Council unanimously approves Skypath

It was a fantastic day for transport in Auckland yesterday with the council’s Finance and Performance committee voting to support the project Skypath and doing so unanimously. Yes even long time opponent George Wood eventually agreed to support the project. It was decision that took over five hours to reach after listening to supporters and opponents of the project including our friends at Bike Auckland and Generation Zero.

Skypath Consent - Observation Deck

 

The council agreed to the recommendations from the agenda (below) with two amendments from Cathy Casey, that the council support children under 5 using Skypath for free and that dogs on leashes be allowed subject to negotiations with NZTA and health and safety regulations.

That the Finance and Performance Committee recommend to the Governing Body that it:

a) agree to proceed with the SkyPath project and that the hybrid Public Private Partnership proposal is the preferred procurement option to deliver SkyPath.

b) authorise the Chief Executive to enter into all necessary agreements in relation to the SkyPath proposal, subject to minimal financial impacts, and to take any other actions in the Chief Executive’s delegation to facilitate the progress of the project.

c) agree to make appropriate provision for the project in the 2017/18 Annual Plan and the 2018/28 Long-term Plan.

I wasn’t able to be there, but thankfully this is one of the meetings that the council live stream and publish on YouTube. If you’re interested you can watch the various parts of the meeting here.

Barb Cuthbert from Bike Auckland spoke passionately about the project, from about 5 minutes in the first video

One of the funnier interactions of the day involved our friend Niko from Generation Zero. I thought his presentation was strong and effective, on top of which he handled the questions from councillors masterfully, and in particular George Wood and Cameron Brewer. A couple of highlights included:

  • George Wood saying to Niko that he’d love to actually meet the people who supported Skypath in Northcote, to which Chris Darby quipped that they’ve been emailing him.
  • Shortly after Wood asked Niko if he’d read the NRA submission to which Niko replied only briefly. Wood then followed that asking if he agreed they had some grounds for concerns leading to one of the replies of the day of No I don’t, that’s why I stopped reading”

There were plenty of other funny or noteworthy moments – such as the guy who referenced a truck falling off a cook straight ferry as a health and safety issue for Skypath.

Then there were the comments from councillors themselves. There were a lot of good comments from so many of them which was pleasing to see but also hard to include everything. So I’ll leave it with a few points from George Wood’s speech that I did agree with

  1. That Skypath should connect directly to Seapath. Where I probably differ from him is that I think it should do that as well as connect to Northcote Point.
  2. That the NZTA should be funding the full thing. In my view it’s crazy that such a vital piece of transport infrastructure needs to be proposed and funded by a private company because our transport organisations in the past simply ignored cycling. In perhaps a bit of irony, had the private company not been funding this, there is a good chance it would have been included in the Urban Cycleway Funding projects.

 

Here’s what the council had to say in their press release following the decision.

Auckland’s SkyPath project has been given the go-ahead to be delivered through a public private partnership, after a unanimous decision at today’s Finance and Performance Committee.
Auckland Council’s Governing Body will formalise the decision at their next meeting on Thursday 28 July.

Mayor Len Brown says SkyPath is a uniting project that brings Auckland together.

“In a short space of time we have made Auckland a cycle city – and this is the vital link for walkers and cyclists.”

The partnership with H.R.L Morrison and Co’s Public Infrastructure Partnership Fund (the PIP Fund) is set to be the first of its kind for significant infrastructure in Auckland by the council.
The public private partnership means construction, operation and maintenance of SkyPath would be financed and delivered by the PIP Fund for the contract period and there would be an admission charge for users of SkyPath.

The council would then provide a limited underwrite of the revenue. This means if minimum revenue streams from fares and sponsorship etc are not met, council will need to top-up funds to meet a pre-agreed amount. In turn, if profits reach a certain level, council and the Auckland Harbour Bridge Pathway Trust will receive a share in these.
Auckland Council would also receive ownership rights and obligations at the end of the contract period.

Lastly, with this meeting, one thing that stands out to me is just how long it took. As mentioned it took over five hours of sometimes intense debate for councillors to agree on a critical project for the region being built by a private developer and for which the council have a very limited exposure to. Yet this same council will hand wave through a $2 billion roading project like the East West Link with barely a question or concern.

Still, lets celebrate a fantastic result and thank you to all who have helped make it happen. Now we just need to wait for the envrionment court appeal to be sorted and lets get this thing built.

Council to decide on Skypath funding this week

The council will decide on Thursday if they will go ahead with a funding arrangement for Skypath.

Skypath Consent - From Westhaven

An item (Page 21) at the council’s Finance and Performance Committee gives an update on the project, much of which will be nothing new to those who have been following it. This includes that progress has been made on a number of areas such as that the wind tunnel testing requested by the NZTA found no significant concerns and that progress has been made on connections to Skypath with projects such as Seapath having been consulted on and getting strong public support.

Seapath March-16 Route

Seapath Proposed Route

The second item (Page 25) is the key one though and looking to get agreement from the councillors to move forward with the project. It has the following recommendations to councillors.

