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Reaching out – Cycling and Public Transport

This is another guest post from Ben L that originally appeared on Cycle Action Auckland.

Following on from our posts on cycle streets and cycle boulevards, this post will look at how this cycling infrastructure can increase the catchment areas of public transport.

It is generally accepted that the maximum acceptable walking distance for public transport like trains and ferries – or a busway – is around 800m. Ideally it should be less than this and the tram system that operated in Auckland until 1955 aimed for a 400m maximum walking distance, by the use of smaller blocks and spacing of the stops.

Using an 800m catchment area, we see the public transport catchment area around the existing train network and ferry terminals as something like this:

As you can see this gives a fairly good catchment but there are large white areas where walking to trains and ferries would be beyond the distance most commuters are happy with. This is because time is probably THE main consideration for commuters and it will take the average person around 10mins to walk 800m at a reasonably brisk walking speed of 5-6km/h, allowing for the occasional delay such as crossing roads. Beyond such distances, the walk becomes too long for most, in more than one sense [Though with increasing residential densities around transit hubs in the future, even at walking pace, a sizeable percentage of Auckland will be close enough to the 10 minute frequencies the electric trains will give us and the even more frequent services after the completion of the CRL].

As most of you are aware, one of the biggest uses of bicycles in cycle friendly countries like Netherlands and Denmark of bicycles is to travel from home to the local public transport station. Around 40% of train passengers in the Netherlands use bicycles to reach the train station and another third walk to the station.

This is made possible the fact 45% of Dutch people live within 3kms of a train station, with great cycle conditions – and you can see it by the legendary cycle parking facilities at train stations:

Is that a tree growing through the middle?

Overcrowded cycle facilities are actually becoming a problem in the Netherlands – though it’s a problem the Dutch are very happy to have as it is far cheaper to solve than Auckland’s transport issues. The Netherlands spends around 30 Euros a year per person on cycling facilities, about $50 NZ.

[CAA Editor's note: Depending on what you include, a rough estimate for NZ's own spending on cycling currently might be around $7-14 per person per year, despite a much worse backlog than the Dutch have.].

Over 70% of cycle trips in the Netherlands are less than 7.5kms. In Auckland, the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) estimated in 2007 that approximately 43% of peak morning trips are less than 5 km, and that approximately 67% of these are currently undertaken by car (ARTA 2007). The Ministry of Transport, Household Travel Survey, 2003–2009 revealed that one-sixth of household car trips in New Zealand were less than 2km long and almost half were less than 6km long. So it appears that our travel patterns are not that much different than in the Netherlands – only our choice of mode.

If we keep our 10min acceptable travel time for commuters to travel to high-quality public transport, we can calculate that most commuters should be happy to travel up to 3kms by bicycle at an average speed of 20km/h. This is a very comfortable travel speed and doesn’t require a huge amount of physical effort, no more than walking for the same period of time. If you have an electric bike, it is even easier! The 3km cycle range has also been found to be a suitable range by NZTA research.

A catchment area of 3kms gives us the following catchment map for train stations and ferry terminals:

As you can see, residents of almost the entire central isthmus, most of West Auckland and large parts of South Auckland are within a 10min cycle ride from a train station. In addition, almost the entire Devonport peninsula, Northcote, Birkenhead and the Howick area are within a 10min cycle ride of a ferry terminal.

Unfortunately this map doesn’t show western and far southern Auckland, nor the scope of the Northern Busway stations – or the future AMETI busways to the east – but you get the idea!

I know many people list hills as a major consideration as to why cycling won’t work in Auckland. I suggest this is mainly because cycling has been presented as a commuting option to your place of employment, which is often a distance of more than 5kms and may often include at least one major hill. However, despite Auckland’s hilly topography, there are many people who would have a fairly flat ride if the distance was less than 3kms (or you might chose to go to a train station that is 3km away, but has a flat ride, instead of the closer one that needs you to go up a hill).

In order to make this a viable option for a significant percentage of Aucklanders, there will of course need to be adequate infrastructure in place to make cyclists feel safe. The fact that cycling in Auckland is in fact already statistically safer than driving on a per hour basis is irrelevant – we must have infrastructure in place that FEELS safe, that allows children, women and the elderly to cycle, not just the 1-2% of Aucklanders who currently ride and who are largely males between 25 and 40 years of age. In fact, one of the biggest indicators of a safe cycling environment is the percentage of female cyclists. For example, 55% of Dutch cyclists are women. In NZ it is more like 15-20%.

Most Aucklanders have some anecdotal evidence of why it is impossible for them to cycle to their local transport option. But two things need to be considered. First, what would it take for that situation to change? Do they need better cycle infrastructure or is there something inherent in their job (tradesman, travelling salesman) that requires them to use a car? If the problem is their job, what percentage of people they know have the same issue?

