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New Lynn to Avondale Path Consultation

Auckland Transport have started consultation on another of their major cycleway projects, the New Lynn to Avondale Shared Path. This 2.9km route will link in the Waterview Shared Path now under construction through to Avondale largely alongside the rail line. The project is expected to cost $17.7 million and was included in the Urban Cycle Funding package announced by the government last year.

As part of the project a new bridge will be built over the Whau River next to the rail bridge.

Whau River Bridge Impression

On the Bridge and Whau River, AT say

In the past Maori used the Whau River as a portage route between the Manukau and Waitemata Harbours.

Iwi have chosen imagery for the path and the bridge, promoting the importance to the local area of traditional waka portage and harvesting activities along the Whau River and the migration of the kuaka (godwit).

These images will be portrayed in various ways on the bridge and along the path. There will be patterns within the concrete on the bridge structure. In addition, images will be cut out of a metal panel which will run across the bridge, screening it from the adjacent rail bridge.

The high level route is shown below

New Lynn to Avondale Path route

Here’s what AT say about the route

Features

The shared path will:

  • Start at Rankin Avenue in New Lynn and finish east of the Blockhouse Bay Road/Rosebank Road/Trent Street intersection in Avondale. Gaps in the existing shared path between Rankin Avenue and Portage Road will be filled with new sections of shared path.
  • Be 2.9 kilometres long.
  • Be mostly off-road within the rail corridor, with a section through Chalmers Reserve in Avondale.
  • Create a continuous shared path linking New Lynn Train Station, Avondale Train Station, Waterview Shared Path (currently under construction), the Northwestern cycleway and city centre networks.
  • Connect with the proposed Te Whau Pathway and other local walking and cycling routes.
  • Have access points at road crossings including Portage Road, Arran Street, St Georges Road, Chalmers Street, St Jude Street and Blockhouse Bay Road.
  • Cross the Whau River on a new purpose-built bridge (which will stand alongside the existing rail bridge). The Whau Local Board has provided significant funding for this bridge.
  • Be fenced off from the railway line and neighbouring properties.
  • Be well lit and designed to promote safety for users and neighbours of the path.

Benefits

  • A safer, more appealing route for pedestrians and people on bikes.
  • Easier access to local train stations and town centres.
  • New landscaping and improved visual appearance of public spaces.
  • New wayfinding signage.
  • New cycle parking.

Timeline

Construction of the bridge is proposed to take place in late 2016, with the aim to start construction of the shared path in 2017.

There are more detailed maps here (9MB) showing just where the path will go with one of the challenging aspects seeming to be at the Avondale Train Station where the path will go along the back of it. There are a number of other pinch points along the route too.

New Lynn to Avondale Path route - Avondal Station

The consultation will run till 15 May and AT will also have people to talk to at the New Lynn Night Markets in a few weeks

New Lynn Night Market.
When: Thursday 5 May 2016.
Time: 6pm to 9pm.
Where: New Lynn Community Centre, 45 Totara Avenue, New Lynn.

68 comments to New Lynn to Avondale Path Consultation

  • Early Commuter

    This should be AT’s #1 priority

  • Bryce P

    $17.7M would get cycle paths down GNR, surely?

    • Chris R

      Of course it would. Money is not the obstacle to lanes on GNR. When AT get the courage to address our out-of-whack citywide car priority, we can have both protected lanes on arterials and off-road paths.

      Both kinds of route have their place, and different styles of riding don’t need to compete for funding when we could cover the entire city in infrastructure for the cost of one low-CBR roading project.

      • Cycle paths along GNR allow much greater connectivity than the rail alignment, especially with paths added to Ash St and a link to Avondale College / Intermediate that has just under 3,000 pupils. This is more ‘motorway’ building with commuting to the city as the main goal. Dutch stats show trips of 2km (roughly) are the main trips and rail stations and schools are high on the list of destinations. Why are we simply replicating the rail corridor?

        Link to cycling distance stats for the Dutch. https://twitter.com/Brycepearce/status/722605276528902146

        • kelvin

          Totally agreed, students of avondale college would benefit more if there is better connection to north to ash st. Crossing ash st is dangerous as the road is busy and wide.

