Follow us on Twitter

2013: A year in review – Part 2

In Part 2 of my 2013 year in review I’m going to look at transport other than PT so that includes walking/cycling and roads.

Walking/Cycling

2013 has been a bit of a mix when it comes to active modes. There have been some good things happen however in my opinion simply not enough has been done and from what I’ve heard (but haven’t confirmed) Auckland Transport spent well less than they had in the budget for cycling which is extremely disappointing.

Most recently we’ve seen that the council has agreed to allow the Skypath to move to the next stage where the council officers will come up with an agreement on the project with the financial backers before going to a vote some time in 2014. If that part is approved the project will still need to go through a formal resource consent process. The project isn’t without it’s challenges however with some members of the local communities on either side of the bridge determined to fight the project at every stage.

Skypath aerial

We’ve seen work begin on the Grafton Gully cycleway and Westhaven promenade and cycleway. Along Beach Rd Auckland Transport have finally proposed a proper separated urban cycleway which will probably the first one in Auckland. My understanding is the consultation saw the project get a lot of support so it is likely to go ahead which is great. There have also been some great new pedestrian (and cycling) bridges opened this year including the stunning Pt Resolution Bridge and the Westgate Pedestrian and Cycle bridge which includes quite a fun set of sweeping curves (which were to solve a grade problem).

In the CBD we’ve seen the shared space at the eastern end of Fort St completed while one on Federal St between Wellesley and Victoria St is now under construction. We also had it confirmed that O’Connell St would become a shared space which was a good result after what was initially proposed in 2012. I believe construction on the O’Connell St shared space will begin in early 2014.

Despite the slow progress of walking and cycling infrastructure we have continued to see cycling numbers increase in the city – it’s becoming much more noticeable all over the place. AT have a series of automatic cyclist counters around the city which show this increase.

Dec 13 Cycling

Roads of National Significance

Waterview

Waterview took some big steps forward this year and the project is really in full swing. The massive TBM arrived in July and starting its tunnel boring in November following quite a good public open day on the project in October. I’m not sure how fare in it is now but about 1.5 weeks ago it was about 70m in with the entire machine almost completely underground. The video below from the TBM’s facebook page from just before Christmas showing some of the progress

Also part of the Western Ring Route is the works along SH16 and anyone who has travelled on the motorway in recent months will have seen just how much work is going on. The motorway is almost a constant work-site from east of Carrington Rd through to west of Lincoln Rd. The one patch that isn’t – Te Atatu interchange – will likely start construction in 2014 while we will probably see work beginning on the St Lukes Rd interchange soon too.

Puhoi to Wellsford

Over 2013 we’ve seen the work on the Puhoi to Warkworth section advance culminating in the project being lodged with the Environmental Protection Agency late this year as the NZTA tries to obtain the designation. One of the funniest things I found about this is that despite all of the talk that the project was needed as a lifeline to Northland – all of the supporting documents effectively confirmed that the major traffic issues only really occurred at Holiday times (when many businesses are shut down anyway). We also found out this year the project will almost certainly be built by way of a PPP. There are different forms of PPP and not all are necessarily bad however the way this road (and others like it) will be built will see us paying huge ongoing sums to the private funders with little to no risk for them as they will be paid providing the road is open.

P2W Monthly Traffic Volumes

By contrast to the Puhoi to Warkworth section, there has been a deafening silence on Warkworth to Wellsford section. The last we heard the engineers were still unable to find a viable route for an expressway standard road. At this stage I would be quite surprised if it ever happened as originally envisioned and an operation lifesaver type solution is probably more likely – perhaps extending that kind of upgrade further north to Whangarei.

Other RoNS

We’ve seen work continue on the other RoNS projects. In Wellington Transmission Gully is being pushed ahead despite performing poorly in economic assessments. It will be the first project to use the PPP model that will also be used on Puhoi to Warkworth and it is expected the NZTA will announce the outcome of the process in early 2014. Recently we’ve also seen more about the NZTA’s attempt to get approval to build a flyover around the Basin Reserve. An independent review highlighted a number of issues with how the preferred solution was chosen.