Second, it is well know that traffic in Auckland improves significantly during school holidays, often dramatically. This situation is attributable to a 5% drop in traffic volumes, an amazingly low percentage. If only a small number of commuters were to cycle to public transport, that would create huge knock on benefits for all motorists.

The real change needed for a network of cycle streets would be ensuring lower travel speeds of 30-35km/h on residential streets. Remember this would not apply to arterial roads, only to the quiet residential streets that usually make up 5-10% of most driver’s travel distances. That seems to me to be a small sacrifice to create a safer and more pleasant street environment for us all. So the benefits of offering this option to even a small minority of Auckland’s population will create benefits that can be enjoyed by everyone:

  • More cycling – creating a virtuous cycle increasing safety, public acceptance and funding
  • More public transport use – using our investment more efficiently, and creating a real mixed-transport city
  • Decongesting existing roads for those who still want or need to drive, easing the constant pressure for “more roads!”
  • Creating more liveable and safer suburbs for our communities

The costs of putting in place cycle boulevards and cycle streets are incredibly low. The amount spent on consultant reports for one Road of Dubious Significance would pay for a large network of such facilities in Auckland. The cost of separated cycle infrastructure on arterials is greater but will also happen alongside this, if the cycling numbers and modal share can be increased.

So let us go for this, big time – if this isn’t seen as low-hanging fruit, then only because we still need to open our eyes!

74 comments to Reaching out – Cycling and Public Transport

  • Luke E

    That white gap in the southern isthmus on the green map would be filled by the building of the Mount Roskill spur, wouldn’t it?

    • George

      Yes, it’s a great illustration of the gaps that would be filled by the Roskill Spur, the Airport Line, the AMETI Busway, and the Te Irirangi Connector.

    • Frank E

      Regarding the Roskill spur, the bus is already pretty quick, especially on Dominion Rd. I live in this area and I really don’t think there’s a problem for the Roskill spur the save. The money will be better saved, or spent elsewhere.

  • George

    Great post. In order to have the city we want, we need to enable truly multi-modal transport.

    Better cycling facilities at _every_ railway and busway station would be a very easy way to start.

    • Christopher

      And on every replacement Rail Bus that is put on.

      I went down to Raglan to visit friends, and coming back, arrived at Pukekohe Train Station at 5.30pm. This was the afternoon that the young girl sadly killed herself at Takanini Train Station. I got a ticket to Britomart, and boarded the train that came in. The lovely train manager said, there’s replacement buses from Papakura to Homai, you won’t be able to take your bike on the bus. I simply said really, it’s not my problem, and my bike is going on the bus. She repeated herself so I repeated myself. She said that she would find out if the trains were running again.

      At Papakura, I was all ready to do battle, but the train manager said the replacement train to Britomart was on the other platform. So I never got to experience taking my bike and panniers onto the replacement rail bus. But it did set me to wondering – with our new trains making it easier to take your bike on the train, thereby spurring greater numbers of people doing so (such as cycle tourists for example), should not our replacement rail buses also be modified to take bikes? It’s a question of design – regardless of the wheels you are travelling on – steel or rubber – the onboard facilities should be similar I would think.

  • This might not account for the fact that distances can not be taken in a straight line to the station. And that you have to wend your way in a zig-zag along suburban roads.

    • Max

      No, it doesn’t. Neither does it account for roads that are so horrible no cyclist would use them, or for train stations that have good access only from one direction etc… – this shows an overall picture, not a specific route. It shows the difference between the range of a bike compared to the range of a pedestrian, and as both have similar restrictions in Auckland, the comparison is quite valid, I argue [being a part-author of the article could of course be seen as making me biased ;-)].

    • Phil Donovan

      If someone sent me the data behind this map; I could easily run it through network analysis with GIS to get a far more realistic representation of the catchments.

      philip roger donovan @ gmail . com (spaces just to protect from bots (highly unlikely i know but…))

      • Max

        Hi Phil

        Thank you very much for the offer – but there is no spreadsheet of data behind this. It is simply circles of 800m and 3000m positioned over the places where PT stations are located on the map. Maybe some of the GIS folks like Kent has a coordinates list for such things?

        We would love to get a version that covers the rest of the isthmus (see sketch’s comment below), and/or shows the walkability / cycleability based on actual isochrones rather than radii. The result for Auckland overall will be pretty similar (reduced areas, but similar differences in coverage) but it could be a highly useful look at individual stations.

  • Dan

    “The fact that cycling in Auckland is in fact already statistically safer than driving on a per hour basis is irrelevant”

    That sure is one irrelevant statistic.

  • sketch

    Why are these maps cut off at Manukau in the south? Auckland does extend for quite a way south of there with several more train stations… Would be good to get the whole picture.

