Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Study highlights areas of car dependence in Christchurch

The day of a record US$25 spike in the price of a barrel of oil, Green Party Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons has released a series of city maps which show how well, or badly, New Zealand's suburban populations are prepared for rising oil prices.

"Today's massive US$25 increase in the cost of a barrel of oil, shows how urgent it is for New Zealand cities and town planners to get serious about the end of cheap oil. We are fast approaching a time when large proportions of the population will not be able to afford to commute by car.” Ms Fitzsimons says.

For Christchurch the map reveals that the proportion of people who travel to work by car varies from 53% to 77% within the city and its suburbs.

Residents in Christchurch’s northern and south western suburbs are particularly dependent on their cars and can produce up to three times as much vehicle CO2 emissions every day as the average inner Christchurch city inhabitant[1]. Areas that are closer to the city centre or serviced by frequent public transport such as Lyttelton, New Brighton and Sumner show lower car dependence but even at best more than one in two people travel to work by car.

“A major change in thinking and investment is needed to meet the New Zealand Transport Strategy targets of improving access and mobility and halving greenhouse gas emissions from domestic transport by 2040,” said Joseph Burston, Green candidate for the Port Hills.

“ In Christchurch this means greater investment in bus priority lanes and improved bus services, especially to outer city suburbs and a more integrated network,” he said. “In outer suburbs people have little choice but to take the car, especially if they are not travelling to the city centre.”

“Yet regional transport planning continues to promote private car use. Instead of investigating a regional petrol tax to help fund two new motorways as part of a $1.1 billion Canterbury road-building programme, local government should be investing in reducing our car dependency.”

“Car-pooling schemes and high occupancy lanes, on the northern motorway for example, can help reduce congestion, make the roads safer for other users and future-proof our transport networks against fluctuating fuel prices and the end of cheap oil.”

RELEASE ENDS

Background notes
Eight city maps here: http://www.greens.org.nz/node/19894
Green Party transport policy here: http://www.greens.org.nz/transport/package

[1] The thesis is “The effect of urban growth on travel patterns in Christchurch, New Zealand”. Nick Buchanan Dept. of Geography, University of Canterbury, 2006.

The NZ Transport Strategy and Government Policy Statement on Land Transport Funding 2009/10 targets include:
• Reduce kilometres travelled by single occupancy vehicles , in major urban areas on weekdays by 10% per capita by 2015 compared to 2007.
• Increase the use of public transport to 7% of all trips by 2040 (i.e. from 111 million boardings in 2006/07 to more than 525 million in 2040).
• Increase the mode share of cycling, walking, and other active modes from around 18 % to 30 % of total trips by 2040

The Green Party Vision