        • Chris R

          I totally agree that cycle lanes on GNR are badly needed and would be hugely important for local trips. But I disagree that that’s a reason not to build what you describe as ‘motorway’ paths. (Incidentally, I expect to use this for plenty of my shopping trips, so it’s not just going to be useful for commuting and recreation.) Bike infra is so cost-effective that we can afford to have both.

          Why replicate the rail line? 1) Why not? It’s cheap in the context of the overall transport budget, it will be a fun ride and a nice place to walk, and it’ll be useful for many trips, even if not as useful as Amsterdamising GNR. 2) Because we have an imperfect decision-making environment and AT are currently in the ‘try to have their cake and eat it too’ phase of wanting to increase cycling and PT without reducing car priority. Of course I’d rather have Instant Amsterdam, but that’s not currently politically possible, so I’m happy to have the less perfect solutions in the meantime – and it’s not going to stop AT fixing GNR when they do get their mode priorities in order.

          And the less perfect solutions help make the best solutions possible by adding riders. The data shows that ‘motorway’ routes do add new users (for instance, Grafton Gully didn’t poach riders from Symonds St but rather brought in new riders), and every new rider builds the argument for better infra and brings AT closer to having the guts to build the stuff that’s clearly important but conflicts with car priority. Like lanes on GNR.

          • A rail line path is great. I see it as the ‘cherry on top’ rather than the basic part of the network. Access to Avondale College, or lack of, is a prime reason. Rata and Ash St have 4m+ berms/footpaths on each side of the road, have an existing bridge that already has cycle paths and provide a way to bypass the Avondale train station section via Rosebank Rd. Running it up Rosebank Rd to the town centre also improves greatly the cross town traffic.

          • I’ve been mulling this plan over since hearing about it. I’m with Bryce on questioning the route.

            – like Grafton Gully it uses an existing infrastructure corridor; unlike Grafton it is indirect and frequently interrupted by messy rail/road combos. Not much time saving on longer journeys?
            – it’s not particularly well integrated into the local context. There are few destinations other than the stations, and parks. Good for local trips to Lynmall, Avondale market or Pak n Save, but as Bryce highlights it almost goes out of its way not to serve other critical local facilities.
            – it’s not particularly scenic. Big blank backside of industrial limits eyes-on and attractiveness.
            – it arrives on the messy side of New Lynn, around the Clark street monstrousity. The north side of GNR is a much better local network, and easy to cross to get to Lynmall and the station with all the recent upgrades.
            – it bisects the triangle of GNR or Ash St and Tiverton, which serve more strategic network directions IMHO.

            In short – what users is this aimed at? What other routes were assessed? Is this a convenient but underperforming project, and will it undermine future commitment to better nearby routes?

          • Max

            Of course it is “more convenient” than some other more difficult projects that could be done in the area (such as rebuilding Rata and GNR in one fell swoop, including all the intersections, as was pointed out in another thread in this post), and I am sure that played a role in why it was selected when routes were needed for the Urban Cycleway Programme.

            As to the “undermining” and “underperforming” arguments, I totally disagree with this. In cycle-friendly countries, we see cycleways along rail lines all the time (I grew up in one, and used them a lot). They don’t undermine, they add to the network, create more cyclists on the nearby streets, create added links and arguments for cycling ON those nearby streets. In my view, it is no surprise that Auckland’s biggest cycle mode share (approaching 5% for whole suburbs) is in the western suburbs (Pt Chev, Kingsland, Grey Lynn, northern Mt Albert), served initially mainly the Northwestern Cycleway with similar access restrictions.

            Also, many of these comments miss one key point, in my view – arguing for the best and “purest” projects (Dutch-style cycleways along main roads) is still very hard in NZ. Witness Wellington at the moment, where the whole programme is again in doubt because of such a cycleway. Wait and see the blwoback once the Parnell routes start being consulted soon. Witness Franklin Road.

            Does that mean we need to not do these kinds of main road cycleways? Of course not – but I think it would be very surprising if the current Urban Cycleways Programme ONLY did such more controversial projects. The most *urban* cycleways, the one that, in location, and style, and convenience, by being ON the main road… where are they in the Urban Cycleway Programme?

