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Is the budget another missed opportunity to get more New Zealanders off their cars?

Is the budget another missed opportunity to get more New Zealanders off their cars?

Will the budget be another missed opportunity to get more New Zealanders out of their cars?

It would be hard to find someone who’s visited Copenhagen or Amsterdam and complained about too many bikes. And you don’t tend to hear a lot of moaning about too much public transport in Singapore or Hong Kong.

Talk to someone after a trip in Los Angeles, Moscow or Rome and you’ll almost certainly get an earful regarding the terrible traffic.

The key difference in these experiences is how the local and national governments invest their transportation funds. It all comes down to money. The perennial question of how to maximize the investment returns and reduce the costs of transportation funds is a constant.

As this year’s budget approaches, and with the government’s first Emissions Reduction Plan (ERPThese questions are becoming more apparent with the release of ) And the biggest, perhaps, is how to reduce New Zealanders’ dependence on cars.

There are no complaints: Copenhagen’s cyclists benefit from a large state investment in bike infrastructure.

Your bike

The ERP provides NZ$350,000,000 for measures to improve low impact transport modes such as walking and cycling, public transport, and public transport. There is also provision for at most 100 km of urban bicycleways.

It also provides additional subsidies for electric vehicles. With only 0.7% of New Zealand’s vehicle fleet being pure electric cars, the plan would likely have a bigger impact if it Subsidized e-bikesPublic transport.

The figures for cycling are especially remarkable. New Zealand has Over 96,000 km of roadsBut Only 111 km of separated cycling pathsThese places protect cyclists from cars. This represents 0.1% of roads with safe areas for cyclists.

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This is in direct contrast to transport spending. Despite cycling accounting for 1% of all trips in the country, urban cycleways received 0.5% of last year’s transportation budget.

This is the same as the €70 millionDenmark has committed to building separated cycling routes for just over NZ$116 million.

By 2045, Denmark also plans to have spent €295 million building 45 cycle “superhighway” routes connecting the entire country. It’s This is what we expect to happen.In one million less car trips and 40,000 fewer sick-days each year.

New Zealand spent approximately the same amount as in more than €750 millionThe Transmission Gully motorway leads to Wellington. It’s clear we could significantly increase spending and make cycling attractive and feasible for many more people.

Safer streets

Urban car trips account for around 30% of all trips. Two kilometres in lengthIt could be easily replaced by walking. However, many people find it difficult to walk on footpaths or are in poor condition.

Transport budgets should recognize the importance of enabling healthy, zero-carbon modes by prioritizing funding for safer streets and better footpaths.

This budget would provide more funding for widening footpaths, repairing existing footpath inventories, slowing vehicles and creating more on-street amenities.

There are many other benefits to walking and cycling. Improved physical healthThis would have obvious positive effects on healthcare budgets.

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Funding where it’s needed

The transport budget is large each year, with a lot of money going into long-term programmes that have different goals. The National Land Transport Programme (NLT) is one of these.NLTP) is arguably the hardest done by.

Its purpose is to allocate funds to provide “a safe, accessible land transport system for Aotearoa now and in the future”. It’s tasked with delivering public transport services, implementing the wide-ranging Road to Zero programme (aimed at reducing the road death toll), and maintaining roads – yet consumes just under 1.6% of the annual transport budget.

Idealerweise, such a valuable programme would be able to attract a larger budget share.

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For example, the NLTP’s overall budgetPublic transportation and transport infrastructure are given roughly the same funding as Road to Zero. Road to Zero spends almost the same amount on policing roads than it does on providing all public transport services.

But funding programmes that reduce the total number of car trips – such as more extensive cycleways and better public transport options – would reduce that need to police roads.

Better roads for all

Safety roads are safer when there are fewer cars. This is why it is a win-win situation for both drivers and non-drivers.

The recent apparent success of the half-price fare schemeIt has been shown that public transport is more affordable, which encourages more trips. Budget funding should be allocated to make these cuts permanent, and increase the number concessions.

As fewer cars drive, the cost of fare reductions will outweigh any reductions in road maintenance. Currently, it is estimated that planned road maintenance will cost more than $5B over the next four-years.

A greater use for public transport would also help to reduce the need for roads expansion. This falls under the overall transport budget’s “capital investment package”, of which nearly $3 billion has already been spent this year – 40% of all transport dollars.

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Spend more overall

New Zealand can do more to improve its transport funding by getting more people out of their cars. The national transport budget will also benefit from less emphasis on the automobile.

But even if we don’t want to shift spending from one mode to many, there is another option – to spend more.

Since its inception, transportation spending has fallen as a percentage of GDP. Peak in the 1950s. We don’t have to treat the relationship between road, public transport and active travel (walking and cycling) as mutually exclusive. We can maintain road funding at the current level, and spend more on other modes.

This way, we can do the things we love in other countries while still satisfying those who want a car. The better our cycling and public transport infrastructure, the less reliant we’ll be on cars, bringing us one step closer to breaking the vicious cycle of automobile dependence.

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