It is essential that all personnel, including politicians, who are responsible for planning, implementing and promoting cycling facilities are available, appropriately trained and skilled and aware of the latest technical guidance and relevant research findings. There also needs to be a wider understanding of cycling policy, its objectives and benefits. Specialist training should be undertaken where necessary (McClintock, 2002, pp.32–33).
Personnel resources can include:
Many projects in different administrations and organisations can affect cycling, and planning and implementing a cycle network involves a significant amount of work.
For this reason, each road controlling authority should have someone with overall responsibility for preparing and implementing its cycling strategic plan. Where large urban areas are involved this position should be full-time, and may need the support of other full-time staff dedicated to this function.
Those responsible for co-ordinating cycle provision need to have a high profile within their organisations and be supported by senior management. Ideally planners will also have a good working relationship with and support from local councillors; this can be fostered through inclusion of a political ‘champion’ for cycling.
Cycling advocates, who often form groups to further their collective interests, can make a significant contribution at most stages of the cycle network planning and implementation process. Their views should be sought at key planning and design stages, so that they consider themselves as partners to the process, rather than having to take a stance of opposition if they do not agree with certain matters. Such input should preferably by involvement alongside others in an advisory group so the project is not seen as being captured by one interest group.
Bear in mind though that advocacy groups often include a lot of experienced cyclists who may not fully appreciate the needs of the interested but concerned target audience. It may be necessary to educate advocacy groups about this target audience and encourage them to include members who represent these views.
Details of the consultation required at each step in the planning process are discussed in Engagement and consultation.
Cycling advisory groups
It is recommended that each local authority convene a cycling advisory group (or at least an active modes advisory group). Transparency of all governance is paramount to avoid challenges to its legitimacy. The composition of the group should include the following:
- elected representative(s) (ideally the representative(s) of the constituency where the infrastructure is planned)
- target user representative (members of the public, or representative of an appropriate ‘cycling group’ eg Cycling Action Network)
- planner (to provide input on how infrastructure will interact with other street uses)
- traffic/transport engineer
- representative of other major transport modes in the area (eg bus or train company)
- representatives of other road user groups (eg AA, Living Streets Aotearoa)
- representatives of related agencies (eg New Zealand Police, NZ Transport Agency, district health board)
- key stakeholders (see Engagement and consultation) such as major landowners.
The advisory group’s appointment should be done as transparently as possible, ideally with publicity and political championing, to future-proof it against challenge.
The purpose of this group should be established from the beginning. In some cases it will be simply to provide high-level planning input, in other cases the group may be incorporated into the review/audit process to give feedback on specific design proposals.
There are consultants who specialise in cycle planning and cycle infrastructure design. Before engaging a consultant, check they have the specialist skills and experience relevant to the tasks required. Experience in general roading or transport planning and design is not sufficient on its own.
Explicit public support from politicians and local influencers (championing) is essential to maintain a project’s ‘licence to operate’ ie its social viability. However, they will need concerted support to act as champions for the project. Support should be factored into the project plan, as the project manager’s responsibility. This should involve instilling and reinforcing with champions the project’s rationales (the ‘why we are doing this’ story), key messages and language to use, and preparing them to seize ad hoc opportunities to promote and defend the project. (See Engagement and consultation.)
Media can have a major influence on a project’s licence to operate. Mainstream media are generally unfamiliar with modern rationales for investing in cycling infrastructure. Their default approach is to use stock imagery and orthodox language which can quickly undermine a project, even if the article’s general tone is neutral or even supportive.
Media also capitalise on conflict, and may see a cycleway project as a ready source of conflict and greater sales even if reporters personally support it. Conversely, good media can have a significant future-proofing effect on social licence to operate, and boost uptake of the finished infrastructure.
Media management should be provided for in the project engagement and communications plan (see Engagement and consultation), starting early and continuing actively throughout the project.