    • Max

      Hi sketch – it would be good. However, the point of the map was not so much showing everything, or doing a “stocktake” but to get people to think. Also, as we know from the cycle numbers (and from places as diverse as Portland or Copenhagen), cycling is busiest in the central part of any city. And last not least, as a volunteer group, there’s always more that you would love to do, but simply don’t have the time for, because it’s already 2AM…

  • Steve N

    I live on that bit of the middle isthmus that remains uncoloured on the cycling catchment maps. As I despise the Three Kings bus, I drive to Newmarket and catch the train from there. I’ve done a fair bit of research on biking to the train stations, using lots of Google map searches to check the distances.

    I used to bike to my old work via Mt Eden Road, so I am familiar with the hills on that route. The Manukau Road route is a good deal flatter, but also a good deal scarier.

    Newmarket: pros = more trains, fastest train journey, bike racks, decent size toilets for changing, flattest riding conditions; cons = Manukau Road scary traffic, second longest bike distance (5.6km)
    Remuera: pros = shortest bike distance, flattest riding conditions; cons = less trains, no bike racks, no changing facilities, Manukau Road scary traffic but Market Road is OK (4.3km)
    Kingsland: pros = bike racks, quieter roads + cycle lanes; cons = less trains, no changing facilities, longer bike journey, longest bike distance, slowest train journey, some fairly hefty hills (5.8 km). However, can trade off less hills for scary Dominion Road (5.4 km)
    Mt Eden: pros = quieter roads + cycle lanes; cons = no bike racks, less trains, no changing facilities, long-ish biking time, long-ish bike distance, some fairly hefty hills (5.2km)
    Onehunga: pros = bike racks, ties for shortest distance; cons = less trains, longest train journey, some big hills, moderately scary traffic (4.3km)

    I guess I should feel lucky I have access to so many stations, albeit none of them actually being handy. If the Roskill spur existed, the distance would be 2.6km – and I guess a similar journey time as Onehunga.

    • Patrick Reynolds

      Steve: Certainly train frequency is going to lift. Lobby for bike lanes, bike parks, and bus lanes to make taking the bus more effective. Or even move!

    • Steve D

      @Steve N: For what it’s worth, there are toilets you could change in at Kingsland. But, although the cycle racks are undercover, they’re always full of motorbikes, wheelie bins and other assorted debris. You’d have to budget a bit of time to rearrange them.

  • Sam

    Brilliant post. Haven’t always thought short cycling to trains is the way to go and wondered why it is not pushed and promoted more in Auckland.

    • MikeG

      One issue is theft of bikes from the stations, although I seem to recall a secure system being tested at some locations in Auckland.

    • Max

      Hi Sam – CAA has been pushing it more and more. AT is slowly getting on board.

      Re theft at train stations – well yes, secure cages are being trialled, but we also need to go a bit more European: for a short trip to the train station you take an old but useable (=cheap) bike, rather than your fancy one.

      But the real hard bit is making it safer to ride to train stations, so that is another thing we are working on with AT, but because it’s actual infrastructure, it is harder to roll out than better bike parking.

      • Sam

        Good news. Yes just need a cheap bike to muddle about on here and there. No need for Lycra and flash bikes. Don’t think I’ve ever seen Lycra riders in Europe. A change in mentality is needed that bikes are great for short distances.

  • This approach of plugging into PT, plus the complete streets referenced previously, are both a good start to a new direction in the narrative for cycling in Auckland. The next step might be to look more closely at how and why this model works. I’d suggest taking a similar angle to Jarrett Walker’s fundamental trade-offs for public transit.

    Walker offers a series of “plumber’s questions” that determine the geometry of a public transit network, and one can make specific choices between mutually exclusive priorities. For example, a “frequency-oriented” network is typically at odds with a “coverage-oriented” network. It’s helpful to think about these aspects because it gives us a framework to evaluate plans and projects, or to propose new ones, and to hold public bodies to account.

    In cycling terms, we might have to decide between similar kinds of priorities. What’s interesting is how this new “PT plug-in” model quite neatly breaks from the past in almost every meaningful way. To begin, here are three trade-offs in a cycling network strategy:

    * Routes vs areas

    We’ve typically focused on specific routes, at best, such as the Northwestern path or Tamaki Drive. At worst, this his been a few metres of a (still linear) path at an arbitrary point here or there. This is a very one-dimensional view of cycling, usually isolated from any urban context. It’s more about “link” than “place”. The priority for the network is oriented towards long-haul, single-mode trips along a pre-determined direction, on generally isolated paths.

    The complete streets approach, bounded by PT catchments, frees us to think about areas or neighbourhoods, accounting for the urban surroundings. We can begin to think about the fine-grained street network — PT nodes, local centres, schools, lanes, front doors — which are the most immediate places of interest to most people. Thinking about two-dimensional areas instead of linear routes also efficiently maximises the density of these places of interest, taking advantage of cohesive blocks, grids and intersections, a level of detail which would otherwise be neglected. The new “unit” of a cycling network should be the “area”, not the “route” or the “spot”.

