Cycling seems to be the issue of the week so far. We’ve had Skypath and the Northcote cycle routes followed by National then announced an urban cycling policy which finally seems them agree that urban cycling improvements are needed. Now ACT have joined in on the debate by promising to abolish compulsory helmet laws.
ACT’s plan to double cycle use without spending taxpayers’ money
“The National party yesterday announced a $100 million cycle-way that just happens to go through the marginal seat of Hutt South” said ACT Leader Dr Jamie Whyte.
“The Greens want to spend many hundreds of millions on cycle-ways. ACT’s contribution to this bidding war for the cyclist vote would double cycle use and cost nothing” said Dr Whyte.
“We need only abolish the law that makes wearing a cycle helmet compulsory. Since 1994, when Parliament established an instant fine of $150 for failing to wear a helmet, cycling has declined by over 50%. Overseas experience also indicates that laws making it compulsory to wear a helmet dramatically reduce cycling. This nanny state law does not even save lives” said Dr Whyte. “On the contrary, it costs lives. Before the legislation, few people died from cycling accidents and, of those who did, only 20% died from head injuries alone.”
” Research reported in the New Zealand Medical Journal (see http://journal.nzma.org.nz/journal/125-1349/5046/) shows that, over a 10 year period, only 20 Aucklanders were killed in cycle accidents and only 4 might have been saved by wearing cycle helmets. This same New Zealand Medical Journal article concluded that life years gained from the health benefits of cycling outweighed life years lost in accidents by 20 times” said Dr Whyte.
“The diminished health resulting from the reduced cycling caused by compulsory helmet-wearing costs 53 premature deaths a year. ACT would simply abolish the $150 fines for not wearing a helmet. That would save $100 million on cycle-ways in marginal seats, double cycle use and save 53 lives a year” said Dr Whyte
I don’t think that removing the helmet laws would see a doubling of cycle use primarily because it won’t do anything to address the reality that our roads aren’t safe to use. The perception of roads being unsafe is often cited as the biggest reason why people don’t cycling despite many people having bikes in their garages. That doesn’t mean I don’t think removing the helmet law shouldn’t happen, in fact quite the opposite. This post a few months ago looks at some of evidence mounting against requiring mandatory helmets.
Now if only we could pick and choose individual policies. A big step up in cycle infrastructure funding along with removing the helmet requirements would be a great combination.
Some great news yesterday with the National Party releasing one part of the transport policy which is actually semi decent. They’ve said they will invest an extra $100 million into building urban cycleways over the next four years.
Prime Minister John Key has today announced $100 million in new funding will be made available over the next four years to accelerate cycleways in urban centres.
Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says an Urban Cycleway Investment Panel will investigate opportunities to invest in urban cycleways that would expand and improve the cycling network.
Mr Brownlee says National recognises that commuting by bike has health benefits and takes pressure off other transport networks, but says cycleways in our largest centres are fragmented and offer varied levels of service.
“This funding builds on significant investments the government is already making, with projects in Hastings and New Plymouth showcasing how cycling can be a safer, more reliable and realistic transport option.
“Many people cite safety concerns and a lack of infrastructure as reasons for not cycling, so we’re going to begin building cycleways to a standard that delivers real incentives for commuters to make a change.
“Building more comprehensive cycling networks will require new infrastructure to connect existing routes and expand the network into wider urban areas.
“And as these connections will be a mix of local roads and State highways, we’ll need a strategic approach and collaboration at central and local government level.
“Some councils are well advanced in planning and constructing local cycleways, and we want to ensure we do what we can to complement them and make them capable of being used by the widest number of people possible.
“This funding package also strongly complements other aspects of the government’s ambitious transport infrastructure programme, which is designed to ensure people and freight can reach their destinations quickly and safely,” Mr Brownlee says.
The Urban Cycleway Investment Panel will include representatives from central government, local government and other organisations. Draft terms of reference for the panel will be presented to Cabinet by 31 October 2014.
I think this is fantastic news and In my view the most important thing about the announcement isn’t so much the amount of money being spent – as the Greens propose to spend more – but that we now seem to have an acknowledgement from all sides of the political spectrum that improving cycling in our cities is a worthwhile thing. Getting that agreement is the key first step and addressing the level of funding can happen separately.
