On the way to some Inner West bike routes

Earlier this year Auckland Transport consulted on walking and cycling routes for the Inner West of Auckland with improving connections in the area included as part of the Government’s Urban Cycleway Programme. In August they released the results of the consultation which saw 865 submissions. The consultation also included an online map where people could identify issues and in addition to the submissions mentioned, there were 484 pins dropped on the map from 75 people.

In total from the submissions AT say 5,332 routes were suggested which when grouped together resulted in 381 individual routes. There were also 2681 issues or concerns identified which when grouped by location boiled down to 303 in the area. These are shown below where you can see some fairly strong trends emerge.

inner-west-feedback-routes-and-issues

As a result of this, AT revised their cycle network for the area to the one below.

inner-west-feedback-revised-network

When completed, and of course depending on the quality of the infrastructure, this part of the city will end up with a well-connected cycle network. Unfortunately, not everything is able to be built within the current funding window to mid-2018 and so following on from the initial consultation, Auckland Transport are now consulting on four specific cycleway proposals for the area. There are a combination of protected cycleways, on-road cycle lanes and traffic calming measures. They’ll also improve things for pedestrians and in some cases buses too. The four routes are shown below.

inner-west-cycle-network-route-consultation-2

I’ll just look quickly at each of the proposals.

Route 1: Surrey Crescent to Garnet Road

AT are looking at two different options for this 2km section, and both will see at least parts of the route have parking protected bike lanes installed. Where the two options differ is to amount of the route that is on the street with option A including some sections placed on the grass verge to retain more on street carparking and a painted median. As a result of the differences over the 2km, Option A would see the removal of around 40 carparks (10-15%) while option B would remove about 120 carparks (35-40%). AT say based on parking surveys there will still be enough parking on these routes and side roads to accommodate demand. Below shows the cross section of one part of the route where the two options are different.

inner-west-cycle-network-route-consultation-route-1-cross-section

AT are looking at options for how to deal with the bus stops along this route and options include using floating bus stops, where the bus stop is effectively on an island with cycle lane going behind it. In addition to the cycle lanes, AT are planning on improving pedestrian crossings.

Route 2: Richmond Road

This 1.2km section appears to be more of the traditional painted cycle lane approach we’ve seen in the past. AT say “people on bikes will be separated from pedestrians and vehicles to create a safer, more enjoyable journey for all” but the plans show carparks being retained against the kerb protected by the meat barrier offered by passing cyclists. Of course is almost certainly not going to encourage less confident cyclists or children to use the route. Here’s one example from the drawings.

inner-west-cycle-network-route-consultation-route-2-cross-section

As a positive though it is good to see items like pedestrian build outs on entrances to side streets – but why divert the footpath away from the desire line, will almost certainly be ignored by people.

Route 3: Greenways Route

Many parts of this route already exist and for the most part, the plans for this route involve traffic calming roads to improve safety on them for people on bikes. At the Gt North Rd end of the route on Grosvener this even includes using back in angle parking which I’m not sure I’ve seen in Auckland before.

Route 4: Great North Road

This is will be the most visible of all of the routes and easily the most used too, especially with all of the apartment development currently underway along here. All up 1.5km of Gt North Rd will have protected cycleways added – with one small exception – while the bus lanes will still be retained and even enhanced. The cross section of the road will look like the Streetmix layout below. The one exception is on the corner outside the Grey Lynn Library where there isn’t enough space to keep protected lanes on the road – in this location a shared path will be provided for less confident cyclists.

inner-west-cycle-network-route-consultation-route-4-cross-section

In addition to the bike lane changes, things will also improve for buses. The bus lanes will have their ours of operation extended by an hour in the morning and afternoon (City-bound 7-10am, West-bound 4-7pm) and they will be continuous along this stretch of road rather than disappearing frequently. There will also be a rationalisation of bus stops along the route with it dropping from 14 stops in 10 stops across both directions. The bus stops will likely be a mix of floating bus stops and likely some other solutions too. Both of these improvements should help in speeding up buses. The changed bus stop locations are shown below.

inner-west-cycle-network-route-consultation-route-4-map

 

Overall there are some good wins here across a number of areas which is great to see. If you look at the details, you’ll see a couple of key sections missing with the two big ones being the Karangahape/Gt North/Ponsonby Rd intersection and through the Grey Lynn shops. The first of those two is being investigated as part of the K Rd project underway while the Grey Lynn shops will be looked at separately. Given the anger from some locals about the bus stop there, I’m guessing some retailers will really fight changes very hard.

AT have now extended the consultation to Friday 21 October so make sure you have your say.

Join the call for a truly bikeable Auckland!

Our good friends at Bike Auckland have launched a campaign for a truly bikeable Auckland. Below I’ve re-posted their blog post introducing the campaign.

bikeable-akl

We’re launching a campaign for a truly bikeable Auckland – and calling on the incoming council and local boards to commit to the vision, with a vital network, more local links, and safer streets.

We’d love you to sign on. Here’s why…

Six weeks ago, Auckland Council voted unanimously to greenlight SkyPath, the missing link for our bikeable future. What gave them the courage to do that? You did! You spoke up ten thousand strong in favour of SkyPath. Our city leaders heard your enthusiasm, loud and clear. And they saw what it looks like on a map when everyone who’s keen to bike in this city puts up their hands.

