broadly speaking I do support it."

So what do you mean, "there are better things to do with the money"?

"I support it in broad terms, but it has to link to SeaPath."

But hasn't that been agreed? SeaPath will continue the SkyPath route all the way to Takapuna, so it won't end in Northcote.

"Well, yes."

I asked what else he was worried about?

"There are privacy issues."

What privacy issues?

"Well, like parking problems."

How are parking problems a privacy issue?

"Well, okay. But the people of Northcote are unanimously against it."

Unanimously? I told him surveys have suggested many locals are in favour.

"Okay, look. What I'm saying is that the value of SkyPath is not as great as more roading projects, and public transport and more Park and Rides."

So you don't support it?

"No I do. It's a good initiative."

 

Shanan Halbert, Labour:

I fully support both of these projects and they will definitely give people in our community more transport options, so more people feel comfortable leaving their car at home – freeing up the roads for those that have to drive.

 

Rebekah Jaung, Greens:

I support SkyPath and SeaPath. Providing another means of crossing the bridge will reduce congestion and I love that it will encourage active transport.

 

Stephen Berry, Act:

I support both. It seems bizarre to me that a world class city of 1.3 million people does not have pedestrian and bicycle access across the harbour.

 

Northcote Safe Cycle Route

The NSCR is an AT project connecting Northcote Point with Smales Farm via 5km of mostly-protected safe cycling infrastructure.  Connecting transport hubs, schools, sports facilities and commercial centres, Bike Kaipatiki has strongly endorsed this project, and welcomes its completion over the next few months.  However the lower Queen St section is problematic as AT watered down their design to an inadequate level of traffic calming due to pressure from locals who didn’t want to lose on-street parking.  Jonathan Coleman supported the locals, and calls the route “over-engineered”, a position with which we disagree.

 

What are your thoughts on the NSCR, its benefits to the community, and its implementation, particularly in lower Queen St?  How would you seek to modify it?

 

Dan Bidois, National:

Having lived and worked overseas, I have experienced the benefits of sensible and safe cycleways. I am not convinced that the current plans for further cycleways in Northcote have struck the best balance between shared road users and properties affected by the changes. As a part of the work I want to lead on a comprehensive Northcote transport plan, bringing together a range of stakeholders, I would like to ensure we’re getting cycling options that do work for all residents.

 

Bike Kaipatiki was puzzled by this response.  The NSCR is nearly complete and is not a “future cycleway”.  We’ve asked for clarification, and will update when received.

 

Shanan Halbert, Labour:

I support more safe cycling routes in the electorate and I’m glad that the NSCR will be completed shortly. Belmont Intermediate has had a lot more kids cycling to and from school since a safe cycle route was put in near them. So, Northcote Intermediate and other schools will benefit directly from the NSCR by giving kids a safe way to cycle to school.

As for the implementation, I think it’s important that the local community is consulted and I’m glad their input was taken on board. I know that sometimes this means we don’t get 100% of what we want from projects, but at least we will have a complete, safe cycleway that includes Queen Street.

 

Rebekah Jaung, Greens:

I support the NSCR. Streets are a public space and I think that it is more important to ensure the safety of children who are cycling around the neighbourhood than to retain parking spaces.

 

Stephen Berry, Act:

Cycle lanes on major arterial routes have merit, but I'm reluctant to see on-street parking on other roads compromised for cycle lanes.

 

Onewa Rd

Congestion on Onewa Rd is one of the hot topics in the electorate.  Those driving low-occupancy vehicles continue to fume at the delays they incur, while those driving high occupancy vehicles or taking public transport (over 70% of morning peak hour travellers) are delighted by the speedy run they get into the city.  Cyclists, meanwhile, get a shared path on the southern side of Onewa Rd but lack one on the northern side for safe eastbound movement.

 

What do you see as the solution for Onewa Rd, and traffic congestion in the Northcote electorate generally?

 

Dan Bidois, National:

There is no single solution to transport problems in the electorate, whether its on Onewa Road or other main routes like Lake Road. At the moment, politicians and bureacrats are ignoring community concerns, so I want to see a comprehensive Northcote transport plan developed. I would lead this work as local MP, bringing together stakeholders from a range of agencies and communities to figure out what needs to be done and then fight for those changes. At the moment we’re seeing residents being asked to fork over more money in taxes for transport solutions they won’t benefit from and that’s not good enough.

 

In the same Simon Wilson Herald article referenced above, Dan has elaborated further on his solution for traffic congestion in the electorate:

Bidois talks often about how "commuters are stuck on Onewa Rd" and it's true that at peak times general traffic headed for the motorway backs way up.

But there's a T3 lane with a steady stream of buses, many of them double deckers, and cars with three or more people in them. At least 70 per cent of peak-time commuters on Onewa Rd do not get stuck in traffic. What else did Bidois think should happen?

