Greater Wellington walks the walk on shift to sustainable transport
Greater Wellington joined community members and government representatives from all walks of life at the third biennial Living Streets Aotearoa Walking Summit last week to discuss how to achieve more liveable, walkable, climate-resilient environments.
Greater Wellington was a major sponsor of this year's Summit, and Transport Committee Chair Roger Blakeley set out Greater Wellington's ambitious targets for mode shift, and the steps the council is taking to reach them.
"Getting people out of cars is one of Greater Wellington's major strategic priorities. We set a bold target of 40% increase in regional mode share to public transport and active travel modes, like walking and cycling, by 2030. That will contribute to a 35% reduction in transport-generated carbon emissions within a decade," Cr Blakeley says.
With public transport and active travel accounting for half of all trips into central Wellington, the highest figure in the country, there is already strong appetite for mode shift among the region's commuters.
"We have a suite of free educational programmes to encourage people to adopt low-carbon travel modes. MovinMarch challenges tamariki and their whānau to get walking or wheeling to school. Pedal Ready offers free cycle skills training to get people of all ages confident on bikes. Our Workplace Travel programme identifies and helps remove barriers to active travel for people and workplaces," says Cr Blakeley.
Let's Get Wellington Moving (LGWM), a joint initiative between Greater Wellington, Wellington City Council and Waka Kotahi, is another way Greater Wellington is delivering on its commitment to mode shift. The programme aims to get more Wellingtonians moving with fewer cars.
"At the Walking Summit, LGWM announced a suite of central city pedestrian improvement projects that will see pedestrians given greater priority and additional safety measures at key areas of city centre. People will start seeing the benefit of the first of these projects by early next year," says Cr Blakeley.
There's no getting around the fact that walking is primarily a local activity; city and district councils play a major role in planning for pedestrian-friendly streets. Greater Wellington provides regional leadership, coordination and research to local authorities in their efforts to shift to sustainable transport.
"One surprising finding from our research is that a quarter of people who drive to Park and Ride stations live less than a kilometre away. That's a clear indication that areas around transport hubs need to be made more accessible for people walking or cycling," adds Cr Blakeley.
One of the biggest ways Greater Wellington contributes to mode shift is by delivering a public transport network that people want to use.
"Meaningful mode shift needs a strong public transport network. We're investing in infrastructure that makes it easier for people to access public transport. Reliability is also crucial and has been a challenge due to a major bus driver shortage but we're working with unions, bus operators, and Waka Kotahi to fix that," says Cr Blakeley.
Living Streets Aotearoa spokesperson Ellen Blake says, "We had a great Walking Summit with a fantastic range of speakers who shared so many valuable stories of the successes and issues for pedestrians, on foot, wheelchair or pram.
"At Living Streets we imagine a future Aotearoa where sustainable, thriving, pedestrian-friendly communities are the norm, and getting from A to B is a joy.
"We heard how this is being done in Palmerston North, the vision for Petone and Wellington, and what more we need to do to ensure that living streets are for everyone."
People can visit the Living Streets Aotearoa website for more information and a video from the Summit, which will be shared soon: www.livingstreets.org.nz
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