It was the same when you showed up en masse for the opening of the iconic pink Lightpath. And when you came along on the Sunday Best Ride. And when we flooded into K Rd for a day of Open Streets, where every other overheard comment was ‘Can’t we do this every weekend?’.

The sheer joy of people of all ages, walking and biking happily in a beautiful city, is a powerful thing to witness. It’s a powerful thing to be part of. And a powerful impulse for change.

Now, with the local election just around the corner (voting starts 16 September!), we’re counting on you to help make bikes count again.

Why now? Because our city’s at a tipping point for everyday cycling, thanks to a recent burst of ‘kickstarter’ investment from central government and the transport levy. The network effect is kicking in, as more and more cycleways are built and connected. The CBD and isthmus are the current focus, with links to other transport hubs –  but our vision has always been to get that bike-friendly energy happening all over the city. Ultimately, we want every neighbourhood to be bikeable by every person who wants to bike.

What’s a ‘bikeable’ city? It’s a humble notion. A bikeable distance is not too far. A bikeable route is not too hilly. A bikeable expedition is not too onerous. A bikeable neighbourhood is one where it makes sense – and feels safe and normal– to use a bike instead of a car for short trips.

It’s also a big vision. A bikeable city is a city that’s fully enabled for bikes. A bikeable city allows people of all ages to get around on bikes whenever they feel like it. A bikeable city is accessible without a car (especially when combined with public transport). A bikeable city takes safe streets as read. A bikeable city is all sorts of other things too, as anyone who’s travelled (or remembers the good old days) can attest. Quieter. Friendlier. Fitter. Healthier. More efficient. And fun.

Who’s a bikeable city for? Everyone who says they’d bike more if it felt safer (60% of Aucklanders, according to a 2015 Auckland Transport survey; 92% of people who answered a 2013 poll by the AA!). All of us who go somewhere safe to ride for fun on the weekend, and wish we could do it from home, too. Everyone who’d like to travel further and faster than you can on foot, while enjoying fresh air and the buzz of getting around under your own steam.

A better city for bikes is a better city for everyone. All around the world, cities are realising they can’t squeeze more cars in and still feel like a place you want to live. Bikes offer a cheap-as-chips solution to a growing city’s needs:

  • a fast track to a sustainable future
  • expanding access to growing public transport networks
  • affordable commuting
  • regular activity for over-scheduled folk
  • transport options for kids and teenagers and the elderly
  • handy transport for local trips
  • one less car on the road and one more healthy citizen on the go
  • magical short-cuts around peak-hour congestion

A truly bikeable Auckland is within reach… as long as we keep up the momentum at every level. The budget and the know-how are out there. It just takes political will. That means us wanting it enough to ask our city leaders to make it happen.

So, how do we get there from here?

We shout!

Let’s make some noise. Hop on over to the campaign page to add your name. And share the link with friends and family who’d love to see a bikeable Auckland in their lifetime. The more of us who speak up, the sooner it will happen.

PS Over the coming weeks we’ll dig deeper into each element of our three-part vision. We’ll also track where the candidates stand. Some of the ‘bike burb’ groups are interviewing local board candidates; we’re inviting candidates to commit to the vision so you can see who’s bike-friendly. Watch this space.

PPS Here’s that link again! Let’s go!

August-16 Cycling Stats

The cycleway stats for August are now available and there are some fantastic results. Here are a few highlights but they are not the only ones.

The NW cycleway at Kingsland continues it’s impressive improvement

aug-16-cycling-monthly-kingsland-annual

Further up the line the counter at Te Atatu has been seeing great growth since the new Te Atatu Rd underpass opened just before Christmas last year. During August there were a whopping 76% more trips recorded here than the same time last year.

aug-16-cycling-monthly-te-atatu-annual

The increase on the NW Cycleway is also flowing through to Grafton Gully which saw a 52% increase on August last year.

aug-16-cycling-monthly-grafton-gully-monthly

 

Here is a summary of the counters compared to last year

Site

August count

August 7-day ADT August weekday ADT August weekend and public holiday ADT % change from same month previous year 12-month rolling total

% change from previous year

Beach Rd

8,216

265 291 191 38.5% 106,246

NA

Carlton Gore Rd

5,624

181 216 81 NA 69,716

NA

Curran St

5,825

188 159 271 NA  

NA

East Coast Rd

3,198

103 92 136 -6.1% 46,745

2.9%

Grafton Bridge

14,894

480 565 239 11.6% 188,767

12.9%

Grafton Gully

9,762

315 339 247 52.2% 118,339

NA

Grafton Rd

2,420

78 92 39 NA  

NA

Great Sth Road

2,299

74 76 69 -8.9% 31,386

-2.9%

Highbrook

977

32 33 27 -2.1% 13,678

-6.3%

Hopetoun St

4,225

136 166 50 NA  

NA

K Rd

14,578

470 538 276 4.7% 187,343

NA

Lagoon Dr

4,280

138 115 203 -7.4% 56,667

-8.0%

Lake Road

7,752

250 256 232 2.6% 102,604

4.1%

Mangere Bridge

7,620

246 193 397 -21.0% 144,070

-1.1%

Mangere Future Streets

1,035

33 35 30 NA  

NA

Nelson St cycleway

9,368

302 341 190 NA  

NA

Nelson St Lightpath

11,436

369 376 348 NA  

NA

NW Cycleway (Kingsland)

