Over the last two days we’ve been fortunate to have Chris and Melissa Bruntlett of Modacity here in Otautahi. I went along to their talk last night as well as a workshop this morning. They have made a name for themselves by advocating for all things cycling, and doing it in a smart, effective way.
I’ll try not to bore you with too much of the detail – have a read of their blog if you’re interested. But here are a few takeaways that stood out to me, as well as a few other random pictures I threw in too.
My first lesson was that it’s pronounced moDAcity, like audacity. Not MOdacity, like motorcity.
There was a good turnout despite the attrocious weather.
It was held at Turanga, Christchurch’s brilliant new library. It was my first visit here so I took a few snaps of that for anyone who hasn’t made it yet.
There’s lots of bike parking and lots of bikes. Nice to see a wide range as well – old, new, fat tyres, thin tyres, baskets, boxes, bags, all sorts of different shapes and sizes.
Some good street activation.
Archetypal Christchurch views from the top.
Although they really highlighted how far we still have to go with rebuilding the city.
Anyway, back to the Bruntletts.
The talk was mainly about the Netherlands, and why so many people bike there. I thought it was interesting that 75% of urban roads are 30km/h speed limit or less. I reckon this alone would be a massive game-changer in Christchurch, and it would cost basically nothing to do it.
On that note was this quote, “The barriers to cycling are not dollars and cents, they are cultural and political”.
One interesting touch was they got their kids up to talk as well. This is 12 year old Coralie telling her story about how she enjoys being able to ride her bike around her neighbourhood. It was surprisingly powerful hearing it from the mouth of a child.
There was also a workshop the next day on “exploring practical strategies to reshape community opinion about cycling”. I was quite interested to see who attended – people from various councils and government agencies, and consultants. But also a few people involved in community groups, initiatives, volunteer organisations, more grass-roots type work. I was also impressed to see the chairperson of the central city business association there, who had some thoughtful questions and comments and seemed generally pretty on board with it all.
To me, the talk and workshop both really rammed home the point that hard infrastructure is only one piece of the transport puzzle. People’s travel choices are not just based on the easily quantifiable things like travel time and costs, they are also based on deeply ingrained culture, habits, friendship groups, and emotional connections to certain modes. We need to make sure we are addressing these somewhat less tangible things as well as the easily quantifiable stuff.
I’ll leave you with this video Chris and Melissa created. It’s narrated by the chair of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, who had previously been passionately opposed to the proposed cycleways. Once they’d gone in and he saw the positive effects on businesses, he did a complete 180 and is now a strong advocate of cycling in the city.
Thanks to sponsors Transportation Group, CCC, NZ Institute of Architects, WSP-Opus, Aurecon, Stantec and Action Bicycle Club for making it happen.