            That’s right. They are right in the heart of town. On K Road. On Great North Road, on Nelson Street, Quay Street and Richmond Road.

            And even Franklin Road is likely to see something much better than the doubters think (I have seen the updated plans, and so have the residents, but they have not yet been publicly released).

            So where are those projects noted above that get closer to the ideal design? Right. In areas and streets that already HAVE good numbers of cyclists, and where both the need and the short-term potential for really successful *urban* cycleways is greatest.

            These will be the success stories. And in a few years, we can take them to the suburbs, and start connecting up to these slightly easier backbone paths like along the rail line we built in the interim.

            I appreciate that a couple of people (that I have argued about this so often already) consider this lacking in ambition. I consider it a sensible compromise, because I have seen the alternatives (I only have to look at Australia, or Wellington) and I’ll take a working compromise over an ideal dream every day.

            Pick your battles. And I freely admit that I’d rather have those battles in the City Centre for now.

          • We are seeing so many cycling projects on rail RoWs because NZTA’s Economic Evaluation Manual incentivises any new routes to be away from the road corridor by penalising in the evaluation process anything that removes parking or traffic lanes. So re-purposing roadspace like on the Nelson St is the exception rather than the rule. And of course any cycleway along a rail line will have connectivity issues because of the barrier of the rail line, as well as often being down in difficult gullies away from destinations. It is regrettable that all transport projects have to go through an evaluation process specifically designed to ease the spread of motorways. Additionally no health benefits are included.

            So even though cycling projects usually achieve positive BCRs through this process they are doubtless considerably lower than they would be with a more balanced economic evaluation system.

          • For the same reason that Britomart is the busiest train station, so too are the CBD cycle routes – they are a destination fed from elsewhere. To claim that as proof that 5% of inner suburbs people are cycling, when many trips originate from further out is disingenious. Yes, the NW cycleway is sucessful. There was no close alternative route across the bay. A very different scenario.

  • Christopher T

    Bit of a crude solution. It’s a route I walk 2-3 times a week and while I appreciate the utility of the proposal – it’s a massive improvement on the prevailing situation for walkers and cyclists – its execution seems unsophisticated, to say the least. The removal of numerous trees along the route may well please your average traffic engineer but they’re real amenities (shade!) for walkers, particularly in a part of Auckland that has a noted deficiency of such things. The number of road crossings is also a drawback. But the outstanding flaw is that it really only does one thing, providing a route from Avondale to New Lynn while ignoring a number of related issues, e.g. the absence of a pedestrian over bridge at Avondale station (which requires pedestrians to walk an additional 50m via an at grade crossing on their route across the rail lines). Will provide feedback.

    • Hawthornhawk

      You walk along the railway line 2-3 times per week? Sounds risky, I’m surprised you haven’t been hit by a train yet.

      • Christopher T

        No. I walk between Avondale and New Lynn. You may have noticed a few roads linking the two places; some of these have been designed to allow pedestrians to walk alongside them.

    • Bryan

      I’m surprised they’ve connected the path to the western side of Blockhouse Bay Rd, with an at-grade crossing. Is there a reason they couldn’t make use of the redundant span of the bridge, to take the path under the road and connect it to the eastern side via Tait St? Or to connect to both sides, for optimum flexibility?

      • Nick R

        Interesting thing is the Waterview shared path starts at Soljak Place with a bridge across the rail line. So it seems they could go under Blockhouse Bay Rd on the empty span, stay on the south side of the railway and link straight into the new Soljak Place ped cycle bridge. Having said that, it does look like a tight pinch point, but would be great to skip the road crossing.

        • Christopher T

          Going under the Blockhouse Bay Road bridge and connecting with the Soljak Place over bridge would be a logical solution to the problem. It would not only eliminate one of the all too frequent road crossings (ten including Crayford Street East?) but also might mean more control of the pest plant infestation along that side of the rail corridor.

  • The Real Matthew

    I wonder how much value there is in having consultation for projects of this nature. Whilst a fierce defender of local democracy and natural justice in this instance we need to apply some common sense. The route already exists due to the train line so what exactly is the point of consulting with people when the route already exists and the money has been allocated? Does anyone believe there are any circumstances that may arise during the consultation process that may result in amendments or cancellation of this project?

