Andrew Dickens: Don't believe the fake news about Auckland's cycleways

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Tue, 13 Nov 2018, 12:23PM
A leaked report has exposed apparent flaws in Auckland Transport's cycleways - or did they, writes Andrew Dickens. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Andrew Dickens: Don't believe the fake news about Auckland's cycleways

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Tue, 13 Nov 2018, 12:23PM

So I need to warn you that there are forces abroad that are prepared to fudge the facts to get their arguments across.  They are guilty of spreading fake news.  Whether by design or accident.  Their arguments are fired on by ideology. So if they see any so called fact that supports their beliefs they’ll pounce on it.  It’s important to remain vigilant.  And when you spot it it’s important that it should be corrected.

So this morning we heard that a leaked AT report on cycleway usage says the demand may have been over-estimated.  Which would mean the business case was flawed.  Of course, many council and cycleway critics seized on this.  Aha, they said.  We told you so.

We were told cycleways aren't the future, don’t get used, cost a fortune, and inconvenience the rest of us. The schemes were called potentially fraudulent, dishonest and a scam.

At the heart of the issue was usage numbers. One cycleway was predicted to have 986 daily cyclists.  Two years later it has 333. Another 975, two years later 375.  The Quay St cycleway though was on track.  The estimated use 1060.  two years later in 2018, 1111.

Now this would be shocking if it wasn’t for the fact that the projected usage was for the year 2026.  Not 2018. 2026.  Something that was missing from the original print article bust is now on the online article.

The figures being compared after two years should be compared after 10.  And remember this is a 40 year business plan and the full city bike system is still far from finished. And one last point, this is a report that has been leaked to a journalist and its authors describe it as a work in progress.

So knowing all that that you could have written a completely opposite headline: ‘Demand for parts of the unfinished Auckland urban cycleway are eight years ahead of schedule’.

Another headline could have been: ‘Auckland cycleway numbers increased 15 per cent in the past year’.

Which is absolutely true. It’s in the report.

But that doesn’t fit the beliefs of the anti-cycleway ideologues.  Who then used it to make the bogus claim that councils want you out of your car against your will. You can stay in you stalled car as long as you like.  Cycleways and Busways are about giving you another option if you want.  It’s actually about choice.

So what is true about the cycleways.  They’re expensive.  15 per cent cost overruns.  The council is guilty of gilt edged, Rolls Royce construction. I didn’t need a cycleway painted pink and lit up like a Christmas Tree.

But don’t let the fake news purveyors fool you.  Auckland’s urban cycleway usage is actually on schedule.