Here is the caterer taking away the empty bottles from a wedding celebration attended by my sister in Copenhagen over the weekend [thanks Amanda]:
Yesterday the John Key and Simon Bridges announced the planned cycling investment throughout New Zealand for the next three years and pleasingly it represents a massive increase on anything we’ve seen before. There are two primary reasons for this increase in funding.
In effect this is the first announcement of what’s inside the 2015-18 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) which is the three year programme of transport activities that will be funded throughout the country and ties in with regional land transport programmes – which AT consulted on at the beginning of the year. I understand the rest of the NLTP funding will be announced next week.
The funding announced today is broken up by city below
We knew the urban cycleways funding was coming – and the government deserves credit for seeing it fully implemented – however as mentioned above the NZTA are also spending a lot more money. To highlight just how much of an increase in spending this $107m from the NLTF is, in the 2012-15 NLTP there was $53 million allocated for walking and cycling. That’s less than half what this announcement contains and itself was a 27% increase above the 2009-12 GPS. So even without the urban cycleway funding the level of money available for cycling has increased dramatically. Add in that remaining $90 million from the UCF and it represents significant increases in spending from Central Government.
One interesting aspect I’ve also noticed is that the $107 million from the NLTF is actually higher than the upper limit of the funding band in the GPS – if only they would also do that to PT funding.
The money shown above is going towards 41 separate projects. Below are just the Auckland projects however you can see a table of all of them here. It’s worth noting that what’s shown only represents the projects where joint funding is taking place, a lot more cycle facilities will be delivered as part of other projects too. In addition the council have voted to significantly increase spending on cycling and that means it will be funding some projects on its own. It would be interesting to know just how much more network we could have had rolled out if were were able to at least get a 50% contribution from the NZTA for those other projects. The Auckland projects are split into four categories.
And here’s a map of the projects
We’ve talked about many of these projects before and it’s really great that we should be seeing all of this within just three years. One new part I also really like is the addition of two programmes to link up the surrounding areas of New Lynn and Glen Innes to their train stations as well as other local amenities. I think that will be really useful in getting more people cycling not just to those town centres but also to catch trains and buses.
Here’s Bridges and Key after making the announcement.
All up a great announcement and one that should see some major progress on improving cycling facilities in Auckland – and elsewhere around the country. After years and years of pushing for more funding it’s finally starting to arrive which is a testament to all the people who pushed so hard for a better future. Let’s just hope the various transport agencies have the capacity and capability to deliver all of these projects.
Next up – perhaps even today – we should hear if Skypath will be approved.
I believe that as a city we should take every opportunity we have to retrofit the city with better and more inclusive infrastructure. That means any time we dig up a road for “an upgrade” or even when a road is resealed we need to be thinking about how we can add cycling infrastructure (this also applies to walking and PT infrastructure too). It also means implementing quick wins where ever possible. Below are a few examples of where I think we’re missing easy opportunities to do that.
When I ride to work I try to avoid the utter mess that is Wairau Rd as much as possible – the part around Tristram Ave is particularly bad as the lanes are narrow and drivers are often distracted while also changing lanes etc. Instead travel further along Glenfield Rd and use Chivalry Rd to bypass the worst of Wairau Rd. Using this route adds just over 1km to my journey but it feels much safer thanks to more space in on the road and much less traffic.
The map above shows the Wairau route in blue and the Chivalry route in red. Just because the latter feels the safest of the two, that doesn’t mean it’s great for cycling and can’t be improved. In the last week or so work has started on upgrading the intersection with Chartwell Dr/Diana Dr. I assumed that this would be good as it should mean improved cycle facilities at least around the intersection. This is especially so seeing as the route appears on AT’s proposed cycle network map as a connector route as shown in the yellow circle in the image below. In addition there are two schools nearby – just 100m and 300m away (Glenfield Primary & Glenfield Intermediate). The schools are shown in yellow on the map above.
The image below shows how the intersection looks today. The only thing really noticeable with it – and it doesn’t seem all that bad – is that Chartwell and Diana Dr are slightly offset from each other meaning that drivers have to slightly turn the steering wheel when travelling north/south through it. Unrelated but one additional thing about the intersection is that it runs with a Barnes Dance for pedestrians. That’s something that’s quite rare outside the central city.
I was hoping the change would add in some cycle infrastructure decent enough to get local kids riding to school, after all both proudly display on their fences that they’re a Travelwise school with the primary school a gold Award winner and the intermediate school a silver award winner. As such I asked AT for the plans seeing as there was nothing on their website. The image below shows what is being done and frankly it’s disappointing (click to enlarge) note: this image is effectively rotated 90° clockwise to the image above.