One other aspect I like is the comment that they’re “going to be building cycleways to a standard that delivers real incentives for commuters to make a change“. I can only hope that means building infrastructure to the 8 to 80 rule which basically means designing it so that an 8 year old child or 80 year old adult cycle can feel comfortable to cycle on. It would also be fantastic if this meant requiring the NZTA and local authorities to up their minimum standards for what can be built.
One aspect I do find puzzling is the creation of an Urban Cycleway Investment Panel. I would have thought decisions on which projects should get funding would be best handled through the existing NZTA/local government processes. The only advantage I can see is if this group is intended to be some sort of advisory group for smaller councils who don’t have the experience needed to develop better cycling networks. In our large cities in particular there are already lengthy lists of projects just waiting to be funded.
As a comparison with existing spending, according to the draft 2015 GPS, over the next four years approximately $100 million is expected to be spent. As such this investment represents a doubling of existing spending although it won’t be spread out evenly over that timeframe with this new money estimated to be split out as
2014/15 – $10 million
2015/16 – $35 million
2016/17 – $30 million
2017/18 – $25 million
All up it seems like a fairly decent policy for National and it’s one that hopefully represents one small step towards a more balanced transport policy in the future.
It’s also possible we might hear more transport announcements from the government today with John Key talking at an NZCID conference ominously titled “Mega Projects: From Vision to Reality”.
News has been fairly quiet on SkyPath for some time however that appears set to change with news that the resource consent for the project is due to be lodged tomorrow.
Auckland’s SkyPath is a step closer to construction but its chief planner admits the project is battling funding hurdles, complaints from residents and a lack of political support.
Resource consents for the shared walkway/cycleway attached to the side of the Harbour Bridge are due to be lodged next week, following more than 10 years of planning.
The SkyPath could open as early as 2016 but it would come at a cost, with entrance fees of at least $3.50 each way or $2 each way with a Hop card.
Project director Bevan Woodward said he was optimistic the latest designs would be approved but was realistic about the potential for difficulties and delays.
”With everything involved in this, it has taken longer than expected,” he said.
Resource consent represents a major advance for the project but one that will see serious opposition, particularly from a vocal minority that live in Northcote Point.
But not all have shared his optimism for the project, with several disgruntled residents arguing too many people would be parking near their homes and that users might display anti-social behaviour.
Woodward said he had looked to counter those fears by employing two security guards, and said consultations had worked with Northcote Point residents to find the best solution.
The Northcote Residents’ Association said it had major concerns about the SkyPath but was ”not in a position to make any public statement about the project”.
North Shore ward councillor George Wood has stated he was publicly opposed to the SkyPath, but fellow North Shore councillor Chris Darby said feedback he received from residents showed a ”phenomenal level of support”.
Darby said the SkyPath was 55 years overdue and would follow through on the original plan for the bridge, which, before its 1959 build, included designs for a rail line and a 2-metre walkway, similar to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
”I’m optimistic that this is a project whose time has come,” he said.
”I would suggest there’s a minority concern. But all the surveys I’ve seen for Auckland city-side residents and North Shore residents are in favour of it.”
Also now seemingly tied in with SkyPath is Auckland Transports proposal to improve cycling routes from Northcote all the way through to Smales Farm which has brought government minister Jonathan Coleman into the debate complaining about parking. Both Coleman and Wood have now setup a meeting for tonight on Northcote cycle improvements in a bid to fire up locals against the project. If you live in the area and support both SkyPath and the improved cycling infrastructure in the area I would urge you to go along and make your voice heard
The comment that there is no such thing as a residents parking zone is a bit comical and perhaps they should ask the residents just over the St Marys bay about that. Speaking of comical, George Wood has also created this video about both projects featuring highlights such as:
- Suggesting a concrete is historic which can’t have its layout changed.
- Suggesting a concrete road is an icon of Auckland
- Saying parking is at a premium due to the historic nature of the area in which residents don’t have off street parking followed by a shots of houses, all of which have off street parking and in which there is still plenty of on street parking available.
