Taking responsibility for transport emissions

How do we do it?

Everyone knows that travel by foot or by bicycle is the healthiest and most sustainable form of transport. Walking and cycling can be combined with public transport for longer journeys. Over the years we have put our energy into becoming better and better at designing and planning streets that invite people to walk and cycle, and that provide for pleasant public transport services. However, in New Zealand, there are still many roads that only provide for travel by motorised vehicles. That means that a large part of our road network doesn’t support travel that’s inclusive, healthy for us or healthy for the planet. So, at ViaStrada, we put people walking and cycling first. But taking responsibility for carbon emissions is not only about what you do but also about what you don’t do.

Where do we draw the line?

This is a very difficult issue. We are not in favour of motorways or greenfield development because they induce traffic and lock in carbon emissions. We are often critics of these projects and lend our expertise to the community in support of lower carbon alternatives. We accept that this limits our potential work stream.

However, we have worked with councils to mitigate the impacts of the Roads of National Significance (RoNS) including improved motorway interchanges (where big highways meet local streets) for walking and cycling. We also provide advice or conduct safety audits for greenfield developments to make them safer and more accessible to all. In such cases we recognise that provisions for active travel contribute connect communities and contribute to a higher uptake of sustainable travel.

Our selectiveness has resulted in a portfolio that reflects our passion: multimodal projects that consider the needs of all users. This focus results in an expertise that we are often asked to share.

Who asks for walking and cycling expertise?

Besides putting our passion into our projects, we collaborate with the industry and offer training courses. It started in 2003, when we realised cycling was sometimes only one lecture in a full engineering degree. We’ve had so much fun providing these courses! With sign off from central government agencies from day one, we trained over 1500 people before online training started (which makes counting difficult). The success of this training spurred on the development of other courses; first for walking and, more recently, the Urban Streets Design course. In addition, ViaStrada staff can often be spotted giving presentations and guest lectures. Because the more industry stakeholders know about planning and design and how it makes a difference for transport emissions, the more they can help improve the provision for walking, cycling and public transport. And details do matter!

What about those details?

Got a whole day? It is about the location for crossings, the width of a path, access points, the existing volume of motorised traffic, the suppressed demand of people walking and cycling, the orientation of tactile pavers for visually impaired people at traffic signals, providing for people walking and cycling at signalised intersections and roundabouts. It is also about route planning, wayfinding, and monitoring path users especially when building a network from almost nothing, which is sometimes still the case in New Zealand. Also, don’t forget to take the perspective of kids when you go into the details of a school travel plan to promote a modeshift towards active and sustainable travel – check the links below for more info!

How to provide for cyclists at traffic signals [video, 4 min.]

Around a bout time to provide for walking and cycling at roundabouts [grab your design]

Turning the Tide for active travel – key policy recommendations [read 5 min. link to report]

Evolving methods of school travel plans [read, 5 min.]