Much more quietly work has continued on the RoNS projects in Tauranga, the Waitako and Christchurch.

Government motorway package

In June alongside the announcement that they will support the CRL, the government also announced an entire package of other road projects for Auckland, some that saw motorway projects previously planned for 20-30 years-time brought forward. Like with all big road transport projects these days there are actually some useful projects in the mix but they invariably get lumped in with some real dogs

Govt Transport Projects

The first of the projects to come out of this fast tracked list of projects was officially kicked off a few weeks ago and will see an extra land added northbound between Upper Harbour Highway and Greville Rd. It is one of those projects that is actually worthwhile but some of the other parts proposed in the area including full motorway to motorway ramps fall into the overkill category.

We are likely to hear a lot more about the progress of these various projects in the coming year.

East-West Link

One of the projects on the fast tracked list that has had a lot of attention, especially in the last few months has been the East-West Link. This has been another excellent example of there definitely being an issue that needs to be addressed but with some of the solutions being equivalent to trying to smash a nut with a sledgehammer (or something even larger). Auckland Transport came up with four different options with the worst by far being Option 4 which would have seen a motorway rammed through the suburbs of Mangere at a cost of many hundreds of homes. AT were planning on going to public consultation on the idea in the middle of 2014 – after the time when it was planned they would go to the government for funding for the project.

East-West Option 4

Thankfully due to public pressure Auckland Transport backed down and has now agreed to talk to and work with the local communities that are affected, not just the business communities like they had been doing. I would expect the East-West Link to be fairly prominent over the coming year.

Funding – Consensus building group

Of course paying for the massive wish-list of transport projects is going to be a difficult thing – unless we change the wish-list. To try and work out how we might do a Consensus Building Group was set up by the Mayor. The idea was to get representatives from different parts of society – including various business and advocacy groups – to sit down and work through the various funding options. The ended up on the conclusion that the below two options were the best ones but that option two would probably be better at managing travel demand. It was also the option overwhelmingly supported in the public consultation.

CBG options

In my opinion the process was fairly flawed as the CBG members were required to work off the assumption that the list of projects was not able to be changed to get the best outcomes, even if some of the options may have made some projects unnecessary e.g. if road pricing reduced travel demand then some of the roading projects might not be needed therefore reducing the overall amount we need to raise.

Other

Like with the PT projects, we’ve also seen a range of smaller things going on:

  • Work on Tiverton-Wolverton has continued and should hopefully be finished fairly soon (it’s looking fairly advanced already).
  • AMETI has been quietly progressed, the primary focus has been on the new road alongside the rail line however next year I expect we will start to see work in other areas – for example I hear the Reeves Rd flyover will be fast-tracked
  • Late this year we saw plans from AT for a massive upgrade and widening of Lincoln Rd. It’s a project I’m mixed about it, the road is a nightmare and needs improvement however some aspects are insane like intersections over 9 lanes in width.
  • Penlink has once again risen on the agenda after being silent for almost three years. AT is apparently trying to hook the project into the same PPP as will be used for Puhoi to Warkworth.
  • I don’t know if it’s just my perception but though-out 2013 there seemed to be a lot more crashes on motorways that ended up causing massive system wide meltdowns.
  • A potentially $600m+ bridge between Weymouth and Karaka popped up during unitary plan discussions but was thankfully rubbed out with greenfield development being focussed around the rail line negating the need for it

Anything I miss?

37 comments to 2013: A year in review – Part 2

  • patrick

    The first stage of the Daldy St upgrade at Wynyard is now completed. With it’s “linear park”
    running parallel this is a very attractive walking and cycling enviroment.
    Just a question, is this an example of what Victoria St and it’s “linear park” will look like?