- On street parking being used to park a boat
- The owner of the Northcote Tavern not supporting cycling improvements as he fears locals won’t be able to drive to have a drink – again notice plenty of on street parking not occupied.
- A shot looking towards the bridge again with heaps of available on street parking.
- George talking to a supposedly NIMBY cat
- Scaremongering that the SkyPath will be too heavy for the bridge.
As far as I’m aware George is the only councillor who has opposedSkyPath to date which is odd considering how many of his constituents both at Northcote Point and in other areas of the North Shore would benefit from the project.
There have also been some new details starting to emerge with these two documents uploaded to Scribd. by George showing what appears to be some new images of the project.
While this one is the result of a research report into the potential patronage of SkyPath. From memory one of the reasons for this report was that some locals didn’t believe the previous ones completed were correct. The report says the outcome is very similar to the previous studies done which is basically that a lot of people will use SkyPath and that most would access the bridge by cycling to it, not driving like some residents like to suggest.
I’m looking forward to seeing more detail about the project when the resource consent is announced.
Of course even once constructed there is on issue about the project that is likely to be debated for some time to come and that’s the fee to access the path. The Auckland Harbour Bridge will probably be the only place in the world where cyclists pay to cross while cars can do so for free. Sadly even with a change of government that position might not change.
Eventually, he was hoping that once the SkyPath was up-and-running, a future transport minister might decide to allocate $33m to buy out the project, removing the need for tolls.
A spokesman for Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said that remained a hypothetical question that the minister couldn’t answer, while Labour’s transport spokesman Phil Twyford said ”it seems like the organisers have put together a PPP that could work and I don’t see any need to interfere with that”.
Dealing with whether we should be paying a fee to cross the bridge is something for a future discussion though and not something I’d want holding up the construction of one of Auckland’s most important projects.
Debate in Northcote seems to be raging about the proposed walking and cycling improvements with most of the focus being about the removal of car parks on Queen St in Northcote. Interestingly I came across this blog post from November 2010 by a politician who lives in the area and who is encouraging locals to fight the proposal. Can you guess who wrote it?
Ride on cycle path leads to questions
It’s been a few years since I’ve been on a bike, but six weeks ago I decided to build cycling into my fitness routine as summer approaches. Nothing major, but I’ve been getting out on my old mountain bike around the North Shore roads every weekend.
The tragic spate of recent biking fatalities makes you think twice and has highlighted the narrow margin of safety for cyclists. You realize how vulnerable you are on a bike, and how reliant you are on the vigilance and concentration of other road users.
On the positive side, cycling as a mode of transport is not only environmentally friendly, but as a recreation it is an enjoyable way to get some exercise and free your mind from your daily concerns. Secondly, it gives you a detailed view of the nooks and crannies of an area that a car just doesn’t afford you. As an MP, it’s amazing the insights I get into my electorate from the bike saddle, not to mention the people I see along the way.
The extent of the cycle lane network across the Shore has come as a pleasant surprise. The pathways are not continuous, but it’s great that you can cycle to Takapuna and beyond from Northcote, traversing some very busy territory, (think Akoranga Drive up Esmonde Rd to Lake Rd).
However, I’ve been struck by how relatively few cyclists are on these cycle paths at the weekends. Cycling from Northcote Point to Takapuna beach I seldom see another bike. There weren’t a lot on the route to and from Devonport last weekend either.
The question for me is why aren’t more people cycling? In terms of recreation, is it a lack of awareness of the paths that are available? Is it perceived danger? Is it just not that popular? Some will beg to differ and say it’s different during commuter times- I’m just telling you what I’ve seen.
Of course cycle lanes have been controversial (Lake Rd), and the motor vehicle continues to be crucial for Aucklanders. However, if we’re going to accommodate a predicted growth in Auckland’s population from 1.4 to nearly 2 million over the next 20 years transport is going to be even more of a serious challenge. Potentially part of the solution for dealing with Auckland’s transport woes could be encouragement of active transport- cycling and walking. However, there are issues associated with cycling and walking infrastructure that require rational analysis of costs and benefits.
It seems to me that cycling has potential to move people off our roads, although it will obviously not be viable for everyone. The question is, would building more infrastructure increase uptake, or given what I’ve seen on my rides, does the carrot not really work for the majority when it comes to active transport? Will people only get on their bikes once the viability of motoring passes a personal tipping point for them (for whatever reason)?