    I’ll assume the picture in the photo is not an accurate representation of the bridge. It looks like a derelict frontage to a McDonalds restaurant.

    • TRM, I agree that sometimes there does seem to be over consultation, or poor consultation (likely only to find and empower cranks), yet one of the best reason for consulting the public remains in particular with cycling and walking projects and that’s local knowledge. If the consultation process discovers just one way that the route is improved due to local input it will be worth it, as change is so much more expensive after its built, or, more likely, we get stuck with a needlessly suboptimal result.

  • Serious question: how does this cost almost $18m? We have got 1,000s of km of bike path to build in Auckland – how on earth will we fund it at $6,000/m?

    • It does appear we’re trying to do this the most expensive way possible.

    • Nick R

      Well its not $6,000 a metre, its probably $1,000 a metre for the cycleway… plus a small bunch of expensive bridges, retaining walls and relocations at difficult points.

      • Bryce P

        We don’t price other projects without the ancillary bits so why start here?

        • Nick R

          Well exactly. I’m saying it’s very easy to plan routes cheaply if you don’t do the hard bits… But for it to work you usually need most of the hard bits.

          Likewise with your Rata St concept. It would be very cheap to do most of it as cycle lanes along the way, but once you start modifying intersections, changing signals or adding in bridges and things it would bet very expensive very quickly,

          We tried the “stencil on cycle lanes in the easy bits” approach, it doesn’t really work.

          • Bryce P

            Rata Street needs no bridges. And there are few intersections. And fixing them now means they don’t need fixing for local networks later.

          • Nick R

            I count 18 intersections between New Lynn and Blochouse Bay Rd. You might want some bridges to cross the main intersections, or even get to the other side of the street.

          • Bryce P

            I’m not suggesting going as far as Blockhouse Bay Rd. Turn right at Rosebank Rd.

          • Nick R

            Yep that’s what I counted, to the end of Rosebank Rd where it joins Blockhouse Bay Rd.

          • Bryce P

            The other way to look at intersections is as connections. Connections from where people live to where they want to go. I’ve done what I can to explain my point. It seems this is at odds with all others. You’re welcome to your path. It could have been so much more and better connected.

          • Nick R

            I’m only commenting on your suggestion it would be much cheaper that way. If you have to treat all the intersections to make them vaguely safe and efficient for cyclists, it’s unlikely to be cheap.
            Personally I’d like to see both, I live just off Rata St and would use it either way. I don’t see the rail path as unconnected however, it links to every local street along the way.

          • There are very few intersections that need anything more than a raised crossing. Most are either cul de sacs or lower priority links. Some are already signalised so can be retrofitted to take cycle facilities. Rimu St needed lights when I lived in the area 15 years ago. It must be awful now.

  • BBC

    The number of proposed road crossings, almost none of which involve any priority given to pedestrians or people on bikes is disappointing.

    It’s also full of comprises and unappealing bottlenecks where it narrows down to 2m, why is it still okay to build things flawed from the start for anyone not in a car? If this was a road it would be built the needed width throughout, and any changes to boundaries or infrastructure would just get done.

    Looks like a nice connection when shown at a high level on a map, but ignores that protected cycle lanes running down GNR through the centre of Avondale and up to New Lynn, which is where all the destinations are, would be far more desirable. It would surely be significantly cheaper and faster to build.

    • Nick R

      I think that’s unrealistic. A lot of the pinch points are either private homes or businesses on one side, or the rail line and/or catenary poles on the other. Buying and demolishing properties just to slice of 1m is a huge cost, and a huge risk to timeframes and consenting. Likewise, moving rail tracks and power poles is massively expensive.

      Taking this from a 80% solution to a 100% could treble or quadruple the cost.

      Funny these comments, one guy saying it’s far too expensive and overblow, another saying they’re not spending nearly enough and it’s undercooked!

      • Max

        Welcome to cycle advocacy and cycle project project management… on SkyPath some opponents argue we will both be too successful AND that it will be a waste of money.

      • Stuart

        There is one pinch point that is not constrained by buildings. At the intersection with Portage road, it borders the car park of an organic bakery and cafe and natural health store. Surely they could do a land acquisition there to widen the path? Maybe East West Organics would be keen on it. They could get additional business.

        http://bit.ly/1SwXqj4

        There’s no need for a fence between the path and their car park either, since there will be a fence between the path and the railway.