    * Regional vs local

    The long, linear corridors that comprise the Auckland regional cycling network are at a scale that arguably looks rational from a bird’s eye view, but not on the ground at eye-level. The emphasis on such a wide, singular network, with very poor permeation into the urban fabric, just fails to cater to multi-modal, short-haul, everyday or spontaneous trips that ordinary people might use a bike for. It largely preferences long-haul trips by people committed to riding a bicycle for extended durations, which turns out to be a small minority.

    A local scale approach prioritises short trips between front doors, in a dignified and visible way at street level (not hidden away beside motorways). How to enable this is to recognise the complementary strengths of cycling and PT as given in the parent post. A PT network optimised for frequency can carry the long-haul leg of a multi-modal journey, but the last mile may be covered by cycling. So cycling networks are not under pressure to (primarily) service long trips.

    * Sweaty vs no-sweat

    We often tie ourselves into knots distinguishing between the “commuter” or the “tourist” or the “sport” or “recreational” cyclist. These are not generally useful distinctions. What matters to get most people cycling for everyday travel is to treat cycling as just like walking, only faster. In other words, there is “sweaty” cycling and there is “no-sweat” cycling (or, more precisely, “sweat-optional” cycling).

    Unassisted cycling across long distances, or in dire street conditions, requires effort and induces stress. But this is what grand, regional cycling links provide for. Area-level cycling with only modest effort to freely traverse short distances is the missing ingredient.

    The benefit of applying such a framework is we can begin to ask whether, say, a shared path in a motorway corridor is designed to extend a route or enhance an area, or whether it serves to connect front doors to a local centre or a bulid out a regional network, or whether it encourages long-haul single-mode trips or short-haul trips to a PT node, etc. As a consequence, it should be clear what to prioritise, what to support or not, and what fails to meet a minimum decent standard for the city.

    • Indeed; the normalisation of our streets for cycling must be the priority. Cycling highways are not nearly as useful: Motorway thinking applied to cycling. And showing how deep our institutions are captured by one kind of idea.

      • Steve D

        I think it also reflects that unlike local authorities, NZTA have more money than they know what to do with for these big motorways. So as part of the motorway projects they sometimes even throw some cash at cycling now and then, whereas in general that money would have to come from the pitiful cycling budgets.

      • Max

        Hi Patrick – CAA and GenZero and ATB (Matt L) had a good discussion last night, where part of it we discussed just this – how to communicate that despite wanting a network of cycleways covering all Auckland, it isn’t about the 10+ km cycle rides, but the short, local ones (~2-5km). Matt had a few good suggestions which we are keen to take up in the new year to help frame the message.

        • Max,

          Does this mean CAA now recognises that this is a matter of priorities and not balance? If so, how will CAA square this new position with its previous and recent strong support for those 10+ km projects, such as the Northwestern/Gully/Beach extension, among other things?

          • Max

            Because such projects do not need to be used in 10km increments. The Northwestern has accesses every couple hundred meters, on average (at least on the central isthmus). Even Grafton Gully has several over a relatively short distance, and will get more in the long run. Backbones can do double duty.

          • Max,

            The Northwestern having “accesses” is exactly what’s missing the point. Prioritising for cycling means working in streets, with direct, dense, first-class exposure to frontage. These “double duty” paths insulated from the urban fabric are indistinguishable from the outcome of a “balanced” approach (i.e. mitigating motorway impacts with bike access).

            So I take it the answer is “no”.

    • Kent Lundberg

      Plugging cyclists into the PT network and looking at our neighbourhoods from the “bythemotorway” point of view requires a vastly different approach. The city has been entirely chopped up by a dendritic street network that flushes everything downstream. Meanwhile, kids can’t walk to school in their local neighbourhoods and people can’t cross the street. This is an unfortunate part of the outer asteroid belt (feature not bug), but I have issues with this paradigm being pasted onto the Isthmus streets which have the physical structure of a walkable city.

      Looking at the cycling network in this way will require us to see the city differently, much as the work that Jarrett Walker has done with the PT network.

  • Bryce P

    Agree. We could cover an incredible chunk of Auckland in cyclable streets for very little effort or money (comparatively to roading budgets). It just needs the will.

    • Bryce,

      It needs more than just “the will”. There is plenty of willpower — I’ve not met one AC, AT or NZTA rep who outright opposes cycling. It seems the sentiment actually becomes undermined in a variety of ways in practice, and what we need is a cohesive strategy — a narrative — to bring all that goodwill together effectively.

      A number of recent Auckland Conversations speakers have succinctly captured elements of what are problems in our approach and what to do about it.

