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New Amsterdam

The current cycleway revolution in Auckland has a serendipitous feature for one of Auckland’s most cherished but badly treated areas: All routes lead to Karangahape Rd. Both the recent city by-passes: Grafton Gully and the Pink Path, have one end in the K Rd precinct, our only current cycling ‘superhighway’, the NorthWestern, is about to get its city termination moved forward from Newton Rd to the K, and the coming real on-road separated cycle lanes on Great North Rd also lead straight to the K. Oh and the cycle friendly ridge level link of our very own Pont Neuf, Grafton Bridge, leads bike riders there from the other end.

Yes Karangahape Rd is the ground zero of Auckland’s bike riding revival which surely offers a real opportunity for the area to at last both thrive and remain true to its very specific identity. It would be a shame for K Rd to either slide back into decline or to try to keep up with its glossier rivals by seeking to become something its not. And as Ponsonby Rd becomes ever more upmarket and seemingly determined to drown itself in more and more parking and therefore driving, this offers K Rd a great opportunity to brand itself as a street and people place and not a car place. This happy confluence of street culture and improving bike infrastructure is already having an effect on the numbers that access businesses on the street by bike, as can be seen below:

k-rd_3357

And in the data:

k-rd-enhancement-consultation-oct-16-travel-survey

But this is despite the lack of any safe cycle routes on K Rd itself, nor clearly enough parking places. But happily our Transport Agency is on it:

k-rd-enhancement-consultation-oct-16-pitt-to-queen-visualisation-1

The plan is to add cycle lanes each side with temporary barriers, or at least without expensive excavations of the existing curb line and stormwater systems. And improved bus priority which is already clearly vital to the area. It is wise to start with a changeable pattern as there is a longer term opportunity to further tune down through traffic once the CRL station opens way off in 2023. Then this important section, between Pitt and Queen Sts should become one lane each way for buses (and emergency) and otherwise be for people on foot and bikes only. For more on the plan and links to make a submission go here.

To this end I think the K Rd business association should push for a regular traffic closure of this short section between Pitt and Queen every Sunday. This won’t be particularly disruptive, except to through traffic, and that should be the desired outcome; an assertion over place through movement. And of course a way to brand the area as street not arterial, and uniquely street.

So the whole upgrade is clearly a great opportunity for the businesses in the area to market themselves as being at the leading edge of the new city with the bike as the symbol of all the current new urban changes underway: The rise in city centre living, the ongoing revolution in Rapid Transit ridership, in short the return of the City.

The wider point is that the driving era destroyed this place and the walking/biking/transit age we are now in is its best chance at redemption. Go the K.

41 comments to New Amsterdam

  • Jim

    Just about every other day I read items about someones plan for Auckland transport.
    Trams to Mt Roskill, tunnel to NS(rail or road), E-W highway link, Pakuranga flyover, more sealing of gravel roads, etc.
    Auckland needs so many connections and extensions all adding up to $50 billion. They can only be built one at a time.
    But I think the true believers should always have the CLR in mind first. So far it hasn’t been approved and might not ever be. I think the other projects can wait and we must focus on the CRL.
    I think most people would agree but it would be interesting to poll your readers.

    • Peter Nunns

      Don’t worry! Albert St is currently being dug up to start building CRL. The enabling works are already underway and funding agreement has been secured between Auckland Council and central government.

      You can see the project timeframe here: https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/city-rail-link/project-delivery-construction/

    • Respectfully disagree.

      I don’t see why we should settle for one single flagship public transport project (the CRL) when it’s apparently fine and dandy to do multiple successive and concurrent roading projects of much lower value – such as East-West, AWHC, the Northern “Holiday Highway”, Pakuranga etc. The money can clearly be found, just for the wrong types of projects.

      I think it’s essential for ‘believers’ in a proper public/active transport system to back a full suite of projects that will mutually add value to each other. In the case of the K Road bike lanes (subject of this post) they will help to boost usage of the entire central cycle network, and they’ll also help to drive traffic to the K Road station of the CRL once built. All for a price that would fall within the rounding error of the average road widening, let alone a full highway project.

  • mfwic

    Someone needs to write a post about “The High Cost of Free Bike Parking”. Clearly it is time for Auckland to start acting like grown ups and charge people to park a bike. Making bike parking free results in excess demand but perversely puts people off providing any new spaces to park a bike. The Unitary Plan is absolutely no help whatsoever. It now has minimum bike parking rules so now anybody who opens a shop or a cafe is required to either provide free bike parking or go through the expensive business of applying for a dispensation. Clearly this is just a form of subsidy. They will have to charge extra for their coffee or vegan tarts to cover the cost of providing bike parking. Customers who walk, get the bus or drive a car are then expected to pay a higher price for something they didn’t even want. where is the justice?