      • Jamie Walton

        Surely a whole property doesn’t need to be purchased just for a 1m slice of someone’s backyard – can’t people just be offered some cash for the slice of land?

        • Looking at the plans, only the ramp down from Crayford St West is next to a garden of residential properties. Most of the pinch points are right up against buildings (aside from the exit to Portage Rd which is a carpark for a business).

          The terrible pinch point on a corner leaving St Jude St is right up against the house. The 3 separate pinch points at Saintly Lane are right up against the apartments. The pinch points on the existing path between Portage and Veronica are right up against the industrial buildings. The existing path between Hetana St and Memorial Dr is right up against 4 Hetana St

  • Alex F

    I like this project (it’s right in my alley). I have noticed a few areas of concern however:

    1. Level crossing at St Georges Road comprising of both a rail and a road crossing. What safe methods are in place to cross both corridors? Did they consider an underpass.
    2. Crossing the line just north of Avondale Station, what provisions are in place (it is likely to use the Blockhouse Bay Road overbridge?)

    • GM

      This is essential I think if frequencies are going to increase greatly over the next 10 years.

    • Max

      Building rail underpasses as part of this project (especially if including roads) would cost more than the whole cycleway budget just for that underpass. And as we see at Sarawia in town, such crossings often can end up delaying a project by many years if some residents dig in their heels and force a court case.

      Once the cycleway in place, and future level crossing removals will have to incorporate provision for the cycleway, so its quite sensible actually to put it in place now.

      • Alex F

        I don’t think an underpass will cost more than the bridge over the Whau Estuary but at least it can be built after the cycle path is commissioned, possibly at a time in the future when the level crossing for St Georges Rd traffic is also grade separated.

    • Stuart

      Hi Alex F, yes the plans show it using a shared path along a widened Blockhouse Bay road over bridge to cross the tracks.

  • GM

    I’m looking forward to that Te Whau pathway reaching Te Atatu in the hopefully not too distant future.

  • Graeme Easte,

    Not shown on the detailed map (G753) is a relatively short connecting path between Blockhouse Bay Road and the North end of the Soljak Bridge (running between the south side of Tait Street and the northern side of the railway). I assume that this path is taken as a given as it was already planned and funding arranged before the Te Whau project was even a proposal. It was an initiative of the Albert-Eden Local Board to give users of the Soljak Bridge a westward connection as well as the northern path down the Oakley Creek valley. It is being jointly paid for by the Albert-Eden and Whau Local Boards (using some of the community mitigation funding from the SH20 project) with AT making up the balance. The path can be clearly seen on the map but is not highlighted in bright blue as for the Te Whau project.

  • Disappointing they want to remove the last of the trees at Avondale station. They took out hundreds of natives there for the station upgrade, leaving just a few still standing. Now they want to come back and finish off the job. There’s plenty of space between the trees and the platform for the cycleway, so I’m sure they should be able to tweak the plan to keep the trees.

    Regarding the image of Whau Bridge, the finished product will likely have a fence between the cycleway and railway lines. I don’t think it’ll be as open as the image suggests.

    • Stuart

      Yes that’s a shame about those trees. I suspect it’s not the width of the cycleway that would be the space constraint problem, rather the fact that they will need to drive a digger along there … to scrape away a shit load of soil and make an almightly noise and mess before then spending weeks moving the clay back and forth so it is level before they construct the timber framings and pour the concrete. To save those trees you have to do the unthinkable and … dig some soil and level it out by hand.

      Not sure how long the hoses that deliver the concrete are either, maybe they will have to drive the concrete mixer truck along there too. To solve that you’d have to, oh, transport the concrete in wheelbarrows a whole 150 m. That’s got to be far too difficult so I’m afraid so the trees will have to go.

      Also if they don’t raize the whole area to mud to build it, then the landscaping contracters will have nothing to do afterwards. Can’t have that.

  • Donne

    Merging pedestrian and cycle traffic at the north end of Avondale station is going to be a problem. There is barely room for pedestrians to go two abreast down the ramp at the moment.