    • Nick R

      Not necessarily quite like that, but it will probably be similar in terms of a low speed/capacity road to one side and a big park like strip along the other.

  • Sanctuary

    “… some members of the local communities on either side of the bridge determined to fight the project at every stage…”

    Since it is the holidays, I put my bike on the bike rack and went over to Northcote to ride around to see what all the fuss about, pausing only to pee on selected roses.

    • Phil

      Why didnt you ride to the proposed Skypath northern landing? According to most supporters there is zero chance of anyone ever driving to the pathway as it is for cycling and walking. But thanks for proving my point about fluffy bunnies causing parking problems should it ever get built :D

  • Sacha

    “from what I’ve heard (but haven’t confirmed) Auckland Transport spent well less than they had in the budget for cycling”

    That’s outrageous. Please do follow up when the figures are available.

    • Will see what I can do, the CAA guys may know more though. The figure was something like they had a budget of $30m for the year and spent only $10m

      • Gary Young

        Hang on a minute. AT has $30m for the year to spend on cycling projects? According to the Skypath website the projected cost of the pathway is $28m.

        So. Why does this have to be built by private enterprise? Why does it have to be tolled? Why hasn’t construction already started?

        • That’s $30m for the entire region. Can’t really just spend the entire budget on one single project when there is so much that needs to be done.

          • Dan

            If $20m goes unspent, you could possibly allocate $20 to the Skypath…

          • Greg N

            Matt,
            You mean unlike say a RoNS, when its ok to do exactly that and then some?

            As for the $20m being unspent – its been spent alright, I guarantee that, it just not been spent on anything directly cycle related.
            More like, spending for more arterial widening, or paying for cost overruns elsewhere.

            [Wait, unless they want to claim that they purchased Colin Maiden park for cycling purposes so in that case that 20m can pay for 1/3rd of the new park, with the rest of next 2 years cycle budgets paying for the rest of it - pity there no bike paths at the reserve, but some paint will take care of that and justify why the cycling budget wears the full cost of the park].

            Even at the worst using the money to make some more bus lanes has an added benefit for cycling of making those roads a little more cycle friendly than doing nothing.

            And you know the real pisser here AT said that they couldn’t fund proper cycle facilities at Panmures new station opening in 20 days time due to budget overruns elsewhere.

            Well Hello! – theres $20m worth of cycle cash going begging guys – all you have to do is ask someone if you could have some of it for its intended purpose.

            And its all managed under AT budget, so its not like you have to go Cap in hand back to Council for the money either!

    • Patrick Reynolds

      Of course the idea that money should be allocated by mode is daft anyway… But then as we can see here in the absence of mode blind professionals that would probably lead to zero spending on cycling….

  • Jennifer Ward

    Well if they only spent $10 million this year why not spend the saved $20 million on the Skypath? That will only leave $8 million to come from next years budget…

    • bbc

      Again because there are so many other areas dying out for any form of cycling provision at all that spending the entire budget on the skypath seems pretty ‘unfair’. I don’t at all agree with Skypath having to be tolled when NZTA and AT are signing off roading projects for 10-100x this amount over a coffee, but cycling is in a pretty dire state in Auckland and I don’t really think only building large commuting infrastructure a la the Grafton Cycleway or SkyPath are really going to do much to normalise cycling in Auckland. Furthermore, until we have a Transport agency willing to take a car lane away to install bidirectional cycle lanes we’ll also never make any progress and Auckland will remain as mono-modal as it’s always been and as current planning, spending, and proposed projects are continuing to maintain it as.

      • Bryce P

        Jeepers. $20m would by a big chunk of cycle network using a combination of 30 km/h cycle streets and separated lanes on distributor roads.

  • Stu Donovan

    I get the feeling that 2013 was a year in which Auckland endured a lot of “pain” from which we will subsequently “gain” in future years. The most obvious issues were 1) HOP; 2) electrification; 3) the New Network; and 4) PTOM. These four projects not only soaked up a lot of “air time” on Transport Blog, but I suspect they also (rightly) preoccupied the minds of AT staff.