18,039

582 652 379 37.6% 222,214

21.5%

NW Cycleway (Te Atatu)

14,602

471 431 585 76.4% 167,857

25.6%

Orewa

7,983

258 202 417 1.1% 118,829

5.9%

Quay St Vector Arena

28,037

904 900 916 NA  

NA

Quay St Totem

18,510

597 589 620 NA  

NA

SH20 Dom Rd

2,870

93 86 111 19.1% 38,991

21.0%

Symonds St

10,884

351 422 147 -4.2% 141,039

NA

Tamaki Dr

32,224

1,039 1,012 1,118 11.7% 427,995

6.7%

Te Wero Bridge

13,631

440 391 579 39.1% 187,907

NA

Twin Streams

2,874

93 68 165 26.8% 42,477

0.8%

Upper Harbour

3,776

122 81 239 11.0% 55,436

1.9%

Upper Queen St

3,824

123 138 81 NA  

NA

Victoria St West

2,791

90 99 64 NA  

NA

 

Trapped on an Island

Auckland is in the process of changing from a city of cars to becoming more of city for people but in most places that still is not reflected in our infrastructure. That can often leave situations like you can see so perfectly illustrated below where a lot of people are crammed onto a small traffic island surrounded by a sea of roading with few vehicles on it. The image was provided by our friend Geogoose.

Just to highlight how much more efficient the people are, there are actually more of them on that island than in cars (based on an average occupancy of 1.2).

This happens to be the same intersection that is holding up the extension of the Nelson St cycleway, because some are adamant that without retaining those two left turn lanes, there will widespread chaos for drivers wanting to get to the motorway.

While we’ve seen some great improvements over the last few years, this is a good reminder that there is still so much that needs to be done.

Dear City, I’m in love again

This is a guest post from reader Isabella

I’ve been with Wellington for a while. We’ve had our ups and downs, but it’s over 30 years together. Notwithstanding some flings with other cities, I’ve been faithful to you. But I can’t pretend I’ve not yearned for a few things you don’t have (like decent PT, some real bike infrastructure), and some things you’ll never have (better weather, lots of little tree-lined beaches).

But after that night, Wellington….

Ohhh, yeah.

Wellington, I’ve fallen for you again – better and more than ever!

That night… I went on a progressive dinner party, traversing the city by hired e-bike between Wellington on a Plate restaurants and bars.

Love City 1

À La Carless – the progressive dinner by e-bike – took 14 of us from Switched On Bikes on the waterfront, to entrées at Nam-D’s fairy-lit “hawker stall” on Tory St, up to mains, wine and desserts at Salty Pidgin in Brooklyn, back to sea level and Charley Noble on Post Office Square for cocktails. It was cold, drizzly, and a light southerly; from start to finish, we progressive diners had the time of our lives.

The Wellingtonista has a great full-spectrum review, but here’s what made one woman glow on her date with Wellington

The “progressive” part of “progressive dinner”

Oh, those hills. They’re so… Wellington.

Without them (and the Town Belt) we’d not have our compact CBD, so… thankyou hills. But dammit, getting up them on foot or on a bike is just hard – especially dressed for dinner, and drinking some nice wines. And especially if it’s windy.

So it’s bus (timetable, ugh), or taxi / Uber (expense, carbon, ugh), or make a few people sober-drive everyone else (carbon, parking, feeling obliged – triple ugh).

But the progressive diners of À La Carless could have our progressive cake and eat it all. Our progressive progress around the city was on e-bikes. And it was a complete revelation.

Love City 2

E-bike serenely contemplating a Wellington hilltop view. No sweat. (Photo: Wellingtonnz.com)

From cruising at jogging pace along the waterfront, bells dinging cheerily and passers-by waving, we progressive diners hit the road. Keeping up easily with the traffic through town, we headed up to Salty Pidgin in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Road, known as a never-ending gut-buster for all but the Fittest Cyclists, was a total breeze.

We zoomed up at a comfortable 20km, this diner cackling with delight as we passed walkers and Proper Cyclists slogging their way up, and as steamed-up buses and cars passed us.

Dear Wellington, after 20 years of getting around in you, and stifling my groans at your hills… now I can wholeheartedly say I love your contours.
All it takes is an e-bike and a destination.

Love City 3

Brooklyn Road – on an e-bike, it’s e-asy (see what I did there?). Photo: Google Maps

Wining and dining and riding, oh my!

The e-bike made a true progressive dinner possible. We spent at most ten minutes door to door between restaurants or bars, and parked right outside every one. Our courteous-parking challenge was more than your average, because of our large posse of steeds, yet it felt easy and seamless finding a park anywhere.

On bowling up at each restaurant we were welcomed and our dish and drink selections arrived with perfect timing, thanks to seamless organisation by Frocks On Bikes.