    • Sailor Boy

      We actually agree for once. We should charge for all public parking, regardless of vehicle and no one should be compelled to provide any parking.

    • Very droll! You probably drive a Drolls Royce, or perhaps a Drolvo.

    • Gosh. Shocking.

      If we assume that a cafe has to spend $3000 for three bike racks, and opens 6 days a week on average, it has cost them the princely sum of $9.50 for each day they’re open.

      Now to big-city bicycle mafioso like you and me, that might not sound like much money. You might say, “if you sold a coffee to just three cyclists a day you’ve earned back your money”.

      But let’s join mfwic and spare a thought for the struggling cafe owner, by assuming they only get very, very low foot traffic in a quiet suburb where it always rains – just 50 visitors a day on average (about 6 an hour). These poor, overburdened souls would have to somehow recoup an extra *19 CENTS* per person, across all of the muffins, tarts, coffees and meals they sell! Even if it stopped raining occasionally and they got 100 customers a day, that is almost 10 WHOLE CENTS!

      Reader, won’t you think of these desperate people, who have to make an extra $25-50 in sales a week across all of their $5 coffees and $80 brunches? Won’t you sponsor a cafe owner with the Mfwic Foundation today?

    • Tony

      There’s a joke in there about the dietary habits of K road tarts…

    • Matthew

      Are you serious? In my experience, lamp posts have been the most trustworthy bicycle resting place, and there is always some kind of pole around. But when people in their fart machines are provided with beautifully marked, smooth asphalt, while we poor sods have to make do, it sometimes seems a little unfair. I have been knocked off my bike twice this year so I may be a little bias about these things, but I do drive at work so I understand both sides. But you cannot argue that our infrastructure for bikes is anywhere close to that for private motor vehicles. K Road is awful whichever vehicle (except the bus with a book I suppose) you may be in. Long time to fix it!

    • Peter Nunns

      I’d happily write that post, except that:

      1. Bike parking isn’t expensive – compared to carparking, it’s really cheap to provide. We’re talking hundreds of dollars rather than tens of thousands. So a more accurate title for the post would be “The Miniscule Cost of Free Bike Parking”.

      2. Unlike driving, cycling isn’t associated with net negative externalities. If anything, it’s the opposite, which means that a slight subsidy is warranted.

      3. At low levels of demand, it’s quite difficult (and probably counterproductive) to try to price and manage bike parking. Costs of putting metres on every bike hoop, collecting the money, and enforcing spillover to lampposts are likely to vastly exceed the cost of adding a few extra hoops. However, if cycling levels grow to the point where we have to install large bike parking facilities (a la train stations in the Netherlands), I would definitely support pricing them to recoup the costs.

      Good trolling attempt though 😉

      • mfwic

        But Peter surely you are forgetting that land also has an opportunity cost. It isn’t the cost of a cycle rack as much as the space in our city it will occupy. Imagine if this becomes wide spread then 10% of our city could be wasted just for storage of people’s vehicles when they aren’t using them. Surely we should be using the land for higher value uses. Also I can’t think of any positive externalities of cycling. But it does make people smell. An externality that the Unitary Plan addresses with further demands on private land owners making them provide a shower for every 7500sqm of office space. Clearly I am going to have to join the growing ranks of Shoupshitas and campaign to get rid of these onerous rules.

        • Sailor Boy

          “Also I can’t think of any positive externalities of cycling.”

          Aren’t you always the one who brings up the EEM?

        • Peter Nunns

          “Imagine if this becomes wide spread then 10% of our city could be wasted just for storage of people’s vehicles when they aren’t using them. Surely we should be using the land for higher value uses.”

          You can fit up to eight bicycles in a single carpark:

          Consequently, we’d have to have eight times as many people cycling as driving before the spatial requirements of bicycle parking outweighed the spatial requirements of carparking. It’s just not going to be a problem.

    • Nik

      mfwic you missed talking about the children, are you feeling ok today?

  • The Real Matthew

    The Auckland cycling revolution huh

    When I went to collect my marathon pack (clearly being a vehicle driver results in adverse health) I made sure to count the number of cyclists using the cycle lane in the heart of downtown Auckland. How many do you think I saw on the separated lane in the busiest part of Auckland at Friday rush hour? 100? 70? 50? 30?