    • Max

      Which is why the new ramp will be wider by ~1m. We (BikeAKL) are just asking AT to ensure that any slowing-down of cyclists be done in a sensible way, rather than by asking for dismounting (which doesn’t happen) or tight chicanes.

  • simon

    6 crossings(??) means that cyclists will spend more time waiting at lights than cycling. This means that it won’t be widely used. Crazy amount of money for something so ill fit for purpose. But hey, when it’s not your own money, it’s all good!

    • Max

      I would respect that comment more if you could actually show me how a route along roads would have fewer signals.

      But hey, when its a project that costs a mere fraction of a single one of the dozens of motorway interchanges we are building / upgrading in Auckland, its indeed all good.

      • simon

        Hi Max, first your argument is a strawman, id advocate for better designed separated cycleways rather than cycleways on roads.

        Second,the logic of ‘roads are expensive, so any cycleway is therefore good value’ makes no sense. Yes roads are expensive but that doesn’t have anything to do with designing decent cycleways that represent good value.

  • Michael

    Why is it that so many people seem to think our priority should be shrinking roads to make room for dedicated cycleways? If cyclists (and everyone else) would just follow the road code, there wouldn’t be half the the issues there are. I welcome alternative shared paths such as this one following the rail corridor as it not only provides a safer alternative to any road, but it is an alternative route that allows people to go different ways. If you want to travel the way the road already goes, then use the road. Simple! Currently if you want to go the along the rail corridor because it’s more direct, you can’t, certainly not legally.

    As for all those people complaining about there being road crossing on the proposed shared path, are you for real? Someone even suggested an underpass on St Georges Road, clearly they don’t know the area at all, not to mention the insane cost and disruption that would require.

    • simon

      Hi Micheal, yes I am for real. I regularly cycle the sth Western and on many occasions stopping at signals can add up to 10mins to a trip (aka 50% of total time). We are pointing out this issue because people are people and If you design a cycleway that is slow, people won’t use it (fact) which means that you’ve just wasted $17 mill.

      • Michael

        So you alternative suggestion is that they build bridges / tunnels every that a cycleway crosses a road? I’m not sure how else you would propose to get from A to B where there are pre-existing roads, or are you so any cars that perhaps you just think they should close the roads for the sake of cycleways?

        • simon

          No I am just saying that a 2.7 km cycleway with at least 6 crossings won’t be used. That’s a crossing every 400-500mtrs. It’s crazy.

          If this project was a ‘cherry on top’ type thing that was going to cost a minimal amount of $$ then all good, but 18 mill is a joke. No one will use it…or at least no one will use it to commute. Cheers

          • I think you’re wrong. For the fact that none of the crossings is signalised. It’s probably quicker to slip across one lane of traffic to a refuge and then across the other lane than it is to wait at an intersection with traffic lights, which is what there is on any of the alternative routes. People will use it if it connects their particular A and B in a relatively direct manner and will use a different route if it doesn’t.

  • Michael

    My biggest objection is actually the proposal to close the pedestrian crossing over the rail lines on the eastern side of St Georges Road. I live on this street and more pedestrians use the eastern side than the western side currently, so this will mean they all have to cross the road twice now to cross the rail lines. What is the point of this? The only reason I can see that this is being proposed is so that careless cyclists don’t crash into the pedestrians crossing the rail lines as they merge. What have I missed?

    • Stuart

      +1. I included this in my submission and posted a pin on their consultation map about this. There must be an easy way to make cyclists to watch out for pedestrians entering the shared path at this point.

      My main concern would be that people will walk on the road to cross the tracks instead rather than go round about.

      And why is it not an issue for any other pedestrian connection to a shared path anywhere else?

  • I don’t have anything too clever to say about this other than I have been waiting for this project since I heard about it and I think it’s fantastic!! There is a bunch of space next to the rail corridor busy growing weeds, that is at the moment being used prolifically by trespassers as it’s a desire line from Avondale to Olympic Park / New Lynn. It’s massively dangerous and I keep waiting to hear a train hit someone, so it seems like a great project to alleviate the risk, where people are already voting with their feet.
    Also it’s going to safely connect the city to Unitec, and then via Waterview connection to the New Lynn transport bub.
    Max is right in his comments above too.

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