AT say that because Chartwell Ave and Diana Drive approaches are offset slightly it creates safety and efficiency problems and so this project is to address that. Safety issues I can understand however efficiency is just a code word for “a few cars have to queue at the lights.
To make these changes it’s also required the removal of one house (Number 107 in the aerial photo) – the left over land not needed for the intersection works will be left as just a landscaped area. By transport standards the project isn’t hugely expensive at $1.3 million but it’s still a sizeable amount of money as I don’t think that includes the purchase of the house which I understand took place in the old North Shore City Council days. Still, removing a house when housing is such a hot topic doesn’t seem like the best idea AT’s ever had.
However back to the original topic, while the works are primarily on Chartwell Ave it doesn’t appear that a single bit of cycle infrastructure is going in anywhere near this intersection even though this would be the perfect time to implement some. That’s disappointing and means that at some unknown time in the future AT will have to go back and create more disruption to do that. It’s also quite telling that we can seemingly so easily through money down to change an intersection on safety and efficiency grounds but it’s so difficult to do the same with walking, cycling or public transport infrastructure.
One last point on this particular intersection, AT say that they and the local board are funding the project as it was way down the priority list so didn’t qualify for a subsidy from the NZTA. Surely if it’s way down on the priority list that’s a good sign it’s not, well a priority. Also after a brief discussion with a local board member it appears that they too weren’t that on pushing the project forward but that it was AT who came to the board to push it. Is this a case of some engineer trying to get an old scheme across the line?
Another part of my route home takes me along Hobsonville Rd. Since the motorway opened a few years ago the traffic on Hobsonville Rd has dropped dramatically and combined with a fairly wide single lane road used very infrequently for car parking it should be quite easy to start installing some cycle infrastructure. Perhaps the most pressing place to start on this would be the uphill section between Westpark Dr and Luckens Rd. One unique feature is that over the ~400m heading up the hill there are just two driveways as most of the houses are accessed from other locations.
Yet despite no demand from nearby houses there almost always tends to be a handful of cars parked on this section. The cause of is even visible in the image below from Streetview – cars parked for sale. An on road cycle lane could effectively be created up the hill for price of a few yellow lines of paint (note: there are also signs on other parts of Hobsonville Rd saying no car sales but not here).
Another easy to add route would be Moire Rd. A section of the road was recently dug up and rebuilt – which is good as the surface was terrible and like other routes on here is also on AT’s cycle map yet despite being fairly wide and without much demand for on street parking the road was re-instated without any cycle provision. As you can see from the images below there is quite a bit of space to do so. Also note that the empty looking land to the right of the image is one of the pieces of land the government have identified to be developed. It would be good to get some cycling provision in before anything happens with that.
Lastly we have Westgate Dr. This road was subjected to protracted fight between the developer and the council however that’s now resolve and the road is open. The road is significant as it connects to the Westgate shopping centre at one end and runs is right through the middle of an SHA which is being developed.
The first houses are already starting to go in and given the development that’s planned it would surely make sense for AT to get in there now and implement some cycle lanes before people move in and have an expectation of the entire street having free on-street parking. The thing is the road is probably wide enough to have cycle lanes plus parking on one side as you can see in the image below with Westgate in the distance. A quick and easy win (although of course I would prefer protected cycle lanes).
What do you think, where are the quick easy cycle wins in your area and what examples of missed opportunities do you have.
A few days ago Copenhagenize released their index for the worlds most bike friendly cities.
All up 122 cities around the world were ranked and primarily they are cities with a regional population of over 600,000 people. I have no idea if Auckland was even ranked but if it was, it certainly wouldn’t have been in the top 20 which are below. This year Copenhagen slipped ahead of Amsterdam for the first time as the most bike friendly.
There are 13 different categories and each city gets a score between 0 and 4 in 13 different categories plus potentially 12 bonus points for particularly impressive efforts or results. The 13 categories are below.
I imagine that if ranked, Auckland would score fairly lowly in most of these measures however with around $200 million planned to be spent by the council and NZTA on cycling in Auckland in the next three years plus projects like Skypath then it will start to make a considerable difference.
Last week Auckland Transport finally released the outcome of their consultation to the Northcote Walking and Cycling improvements that started in July last year. All up 5.2km of improvements were proposed starting from Taharoto Rd and going all the way through to the Northcote Ferry Terminal and would also be a very useful route once Skypath is complete. The improvements consist of a mixed bag of shared paths, on road cycle lanes (with varying degrees of protection) and traffic calming.