      Brent Toderian highlighted cycling as a component of a multi-modal transport system, echoed also by Jarrett Walker and the parent post. However, we’ve been building something quite different under the Cycling™ brand, preferring to “balance” rather than “prioritise” transport needs, to cite Toderian again.

      But to make matters worse, that misguided policy has been repeatedly endorsed, cheered and celebrated by the existing cycling demographic. If there’s one piece of advocacy advice I’d take from Paul Steely-White’s presentation, it’s “be more aggressive” — my interpretation of that is to hold public bodies to account, to be critical, and to sometimes actively reject proposed options. That is, not to embrace every faint gesture towards cycling as a matter of pragmatic compromise. Enough baby steps; we’re prepared to walk and cycle as grown-ups.

      I think a hint towards how genuinely relevant improvements can be implemented came from Jim Diers, who showed ways for real community participation to happen (i.e. not AT/NZTA open days, or just back-room deals with appointed advocates). The notion of encouraging and empowering thriving neighbourhoods is ultimately the means and the end to getting this done: the benefits of everyday cycling are as much civic as environmental or economic. Bottom-up development of community cycling — or cycling neighbourhoods — must happen in conjunction with public transit, urban design, place-making and streetscape improvements under a wider programme to gradually remake the public realm for and by (local) people. My impression is it’s pretty much a package deal, no element is likely to succeed alone.

      We even have an overarching narrative that cycling fits into: Auckland as the most liveable city. Both the Auckland Plan and the Unitary Plan leave open possibilities to work with. However, the strategic connection has yet to be made, and so far, cycling development has faltered or largely missed the point.

      • Max

        I am well aware of what you are saying, non-motorist, though you sometimes to me seem to suggest throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

        But your argument that we (CAA – the group which you criticise so strongly, if not by name in this partcular post) support everything is not true. We oppose half-measures like Lincoln Road’s shared paths (I had a bit of a personal change of heart on these) or dodgy provisions like re-marking a footpath into a shared 2m strip on Whangaparaoa Road. I recently did my most scathing commentary to AT ever, regarding the Corridor Management Plan for an eastern Auckland arterial (can’t talk about the details, because the CMP document is still in draft – but it was woeful, ridiculously car-centric ala Lincoln Road, and totally missing the bitter irony of the document itselt stating that it was a priority route for cycling, and then proceeding to actually make horrible conditions even worse).

        So while you may not see all the work that CAA is doing behind the scenes, we are actually doing what you are always demanding. I am fully aware that you would like us to do so much more publicly. And with blog posts like the one showing that only 10km of cycleways got built last year, when the Auckland Plan aimed for 60 km, we are doing so. We may yet move more towards this course of action. But we still believe that incremental improvements also have a place, which is why we continue to work on projects you would consider not worth the bother.

        • Max,

          Token opposition to little things isn’t the point, nor is it a debate about incremental change. There has been a deeper divide over priorities and values; some of which I’ve described another comment here. And I support incremental progress — provided the increments are properly framed, designed and implemented. Nevertheless, I appreciate that CAA is evolving — it’d be nice to see the day it leads on these issues rather than following.

          Any chance CAA will contribute (or has contributed) to opposing the proposed East-West motorway build? It might not seem like a cycling thing, unless you accept that the best thing NZTA can do for cycling is to stop building more urban motorways with a shared path dressing. I know CAA missed a trick with the Basin flyover in Wellington, so I’d hope to see better here.

          • Max

            See, non-motorist, your paragraphs above show exactly why every time I respond to you I wonder whether I should not just have ignored you.

            You blame us for “following”? Follow who? We are ages ahead of AT (even if we may not be far enough ahead for your liking, and quite certainly despite you claiming we are followers), and I don’t see any other Auckland cycle groups that are doing all that much advocacy, except general transport-related groups that we actually cooperate closely with, like GenZero and ATB.

            As for Basin Reserve??? You actually think we “missed a trick” because we like to sleep at least some hours each night and didn’t take on another big project in a totally different city? The “A” in CAA stands for Auckland. You have a lot of gall.

          • Max

            As for East-West Link, we have offered one of the local community groups the opportunity to do editorials on our blog page, to get the discussion going. Our own opinion is that the project looks like it may be a great amount of roading money thrown at a very small issue – whether we can support local cycling parts of the whole bundle, we will wait and see. You will certainly not see CAA saying that we support the East-West-Link.

          • Frank E

            It seems like this non-motorist is supporting the “Tea Party’ approach :D Its always better to get something rather than nothing and acting confrontational generally doesn’t work in the long run..

          • Max,

            Basin Reserve being outside Auckland didn’t stop you submitting on it, and then posting the good news about the motorway’s potential cycling add-ons.

            Enough of the ad hominems.

      • Non-motorist – I have recently become involved with CAA. Prior to that I shared a lot of your frustrations.

