Electric Bikes and Tourism in Wellington-Developing Transport Systems with Tyler Golly
Transport Options for all Ages and Abilities
Switched On chats with Tyler Golly
I’ve just finished chatting with Tyler Golly who works for Stantec and has been part of a significant change in the city of Edmonton, Canada. He’s described as one of Edmonton’s leading voices for sustainable transportation, Tyler designs ‘systems that get whole communities moving’. From our dinner conversation I asked him a few questions about designing infrastructure and particularly about electric bikes and tourists. Please forgive any mis-quotes as our chat was conversational while eating and enjoying a Garage Project brew!
At Switched on Bikes we send people riding around Wellington everyday- from experienced riders to those who haven’t ridden in 20 or more years, so I was interested to hear what Tyler had to say about getting communities behind projects that keep people riding bikes safe.
Do electric bikes pose a new challenge for transport planners?
Electric bikes can travel faster and they’re attracting people who might not otherwise ride a bike, so a greater variety of skills level of riders are cycling, but Tyler thinks that good transport planning doesn’t need to specifically cater for eBikes, “When planning good transport, you should aim to provide for all ages and abilities and this naturally includes less-confident electric bike riders”. This idea rings true to me, when guiding riders who haven’t ridden in a long time and who are less confident, they’re looking for the same things in infrastructure as parents who are looking for safe places to ride with their kids- separate from fast moving traffic. Less confident riders would like the freedom to make a mistake and be allowed a wobble from time to time without fear of cars and trucks wizzing by them. The confident (non-electric) bike riders, pass our group of slower moving eBikers when heading around the bays everyday.
How about electric bikes on shared paths?
Electric bikes can travel faster, more easily than a regular bikes, but Tyler explains that it’s about the number of riders or number of walkers on any particular route, “Once you get too many riders or too many walkers sharing a space, you need to think about providing separate places for each, but a low number of riders (electric or not) should be able to share a space”. And that’s what I see on Wellington’s shared paths, when it’s quiet the space can easily be shared, when it’s very busy then a separate route for walkers and riders would prevent any potential conflict. The most important thing is courtesy- ride slow when it’s busy, use your bell or let people know that you’re passing (in your friendliest voice ‘just passing on your right’!). Any rider, electric or not can whizz past people too fast, so it’s about putting yourself in the shoes of a walker who doesn’t expect a bike to come past. Personally, I think we need to allow people to day-dream and not walk in a straight line, from time to time!
Should we invest in cycle lanes for visitors?
As primarily a tourism business, we want to keep people visiting to Wellington safe and provide them with a really fun and carefree riding experience…but wouldn’t it be better to focus our attention of providing cycle lanes for the commuting routes for locals? “It’s about creating a connected network of bike lanes. If you create links between key parts of the city, they will be used by both locals and visitors. And remember that it’s not just about getting from A to B, biking and walking can- of course- be done for recreation too! If you build a really nice walking and biking path around a beautiful part of the city then more people will ride! They might not ride it to work, but they might ride it on the weekend or after school with their kids.” Tyler suggested looking at the Strava app (where people can log their rides), to see where people are currently riding. From looking at Wellington Strava map, if seems that the routes that are best for visitors are already popular routes with locals. Of course, not everyone uses Strava so the data isn’t complete but it’s probably the best data sample we have access to. Here’s a Strava map for Wellington…
Interesting, that the routes that most people take when hiring our bikes (around the bays) already shows high bike usage by the brighter lines.
What’s important to remember when getting the community behind more bike lanes?
Tyler reminded me that, “It’s not just about bikes lanes, it’s about providing a whole transport package that works for everyone. Provide options for people of all ages and abilities.”
Tyler was in Wellington to speak at a Sustainable Business Network organised event called ‘Edmonton’s Cycle Journey’ on the 13th of October 2017. You can listen to an interview wiht Tyler on Radio New Zealand here about the project he lead in Edmonton Canada and how this relates to New Zealand’s cycle pathways.
Written and published by Ryan O’Connell from Switched On Bikes