A proposal to slash this year's budget for cycling projects in Auckland from $65 million to about $6.5 million over the next two years is a disaster for the city, says youth group Generation Zero.
Auckland Transport is considering the cuts when the current Urban Cycleways Fund, set up by the last Government, comes to an end.
"This would be a disaster for Tāmaki Makaurau and an abandonment of a successful programme to increase the number of people on bikes, increase safety, and reduce congestion." says Generation Zero Auckland Director Leroy Beckett.
This budget doesn't reflect an inclusive approach to designing transport networks
The proposed cuts are contained in the draft Regional Land Transport Plan 2018-2028, which Auckland Transport is putting out for public feedback from February 28 to March 28.
The draft proposes reducing capital spending on cycling and walking from $65m in the 2018-2019 financial year to $6.5m and $6.7m in the following two years. AT plans to spend a total of $4.6 billion on running costs, renewals and capital projects over the three years.
"This budget does not reflect an organisation that is serious about reducing congestion or emissions. It's definitely not one that wants spend money wisely."
"This budget doesn't reflect an inclusive approach to designing transport networks. It ignores the increased demand from children who wish to walk, scooter or cycle safely to schools instead of being dependent on cars," Beckett said.
An AT spokesman said the document was a draft only and no final decisions have been made on cycling.
"Beyond 2018/19 the $6.5 million per annum reflects a base level in the absence of any decision to invest in further cycling initiatives.
"As part of the 10 year budget process, we are keen to get the public's views about what additional funding they would like to see spent on the cycling programme," the spokesman said.
Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter was surprised about the priorities in the draft and expected Aucklanders to make it clear during consultation that walking and cycling and rapid transit should be higher priorities for the city.
"Aucklanders are sick of being stuck in traffic. Investing in rapid transit and safe cycling infrastructure is key to giving more Aucklanders the freedom to escape traffic congestion and go by train, bus or bike," she said.
Genter, a Green MP, said the Government is committed to substantially increasing investment in walking and cycling, which is part of the confidence and supply agreement between the Greens and Labour.