    As these projects move through the implementation pipeline then Auckland will benefit from the efficiencies they provide.

    We should also see a gradual reallocation of AT’s internal resources, which will hopefully see a greater focus on advancing a plethora of smaller, less urgent, but cumulatively important projects, such as improvements to bus operations, initiatives to increase boarding/alighting speeds, and fare structures. Many of these will become increasingly necessary as passenger volumes grow in response to past investment.

    Basically, I’m relatively optimistic about the future of Auckland’s public transport network, provided that we can foster an interest in optimising PT operations in addition to “big bang” CAPEX projects. Ultimately, the benefits of CAPEX investment are defined by the quality of the services that are operated – and I think Auckland’s services leave a lot to be desired right now.

    • bbc

      Maybe they can increase the staff working on cycling projects such that we can see more than 10km annually of painted cycle lanes – somethings which in most parts of the world doesn’t even count as a cycle lane but in Auckland is the best that there is and even that AT can’t get off their ass to actually implement. Too many roading projects to progress I guess, you wouldn’t want to actually spend the money you have on cycling would you? Better to reallocate it to a road widening somewhere, cyclists be damned, or maybe the lack of cycle lanes will cull their numbers and mean they won’t be needed next year.

  • Phil

    What percentage of Aucklanders cycle more than 3 times a week? Money is always going to be spent where it’s most needed/utilised and that will always be on the roads our cars and buses travel on. Last time I looked bikes could travel on the same roads (motorways excepted), maybe the solution is educating bus and car drivers to be more bike aware and for Aucklands cyclists to grow a set of balls and stop being scared of riding on the streets.

    • I note most commenters’ main objection is AT’s failure to spend the budget it already has for cycling, not that cycling necessarily ought to get the majority of dollar spend over roading or other modes.

      As for your suggestions re: growing a pair, there are many places in Auckland which ought to be cycleable but are unpleasant or just plain dangerous to do so through poor road design, for which reason among others a majority of Aucklanders currently don’t get around by bike. Not all roads are created equal despite the technical legal right for cyclists to be there, and your proposal would see us stuck firmly in the current situation (a handful of bike riding diehards with “balls”, and a majority too scared to travel by bicycle). But you are of course fine with this – no change ever (even if it be for the good) means less potential to disturb your property valuation, isn’t that so?

    • Tom

      The second graph on this page answers your first question. It’s true that we are a small minority, that is why the cycling budget was $30M – a tiny, tiny share of the total road budget for Auckland. Even then a big chunk was apparently shuffled away to other projects. Shows how much respect AT has for anybody who’s not in a car.

      Experience says it’s not cyclists who have problems with sharing the road.

      • Phil

        Hi Tom, the graph does not show regular cyclists. Im talking about people who cycle at least 3 times a week because why invest in a transport mode that is only recreational? I mean – no one would expect a BMX path right.

        I agree that motorised vehicle drivers need to be more cycle aware but please dont try and say cyclists are all perfect law abiding citizens. We all know that cyclists are notorious red light runners (even in a country where stopping for red seems optional for cars). Cyclists pull out in front of traffic, weave through queues either side of cars, and normally do not wear safety equipment recommended (high Viz) or legally required (lids).

        I ask the question – would moving cyclists off shared roads and onto shared paths not just mean that instead of bike/car accidents we would have bike/pedestrian?

        • Stu Donovan

          No, assuming the shared paths were wide enough.

        • NCD

          Apart from one recorded death in the UK and one in San Fran (both dorks who happened to be on a bike) I’m not aware of ped/cyclist deaths in any year. Compare that to about 800 cyclist deaths per year in UK/USA in collisions with vehicles.
          Don’t fret-the Skypath will be fine.

        • Sailor Boy

          Why does it need to be more tgan 3 times a week what if that one trip a week is a kid whose parents work dull time going to soccer practice. That trip is worth just as much as driving to the supermarket and dar more tgan tge parents driving their kids to practice.