And credit goes to Frocks’ ride-leading. Light-handed, informative and reassuring, the Frocks women enabled even the most nervous and unaccustomed riders to feel comfortable and enjoy the “progressions” between eateries. Even the most nervous were exclaiming “I had no idea Wellington could be so easy to ride around!”

Love City 4

Some progressive diners getting ready for the road – and dinner

You surprised me, you charmed me

The evening’s destinations were kept secret until we were ready to hit the road, but several of us were extra startled to hear we’d be heading back down to the city and Charley Noble via Central Park. Central Park is in the middle of town but feels like a wilderness – steep, densely bushed, and somewhere you avoid at night (especially if you’re female).

Love City 5

L: Central Park by day (Photo: Tripadvisor). R: Central Park’s nocturnal wildlife (well, maybe). (Photo: hillsofafrica.com)

But with a bike gang of dining buddies, it was just exciting! “Ooo this is such an adventure!” people said as we rolled through the dark trees, with ruru calling our passing and headlamps illuminating the tree-trunks and ferns. The cherry on our dining adventure cake was a stop-off in the middle of the Park – for a zoom on the flying fox. Every progressive dinner should have such an interlude!

Wellingtonians, it seems, can wear all manner of outfits (high heels, dresses, capes, trench-coats) on bikes and on flying-foxes with equal aplomb. (Though despite our narrow streets and traffic there was only screaming in Central Park; flying foxes are a tad more thrilling than riding a bike).

I lived within walking distance of Central Park for years, and never realised how great it’s become. Wellington, I love how you surprise me!

Now, for a threesome…

My partner said “Hell no I’m not A Cyclist” and turned down the offer of a ticket to A La Carless. He’s now regretting it, but he needn’t fear.

The next free weekend we have, I’m hiring us some Switched On Bikes and doing a progressive dining date with Wellington!

Five Years

Exactly five years ago last month, August 30th 2011, my first ever blog post ran on Transportblog. While I am astonished it’s already been five years, what’s really astonishing is what we, my colleagues here, you the readers, and the growing force of friends and allies elsewhere [shoutout to Generation Zero and Bike Auckland especially], and of course the many good people official roles, have helped achieve in Auckland in this time. We have certainly raised the discourse on urban issues and influenced some real outcomes, for the better. Exactly what we set out to do, and what we continue to strive for.

But there is one thing that has still remains unfixed and that is the subject of my first post, which is reproduced in full below.

Why Are There Cars on Queen St?

This is a Guest Post by regular commenter Patrick Reynolds and was originally published in Metro magazine

Queen St, from the water to Mayoral Drive, has an unusual and unexpected feature for a city street in Auckland. It’s easy to miss but it’s true: There is not one vehicle entrance to a building from Queen St. Not one car parking building, not one loading bay, not one ramp to an executive garage under a tower block. The only way to enter a building from Queen St is on foot. There are a few very short term road side parks among the bus stops and loading bays, but really every car in Queen St is on its way to and from somewhere else. And so slowly.

People often talk about traffic with words like ‘flow’ as if it is best understood as a liquid, when really what it is actually like is a gas. Traffic expands like a gas to fill any space available to it [which is why it is futile to try to road build your out of congestion]. There are cars in Queen St simply because we let them be there, like an old habit we’ve never really thought about. l think it’s time we did.

No traffic moves well on Queen St, certainly not the buses, it is usually quicker to walk from the Ferry Building to the Town Hall than to catch any Queen St bus. Emergency vehicles get stuck, deliveries battle their way through. It is clear why there is traffic on the four east-west cross streets of Customs, Victoria, Wellesley, and Mayoral. These are essential through routes to and from motorways and parking buildings. But they too get held up by all the turning in and out of the intersections with Queen St. Because as it is now the lights have long and complicated phases to handle every possible car movement and the growing volume of pedestrians.

It seems likely that simply by removing the private car from the three blocks from Mayoral Drive down to Customs St the city will function so much better. The intersections of Customs, Victoria and Wellesley, will be able to have much better phasing for both pedestrians and the cross town traffic, as well speeding the buses as they would effectively be on bus lanes all the way up Queen St. Air quality in the Queen St gully would improve immensely. The bottom of Shortland and the newly refurbished Fort streets will become the sunny plazas they should be. Inner city retailers should see the benefits of the Queen St becoming a more appealing place to be in and the cross town traffic flowing better will make car use more viable.

And there will the space to convert the smoky diesel bus routes into modern electric trams to really make the most of this improvement and speed even more shoppers and workers to and from the rest of the city.

If we’re brave enough to take this all the way up to Mayoral Drive we get the real chance to link the new Art Gallery, the Library, and St James area across the Queen St divide to Aotea Square, the Town Hall and the new Q Theatre. A chance to really build a cultural heart at this end of town.

Furthermore it could all be done with a few cones, signs, traffic light changes and a media campaign. At least to start.

END

And I still believe that AT/AC are not addressing this issue as well as they should. Waiting for Light Rail to improve our city’s main street lacks leadership and strategic focus, and may well even turn out to be risky to the approval that project. It will, I believe, help the argument for Light Rail here to show that Queen St isn’t a necessary or desirable place for general traffic, and that its continuing reduction is far from negative for commercial performance in the City Centre, by actively encouraging its departure. We know that the last restrictions had way better results than anticipated, halving the amount of vehicle traffic and boosting the much more valuable pedestrian numbers and economic activity, see here.