That the Finance and Performance Committee recommend to the Governing Body that it:

a) agree to proceed with the SkyPath project and that the hybrid Public Private Partnership proposal is the preferred procurement option to deliver SkyPath.

b) authorise the Chief Executive to enter into all necessary agreements in relation to the SkyPath proposal, subject to minimal financial impacts, and to take any other actions in the Chief Executive’s delegation to facilitate the progress of the project.

c) agree to make appropriate provision for the project in the 2017/18 Annual Plan and the 2018/28 Long-term Plan.

The council have been working with the private backers of the project (the PIP Fund) for a few years now to investigate options for financing the project. The preferred approach is for the PIP Fund is to build it as a PPP in which the council underwrites revenues up to a certain level.

The PIP Fund’s PPP proposal is to finance, design, build, maintain and operate SkyPath as a user pays facility for 25 years, after which it “reverts” to Council ownership. In return:

  • Council would underwrite actual revenues to a pre-agreed dollar amount in the “base case” (the agreed financial model that sets out the cost envelope), and have a share of upside profits above a specific threshold.
  • The PIP Fund’s returns depend on it managing its costs and performance within the parameters of the fixed base case. Any cost overruns are the PIP Fund’s responsibility.

That this private project will likely have a portion of its revenue underwritten by the council has long been one of the key arguments for those opposing it. They claim it will be a failure from not enough people using it – lumping costs on ratepayers while simultaneously claiming it will be so popular the local streets in Northcote will be overrun by people on bikes

Unfortunately the attached reports have blacked out the exact details of costs, revenues, thresholds etc so we can’t see just what those are. But unless something drastic has changed, it is still likely to represent a good deal for Auckland even if the council has to honour the underwriting. The last we saw the project was expected to cost $33 million, a significant sum but since the government came to the cycleway funding party with the Urban Cycleway Fund, there are already projects underway that cost more and are not likely to be used as much. One such example is the Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr shared path. This is not to say the GI to Tamaki Dr project is bad, it’s a great project in its own right but that when it comes to benefits, it simply can’t compete with opening up a walking and cycling connection between the North Shore and the city.

In the past the council have been largely very supportive of the project – or at least supportive of investigating it. Only two councillors have consistently voted against it being George Wood, whose constituents stand to benefit the most from the project, and Sharon Stewart. In addition Cameron Brewer and Dick Quax also voted against providing some extra funding to the investigations. Given his ardent opposition to the project, George is almost certainly going to continue to try and fight the project.

While the council will be making a decision this week on whether to financially support the project, we might be still waiting for some time to the outcome of the Environment Court Appeal. It is currently expected that the hearing for it will happen in October or November. In saying that we learned recently that one of those appealing the project had pulled out citing the costs of fighting the project. I’m guessing they more likely realised that it was a fight they wouldn’t win.

Meanwhile, the Herne Bay Residents Association Incorporated has withdrawn its appeal because it believes the project is not feasible so will not “see the light of day”. Therefore, its efforts were “a waste of time and money”.

The group’s co-chair Christine Cavanagh said as a responsible organisation it did not intend to waste residents’ money on an “unnecessary appeal” that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Northcote Residents Association are still fighting though and are appealing to the public for cash to help them do that. As of writing this post they’d raised almost $9,500 but that is a long way from the potential hundreds of thousands their Herne Bay brethren suspect will be needed. They’ve also sent this out in response to Auckland Transport looking at implementing a residents parking scheme which would prevent people from driving to the bridge and then using Skypath, one of the key arguments the residents have used against the project.

Lincoln to Westgate Motorway Widening Underway

On Friday while we were basking in the glow of the opening of another great cycling project, the government were busy turning the sod of the next motorway widening project to get underway, something with decidedly less fanfare – to the point there hasn’t even been a press release about it. This was for the Lincoln Rd to Westgate section of SH16 with the most prominent thing I’ve seen being this tweet from Prime Minister John Key

The NZTA also published this video which includes Transport Minister Simon Bridges praising the project.

As mentioned, this $100 million project is widening SH16 between Lincoln Rd and Westgate includes: adding more motorway lanes, some bus lanes, a cycleway as well as upgrading the Royal Rd interchange. Some of the work was originally meant to have been done as part of that the over budget Lincoln Rd interchange project.

Lincoln Rd to Westgate Motorway Widening Map

While there are a few useful things coming as part of the project, like all non-motorway features, they generally appear to be half arsed and incomplete. This includes:

  • The cycleway will be a useful addition, mainly because it will be at a nicer grade than the local road alternatives. I currently ride through this area when going to/from work on the North Shore and the local network options drop below the motorway before rising up above it creating some very steep streets to navigate. But while the cycleway will be useful, the NZTA will force cyclists off at Royal Rd interchange, up a steep section of Makora Rd and through the intersection with Royal Rd. Given the grades, a simple underpass of the off-ramp seems like it should have been easy as well as presenting an easier grade for cyclists.