        Once you are on the inside you can see the huge amount of work that volunteers do in their spare time to move cycling along – in the face of general indifference/hostility from the average Aucklander. I am now the editor of the CAA blog – not a keenly contested position because of the amount of spare time it chews up. I would rather be out enjoying cycling instead of sitting in front of a computer typing.

        CAA tries to input on every project in Auckland, Max in particular. But CAA doesnt really get to decide what roading projects are implemented or get a chance to stop roading projects, only the chance to include some cycling in them. You need to talk to your MP to get roading projects stopped.

        I agree with you that community level projects are very important and I am meeting the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board tonight to try and get some in place. That is after I finish a full work day as a lawyer and then go home to help my wife with our young baby. The projects I am proposing wont make the front page of the NZ Herald but are happening in communities all around you, pushed by volunteers in organisations like CAA.

        Can I ask what you are doing to further community cycling in your area of Auckland?

        If you would like to get involved with your local area, CAA is always looking for people to move local projects forward and be custodians for their area. South Auckland is an area we are particularly weak in but that has huge potential. Please contact Max or I if you would like to do that for your area. It would be nice to spread the work around and you obviously have some ideas and passion for it.

        We look forward to hearing from you.

        • Thanks, Goosoid, I’ll be in touch.

          I do think it’s unfair to question what an individual is doing compared to an organisation. It is fair to question the strategies and effectiveness of a representative group, be it AT or CAA, however.

          I’d suggest that advocacy groups like CAA (should) have more tools at their disposal than only injecting a bit of cycling into any plan that comes up. Look at the whole of the operation of TransAlt our Cascades for examples – organisations have a role in that “talking to your MP” type of exercise, and it should be open to opposing certain things too.

          • I can assure you that much of what I do and many others do (Such as Bryce P who organised a cycling group in Te Atatu without any CAA involvement) is purely down to the individual at the neighbourhood level.

            The effectiveness of the organisation is really only in relation to the big projects which it seems you are not in favour of. At a Local Board level, for example, one determined, passionate individual can have a huge impact without the backing of any group.

            We really would welcome you into the fold so please do get in touch.

  • John Austin

    I think the comparison with the Netherlands is a little unfair. The fact is they have had a bicycle culture for a long time, whereas Auckland has had a car culture that is hard for some people to get out of..Good on you for promoting change, but anyone with any knowledge of the subject will tell you that changing cultural attitudes is very hard to do. Just look at the binge drinking culture we have in NZ as an example. Some people will follow the most destructive habits if it is the societal norm, and I don’t think we have reached a tipping point yet in favour of cycling (or even sober drinking patterns, for that matter).The Dutch got there a long time ago (at least with cycling, I don’t know about their drink culture).

    • But John why not aim to be the no.1? The Dutch did go down the auto dependent path until the 1970s and then pulled back in a dramatic way. Conversely NZ was a good cycling country, in fact fanatically so, until the 1960s, Chch (or Cyclopolis) had one of the largest modal shares of any city worldwide until the 1960s (read the book “Ride” by the Kennet Brothers for more details). We were far keener on cycling than the English for example. Even in 1981, Chch had a 10% modal share for cycling.

      The Netherlands has a cycling mode share of around 25%, Ansterdam around 40% and Gronigen up to 60%. If in Auckland we had a 5-10% modal share for cycling we would be appearing in the Copenhagenize index of world biking cities, along with recent cities that have chnaged their culture like Bordeaux, Nantes and Dublin ( So, no we wont be Amsterdam any time soon, but we could easily be Portland or Dublin.

      I agree the transport culture needs to change and it is. On binge drinking, I think the drinking culture is much better than when I was a teenager in the 90s – but as you say it is a slow process to change a culture.

  • Lloyd

    You need good gearing on your bike to cycle back home from the Half Moon Bay ferry terminal. You have to climb out of the Half Moon Bay half moon crater wall, unless you cycle on the Bucklands Beach boardwalk. This reduces the 3km practical cycling radius of the Half Moon Bay terminus mainly to the lycra clad cyclists.
    Cycling to the ferry is, of course, a breeze.

    • Kent Lundberg

      There are a few places where topography could help to justify better provision for bikes on buses. I’d like to see them on the inner link to help people out of the hole in the cbd.

      • Steve D

        The Grafton Gully cycleway will help people get out of the CBD, although we still need something on the western side. Hills aren’t really that much of an obstacle if you pedal slow enough. That does emphasise that on uphill “crawler” sections, having protected lanes is even more important.

        But I don’t think bike racks on buses are ever going to be the answer, for the same reasons as Jarrett Walker. They work if they’re not popular, but you can’t get a large number of bikes on a bus without dramatically reducing the number of people that bus can carry, and increasing boarding times. The Inner Link is too busy, and would have far too much demand from cyclists, to be able to carry bikes without degrading the service for everyone else.