    Nope, I witnessed just 3 people cycling in the lane despite it being peak hour on a Friday!! One of those was a lycra clad cyclist whom transportblog sneers at. If this is a revolution we need to invent a new word to describe the mass take-up of motor vehicles!

    As for K’rd, no road is beyond help but the place desperately needs a centrepoint to attract people. The new train station (remember I support the CRL) will provide such opportunity. The new proposed bike lane will do stuff all.

    Finally I’d like some clarification on the survey sighted in this article. What exactly was the question asked? If someone drove 20km to get to work then walked 300m from work to K’rd how did the survey treat that? As someone who travelled there by car or by foot? I think most people would see the car as the main form of transport and such an individual should be classified as a driver.

    • “I’m a vehicle driver, and I run marathons, therefore it’s not true that being a vehicle driver can be bad for your health.”
      “I only saw 3 cyclists when I went past a bike lane in rush hour, therefore bike lanes are always empty in rush hour.”

      Please forgive me if I prefer data from health professionals and AT (respectively) over anecdotes that just happen to match with all your previous opinions about cars and bicycles.

    • Sailor Boy

      Do you know what the plural of anecdote is?

      It certainly isn’t the totem pole that counts hundreds a day on an isolated arm at the end of a disjointed network in the middle of winter barely after opening.

    • Peter Nunns

      “lycra clad cyclist whom transportblog sneers at”

      I don’t wear lycra when cycling, but if someone else wants to, power to them. Being on a bike is the main thing, regardless of how you’re dressed.

      Sure you’re not projecting your feelings onto us?

    • Frank McRae

      “Nope, I witnessed just 3 people cycling in the lane despite it being peak hour on a Friday!!”

      Nice story. I have one too. I rode this cyclelane on tuesday night. I was the 900th person to do so that day. I know this from the counter display. It is more reliable than 4 seconds of observation.

    • Harrymc

      All grass is green, therefore everything that’s green is grass.
      That’s about the extent of the joined up “thinking” here.

    • Matthew

      That would be because we are so fast on our pedals that we are already in the pub when the rest of you losers are still in your fart machines!

  • no comments on Mr Costello? … well New Amsterdam was of course an earlier name for the settlement on Manhattan, not as old as the American Indian derived Manhattan, naturally, but before it was New York, it was Nieuw Amsterdam, and a Dutch colony. So the song is really about New York, or at least tangentially, as it’s really a complaint in general about society at the time from a rather unhappy Elvis Costello perspective [‘living a life that is almost like suicide’], and the opportunity for some memorable punning and rhyming. And therefore, has nothing to do with K Rd, Dutch cycling, and the post, except it supplies the title… or perhaps not, as it is also about cities and change [‘Liverpool and Rotherhithe’], my two favourite subjects…. and what, really, I’m always writing about….

    as you were, cheers.

    • MFD

      “no comments on Mr Costello?”

      I came sooo close, Patrick. I seem to recall alluding to this very ditty on the blog some time back…a gentle dig at the automotive references “should I step on the brake to get out of her clutches”. Either way, a real pleasure to watch/listen to this classic gem. They don’t make ’em like that any more.

      Now for additional points, which Elvis Costello song makes reference to tyres?

  • I agree that section between Pitt and Upper Queen should be closed off on Sundays, or even just weekends in general. Only question is what to do with Inner Link, send it via Mercury Lane, Canada St, Upper Queen St?

    • TLD

      Those temporary moveable planter boxes should be used to their maximum potential. Initially every weekend – (Friday Afternoon until Sunday night) use them to restrict the roadway to 1-lane each direction, and then occasionally use them to block off the the entire stretch, as suggested. Maybe best to continue letting busses through, if the route you’ve suggested becomes prone to congestion.

      I would prefer lightweight, less substantial planter boxes that actually do get used to restructure the road regularly, rather than heftier “technically moveable” planter boxes that end up never getting moved, or only occasionally

    • Ah, matt, how silly of me- completely forgot about the bus I use the most. Yes that is an issue.

  • kelvin

    K road would need a few new apartments projects to rejuvenate the business.

    However at this moment the developers are finding it hard to sell a project in k road.

    People who buys apartment would prefer to buy it in a prestige location with good school zones, or in the middle of cbd.

    Unfortunately the general public preception of k road are still unsafe and hositile to live in.

    • Not sure that that is entirely accurate. There’s about 1000 new residents on Hopetoun St, new block started behind St Kevins, on Day St, Urba complete on Howe…. I don’t see it stopping soon, if for no other reason than the area has a lower entry price, such great proximity, and the new bike lanes will certainly help humanise the tone. Sure it won’t suit everyone, but then it doesn’t have to. Just enough.