Makora Rd Steepness

  • Bus shoulder lanes are being added to the motorway. While this is definitely an improvement it’s not the dedicated NW Busway that we need and buses heading further west will be forced to merge out of the bus lane at the Royal Rd interchange. That means to get a proper busway in the future we’re going to have to go back and widen the motorway further, likely taking homes and probably rebuilding the cycleway again when it could have all be integrated at the same time. I recall that back when the NZTA were consenting Waterview and the causeway, they used the excuse that the former ARC plans didn’t list that section of SH16 as a rapid transit route as to why they weren’t including a busway. But those same plans did list Henderson to Constellation via the motorway as a future RTN route as one so it seems the NZTA pick and choose which of the plans it listens too.

Busway schematic

There’s another feature of this project the NZTA have not said a single word about, that they’re taking 7547m² of land from a local reserve under the public works act plus another 1666m² as an easement for access, all of which is hidden under the brief bullet point above of Stormwater treatment. Information on the NZTA’s plans for Lowtherhurst Reserve are detailed in the agenda to the Henderson-Massey Local board at the beginning of April and the land they want for a stormwater pond is shown below in pink. The land in question is also what can be seen in the background of the video above.

The reserve is almost 44,000m² but most of that is steep and covered in bush. Only about 14,500m² is flat and grassed so the NZTA want to take half of that. I know somewhat well as I ride through it as part of my commute.

Lincoln to Westgate - Lowthehurst Reserve Land

The NZTA offered the council/local board one of two options:

A. base option is financial compensation for the land only. Boundary fenced off from the reserve

B. the development and use of a wetland walkway and multi-activity use area for the local community with Auckland Council maintaining the footpath and multi-activity area at an ongoing cost of $500 a year (this will be cost neutral as there is a cost saving of $555 from reduced mowing on the reserve resulting from the divestment of land).

More detail on each of them is provided in the report but the minutes show the local board supported selling the land and chose option B. They’ve also requested the money received by the council for the sale of the land go to other open space priorities in the local board area.

According to the NZTA website, the project is due to be finished in February 2019.

Key unlocks Quay St

Aucklands newest and one of its most prominent cycleways was opened this morning on Quay St by John Key along with transport minister Simon Bridges, Mayor Len Brown and a host of other officials. The opening was certainly helped by the thunderstorms of we had overnight easing and the clouds even parting to make for a calm winter morning.

John Key, Simon Bridges, Len Brown and AT Chairman Dr Lester Levy all spoke before the ribbon was cut. I thought all spoke well about the need for us to develop integrated networks that are safe for all and not mixed with other vehicles like cars and buses. Lester also put his health hat on reminding people that on top of the transport benefits of being about to move a lot more people in the same about of space, those cycling also tend to be healthier which has benefits to the health system.

After the speeches it was time to cut the ribbon and for officials to take a ride.

Quay St Cycleway Opening 1

Like other cycleways, AT have installed cycleway counters but for the first time they’ve also added a visible counter so everyone can see how many people have passed every day and year.

Quay St Cycleway Opening 2

I suspect this will quickly become the busiest cycleway in Auckland. Before and even during the speeches there were cyclists passing by on a fairly frequent basis.

Quay St Cycleway Opening 3

As part of the project the entry to the port has also been made safer.

Congratulations to everyone involved in making this project happen..

Here’s the official release from AT on it which also highlights that there are a couple of consultations for other major project coming up soon including Ian McKinnon Dr later this month.

Auckland’s waterfront will be an improved urban space and an even busier cycle route following the opening of the Quay St Cycleway today.

The Prime Minister, Transport Minister Simon Bridges, Mayor Len Brown and a large group of people on bikes, were the first to use the city centre’s newest cycleway. The opening was preceded by a dawn blessing with Iwi representatives.

A new cycle counter on the promenade, a first for Auckland, will highlight the number of people cycling along one of Auckland busiest routes.

On the waterfront side of Quay St, the 1km, two way cycleway goes from Princes Wharf at Lower Hobson St to Plumer St. The $2.18m cycleway is being delivered by Auckland Transport and has local funding and an investment from the Government through NZ Transport Agency and the Urban Cycleways Programme.

It will benefit everyone who spends time at the waterfront and will encourage more people to start cycling into the city centre says Kathryn King, Auckland Transport’s Cycling and Walking manager.

“Having a dedicated cycleway like this means there is more space on the promenade for people to walk and enjoy the harbour views. The planter boxes, which provide protection from traffic, improve this wonderful space by adding some greenery.

“The cycle route into the city centre along Tamaki Dr is the busiest route in Auckland, and this will make cycling from the east even more attractive. Providing a protected cycleway on Quay St gives people working in the downtown area greater travel choice and an excellent cross-town route that avoids a lot of city traffic.”

Mayor Len Brown says it’s another important chapter in his vision for Auckland as the world’s most liveable city as it transforms the city centre into a pedestrian and cycle friendly destination.