"Auckland Transport have ignored the feedback from residents."

Previously he's advocated for the T3 to become a T2. Is that what he meant?

"Well, yes, perhaps, but I realise that isn't going to solve our issues."

You do?

"We need a comprehensive plan."

Isn't that what the Government has announced?

"We need more specifics. And we need more parking. Buses are good but how are people meant to get to the bus?"

Is that a problem on Onewa Rd?

"I think it is. And there should be clearways."

But Onewa Rd has clearways already. Do you mean all day?

"Yes. That would help. And the ferries. Beach Haven only runs two or three times a day. They need to be much more frequent."

 

Bike Kaipatiki has also sought clarification from Dan as to whether he still supports a T2, and his opinion on an eastbound shared pedestrian/cycle path on the northern side of Onewa Rd.  

 

Shanan Halbert, Labour:

As someone who has been driving down Onewa Road to get to work every weekday for the last seven years, I know it’s a pain for a lot of commuters. I believe the benefits from ATAP will help ease congestion for those who must drive by giving better public transport options for others. I’m happy to work with Auckland Transport and the Local Board to investigate a cycleway on the northern side.

However, I know that ATAP alone won’t solve everything. That’s why I will be a strong local voice in Jacinda Ardern’s Government for getting light rail to Northcote sooner rather than later. This, along with Skypath, Seapath, and improvements to cycling and busses, will help ease congestion in our community.

 

Rebekah Jaung, Greens:

Many people who wish to commute on public transport currently do not have options for doing so. Improving access to, reducing fares for and increasing the frequency of public transport is key to reducing congestion. Improving the links between different modes of public transport is also an area that needs to be improved.

And as discussed below, with several schools on or near Onewa Rd, creating an environment in which travelling to and from school does not involve cars will also make a difference.

We need to move away from thinking of cars as the default way of getting from place to place.

 

Stephen Berry, Act:

My solution is detailed in an earlier question: I'm standing on a platform of completing Auckland's motorway network in the next decade and if elected, I would table a law requiring the Government of the day to complete the motorway. My top priority is that a Northcote Harbour crossing linking Northcote with SH16 which bypasses Onewa Rd, SH1 and the CBD, is completed in the next 10 years.

 

Cycling in the Northcote Electorate area

Bike Kaipatiki’s vision is a “Connected Kaipatiki”, where we see good quality cycling infrastructure connecting Birkenhead, Northcote, Wairau and Glenfield.  Complementing this backbone, we see a linked network of quiet traffic-calmed streets, Greenways, and cycle linkages so people can move safely around our community, with a particular focus on children and the large demographic of the  “interested but concerned”, who would love to cycle if only it was perceived as safe to do so.

 

How much do you share our vision for the Northcote electorate to be a great place to safely ride a bike to get around, be it for school, shops, sports, commuting or recreation?  

 

If you were to become our MP in June could we expect your support in helping realise our vision?

 

Dan Bidois, National:

Similar to above, I do support more cycling and especially safe cycleways. I would work with all stakeholders, including groups like Bike Kaipatiki, to progress sensible solutions that work for everyone in Northcote.

 

Shanan Halbert, Labour:

I absolutely share your vision and as your local MP, I will work with you, the local board, Auckland Council, and Transport Minister Phil Twyford to make it a reality. As a MP who is part of the governing party, I will have much more influence than any other candidate in this by-election. So, if you want a strong advocate for your vision, please do vote Shanan Halbert on June 9th.

 

Rebekah Jaung, Greens:

I completely support ensuring the safety of children cycling to school and around our electorate. Safety is the number one concern that stops parents from sending their child to school on foot or by bike, and solving this issue should be a non-partisan issue.

 

Having another Green MP in parliament, particularly one with the mandate of support at an electoral level will strengthen the push for this green policy: https://www.greens.org.nz/sites/default/files/policy-pdfs/Safe%20to%20School%20Policy.pdf

Our Safe to School Policy plans to:

Reduce the speed limit outside urban schools to a much safer 30 km/h

Reduce the speed limit outside rural schools to 80 km/h, with the option of a 30km/h limit during drop-off or pick-up times

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

Get half of kids walking or cycling to school by 2022: reducing congestion; improving health and learning; saving families time and money

 

Stephen Berry, Act:

I can not support this proposal as it would have an excessively negative impact on other road users. However, I'm not opposed to a safe cycling infrastructure in general but believe the needs of non-cyclists need to be accounted for and this proposal, in its entirety, would not accomplish that.

 

So there you have it, voters, feedback direct from the candidates themselves.  We hope this helps you make a more informed choice on polling day.

 

Irrespective of who the successful candidate is, you can rest assured the Bike Kaipatiki team will engage with them constructively so that we can realise our vision of Kaipatiki being a great place to hop on a bike.

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