Queen St volumes - Total

Since my post above AT have recently added partial bus lanes to the two lower blocks, which is good, but not much in five years. I would like to see these lanes continue through to Mayoral Drive. I really think this valley needs to be addressed strategically, and not just reactively, which after all has been well studied by AT, e.g. The City East West Study, CEWT.

Adding north/south of Queen St to this mix we get a hierarchy like this:

  1. Pedestrians in all directions
  2. Transit north/south on Queen and east/west on Wellesley and Customs
  3. Deliveries
  4. General traffic east/west on Mayoral, Victoria, and Customs

And above all of this is the plan to remove all general traffic from Wakefield St north to be worked towards; to continue the current trend.

So improving the Queen St intersections by removing right hand turn options matches this hierarchy perfectly, in particular at Victoria St. This is now a more difficult idea since the Link bus turns from Queen here, but the turn could be made bus only. Victoria St is currently narrowed by CRL works, and will be permanently reduced in width by the Aotea CRL station entrance which will be in what is current road space. So getting drivers used to both the narrowed Victoria St and out of the habit of turning here is surely a strong plan.

Now of course AT are getting pressure from angry motorists over the CRL works, and seem to have responded to this by dropping the double pedestrian cycle from the big Barnes Dances on Queen. This is clearly counter productive to the strategic aims. Instead if they removed right hand turning at Victoria this would improve the adjacent Victoria St intersections for all users and enable either concurrent crossing on Queen or allow the double Barnes Dance phases to be restored. Then there is the festering sore that is lower Shortland St, which clearly has just been shoved into the too hard basket.

Oh and now I discover I have written about this in 2013 too: Clusterbus, Busageddon, Busapocalypse…

In short there are ways that AC/AT could be advancing their strategic aims in the centre city before Light Rail is begun, but they don’t seem to be doing this. I think they should.

Will I be banging on about still in another five years, or can the city grow up already?

‘…Five Years, what a surprise’

Park and Ride not really a no-brainer

Building more Park & Ride is often cited as a “no-brainer” way to get more people using public transport – especially by politicians. This election we’ve got a number of political hopefuls promising to build a lot more of them as a way to get many more people using PT, a stance also echoed by the likes of the AA. In a way it’s positive as it at least shows they recognise that PT, and particularly busway, train and ferry services are useful, popular and there is a demand for them. But is it really a no-brainer or are those promoting the idea perhaps guilty of not engaging their own brain first before making these promises.

According to Auckland Transport’s Parking Strategy, there are currently around 5,500 park & ride spaces across the region with the biggest single facility being Albany with 1,100 spaces – those people parked at the northern end are walking over 300m to get to the platforms.

Albany Park and Ride 2

The Albany Park and Ride’s 1,100 fill up early most work days

AT have also said they want to see another 10,000 P&R spaces across the region by 2046, as shown in the map below.

AT PnR strategy map

Before jumping in and building a lot of carparks we first need to question whether they will be effective. The issues generally fall into two categories, patronage and the cost. So let’s look at those two aspects.

Patronage

Despite the presence of huge carparks, the number of PT trips generated by P&R is surprisingly small. For the most part these carparks will only ever be filled once day on the approximately 250 working days each year. I would assume there is a higher number of single occupant vehicles than normal but let’s use a fairly standard 1.2 people per vehicle. That means each carpark likely generates about 600 PT trips per year (250 days x 1.2 people per car x 2 PT trips per day).

So a large P&R like the one Albany might account for about 660k trips per year. It might sound like a lot but remember we recently saw the latest station boarding stats and it showed over 1.8 million trips began or ended at Albany. In other words, the P&R accounted for only about 36% of all trips to or from the station. Furthermore, Albany is one of the highest percentages of P&R use, for the busway and train stations for which the number of P&R spaces are available, the average number of trips generated is just 19%. Expanding the calculations, the current 5,500 carparks contribute just 3.3 million trips per year while patronage across the entire PT network was 83 million trips. An extra 10,000 would add only 6 million trips, only an extra 7%

Of course all of this assumes that all users of new park and ride facilities are new users. The provision of more carparking is also likely to have the side effect of encouraging some of those who access stations by other means to change their behaviour so the actual gains in patronage are likely to be much less.

Thinking about the future, improving walking, cycling and bus connections (Simplified Fares and New Network) are likely to have a much greater impact. Further for those that believe autonomous vehicles are just around the corner, one of the biggest areas they’re could have a quick impact is in solving the first/last mile problem, shuttling people to and from stations. Of all ways of accessing PT stations, driving and parking is probably the one with the poorest future.

 

Cost

Even basic P&R’s can be incredibly expensive. the most recent one completed was at Swanson where 136 carparks were added for a cost of $2.5 million. That works out as a cost of $18k per space and that’s just for a seeming simple surface level carpark.