“This project is another example of Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and the Transport Agency working well together to achieve a great outcome.”

Bike Auckland, chair, Barbara Cuthbert says the cycleway is a great addition to downtown Auckland. “It’s hugely exciting to have a safe separated space for people cycling and those walking close to rail and ferry services.”

Map QuaystThe three-metre-wide cycleway connects with the Beach Rd Cycleway at Britomart Pl and by the end of 2018 will link with the Nelson St Cycleway and Westhaven to City Cycleway at Princes Wharf and the Tamaki Dr Cycleway.

When phase two of Nelson St Cycleway is constructed next year, the city centre cycle loop will be complete. This loop includes Lightpath, Nelson St, Grafton Gully, Beach Rd and Quay St cycleways.

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.

Quay St Cycleway

  • The Quay Street Cycleway is delivered by Auckland Transport and is one of the projects funded in the 2015-18 Urban Cycleways Programme (UCP).
  • 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.
  • The UCP involves central government partnering with local government to accelerate the delivery of $333 million of key cycle projects around New Zealand over the next three years
  • The $2.18 million cycleway is funded from $0.70M Central Government, $0.75M National Land Transport Fund, $0.73 million Auckland Transport. This project is part of the wider Auckland city centre package project announced through the Urban Cycleways Programme.
  • The one kilometre long, three metres wide, two-way cycleway goes from Princes Wharf, Lower Hobson to Plumer St. The majority of the route is on-road, physically protected from traffic with concrete separators (similar to Nelson St Cycleway) and planter boxes.
  • This cycleway connects with the existing shared path on Quay St in the east. By 2018 AT will have delivered another cycleway that will connect Quay St Cycleway at Plumer St with the start of the Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr Shared Path at Hobson Bay. People will be able to cycle and walk from Glen Innes to the city centre.
  • Beach Rd Cycleway connects with Quay St at Britomart Pl allowing people to cycle all the way to the Northwestern Cycleway via Beach Rd Cycleway and Grafton Gully Cycleway.In the west, people can now cycle over Te Wero Bridge to Wynyard Quarter and around the Viaduct. Ultimately it will connect with Westhaven Dr to City Cycleway and Nelson St Cycleway when they are completed in 2017.
  • When Nelson St Cycleway phase two is complete next year, a city centre cycle loop will be complete including the pink Lightpath, Grafton Gully Cycleway, Beach Rd Cycleway and Quay St Cycleway. The project team is currently working on how best to connect Nelson St Cycleway (which currently ends at Victoria St) with Quay St Cycleway.

Cycling in Auckland by numbers

  • 750 cycle trips per day on pink Lightpath since it opened December
  • A doubling of the number of people cycling into the city over three years.
  • 50% increase in people cycling in Symonds St/Grafton Gully corridor following opening of Grafton Gully Cycleway in 2014
  • 20% increase in people cycling on Northwestern Cycleway in May 2016 compared with May 2015.

Upcoming cycle projects in Auckland

  • Mangere Future Streets opening late September
  • Mt Roskill Safe Routes opening late October
  • Ian McKinnon Dr Cycleway public consultation starts July
  • Karangahape Rd Streetscape Enhancement and Cycleway public consultation by August.
  • Great North Rd Cycleway public consultation by the end of 2016.

AT’s “It’s All Go” campaign

With Auckland’s newest high profile cycleway opening on Friday, Auckland Transport have launched a new website to highlight the cycleways that exist or are coming to the central city over the next couple of years along with a PT inspired network map.

AT Central City Cycling Metro Map

‘It’s all go’ for cycling in Auckland

A new transport map is set to become as recognisable to Aucklanders as the Tube map is to Londoners. Auckland’s cycle network map will be a tool to help Aucklanders plan their journeys and illustrates how we’re improving travel choice to the city says Kathryn King, Auckland Transport, Cycling and Walking Manager.

“Today we have launched our campaign with a video clip of people riding on Auckland’s cycleways. The objective is to let Aucklanders know about the city’s fantastic new and proposed cycle routes. Working with the Government and other partners, we are building 52km of new cycleways by the end of 2018.”

“The pink Lightpath has proved hugely popular and we’ve seen big growth in the number of people cycling into the city.

People are switching to cycling as a mode of transport because it provides them certainty of travel time, it saves them money and it’s a great form of exercise,” she says.

“We are opening Quay St Cycleway on 8 July and later in the year we will be opening cycle routes in Mt Roskill and Mangere. In the coming months we will be seeking feedback from the public on a number of cycle projects including improvements on Ian McKinnon Dr, Great North Rd and Karangahape Rd.”

“Local research tells us that, a large number of Aucklanders would commute into the city by bike if there were more protected cycleways. This programme of improvements will be transformational for Auckland’s transport network,” she says.

Auckland Transport, Auckland Council and the Government through NZ Transport Agency are working on a $200 million programme of cycle improvements in Auckland by the end of 2018. Significant funding has come from Urban Cycleways Programme – a partnership between Local and Central Government to accelerate key cycle projects throughout the country.

