Councillor Chris Darby defends Auckland Transport's controversial $2 billion cycle plan in fiery interview with AM host Ryan Bridge

Councillor Chris Darby has defended Auckland Transport's controversial $2 billion cycle scheme in a fiery interview with AM host Ryan Bridge. 

The plan would make bike training compulsory in schools, scrap car parking for teachers, abolish tax deductions for company cars and introduce public subsidies for people to buy bikes. 

The cycling plan has so far been allocated $306m, but planners are seeking political support for a further $1.7b.

Darby told AM on Thursday, the $2b plan is focused on getting more people on bikes and making it safe to do so. 

"That is the intention of our plan to make it safer. We know that seven out of 10 deaths and serious injuries are outside of the car, is cyclists and pedestrians," he told Bridge. 

Darby questioned the AM host if the council should ignore the "ghastly" figures around death and serious injuries to pedestrians and cyclists. 

"If we come back to the cycling number, the death and serious injury numbers are ghastly. We know from hospitalisation counts, we are undercounting the injuries that are coming into hospitals from those that have come to grieve on a cycle by six times," Darby said.  

"Now, can we ignore that? Can we ignore that as a city and as a nation the number of Aucklanders and New Zealanders who are coming to grief on a cycle because it's not safe to cycle? Do you want to tell your kids that?"

One part of the plan, which has come under heavy scrutiny is the removal of teachers' car parking."

Auckland Councilor Chris Darby
Auckland Councilor Chris Darby Photo credit: AM

Darby said the policy around removing car parking for teachers is just a "distraction" from the overall point of the plan.

"The thrust of this is not looking at teachers and their car parking at schools, that's a little bit of a distraction because that particular matter was just a policy recommendation on one page of 300-page business case," he said. 

When pressed by Bridge, Darby said he doesn't agree with the policy recommendation to remove car parking for teachers. 

"No, I think it's an unnecessary distraction  … and it's three unnecessary words, and I imagine they will be struck out today," he said. 

The cycling plan is set out in the Auckland Cycling and Micromobility Programme Business Case and will be considered by the council's planning committee on Thursday.

Watch the full interview with Chris Darby.