Swanson Park n Ride 1

The extension of the Albany carpark a few years ago cost $5.5 million for 550 carparks, or $10k per space – although that may have excluded the cost of the land. More intensive parking facilities such as multi-storey carparks can cost $25,000 per space or more. Then there are the opex costs for lights, security, cleaning etc. Even at $10k per space we’re looking at a minimum of $100 million to add the 10k carparks AT plan, given the more recent figures $200 million+ seems more appropriate and that’s if we can find the physical space for them.

But it’s not just the physical construction and opex costs that need to be considered but also the land use ones too. As the Albany carpark shows, it a lot of space to hold that many cars and the Albany site is about 37,000m². Last time I looked there simply isn’t masses of vacant land just waiting for a carpark to be built next to stations so adding them will require removing existing buildings. Removing houses (in a housing crisis) to provide carparking for a PT station would look as stupid as sounds. Furthermore, more intensive land use next to the station could encourage just as many PT trips, possibly more plus could have other benefits too, such as housing people.

Another issue and also a potential cost is that large carparks can create localised congestion issues which may require expensive road upgrades to address.

Candidates promising prudent financial management and also massive P&R expansions are contradicting themselves. Yes, we absolutely need to improve access to PT stations but the cost of building a carpark should be weighed up against the cost of improving access by other methods. For example, how many new trips could be achieved by focusing that $200m on great walking and cycling facilities to stations (AT are looking at improving access to two stations as part of the Urban Cycleway Fund programme).

High Density Bike Rack - Akoranga 2

At the Akoranga Busway station it can sometimes be hard to find a park

All of this isn’t to say that P&R isn’t useful in some situations. These can include:

  • On the outsides of the main urban area where land is cheaper, PT feeder services poorer and where it is also serving nearby rural populations.
  • Where the parking can be priced appropriately. This can offset some/all of the subsidy to providing parking, encourage use of more efficient modes for accessing stations and also address those local congestion issues. I’ve written before about how Calgary implemented charging.
  • Particularly where the station is provided ahead of surrounding land use – such as at Albany – it can act as form of a landbanking until a high enough land use intensity becomes viable.

 

Guess you could sum it all up as park & ride is not quite the ‘no-brainer’ some claim.

 

While on the topic of P&R, A few weeks ago Auckland Transport put out a press release stating they were looking to expand the Papakura Park & Ride and in the process highlighting they’re bloody expensive.

Auckland Transport (AT) is looking at ways to extend one of its busiest park and rides at Papakura Railway Station. AT is set to issue a tender which could see a significant increase to the 327 parking spaces currently at Papakura.

The extension is to cope with the large jump in numbers of people using the Southern rail line; passenger growth has been 19 percent in the past 6 months.

Auckland Transport’s Group Manager Strategic Development, Chris Morgan, says traditional park and rides are expensive because they rely on buying land. “With Auckland’s high land values, a parking bay can cost $25,000 or more, so we are looking at a number of options including the possibility of using pre-fabricated steel decking.”

He says Auckland Transport is in the early stages of investigating a trial for Papakura, but there are still a number of issues to be worked through like design and traffic assessments for the site.

“We want to look at trialling innovative ways to provide more parking at key locations.”

Barney Irvine from the Automobile Association (AA) says the AA supports moves to expand park and ride facilities. “There’s clear demand from our members for more park and ride, and we see it as an excellent way to increase the appeal of public transport.”

In Auckland, there are currently 5,500 park and rides bays. Chris Morgan says there needs to be almost double that number by 2040 and there are plans to put in 800 more bays within 2 years including 400 at Westgate and new spaces at Silverdale, Pukekohe and Hobsonville.

The 2016 AT Active Modes Survey: the case for joy

Jolisa from our good friends at Bike Auckland and I decided to both do cross posts on AT’s active transport mode survey results. Here’s their take.

The 2016 AT Active Modes survey is full of good cycling news, as already noted by Matt. Just to recap: firstly, more people are riding bikes. Apparently we can thank the ‘considerers’ for this: folk who were once merely bike-curious are sliding over comfortably into the category of ‘occasional’ riders.

2014-16 behaviour framework

Also, over the last two years, the percentage of people biking once a week or more has doubled, from 6% to 13%. And nearly one in three Aucklanders has jumped on a bike at some point in the past year – compared to one in five in 2014. That’s significant.

2014-16 cycling behaviour

So what’s going on in people’s minds to make biking more attractive? You might remember that last year’s survey floated a theory that traditional demographic factors (blokes on bikes) might be putting ordinary people off riding bikes – complete with a scary photo of MAMILs having coffee.

After we took a closer look at the survey it became clear the spectre of these happy coffee-drinking Tour d’Aucklanders was a big shiny red herring, and that you could in fact see recreational riding (by all kinds of people, in all kinds of clothes) as an incubator for everyday cycling.

This year’s survey reiterates that most Aucklanders who cycle do so for ‘recreation and fitness’, but I’m curious: doesn’t pretty much every bike ride fit into that category? If I do my errands by bike rather than by car, I might well describe that as a trip for purposes of recreation and fitness, with the nice side effect of getting things done.

In any case, it’s good to see that bike trips for shopping, work, education and to public transport are edging up too.