All up Auckland Transport received 790 pieces of feedback which included one submission containing a petition with 1,400 signatures. By far the biggest issue that was raised was by local residents complaining about the loss of carparks on Queen St. Others also complained that adding cycle lanes would make congestion worse, that AT should first wait for the decision on Skypath, that AT hadn’t done enough research or presented alternative routes, that it would cost too much, that cycling is already safe in the area therefore no changes are needed, using the old chestnut of “there’s not enough cyclists to justify it”.
The feedback report contains a lot more information on the submissions including excepts from many of them. I actually had to stop reading the report due to some of the comments being so absurd I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so in the end I just ended up frustrated. In saying that one of my favourite is one suggesting that parking is needed because school children rely on having parking close to the cinema.
Of course while not a formal submission we also can’t forget local councillor George Wood’s efforts including that we can’t do anything because of a historic concrete road.
Following the feedback AT have made a number of changes with the most major one being a complete redesign of their plans for section 4 on the map above. It means that the will now only remove 14 carparks instead of 150 and in addition a further 10 will be created using angle parking on one of the side roads off Queen St. The redesign sees buffered cycle lanes replaced by a combination of raised tables to slow vehicles and sharrows – painted bike symbols meant to signify that cars and bike share the road.
And here’s what they’ like in the road environment
I’m yet to be convinced these will make the road safe enough that parents would be willing to let their kid rid on the road unsupervised – which I think is how we should judge the success of all cycling projects.
In other parts of the project the changes made are much more minor and include things like having cycle lanes go behind a traffic island for a pedestrian crossing rather than forcing cyclists out and around it, a speed table on Queen St just north of Stafford Rd etc.
My biggest concerns about the project remain
As I said a mixed bag, some parts are ok but others not so much.
However coming back to Queen St it seems even these changes are still getting people upset and that includes Health Minister Jonathan Coleman who lives on the street.
I’d suggest that Coleman is only considering the safety of the road from his own perspective as a confidant cyclist and not thinking about how an 8 year old or an 80 year old might feel using the street. It’s also crazy that has Health Minister he’s not pushing for these to be better considering the benefits that encouraging more people to be active provides. It’s odd as he has been a bit more supportive of getting more people cycling in the past but that seems to have been worn away by his neighbours unhappy at not having a free carpark outside their house (even if they have off street parking).
Assuming the likes of Coleman don’t get AT to rethink the project again then it is expected to cost about $4 million and constructionwill start in the middle of next year.
Last night the first official Auckland Bike Rave was held (the earlier one was just a trial). It had been delayed a week after rain the week before and thankfully the weather held out this time. Around 300 people young and old turned up for the event which started in Mission Bay and made its way to the Harbour Bridge – with a detour around the Viaduct due to the Wynyard bridge being closed due to maintenance. A number of bikes also had trailers to carry speakers to add to the atmosphere.
Overall it was a fantastic event and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and it seems so too did those we passed. On the way there were a lot of toots and cheers from passing cars. Through the city there were lots of smiles as people enjoyed the site lots of lots of bikes decked out in colourful lights and many in costumes. I happened to be wearing a suit and one of my favourite comments from someone not on a bike was “How can you ride a bike in a suit”. In many ways it highlights that one of the issues we have is that cycling is seen by many as an activity only undertaken by those wearing Lycra and doing long rides.
One of the most impressive bikes was probably that ridden by our friend Niko made a large scorpion like contraption to hold up a disco ball.
Here’s a video I made of all riders passing by along Tamaki Dr. In real time it took about 7 minutes for everyone to pass by across the three waves of people.
There are some more photos on twitter and facebook. If you have some photos or videos please chuck them or links to them in the comments below. Overall it was a great event and one day it would be great to be able to continue on over the harbour bridge thanks to Skypath.
Lastly I’d like to a huge thanks to those who organised the event. A lot of time and effort goes in to planning events like this not to mention wrangling 300 people. Also thanks to the sponsors Lescykill
p.s. the next event will be some time after winter.
In a month the resource consent hearings for Skypath begin and while we don’t know what the outcome will be, the project had a big boost this week from the release of the council’s RMA report into the application. The project received massive feedback from the public – both directly and through the submission form from Generation Zero. All up over 11,500 submissions were received of which only 159 were opposed and 5 neutral. Many of those opposing the proposal have tried to make it appear that all of Northcote Point was opposed to the project however the map below shows most did not even bother to submit.
Of course in consent hearings the total number of submissions is less important than the content of those submissions and the impact the project has. The council’s planners have considered analysis of the proposal from a number of experts and most importantly, overall they have concluded that the project should be granted consent. Here’s their executive summary.