As part of the campaign they’ve released this clip

I’ve seen some criticise as being not very representative of Auckland with all of the people young, white and fit

In addition, AT have also released a book which looks at what was achieved in Auckland in for cycling in 2015 along with a number of facts and figures about cycling in Auckland.

The Auckland Cycling Account 2015

As mentioned, the cycleway on Quay St opens on Friday following an official ceremony. Finishing touches are still going in but here’s what it looked like on Sunday afternoon. When finished it will be a welcome addition to the city centre.

Quay St buffer before opening

Northern Corridor moving ahead

Auckland has no shortage of big road projects on the go at the moment but one of them that has at least improved a bit over the last few years has been the Northern Corridor Improvements project. This plans to convert the last remaining part of SH18 to full motorway standard with some direct motorway to motorway ramps to the north along with extra lanes. The improvement has come in the form of the NZTA now confirming that an extension of the Northern Busway will be part of the project. This a significant change as it had been specifically excluded by the government when the project was accelerated by the government in 2013 – which we understand was against the advice of the NZTA at the time.

The NZTA say the next stage of the project has now been approved which means they’ll be working towards getting consents before starting construction in 2018. As part of this they’ve now come out with an “Approved Draft Plan” which they say includes:

  • A new direct motorway to motorway connection between SH18 and SH1, separating motorway traffic from local road traffic.
  • Additional motorway lanes in both directions on the Northern Motorway (SH1) between Greville Road and Constellation Drive.
  • Extension of the Northern Busway from Constellation Bus Station to Albany Bus Station. Auckland Transport is investigating a new bus station along the extension in the Rosedale area.
  • A 5km dedicated shared walking and cycling path on the eastern side of the Northern Motorway (SH1), built alongside the new Busway extension and alongside Upper Harbour Highway (SH18) all the way to Albany Highway. A proposed new walking and cycling bridge across SH1 in Albany will connect Pinehill and East Coast Bays residents with Albany’s shopping, employment and university areas.
  • Local road improvements through the Constellation Drive and Caribbean Drive intersections, and a new Paul Matthews Road bridge.
  • Further investigation of a proposed bridge over SH18 to improve connections for the Unsworth Heights community

 

Here is the latest plan which also includes a few changes from the last time we saw the project almost a year ago. The main changes I can see compared to then are:

  • They’ve now clarified the connections around Paul Matthews Rd
  • They’ve dropped a big swooping on-ramp providing a direct connection from Albany Expressway to the motorway southbound.
  • Previously buses would use the bridge at McClymonts Rd to access the busway station before looping back to the motorway via Oteha Valley Rd. Now a new busway bridge will be built directly across the motorway to the station.
  • They’ve dropped a potential walking and cycling underpass from SH18 and seem to plan to include a connection as part of a new bridge extending Unsworth Dr
  • Previously there was a ‘potential path still under investigation’ showing along SH18 including west of Albany Highway. They’ve confirmed the walking and cycling path as far as Albany Highway but not west of there. This is a shame as the motorway has a much nicer grade than using Upper Harbour Highway

Northern Corridor - June-16 Design

 

On the busway they say in more detail

It’s now confirmed that the project will include an extension of the popular Northern Busway from Constellation Bus Station to Albany Bus Station. This means buses will be able to travel on a dedicated busway all the way to Albany, reducing travel times and improving public transport options. Auckland Transport is also investigating a new bus station and Park & Ride options in Rosedale along the new busway extension. As part of this, Auckland Transport will look at local road improvements and additional feeder services that could help transport people in and out of the station from the East Coast Bays, North Harbour, and Rosedale. Similar to Smales Farm, it is expected that this station will be a destination station for the many people who work, go to schools or attend sporting activities in the area. It will also provide another station to catch the Northern Express service to and from the city

Northern Corridor - June-16 Busway

As part of this final step before going to consenting they are giving people another chance to have a say on the project. Unfortunately, this post is too late for any of the open days but you can still email them or fill in their survey which is focused on a few specific issues like urban design, the new busway station, walking and cycling options and some other local road changes like the potential Unsworth Rd Bridge.

I’d like to see is the busway built first as it would have an added benefit of giving people options during the inevitable disruption that will occur during the construction of the motorway.

One aspect that the NZTA hasn’t talked about since the project was announced is the cost. Back then it was estimated at $450 million but that was without the busway.

Bike Both Ways on (some) Shared Spaces

Filed under the banner of small but useful changes, Auckland Transport have allowed people on bikes to ride in any direction on some of the one way shared spaces in the CBD and will be looking to roll it out further. This makes a lot of sense by allowing for increased permeability though the city centre and in some ways it is odd that it wasn’t already allowed. This will add to the growing cycleway network in the city – the next stage of which on Quay St opens officially Friday week.