2014-16 cycling trips

Extrapolating the percentages to numbers gives us this pleasing picture:

The survey then moves on to thinking about trips, with the goal of converting a few car trips a week to walking or cycling, to take pressure off the roads. (Bring back carless days! But in a fun way, like PokemonGo). As Matt pointed out, this is where things go a bit haywire and downright binary in the assumption department.

People were asked if they could maybe make some regular trips by bike or on foot, and these were their quite promising responses:

  • 29% reckoned they could reasonably bike to work
  • 10% could walk to work
  • 38% could bike to the shops
  • 24% could walk to the shops

… but don’t. Yet.

So there’s tons of potential there. Which the survey interprets thus:

Wait, what? Even though even more people reckoned they could reasonably bike to work and go shopping by bike than do either on foot… the survey compilers leap to the conclusion that bikes are for work trips and walking is for shopping, and never the twain shall meet.

This doesn’t map onto the actual lived experience of anyone I know who’s ever biked to work. It’s a rare trip that doesn’t involve grabbing at least a bottle of milk on the way home. It’s like they’ve never even heard of quaxing. Or seen a bike basket.

And now we come to the bit that really made me smile. No, really.

This one does map onto actual lived experience. The more you bike, the more you freaking love it – like a grinning, joyful loon – and the more the grumps go away. It’s true. Bikes help you shed the monster!

The survey compilers make the case that AT could help more Aucklanders along that path to joyfully biking to work by (a) removing perceived barriers, so people feel encouraged to give it a go – while also (b) emphasizing the emotional rewards of riding a bike.

I’d humbly suggest that quaxing the occasional bottle of milk is also a great place to start. Dust off the ‘recreational’ bike and pop to the dairy. Take the kids. Take the long way home. Next thing you know, you’ll be biking the kids to school and yourself to work and doing it more than once a week and experiencing a radical uptick in joy. It’s science!

Lastly, a bit of good news for AT and its role in a more bikeable Auckland. Of those who’d heard about what AT is doing for walking and cycling, what most stuck in their mind was… new bike lanes and routes. Yes, Aucklanders are paying attention.

And what’s more, they like what they see.

Keep at it, AT. Keep bringing the joy.

Guest Post: The Small Steps, Giant Leap Campaign – Sylvia Park Station

This is a guest post by Harriet.

Image 1 - SP Station

We often talk about the big projects, networks, as well as game changing best practice regulations. For a while I have wanted to create a small campaign about the small things, low hanging fruit where for cheaply i.e. not for hundred of millions of dollars, we can achieve with a “Small Step” a “Great Leap” for the people the project and area it effects. I have often spoken to people of the weakness at Sylvia Park, that because it only has access to the shopping centre side, this greatly limits the stations potential. I thought it fitting then that the first project then should be this. Now onto the facts.

The catchment of Sylvia Park train station is currently severely limited. This is because there is no viable access to the east of the NIMT (Eastern Line), this limits catchment to the shopping centre, and as a result the station fails to serve important industrial/commercial areas east of the station on Carbine Road, and the surrounding streets. In this area are many homes, as well as businesses such as Bunnings, and educational campuses, and the NZMA Sylvia Park Campus.

Image 2 - Sat Image

By providing a link to east of the station to the Carbine Road area, the reach of the station will increase significantly, connecting people to an important educational area, to current/future homes, as well as commercial/industrial jobs all right next to, but currently not accessible to an RTN. The Unitary Plan has the area as a mix of mainly Light Industrial, Mixed Use and THAB.

Image 3 - UP Zoning

Unitary Plan Zoning, Orange = THAB, Light Purple = Light Industrial, Dark Purple = Heavy Industrial, Pink = Mixed Use

As it stands for people to use public transport, this realistically requires a transfer onto a bus at Panmure, this is not as frequent (every 30 mins), as the train (every 10 mins) and is an unnecessary transfer. While the introduction of Integrated Fares has removed the transfer penalty, the time penalties, as well as the inconvenience of transferring means that many who would catch the train, instead may potentially drive or not access the area reducing opportunities. The New Central Bus Network has zero bus routes moving through the upper half of the area. The 323 in the New Network from Sylvia Park brings you over the Eastern Line, but will only have a maximum frequency of  30 minutes, so no real time advantage is gained.

Image 4 - Current Bus Route Map

Current routes

Image 5 - Current Bus Timetable

Current Timetable

Image 6 - New Network Bus Map

New Network Routes

Map prepared for AT by MRCagney shows the realistic walking catchment of the station (Highlighted Area, 1km, 10-15min) which shows the catchment east of the NIMT is very low. The current overpass shows the difficult accessibility of the route.

Image 7 - Overbridge (1)

 

sylvia park

Sylvia Park Station Catchment

GI

GI Station Catchment

panmure

Panmure Station Catchment

As a result this puts Sylvia Park station in an interesting situation, where for relatively low one off CAPEX cost, the reach of Eastern Line RTN can be extended. A Low Hanging Fruit Opportunity presents itself to maximise our RTN’s.

Possible Solutions

1. Access to the Station is provided from the South-Eastern Highway Flyover. The Highway sits relatively close to the station and has footpaths in place. A signalised intersection is at Carbine road which allows relatively safe crossing.

Image 11 - View from Flyover

Image 12 - View of Flyover from SP

2. Access to Carbine Rd via the use of the carpark currently east of the NIMT. The footpath would use a very small amount of land, however private property would be affected which would require the loss of some car parks.

