Hamilton MP wants transport infrastructure changes to create “totally different” city

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Safer cycling demonstrators rode from Steele Park to Garden Plaza, where a two minute ‘die in’ was staged.

Christel Yardley/Stuff

Safer cycling demonstrators rode from Steele Park to Garden Plaza, where a two minute ‘die in’ was staged.

Hamilton City could look “totally different” in just 20 years – but Hamilton East MP Jamie Strange knows the transport overhaul he is calling for won’t be universally popular.

Strange was speaking at a safer cycling demonstration at Hamilton’s Garden Plaza on Saturday, where he told the 60 to 70 strong crowd that “we want to see this city totally different with cycling at the core of our transport”.

He said he hoped that change would be in the next 20 to 30 years.

“We need to move towards more people cycling. As a Government we are committed to that.”

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He said transport accounted for 20 per cent of emissions, and that under New Zealand’s Paris Climate Agreement obligations, getting more people out of cars would be a better use of money now than having to buy carbon credits further down the line.

He also said the pending Budget would have “climate change at its focus”.

He conceded, however, that the changes wouldn’t be universally popular.

“There will be some people unhappy at the change, but we need to do it.”

Hamilton MP Jamie Strange said transport infrastructure changes could create a ‘totally different’ Hamilton City.

Christel Yardley/Stuff

Hamilton MP Jamie Strange said transport infrastructure changes could create a ‘totally different’ Hamilton City.

His comments were echoed by Hamilton City Councillors’ Sarah Thomson and Maxine van Oosten.

“There’s change coming and some of it won’t be liked by some people in the community,” van Oosten said.

She said 86 per cent of trips in Hamilton were by car, “the highest of the large five cities in New Zealand”.

She said Hamilton City Council was “committed to improving transport choices” and that their 10-year-plan would include investment for cycle routes.

“We want to deliver city-wide biking networks,” she said.

Thomson also agreed there would be pushback.

“Before funding, it’s the biggest challenge.”

Hamilton City Councillor Sarah Thomson said she knew changes to get more cars off the road wouldn’t be popular across the board, but change was needed.

CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF/Waikato Times

Hamilton City Councillor Sarah Thomson said she knew changes to get more cars off the road wouldn’t be popular across the board, but change was needed.

She said she wanted to see a national strategy to get more people on two wheels, what she described as a “whole country response”.

“We need a Government-led response to this, it’s not enough to leave to councils,” she said.

“We need to move a lot faster than we are.”

Thomson also urged people to sign a petition calling on Transport Minister Michael Woods to make cycling safer in New Zealand.

Cycling wasn’t the sole focus on the demonstration however, as wheelchair user Maurice Flynn also made an address calling for greater accessibility for all.

He said people with access issues have often “given up on being part of the community”.

“Poor infrastructure means low community association,” he said.

“I think it’s about time we do things differently for our city.”

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