Newly formed cycling advocacy group Share the Streets Kirikiriroa Hamilton is inviting fellow bicycle enthusiasts to a rally on Saturday for safer cycling.
Sparked by the death of teenager Levi James, who was hit by a vehicle while cycling in Auckland, and a subsequent protest last month, the group wants to raise awareness around the lack of safe cycling infrastructure and the disproportionate number of people riding bikes who are killed on New Zealand roads.
The group says cycling should be safe and they can no longer accept people being fatally or seriously injured on the nation's streets.
Share the Streets spokeswoman Sarah Thomson says the group was therefore calling for urgent action at a national level and a fully funded national strategy from the Government for safer cycling.
"There is a real imbalance in the transport system [which] was built around the private vehicle. Of course cars are important, but they are not the only form of transport. In some places, there is literally no space for bicycles."
When she heard about the death of the Auckland teenager and other recent deaths of cyclists, Thomson - who is also a city councillor - felt she needed to do something to be heard.
"People on bikes are 15 times more likely to be injured or killed on Hamilton roads than motorists.
"The lack of government funding is a very large frustration for me. [Through the rally] we are trying to get the infrastructure we know we need."
She says community feedback in regards to the council's biking and micro-mobility programme engagement sessions in 2020 revealed a lot of residents are keen to cycle, but concerned about the lack of safely connected facilities.
"About two-thirds of people said they would cycle more often if they knew it was safe," Thomson says.
She says bicycles were also an important tool in tackling climate change. "We know we have a short window to reduce emissions. Transport is the biggest contributor to emissions in Hamilton and therefore also an area of opportunity to reduce emissions, but we can't do that without better alternative transport options."
The rally will include speakers and a group ride from Steele Park to Garden Place where participants will gather for a protest and a die-in. A die-in is a form of protest where people lie on the ground as a way to signal injury or death.
After the rally, Share the Streets will host a BYO picnic at Garden Place for those who would like to stick around, chat and share kai.
For more information go to the group's Facebook page here.
What: Rally for safer cycling
When: Saturday, May 14, 11am
Where: Steele Park