        Carrying bicycles generally works better on trains, but even then, not at peak times when, all going well, there’s standing room only. And it wouldn’t work if a significant fraction of people were all trying it at the same time.

        Cycling is great for the niche it serves, middle-distance point-to-point trips in less dense areas. It’s fairly good as a feeder system for rapid transit stations in suburbia. It could serve a lot more trips than it does now. There’s also a valuable role for bikeshare, based at major transit stops.

        But just as all big cities struggle with finding space for cars, denser big cities (like, increasingly, downtown Auckland) struggle to find space for bikes (to a lesser degree, of course). Once you’re filling buses or trains with people, you’re making things worse by letting bikes on, and if you’re filling the buses with people, you’re probably running a good enough service that people don’t need a bike at the other end. Walkable and bikeable are not the same thing, and walkable should be the ultimate goal for any truly great urban environment.

        • Steve D

          (I think I missed this part of the puzzle out:)

          Denser big cities struggle to find space for bikes, if there are a lot of bikes. So catering for a tiny, tiny minority of cyclists (the situation today) is very different from how you should plan for a city that has mass cycling.

        • Kent Lundberg

          Disagree. The bikes go on the outside so they have no impact on the number of riders inside. Many of the inner link riders are are taking advantage of the service to avoid walking uphill too (and use their free pass). I think it is reasonable to add cyclists to this mix even though it causes a boarding delay. I don’t see the inner link as a particularly quick service anyway; most people can walk faster.

          • However any design I have seen for bus bike racks can only hold two bikes. It is the classic case of something that only works until it becomes popular.

            The boarding-deboarding time issue can be a problem, the time it takes a cyclist to tag off, move round to the front of the bus, unload their bike and get clear of the bus so it can get underway is not insignificant. Perhaps not a problem at termini, but any any intermediate stops it would be a noticable delay. Again something that would work fine while few people do it, but would cause a lot of delay if there was a regular turnover of cycles on and off the racks.

            I have less of an issue with trains and ferries, precisely because they are spatially large and you can simply wheel the bike on at the same time as everyone else (especially on trains which have six or twelve doors opening together). There is still potential for spatial issues inside, but a simple rule of “don’t take a bike onto a crowded or peak time train” seems to work fine in Melbourne (but again, if a lot of people did it on every train it would be a problem).

            In Buenos Aires they have a unique solution, the end cars of their suburban trains are entirely empty of seats or anything else. Cyclists (and people with large bags or parcels) simply hop on and stand next to their bike for the trip, if it gets busy they stack things fairly efficiently. At peak of peak times the empty car also becomes a standing room only car for pedestrian commuters, you probably get a good 300 people into that one carriage when full.

          • I agree Nick. I used to use the bike racks on buses in Chch quite often and they are certainly not scaleable. There must be other ways to carry more bikes though?

            On the other hand, I wouldnt oppose them as they are cheap and effective. Once you know what you are doing the delay is negligible as well. It saved me from many a hard slog into a tail wind across the causeway or driving rain.

    • Electric bikes are really the key to this kind of problem. Much more likely to solve our transport problems than auto driving cars and they arent out of a science fiction novel. I ride one every day and they are fantastic.

      • PS1

        Me too goosoid. Ebikes flatten the hills and make those cycling distances realistic and pleasurable. We need secure parking at the stations to park them though. It also feels safer as your speed is more reasonable (20k vs 5k) going up the hills so cars seem more willing to wait for a safe spot to pass you.

  • NZTA gets value for money with a cycling project. It’s cheap and has enormous potential in both public relations and policy review terms, due to the warm fuzzy glow that Cycling™ brings. It’s an unfortunate consequence of a built thing being more visible than something left undone. I’d argue the best thing NZTA could begin to do for cycling today is to stop building more urban motorways.

  • These maps were preceded by very similar diagrams but using 5km circles which were published in about 2006 by ARTA which showed that about two thirds of all Aucklanders lived within “coee” of a rail station if only there were suitable local feeder bus services to take them there. With the best will in the world there are limits to the numbers of people who will cycle to their nearest PT hub (train/bus/ferry) but there is huge potential for local feeder bus services which could also provide connections to local shopping/town centres, libraries, community centres, pools, etc.

    • Graeme surely both are worth supporting; the case for each does not undermine the other. The new network is focused on linking buses with other modes by connection which is vital, but addressing the factors limiting riding to bus/train/ferry stations is also very important. The effectiveness of the networks has to be built at detail.

    • Bryce P

      I think you will be very surprised at the number of people who will cycle short distances if they feel safe in doing so.

    • NCD

      With the best will in the world there are limits to the numbers of people who will cycle to their nearest PT hub

      Dutch experience says otherwise.

      • George

        There may be limits Graeme. But we’re a very very long way from them. Let’s build more infrastructure, and use some of that latent demand.