The report also delves deeper into the key issues including covering the key points of complaint from local residents such as the visual impact and parking. Below are a few points I’ve taken out of the report.
The council and its experts believe that Skypath will not be a negative and that it will actually improve visual, aesthetic amenity which will have positive social effects on the community.
On the landing, the design for Northcote has changed slightly and it now appears that it will take up less space – further reducing any impact on neighbouring properties. It is now more of a bean shape rather than an oval like previously suggested. The mitigation measures for Northcote are below (click to enlarge)
Parking has always been another hot button topic. Residents have long claimed they will be swamped by cars as a result of Skypath despite being reminded again and again that it is possible to manage parking through measures like residential parking schemes – one such scheme already exists just across the water at St Mary’s Bay. I also like this comment from the planner and it’s something we should really see more of
The biggest issue for most supporters will likely continue to be the toll and the opening hours. The toll could make the Harbour bridge probably the first in the world not only to toll cyclists to cross but to do so while allowing cars to cross for free. Unless the Council or Government (more likely) step in and agree to take over the project a toll is the only way the private investors could pay for the construction. As for the operating hours, they are suggested to be limited to between the hours of 6am and 10pm for noise and security reasons. That seems a bit too narrow to me and Imagine if we operated our roads like that. Over 3,000 people mentioned the opening hours in their submissions saying they should be extended with only one person wanting the hours reduced.
Lastly this map highlights the walking and cycling connections on both sides of the harbour that already exist or are planned.
Auckland Transport are running a trial to see what kind of bike parking people prefer which should hopefully lead to much more bike parking around the city, especially at bus/train stations and ferry terminals.
The trial is only for this week so if you want to have a say make sure you do quickly (details on the link above). There are five types of bike racks AT are looking at
and an example of them being used in Rotterdam
And here’s an example of this type of rack in use at the Akoranga Busway station
Sheffield rack with sleeve
*This is a guest post by bike romantic Maria Majsa, and cross posted from our sister site CAA with thanks*
On Valentine’s Day this year I didn’t get roses, I got a bike. A handsome, shiny black upright. You might think that a bike isn’t a particularly romantic gift, but I disagree.
Exhibit A: If bicyles aren’t romantic, why do they keep turning up in songs?
I could quote four right now, but my favourite has always been Back to the Old House: “When you cycled by, here began all my dreams.” Even as I write that line, an entire scene unfolds in my head: Suburban street. Pretty girl on a bike, hair flying. Shy lad, doomed to watch her pedal by. Will he ever be able to tell her how much he really likes her?
Absolutely not. This is a Smiths’ song, after all. He never talks to her, and her family moves away and all is lost, except the memory of the vision of her sailing past him in the street. There is a world of bunched-up adolescent urst* in that line. Anyone who has ever been a teenager could relate. And although things get a tad morose after that, you get my drift: the vision on a bike lingers. Bikes have their own romance.
There is something about riding a bike that harks back to simpler times – childhood and adolescence. Maybe it was the first time you felt real freedom. And it was universal – almost everyone had a bike. To be in possession of your own form of transport was liberating and joyful. You could explore, find new places, go further than before.
Of course new experiences don’t necessarily go to plan. That’s the great unknown for you. There’s always the possibility of getting lost, or damaging your bike, or yourself – which segueways nicely into my second and third favourite quotes: “Punctured bicycle on a hillside, desolate” [This Charming Man] and “I crashed down on the crossbar and the pain was enough to make a shy, bald Buddhist reflect and plan a mass murder” [Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before]. Bear with me, I have no idea where I’m going with these, though I’m pretty sure the last one would put paid to any ideas of romance, at least till the bruising had healed.
Exhibit B: It is possible to fall in love with pretty much anyone on a bike ride.
I used to go for rides with a friend who was a fellow Smiths fan. He had a bad stammer and couldn’t pronounce his Rs, but his politics were sound and his taste in music exemplary. On our first ride he verbally unpacked the lyrics of an obscure B-side single by The Smiths as we explored Chiswick. I fell momentarily in love with him and even now, by association, there is something inextricably romantic to me about stammering and bike riding. Especially when combined.
Fast forward a few decades to Exhibit C: The gift of a bike.
My husband bought himself a bike a few years ago and started leaving his car at home more often. Pretty soon he was cycling more than driving. Not in a clenched, lycra-wearing kind of way – more of a mooching up the road to a café type thing. Now that I have my bike, I can mooch alongside him. And in a low-key, everyday kind of way, that’s really quite romantic.
*unresolved sexual tension
Back to the Old House The Smiths
This Charming Man The Smiths
Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before The Smiths
and thanks to Bhana Bros for all the flowers