Two way cycle streets image

Cycling in both directions on some one-way streets in central Auckland is allowed from today. The move will create a useful cycling route on some of the city’s quieter streets, adding to the growing network of routes downtown.

Auckland Transport’s Cycling and Walking Manager, Kathryn King, says these are the first of Auckland’s one-way streets being investigated for two-way cycling.

“We are starting with the shared spaces on Fort Lane, Jean Batten Place and O’Connell Street, but we plan to roll it out on appropriate one-way streets around Auckland,” she says.

“The streets are close to each other creating another safe cycle corridor for the growing number of people cycling in the area. The shared spaces are great places to cycle; the low volume of traffic and low vehicle speeds create a safe environment for cycling.

“We’re trying to make it easier and more attractive to get around our city on foot and by bike. Cities like Paris and London have successfully introduced two-way cycling on their one way streets,” she says.

Signs will advise road users that people may be cycling in both directions.

AT is assessing other one-way streets in the city for traffic volume and vehicle speeds, Kathryn King says this is where the greatest increase in cycling is expected and where other cycle infrastructure is planned.

Two way cycle streets map

Good Work Auckland Transport – of course that map highlights the glaring omission of a shared street that is High St.

The Main Risks of East-West

Last week I wrote about the East West Link Connections and how the cost of the project were ever increasing and how the staging for the project had changed. The post was based on a number of papers I received from the NZTA as a result of an OIA request.

East-West Preferred Option

The preferred East-West option

One aspect I didn’t cover were some of the major risks that have been identified for the project. These are described in the paper from December 2015, I’ve left out the funding risk as not really relevant to this post.

  1. The underlying land use and travel demand assumptions for the project are based on an agreed medium growth scenario associated with the Auckland Plan. Given the preferred option is a long-term response to current and planned future growth, there is a risk that the growth assumptions and associated travel demand may not materialise as planned. This could result in a transport response that is misaligned with the future needs of the network and as such, this will need to be reviewed at each funding stage as the project progresses.
  2. Given the early stage of the project, there is a future cost risk that outturn costs will exceed the expected estimate, based on incomplete knowledge. This has been accounted for by providing additional contingency in the current estimates. The top cost risk items are:
    • Property – the proposed alignment has attempted to minimise impact on industrial zoned property as far as practicable, however there are still a number of properties which will likely be required either in part or whole. Based on the current state of the Auckland property market, any delays to the property acquisition process are likely to result in inflated property costs above and beyond current market rates.
    • Neilson St Interchange – the design of the interchange is a complex task requiring careful balancing of competing priorities and community interests. There are significant consenting challenges both with the presence of natural volcanic features (Hopua tuff ring), but also the close proximity to the town centre and the foreshore, both of which have strong public interest. There is a risk that through the consenting process an alternative proposal is put forward that is significantly more costly (CapEx and/or OpEx) than the currently preferred option.
    • Foreshore – having regard to the NZ Coastal Policy Statement and recent case law, there are significant policy hurdles to pass with the proposed alignment along the foreshore. Conversely, early engagement with key partners has indicated conditional support on the basis that the proposed response could have the greatest opportunity for mitigation, particularly in tidying up historical reclamation and contaminating activities. It is expected that more than just mitigation will need to be considered to enable reclamation to be considered favourably, though the extent of works required and associated costs is unknown at this stage.

Let’s just step through them a bit

Land Use and Travel Demand assumptions – A lot of assumptions seem to be based most of the Onehunga/Penrose area staying industrial. Most of the area to the west of Onehunga Mall is already earmarked for mixed use and with land prices and demand the way they are it’s likely that over the medium to long term all of those will end up residential. It’s also quite likely that over time, a lot of the other commercial land in the area will be converted to residential, most likely through private plan changes. That will fundamentally change the transport demand for the area and likely the whole purpose of this project.

Neilson St Interchange – The NZTA’s predecessor originally planned to build this interchange as part of the Manukau Harbour Crossing project before revising their consent to not include it. From memory this was due to the significant impact it would have had on the area, especially the Hopua Tuff Ring and the need reclamation to accommodate it. It appears the road builders are emboldened to try again and with what appears to be very similar to what was originally proposed in 2006.

East-West - Neilson St Interchange Recomended Option

It’s also worth noting that Panuku is meant to be redeveloping the Onehunga Port area to be more people friendly just like they’ve done at the Wynyard Quarter. It remains to be seen how they’re going to make that a success when it will be cut off from the rest of the city by what is effectively a motorway and seemingly poor access for PT and active modes.

Foreshore – The impact on the foreshore where the main thing that originally inspired this post. A number of the documents referenced in the post last week made mention of it and in particular mentioned NZ Coastal Policy Statement 2010 (NZCPS). Looking at it the NZCPS it’s easy to see why they’re concerned as it basically says they shouldn’t do it. Now to be fair I haven’t read all 30 pages of the document but if you have and I’ve got parts of it wrong then please let me know in the comments. For this I’m just going to focus on a couple of sections.