The post was from MP for Northcote and resident of Queen St Jonathan Coleman. There are a lot of really positive comments in there and suggests Coleman has much better view on transport and the future than some of his colleagues. I wonder if he still stands by them or if he gives into the more vocal neighbours he has. This recent article in the North Shore Times suggests the latter.
Northcote MP Jonathan Coleman, who lives on Queen St, says he has received a “hell of a lot of correspondence from residents who have huge issues” with parking.
A recreational cyclist, Coleman rides the proposed route frequently, but says he cannot see the justification for it.
“I see very few cyclists along the route and there’s nothing in the consultation document about cost,” he says.
An Auckland Transport spokeswoman says the estimated cost of the cycle route is less than $4m.
Coleman believes the cycleway is a “trojan horse” to get the Skypath’s northern landfall from the Harbour Bridge built at Northcote Point
Some locals are already gearing up to try and stop the project completely and I’ve heard stories of passing cyclists being abused by people as a result. As such it’s really important that as many people as possible submit in favour of the project.
The post from Jonathan Coleman also suggests that his personal views aren’t necessarily opposed to the project so it would also be worthwhile letting him know he should support the project if you live in his electorate.
Cycle Action Auckland member Steve Southall has also written this good post about the open day on Saturday and makes this important comment
And it’s here I was a little surprised. While of course there were some Northcote Point residents concerned with the loss of on-street parking, a message coming through loud and clear from most residents was, “We don’t feel safe cycling at the moment. If this cycle route goes in, it’ll be much easier for my family and me to get out on our bikes”.
Auckland first section of permanent separated cycleway is currently under construction on Beach Road. This is designed to link in with the Grafton Gully cycleway that is currently under construction. When these are both completed (in about a month!) their will be continuous off-road cycling facilities right through from West Auckland to Britomart. The Beach Road section has only been under construction for a month, however substantial progress has been made. Note that building this cycleway was not just a case of installing some separators. The footpaths have all totally been rebuilt, and the road has been rebuilt and resurfaced. There have also been major storm waterworks undertaken at the same time, with sections of new pipe installed.
On Thursday we got the first glimpse of what the separated sections look like, and now about 100m of separators have been installed between Churchhill St and Te Taou Crescent. The lane will be 3 metres wide, and the separators 0.8m wide.
looking east towards Churchill St and Parnell Rise
While of course it is not complete, is already possible to ride it, and is a much safer and legal alternative to the busy road or footpath. I regularly use Beach Road to cycle into the city or to Britomart, and even this short section of separation made the journey so feel so much safer, and much more relaxing not having to worry about parked cars or fast traffic behind me. If you do ride this section, note it is still a construction zone so may not be advisable if people are working, and their are some services that still need raising to surface level.
Along this section this is a bi-directional cycleway on the southern side of the street. Unfortunately there are a number of driveway entrances along this side of the street, that explains so of the gaps that can be seen. However the cycleway will also be painted and stenciled, at least over the driveway entrances so that will ensure people know this isn’t just a separated parking lane!
At the Te Taou intersection their will be a cycle only traffic light phase so people can cycle diagonally, and the cycleway will continue along the northern side of Beach Road. Stage 1 will head up Mahuhu Crescent to link with a new crossing to connect to the shared path along Quay St. Stage 2 will be undertaken early next year and will continue along Beach Road in front of the Scene apartments, and finish at Britomart Place. The plans and more detail is available on the Auckland Transport website here.
This should help boost the profile and ease of cycling across the city, and build the case for a connected grid, starting by connecting the city and inner suburbs. I a really hopeful that in a few years this will be a common sight across the city, rather than a cause of excitement amongst advocates. Interestingly it is Wynyard Quarters third birthday this weekend, which highlights how amazing new developments can soon become part of city landscape, so cycling infrastructure should be the same in a few years.
In June the Draft Government Policy Statement (GPS) on transport was released by the Ministry of Transport. The GPS outlines where transport funding will go over the next 3 years. Sadly it considered the business as usual of focussing on the handful of Roads of National Significance projects, with everything else left to pick up the leftovers. Cycling funding was miserable with funding at set at between $15 and 33 million, and rising at $1 million per year. The midpoint of this figure is a miserable 0.7% of the total annual budget.