Image 13 - Sat of Carbine Road Access

Land East of NIMT towards Carbine

3. Elevated walkway access to Carbine Rd. This would use a similar route to #2. However, it would not affect the car parks to the same degree. This option may have higher costs.

Image 14 - Mt E Example

Mt Eden Station Elevated Walkway

4. Underpass access to Carbine Road. This option would use a similar route to #2/3 but would be an underpass. Above ground property would therefore be unaffected. This however, may be extremely expensive and pedestrians don’t tend to rate underpasses highly due to safety concerns.

Image 15 Ellerslie Map

Red Arrows indicate on Map Location

Image 16 - Ellerslie Underpass

Ellerslie Train Station Underpass

In conclusion providing better access east of the NIMT will drastically increase the reach of the Eastern Line RTN, connecting people better to jobs in the Carbine Rd area, enabling the higher density residential development of the area in the Mixed Use and THAB zones, as well as significantly improving access to people studying at NZMA. Lastly it will allow better access to people in the area who wish to cross the Eastern Line, reducing severance.

AT Research shows more people cycling

For a number of years now Auckland Transport have been conducting annual research into the use of active modes to allow them to track behaviour changes over time. This is not just relying on the automated counters but a survey to gauge the general population. They’ve now released the 2016 results and there are a lot of positive results and in total covers 1,178 responses.

The headline figure is that 31% of people surveyed had cycled, up from 27%. The researchers say this represents an increase of 45,600 people.

2014-16 cycling behaviour

These numbers are also broken down into different groups which are explained below. As you can see there has been a shift up the groups.

  • Rejectors (unable or never cycle and wouldn’t consider)
  • Considerer (never cycle but would consider)
  • Occasional (less than monthly)
  • Medium (monthly to weekly)
  • Frequent (twice a week or more)

2014-16 behaviour framework

While many people cycle just for fitness and it is the main reason people currently ride, many also do it for other reasons such as going to shops or commuting. Positively these non-exercise/recreational trips have all increased showing that people are using bikes more and more for everyday activities.

2014-16 cycling trips

Compared to last year, this year’s survey also shows increases to perceptions of cycling infrastructure. This was rated on a scale of 0-10 with 6-10 being agree. As you can see there have been improvements in the metrics but views show a lot more improvements to infrastructure are needed – which is not a surprising result.

2015-16 cycling attitudes

The number of people walking to activities, especially to PT has also increased positively.

2014-16 walking trips

The report also looks at the opportunities for growing the use of active modes for trips. First up for work where cycling is thought to be the biggest opportunity.

2016 Opportunity 1 - work

They break down the cycling to work opportunity as below. I can’t understand why they don’t also count the ‘Don’t own, or have access to a bike’ in the opportunity’. Within the last year I’ve personally heard of a number of stories of people buying bikes to take advantage of some of our fantastic new infrastructure such as Lightpath. It also highlights to me why we need to be looking seriously at options like bikeshare schemes, particularly as our cycling network expands and improves.

2016 Opportunity 1 - work breakdown

Next up for shops. I can’t understand why they think the barriers to cycling to shops are very strong but not for walking. It makes me wonder if those doing the survey only think of the only option to riding as being on high speed road bikes.

2016 Opportunity 2 - Shops

The Appendix also contains this interesting slide about what those surveyed thought of different travel modes. I thought it particularly highlights how much PT needs to be improved as it was considered fast, convenient, enjoyable by the lowest percentage of people compared to the other modes.

2016 Mode Associations

Overall there are some positive results but also some odd assumptions that have been made.

Old versions of the surveys can be found here.

Here’s AT’s press release on it:

In the past year an extra 45,000 Aucklanders have taken to two wheels.

Auckland Transport’s annual Walking and Cycling Survey, published today reveals that 353,000 Aucklanders cycle, up from 308,000 a year ago.

AT’s Cycling and Walking manager Kathryn King says the positivity about cycling in Auckland is also reflected in Auckland Transport’s cycle counts.

“We are seeing continual growth in cycle trips across the region with the biggest increase in the city centre.

“It’s great to see an increase in the number of people cycling to places like schools, local shops, work and to public transport interchanges.

New, protected cycling infrastructure such as the pink Lightpath is making cyclists feel safer, leading to an overall positive perception of cycling in Auckland to rise from 22 percent to 39 percent.

Currently more than 34,000 people cycle to work but the study reveals that there are a further 144,000 who could cycle to work but are not.

Ms King says that one of the main ways to get people cycling is good quality, connected cycleways.

“As we work with the Government on the three year programme of cycleway improvements, we expect the number of cycle trips in Auckland to continue growing.”

“Building a network of connected cycleways to and around the city centre as well to key public transport interchanges, is a key component of our strategy to improve the transport network.

The survey also reveals the number of people walking has increased by more than 11,000.

There was a big jump in the number of people walking for non-recreational journeys, up 17 percent from 2015.

Auckland Transport is working with project partners Auckland Council and the Government through the NZ Transport Agency and the Urban Cycleways Programme on a $200m programme of cycle improvements from 2015 to 2018.