  • Reclamation – As mentioned it basically says that reclamation should be avoided unless there are no other options. But that isn’t the case with the East-West project as we know that other options not only exist but also perform better economically. Here’s what the NZCPS says about reclamation:

Reclamation and de-reclamation

  1. Avoid reclamation of land in the coastal marine area, unless:
    • land outside the coastal marine area is not available for the proposed activity;
    • the activity which requires reclamation can only occur in or adjacent to the coastal marine area;
    • there are no practicable alternative methods of providing the activity; and
    • the reclamation will provide significant regional or national benefit.
  2. Where a reclamation is considered to be a suitable use of the coastal marine area, in considering its form and design have particular regard to:
    • the potential effects on the site of climate change, including sea level rise, over no less than 100 years;
    • the shape of the reclamation and, where appropriate, whether the materials used are visually and aesthetically compatible with the adjoining coast;
    • the use of materials in the reclamation, including avoiding the use of contaminated materials that could significantly adversely affect water quality, aquatic ecosystems and indigenous biodiversity in the coastal marine area;
    • providing public access, including providing access to and along the coastal marine area at high tide where practicable, unless a restriction on public access is appropriate as provided for in Policy 19;
    • the ability to remedy or mitigate adverse effects on the coastal environment;
    • whether the proposed activity will affect cultural landscapes and sites of significance to tangata whenua; and
    • the ability to avoid consequential erosion and accretion, and other natural hazards.
  3. In considering proposed reclamations, have particular regard to the extent to which the reclamation and intended purpose would provide for the efficient operation of infrastructure, including ports, airports, coastal roads, pipelines, electricity transmission, railways and ferry terminals, and of marinas and electricity generation.
  • Walking Access – As mentioned in the quote above, public access should be provided to the coastal area.  The section on walking access expands on this more and none of the reasons given for reasons to restrict public from the foreshore seem to be relevant to this project.

Walking Access

  1. Recognise the public expectation of and need for walking access to and along the coast that is practical, free of charge and safe for pedestrian use.
  2. Maintain and enhance public walking access to, along and adjacent to the coastal marine area, including by:
    1. identifying how information on where the public have walking access will be made publicly available;
    2. avoiding, remedying or mitigating any loss of public walking access resulting from subdivision, use, or development; and
    3. identifying opportunities to enhance or restore public walking access, for example where:
      1. connections between existing public areas can be provided; or
      2. improving access would promote outdoor recreation; or
      3. physical access for people with disabilities is desirable; or
      4. the long-term availability of public access is threatened by erosion or sea level rise; or
      5. access to areas or sites of historic or cultural significance is important; or
      6. subdivision, use, or development of land adjacent to the coastal marine area has reduced public access, or has the potential to do so.
  3. Only impose a restriction on public walking access to, along or adjacent to the coastal marine area where such a restriction is necessary:
    1. to protect threatened indigenous species; or
    2. to protect dunes, estuaries and other sensitive natural areas or habitats; or
    3. to protect sites and activities of cultural value to Māori; or
    4. to protect historic heritage; or
    5. to protect public health or safety; or
    6. to avoid or reduce conflict between public uses of the coastal marine area and its margins; or
    7. for temporary activities or special events; or
    8. for defence purposes in accordance with the Defence Act 1990; or
    9. to ensure a level of security consistent with the purpose of a resource consent; or
    10. in other exceptional circumstances sufficient to justify the restriction.
  4. Before imposing any restriction under (3), consider and where practicable provide for alternative routes that are available to the public free of charge at all times.

Now the reason this is important is so far the NZTA have yet to say whether provision will be made for the public to have access, like they currently – a photo essay of which can be seen here. So far from what I’ve seen the NZTA have only resorted to saying that they haven’t decided yet.

The drawings developed for the detailed business case (46MB) suggest there will be a narrow path along the seaward side of the massive reclamation as well as the existing walking/cycling path but the new path appears a fairly barren and exposed place to be – perhaps a bit like the cycleway on the causeway along SH16. You can also see the intersection for this new road with Captain Springs Rd will also require people on foot or bikes to make up to three crossings to get across this new mega road.

The drawings also highlight the massive extent of the planned reclamation. As a quick estimation, it appears to be at least 50m wide, if not wider in places and even straighter than the current foreshore which doesn’t seem to meet the requirements in the NZCPS.

It’s worth noting for these drawings the comments in the grey box which says that the “alignment is for cost estimation and to establish an indicative footprint” and that “the actual footprint and location is subject to change“. These drawings are also just a selection of what is in the document but for the foreshore are all fairly consistent.

East-West - Technical Drawing - 1

 

East-West - Technical Drawing - 4

East-West - Technical Drawing - 5

East-West - Technical Drawing - 9

The red part is a bridge

If this project does go ahead, it seems like a much better job needs to be done on the on the foreshore. As it stands, it appears the NZTA are going for the cheapest option available – which at $1.8 billion is not cheap.