    • Well who gives a shit about the general public perception? The public perception is that auckland central is dead, nobody catches trains, kiwis love sitting in traffic because of some esoteric cultural difference… except its not.

      Thousands of people are moving to K Rd area and the new developments are selling like hotcakes. The businesses are already rejuvenated, have you actually been there in the last couple of years? The whole area is gentrifying rapidly and will be a prestige location within a year or two, i’d bet my life savings on it (in fact I did!). You sound like my aunt that warned me not to live in Kingsland because I’d be machete’d in the street by warring polynesian gangs. Absurd!Anyway, if you don’t want to move there thats perfectly fine, but plenty of other people are. It’s also useful to point out that K’ Road is the topographic centre of the waitemata local board area, it’s literally at the middle of a dense region of over a hundred thousand people.

      • Kelvin

        Don’t get me wrong, I had walked on K road a couple of days ago.

        The area near Queen St is getting gentrified, with nice cafe viewing Myer park in the recently restored St Kevin’s Arcade. Also there is a few nice cafes and a up market ‘food workshop’ complex that mirrors Fortieth & Hurstmere in Takapuna.

        However most of the other shops and restaurant, especially in the area between Ponsonby road and and Pitt St, is still quite run down – with a bunch of take-aways and poorly maintained shop fronts selling adult products, taboos, addictive drugs, and cheap groceries.

        Also there are a lot of vacant for-lease retail inside the arcades.

        At about 4pm, the street doesn’t feel safe to walk as there will be rude kids from the Auckland Girls Gammer (decile 3) who feels like they are going to bully somebody, in compare to say.. girls from Epson Grammar in new market broadway.

        • I don’t think we are getting you wrong. You are clearly making some assumptions about other people that could be construed in a very unfortunate way…Are you really so scared of the AGGS girls? My eldest daughter went there and got the highest scholarship in Art History in the entire country, flown to Welly, Govt. Hse, handed to her by John Key. I’m on the K quite often after school and they can be exuberant, but they aren’t bothering any one else, they’re not really that interested in the rest of us is my experience. And, I have to say, with the St Peters’ boys on Richmond Rd you can sometime get some great singing on the 020 bus!

          Coincidentally, K Rd station is going to be the AGGS Station before and after school, and will be a huge improvement for so many of the girls, as now you can often see them down at Britomart, so they must be making some long joined journeys at the moment… Further underlining how hamstrung the rail network currently is with just one station on one edge of the city.

          • Congrats to your daughter! Are the AGGS girls the ones in the blue sweaters? Mostly Samoan? I was stuck in a large group of schoolgirls on K Road last time I was in Auckland and their laughter was infective and exhilarating. That’s why I love Karangahape – the mix of cultures, the slightly run down feel, the easy walking, the divergent cafes, and that some of the shops in St Kevin’s Arcade are unchanged for about 30 years. Hopefully that won’t change too much when gentrification rolls in on 2 wheels.

          • Yeah that’s them, they are great kids, I love what they add to the street, and many have a long PT commute each day as they are daughters of old girls who grew up in Ponsonby back when it was brown, but who now live further out…. it’s a great school, the campus is wonderful merging into Western Park and short walk too the city K Rd, and Ponsonby, it was built in 1888 as the female half of AGS, so it has a proper Hogwarts main hall, the culture of female empowerment is great, and the racial mix is really positive…. My daughter had a great time there, with inspiring teachers, and we loved the interaction with it too. The difference in the trajectories of the two Grammar schools is very instructive about location. AGGS is a real inner city school, whereas AGS has been captured by Epsom.

          • Nick R

            St Kevins has changed a lot recently, nothing apart from the bookstore and the club in the basement are the same…

        • Bryce P

          Gentrification, or the negative effects of it, are caused by government not getting involved in an improving area by adding quality social housing.

      • So as a quick check based on the latest population estimates, the Stats NZ area unit of Newton covers the area inside K Rd, Newton Rd and Symonds St. That has a currently estimated population of about 2400 people (and growing fast). Within 1km of K Rd there there would be more than 30,000 people.

  • I don’t bike, but let’s just try this change to K Road as our transport systems just can’t get any worse.

  • TLD

    Re “Gentrification rolling in on two wheels”. I think discussion of this topic is very worthwhile. It seems to me there are different flavours and pathways of gentrification – the risk is shutting off existing communities and loss of identity of a place. Cycle improvements and K rd station are an egalitarian move forward in gentrification, improving street / public life on the strip – for everyone. As opposed to something like Ponsonby Central, an inward-facing temple of gentrification.

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