          Also, the only reason I have to weave on both sides is because motorists choose to block my path illegally and force me on to tge left to pass

    • Bryce P

      Yes, those kids riding to school should just ‘grow a set’. Or my darling wife who just wants to ride to the shops while feeling a degree of safety. This attitude is not the way to grow a bike culture which has many benefits.

    • Sailor Boy

      why don’t you grow a pair of balls and srop being scared of cyclists on the street in front of your house? You know, because 2 can play at that game

  • Phil

    Motorways aside, I can not think of any roads in Auckland that I would not cycle on. The speed limit is so slow that anything coming has plenty of distance to spot you. Especially if you are a smart cyclist and wear your high Viz gear and safety lid.
    I did say some of the budget should be spent on making drivers more ‘bike aware’ so a combination of improved driver awareness and more confidence in the cyclists would go a long way to making cycling more popular in Auckland.
    I have cycled on roads in Europe that a lot of you would be too scared to drive on, Ive ridden a scooter in Rome and London, and Ive raced Formula cars on the fastest and most dangerous circuits in the world. It doesn’t matter what you are using on the road, confidence is everything. If you are the sort of timid person that steers towards the gutter every time a truck goes past you don’t deserve to be on the road – you are just a danger to yourself and others. Perhaps some of the money should go on sponsored riding schools or making people get a licence to cycle? It is a bit silly that you need a licence for a motorbike but any fool is allowed to ride a bike on public roads :(
    New Zealand was once populated by people who crossed oceans in canoes and leaky boats – when did the Kiwi male get too scared to ride a bike down Dominion Road?

    • Stu Donovan

      But are you not ignoring the fact that different people naturally have varying levels of confidence and that confidence varies over time? E.g. the average “Kiwi male” may feel quite scared cycling down Dom Rd for the first time, but thereafter their confidence will grow – assuming they continue to cycle.

      You seem to be talking very much from the view point of a middle-aged male. While I am now a confident cyclist myself, I very much doubt whether I would have had “the balls” to cycle down Dom Rd when I was younger. And what about older people? In essence, I think cost-effective cycle infrastructure needs to appeal to a far wider cross-section of the population.

      In terms of what cycling money is spent on, from what I understand the “riding schools” you mention are already part of NZTA’s and AT’s investment programme. Just do a search on AT’s website throws up free cycling training programmes …

      And in many places in Auckland there is indeed plenty of room within the road corridor to accommodate separate cycle paths adjacent to the footpath. I think these they should be the goal, or default option, as they greatly reduce the conflict between cyclists and parked cars hence are safer for both parties.

      From what I can tell Amsterdam and Copenhagen tend to implement this solution wherever possible, and revert to on-street solution (either in lanes or mixed traffic) as something of a last resort.

    • Sailor Boy

      Would you be happy to let your 5 year old daughter ride on tirakau rd? Or do you need to grow some balls?

    • Molly Woppy

      Perhaps it has escaped your notice Phil that at least 50% of the population are not male and perhaps our perceptions may differ from those of the “Kiwi male”. And what the heck is the “Kiwi male” anyway? Every male I have ever met is a person, not a stereotype.

  • It should not be a prerequisite to have a set of balls in order to ride a bike in Auckland. For a start, 50% of the public doesn’t have any, and despite what Phil says, most of the other 50% feel disinclined to lay theirs on the line just to prove a point at how they are manly enough to ride in the same lane as a 40 tonne truck.
    Cycleways should be separated physically from cars and trucks and buses. End of story.

  • counterpoint

    “..the point is he drove to a point that he then rode his bike from.”

    How is this the point? Given that there is basically no other way to get there what else would you have him do? Catch a once per hour ferry at $10 return?

    ” if you live anywhere more than half an hour away, you will park and ride.”

    Unless you are commuting, presumably.

Leave a Reply