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Look overseas to solve NZ transport congestion

Media Release - www.ipenz.org.nz/media
Monday, 11 April 2005

Look overseas to solve NZ transport congestion
problems says engineer

A proposal to travel for over two months to study nine cities’ transportation solutions, and bring home suggestions for New Zealand’s increasing congestion and transportation problems has won Institution of Professional Engineers (IPENZ) member Steve Abley the 2005 Hume Fellowship worth $25,000 - one of the premier awards available to the engineering profession in New Zealand.

Steve intends to leave his home in Christchurch to begin his ‘Sustainable Transport Tour‘ on April 25. He has identified nine key cities for investigation, chosen for their innovative sustainable transport initiatives which could potentially be applied in New Zealand.

“Transport is a changing landscape in New Zealand and sustainable transport, although a key objective of New Zealand’s Land Transport Strategy is difficult for practitioners to envisage without practical, real and feasible examples,” said Steve.

Most of the cities Steve will visit have huge populations surpassing New Zealand cities, or have extremely different landscapes, such as Curitiba in Brazil with a population of over 1.6 million, and Copenhagen Denmark which due to its flat terrain successfully runs a free City Bike programme for six months each year providing 2,000 bikes for public use. “If these cities, with vastly more complex problems than ours can solve their problems, then why can’t we?” said Steve.

All nine cities have a common denominator. They have all put in place transportation solutions that are friendly, sustainable and efficient.

“Cities in New Zealand are at the beginning of some real congestion and transportation problems so it is a timely opportunity to collect first-hand knowledge of the world’s best practice of sustainable transport systems that could be applied in New Zealand,” said Steve.

“New Zealand is a small country with limited resources, and we therefore have a requirement to look outwards to discover areas of best practice. We should learn from the experience of other countries and cities, rather than making our own mistakes which can be costly.

“There is substantial benefit in seeing the systems in action rather than reading about them in text books and journals, as we can learn from the problems encountered in implementing and administering these systems which will provide New Zealand with enormous benefits,” he said.

Steve hopes his findings will be valued by MPs, government department’s and key stakeholders as the Ministry of Transport’s vision for 2010 says New Zealand will have ’an affordable, integrated, safe, responsive, and sustainable transport system‘.

“The Policy is the ‘what’ but often at the grass routes the ‘how’ of implementation is very difficult, especially since New Zealand’s transport vision is very high on ideal but the ‘how’ is generally untested by local authorities who support the theory but currently only at a strategic level.

“I hope my work can provide local authorities with the tools to meet New Zealand’s transport vision,” he said.

When Steve returns home he plans to visit IPENZ branches and discuss his findings with other engineers that are ultimately charged with designing New Zealand’s transport solutions.

This isn’t the first time New Zealand has benefited from Steve’s international knowledge. During his time in London he worked with Living Streets, a charity promoting sustainable travel and the transformation of poor road environments. Living Streets appointed Steve as their Honourable Technical Consultant in 2002, and in 2004 Steve co-authored and published a manual entitled ‘Designing Living Streets’ which was launched at the House of Commons in the UK last September.

ENDS

Notes to journalists

Steve Abley’s chosen cities include:

Curitiba, Brazil – One of the world’s best public transport systems in its Bus Rapid Transit network, done on the cheap

Bogotá, Colombia - With a population of 7 million the city recently introduced a Bus Rapid Transit system, one of the busiest bus systems in the world and also constructed

Boulder, Colorado, USA - their Transportation Management Plan has been a key factor in the successful development of an integrated transport system using alternative modes of transport.

Portland, Oregon, USA - The Transportation System Plan aims to make it more convenient to walk, bike, bus and drive.

Copenhagen, Denmark - Free City Bike programme.

London, UK - In 2003 the Mayor of London, Ken Livingston, implemented a congestion charge zone to reduce congestion by discouraging private vehicle traffic in central London.

Houten, Netherlands - In 1974 the city council of Houten decided the city should
increase five fold and that the bicycle would play an important role in the urban master
plan.

Singapore - Singapore has had congesting charging systems in place since 1975.

Perth, Australia - Urban Rail Development and TravelSmart programme

Notes on Hume Fellowship

The Hume Fellowship was established in 1988 by Henrietta Hume and her late husband Harry Lancelot Hume, a fellow of IPENZ who led a distinguished career in the Ministry of Works until his retirement in 1966. As former Harkness Fellows, both Harry and Henrietta studied in USA, their hope for the Hume Fellowship was for international understanding to be forwarded through the provision of international opportunities for education and travel to young men and women of character and ability.

About IPENZ

The Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) is the professional body which represents professional engineers from all disciplines in New Zealand. The Institution sets internationally bench-marked qualifying standards for degree qualifications in engineering, and serves engineers by securing formal recognition for their professional standing. IPENZ provides services for about 10,000 members.

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