This led the cycling advocacy community around the country to get together to campaign for cycling to get a fairer share for cycling. They have launched a website called “On Yer Bike” making it really easy to make a submission on the Draft GPS. This has the support of at least 17 cycling advocacy groups across the country, so the aim is to get tens of thousands of submissions as a real show of force.
The petition is calling for the cycling budget to be at least tripled to somewhere between $45 and $90 million per year, with the wording as follows.
Dear Minister Brownlee,
I would like to see the walking and cycling budget in the 2015 Government Policy Statement on land transport increased from $15-30 million per year to $45-90 million per year for the next 3 years with progressive increases after that. This is a small increase relative to the total budget of $3.5 billion per year, but would start to make a real difference for cycling. The NZ Transport Agency should take an active leadership role in improving cycling, and should help kickstart local councils by funding more than the usual amount for cycling-specific projects.
More and more people are taking up cycling despite the risk, and surveys conducted in Auckland, Dunedin, and by the Automobile Association all say the same thing: more than 60% of Kiwis would cycle around town if it were safe. Recent investment in the New Zealand Cycle Trails has been great, but people like me also want to be able to cycle safely around the cities and towns in which they live.
Cycle networks and safe infrastructure like protected cycle lanes are being proposed around the country. These have the potential to give people a viable choice about cycling and are the way of the future, but we’ll never get there without some real investment. Despite the clear demand, the draft Government Policy Statement proposes to spend well under 1% of the budget on walking and cycling. Please triple the cycling budget for all New Zealand.
Note that if you have more time please consider writing a fuller written submission, which can be emailed to GPS.firstname.lastname@example.org. We outlined some of the other issues with the GPS when it was released if you are looking for hints.
Auckland Transport are starting consultation tomorrow for a series of walking and cycling improvements to Northcote. All up there will be 5.2km of improvements from the intersection of Taharoto Road and Northcote Road through to the Northcote Ferry Terminal. Along with improving cycling facilities AT also specifically say it’s about improving links to the eventual Skypath which is great to see. A map of the route to be upgraded is below.
The improvements are generally in the form of a mix of on road cycle lanes and shared paths, which most people will say aren’t ideal. Some of the changes are:
- An off-road shared walking and cycling path on either side of Northcote Road from the Taharoto Road/Northcote Road intersection to the Northcote Road/Ocean View Road/Lake Road intersection
- Improvements to walking and cycling facilities at the Northcote Road/Ocean View Road/Lake Road roundabout
- An on-road cycle lane on either side of Lake Road and an off-road shared walking and cycling path on the eastern side of Lake Road from the Northcote Road/Ocean View Road/Lake Road intersection to Exmouth Road/Raleigh Road/Lake Road intersection.
- Improvements to walking and cycling facilities at the Exmouth Road/Raleigh Road/Lake Road roundabout
- An on-road cycle lane on the western side of Lake Road and an off-road shared walking and cycling path on the eastern side of Lake Road from the Exmouth Road/Raleigh Road/Lake Road intersection to the Lake Road/Onewa Road intersection
- Improvements to walking and cycling facilities at the Lake Road/Onewa Road/Queen Street intersection
- An on-road cycle lane on either side of Queen Street from the Onewa Road/Queen Street intersection to the entry to the Northcote Point Ferry Terminal
The maps show that the on road cycle lanes on Queen St will be protected by parking a first for Auckland. AT even say the plans will see some on street parking removed which is something sure to raise the hackles of some locals.
While there are bound to be a number of specific issues with the plans the one that stands out to me the most is the section around Onewa Rd. where the cycling facilities seem to basically end and dump people back on to the road. I’m sure some of you will be able to highlight all of the issues in the comments.
Overall it’s good to see AT at least planning to roll out more cycling improvements across the city. For a long time it’s felt like not much was happening but there seems to have been a bit of a surge of progress on projects in the last few months which it would be great to see carry on.