Cycleway Use continues to rise

Auckland’s long summer appears to have helped boost the number of people on bikes, especially on routes in and around city centre. This is based on data from Auckland Transport’s network of automated cycleway counters around the region but most of which are now in and around the city centre to help monitor the effectiveness of the cycleway programme currently under way.

For the nine sites scattered around the region for which AT now have almost six years of data they say April had a combined increase of 19.3% compared to April-2015 and May was even better seeing a 22.6% increase compared to May-2015. The numbers passing in the morning peak saw an even stronger increase at 24.2% for April and 25.8% for May.

But those are just the results from nine sites and in total there are now 28 across the region but some only from as recently as December so we don’t have a full year’s history yet to compare performance. AT’s data gives a breakdown of each counter and within that there are a couple of noticeable star performers.

The biggest of these is Grafton Gully which has been seeing the highest improvement in usage for six months in a row now. The results for April and May are staggering with usage up a staggering 59% and 54% for each month respectively compared to the same month a year earlier. Not everyone needs to travel all the way down but some of that growth is also seen on the Beach Rd counters which have also been recording strong growth of 39% and 34% for April and May.

As mentioned this is now the 6th month in a row that Grafton Gully has come out as having seen the largest increase in use and six months ago corresponds with the opening of Lightpath.

Monthly bike trips - Grafton Gully

Even if people don’t use it themselves, it does seem to suggest that Lightpath has been crucial in raising the awareness and profile of cycling in Auckland.

Not far behind with an equally whopping 47% increase on last year was the NW Cycleway at Kingsland and that growth comes from a higher base too. This counter has been showing stronger growth since December and as you can see on an annual basis is now starting to see quite a rapid increase.

May-16 - Cycling Monthly - Kingsland - Annual

There are some pretty good results here and in other locations too which are great to see although also some decreases too, such as on the Mangere Bridge.

While we know they are seasonal drops, it’ll be interesting to see how the numbers hold up over the winter months.

Given we already seem to be having a bit of a network effect going on I expect it will only increase further as more projects are completed. The next part to be completed will be along Quay St which is officially due to open in July and some parts of which are already able to be used now. We also know that AT are busy working on sections of the city centre network – and the wider cycle network too which they will hopefully be able to talk about in the near future.

Auckland City Centre Cycle Map - Dec 15

 

Bikes and Public Transport, Glen Innes and New Lynn

The Urban Cycleway Fund programme is primarily funding a number of specific routes but in and around the city centre however two of the projects we’re individual routes but about improving and entire area so that it is easier to use a bike to access public transport. This is important as bikes and PT each act as multipliers for each other. These areas were earmarked for Glen Innes and New Lynn as shown on the map below.

Auckland urbancycleways map 2015-18

Back in October, Auckland Transport consulted on the Glen Innes area, asking people to mark out on a map where they have comments. It was the first time they’d tried consultation that way. The results of that consultation are now in.

AT say they received 293 responses although only 33 came from the online tool and the rest from paper forms. Those responses contained 1070 issues, barriers or concerns and the common themes were

  • Intersection/roundabout dangerous (199 comments)
  • Parked vehicles/ narrow road (174 comments)
  • Road/route dangerous/ difficult for cyclists – general (136 comments)
  • Busy/ chaotic traffic road (121 comments)
  • High vehicle speed (95 comments)
  • Other cyclist concerns (103 comments)
  • Improvements suggested (82 comments)
  • Signals/ crossings (70 comments)
  • Poor quality road/ path surface (49 comments)
  • Bicycle security/ parking required (44 comments)
  • Shared path concerns (23 comments)
  • Vehicles pass too close (20 comments)
  • Improve signage (9 comments)

The map below shows where specific routes or barriers were mentioned and how frequently they were.

Glen Innes Consultation Results - details

And here is the cycle network for the area that AT have come up with as a result of that feedback although funding is only covering the Glen Innes bits.

Glen Innes Consultation Results - final map

Having a cycle network on a map is now thing and so AT say the next steps further consultation as the specific routes are further developed.

AT have also started work on the other of those Links to PT at New Lynn and have launched a similar consultation to what happened in Glen Innes. As well as linking to public transport it should also help with links to the recently consulted on New Lynn to Avondale cycleway and the more recreational Te Whau Pathway

Clark-Rankin intersection - impression

The map below is the area they are looking at and AT want to know:

  • Key routes you want to use when cycling to New Lynn and Avondale stations from the surrounding suburbs.
  • Other key cycling routes in the area, such as those that connect with town centres, shops, schools, parks, and other community facilities.
  • Any specific issues you would like to see addressed (eg any concerns that put you off cycling in the area, such as high traffic speeds, difficult intersections or lack of cycle parking).
  • Other ways to make it easier to cycle in the area.

New Lynn Consultation Map

New Lynn is already the third busiest station on the rail network behind Britomart and Newmarket and improving access to it should only help in making even more popular.

Feedback is open until Friday, 24 June 2016 and there are a couple of public events people can a