  • Mark Todd

    I hope I am not repeating anyone else’s post because this is so obvious it must have been mentioned before.
    While cycling is obviously turning back the clock it suffers from that greatest of human traits, lazynes. Let’s face it, if we look around our offices we mostly see fat pie eating lazy b’tards who feel weak at the thought of having to use the stairs when the lift is out of order. Does anyone see cycling working for these people?
    The solution, as I said is obvious. Horses. We could all ride to work, it would even work on the harbour bridge and no one, other than the horse, breaks into a sweat. It would be good for the economy as well, all the people working in the car industry could become vets and farriers.

    • Max

      Sorry Mark, but that is a straw man argument (I am ignoring the horses, I am talking about your lazieness comment). Nobody is arguing that we ever will be walking (& cycling) as much as we did in pre-industrial times (or pre-motorcar times, for cycling).

      However, our whole transport system SUPPORTS lazieness (driving) in the current paradigma. THAT we can definitely change. Habits can change – even pie-eating slobs can change their diet and exercise more, without suddenly becoming a different human being. And they can feel good about it, if their environment supports them in that.

      Will everyone cycle and walk in that changed world? Of course not! But even if all the laziest people STAY lazy, and only 10% or 20% more (of the 100% total) walk & cycle, the benefit for our city and our society is going to be enormous. Various first-world countries of the world over have shown it can be done. Should we abandon it because some people think cycling is archaic. You have no imagination and little hope if you believe that!

    • Christopher

      I’m sure there’ll be plenty of urban gardeners/backyard farmers happy to take the compost! Or use it for small scale micro gas generation.

  • Max

    You obviously never went to Germany, Netherlands or other places that also have cars – AND rain and cold winters – if you believe that weather is a fatal flaw for cycling. Their winter cycling levels are several times those of our summer cycling levels. Obviously they must be a different species…

    But then your responses show that you are not here to discuss, but to ridicule something which you think is a stupid idea. Fair enough, but that’s usually called trolling.

  • Wow, thanks for proving Godwin’s law to be spot on ('s_law):
    “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”

    Your statements on the Netherlands and Germany are just ridiculous and obviously offensive and trolling. I dont believe anyone who can operate a computer could really be ignorant enough to believe those comments.

    “investing in a network that is only attractive to a tiny minority of Aucklanders is a waste of money” – Did you actually read the post. We only need a 5-10% modal share to make a huge difference to traffic volumes.

    “Auckland is not a great place to cycle due to geography, climate (rain), a lack of general interest in peddling to work” – Geography – I assume you mean hills? How do you explain Budapest, Portland and Dublin’s success? Climate – It rains a hell of a lot more in the Netherlands, Oregon, Ireland and Hungary plus it is colder. Auckland has a fantastic cycling climate – I can tell you from personal experience. Lack of general interest – again that has been turned around in a short time by a number of cities including Hungary, Dublin, Portland and Bordeaux.

    “No objection though to user pays” – Great, does that mean motorists will start covering for all the damage to the roads caused by cars and trucks that my rates pay at least half of? Have you actually looked at how roads (not motorways) are funded? Hint – look here:

    I realise you are just trolling but noone should come here and see comments like that unanswered.

  • It’s just Phil, back again to troll against cyclists. Please go away Phil.

    • Yes, I suspected that but I think it is dangerous to leave such ridiculius comments unanswered as equally ignorant people might actually think he has scored points.

      He can now troll all he likes. He really is desparate for attention isnt he? With how rich and important he likes to tell us he is, he seems to have a huge amount of spare time to troll.

  • Kent Lundberg

    @NickR – Dang, I meant *City Link*. From Town hall to K Rd, the bus entirely empties. I don’t see a huge time disbenefit for unloading bikes since it is the “end” of the line. This would be a bike escalator. Agree generally about the problems associated with dragging the bikes with us.

    • It does dwell at the K Rd end, but not always for very long and actually it doesn’t usually empty entirely, as some people board on Mayoral Dr to get off on Queen near the top, or board on Pitt St to head back down the hill.

      Loading at the downhill side would be a big issue, either at the last Queen St stop by Wellesley St or on Mayoral Dr at the bottom of the hill. Both are a nightmare of passenger crowding at all times of day and night (trust me, until recently I rode it twenty times a week on average).

      The City Link is the very last service we should think about adding extra dwell time complications too!

  • Ari

    Anyone know the best Ebike on the market in NZ? Best as in range/speed/weight? Or at least the most reliable brand?

  • […] it isn’t plausible for every commuter to cycle all the way to work, but as this infographic from Cycle Action Auckland shows, separate cycle lanes would increase the public transport catchment for trains dramatically […]

  • […] it isn’t plausible for every commuter to cycle all the way to work, but as this infographic from Cycle Action Auckland shows, separate cycle lanes would increase the public transport catchment for trains dramatically […]

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