Auckland Transport is holding an open day to discuss their plans for a shared path between Waterview and Mt Albert which was required as part of the Board of Inquiry for the Waterview Connection project.
Auckland Transport is about to unveil plans for a new walking and cycling link between Waterview and Mt Albert.
Delivered as part of the Waterview Connection project, the shared path will add to Auckland’s growing cycling and walking network, connecting with the north-western (SH16) cycle route and existing shared paths to Onehunga and New Lynn.
Auckland Transport has investigated a range of options, talked with property owners and developed a concept design for the path. We’re now ready to show our designs to the public, so come along and give us your thoughts.
The Waterview shared path will be around 2.4km long and around 3.5 metres wide, running from Alan Wood Reserve off New North Road, following the route of Oakley Creek and connecting with Great North Road (map attached).
Two new bridges will be built along the route – one across Oakley Creek and the other over the western rail line – to connect communities to the path. There will also be easy access to the path at various points along the route, such as Phyllis Reserve and the Unitec campus.
Details on the Waterview shared path will be revealed at two public open days – the first on Wednesday 23 July, 3pm to 7pm, at Metro Football Club, in Phyllis Reserve, Mt Albert; and the second on Thursday 24 July, 3pm to 7pm, at Avondale Baptist Church, 1288 New North Road, Avondale. The project team will be on hand to answer questions.
AT’s Community Transport manager Matthew Rednall says the shared path will be great for the local community.
“Not only will it mean safe traffic-free links and improved access to local schools, colleges and other community facilities, it’ll be a great place to get some exercise,” he says.
“The path will be well lit and have a low gradient to make it safe and easy to use.”
Construction is expected to begin in late 2016 and take around 12 months to complete.
This is the route the path will take
I’m please to see this being progressed however there are already a number of questions in my head about this project.
- Why is it only starting construction in late 2016. This seems especially odd considering how fast the NZTA seems to be moving on the Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr Cycleway which has construction starting in a few months.
- The route seems more about recreation than transport with the indirect route it takes and sharp slow speed turns – AT have said that this is to provide links to the community, not build through the sports grounds and that closer to the creek isn’t suitable for building.
- Will AT be installing lights on the intersection of Soljak Pl/New North Rd/Bollard Ave? New North Rd is a high volume four lane arterial road that without any kind of crossing is going to be difficult to cross.
- We’ve started seeing a lot of design being incorporated in pedestrian/cycle bridges in recent years, the concept for the bridge across the Oakley Creek that AT have on their website seems to shun that completely.
The Grafton Gully Cycleway has been under construction for some time now and it’s clearly getting close to completion. It’s due to open in September along with the first section of the Beach Rd cycleway which will be our first protected cycleway. Here are some images from the Southern end.
Coming from Upper Queen St and travelling above the motorway.
Weaving under the motorway ramp
Looking North from Grafton Bridge, still some concrete to be poured here.
Looking North from Grafton Bridge towards Wellesley St where an underpass has been built
I’m looking forward to this being open.
Auckland Transport are after feedback on their design for bike parking at Panmure Station with a view to rolling it out to the rest of the network.
Designs for cycle parking at the new Panmure Railway Station could be wheeled out across the region.
Auckland Transport wants feedback on its designs for safe, dry and secure bike parking at Panmure (attached).
“We think we have created a simple functional structure that provides cyclists with secure and sheltered bike parking, now we want to know if it works for cyclists and other users of Panmure station,” says community transport manager Matthew Rednall.
“Bike parking is going to be rolled-out to stations across Auckland and it’s important we give people something they want and they will use.”
Cycle Action Auckland chair Barbara Cuthbert is keen on developing a practical template for developing bike parking facilities across Auckland. “Good bike parking will encourage more people to combine public transport and cycling and reduce pressure on park and ride. It’s good timing to do this survey while the public is responding to AT’s review of city- wide parking policies. Well done, Auckland Transport.“
Visit www.at.govt.nz/panmurebikepark to view the designs and give feedback. You can have your say until 4 July.
And here’s what it looks like.
And here are two possible layouts
Overall this looks like a good addition to the Panmure Station and it would be great to see them at all stations around the network along with on key bus routes. My only concern is that long term they might not be big enough – but I guess that’s not a bad problem to have.