Waterview Shared Path begins

Auckland Transport have today kicked off another large cycling project today – the Waterview Shared Path. This is a project that came about as a result of the advocacy of locals and groups like Bike Auckland during the consenting for the Waterview Connection project and the Board of Inquiry make its construction one of the requirements of the project – although not paid for as part of the motorway project.

Waterview Shared Path - Alford Bridge surface

The Alford St Bridge – Looking East

Construction is beginning on one of Auckland‘s biggest cycling and walking project’s which will improve connections for people travelling through the Auckland suburbs of Mount Albert and Waterview.

The first sod was turned today by the Hon. Paula Bennett representing the NZ Government on the 2.5km Waterview Shared Path in the grounds of Metro Football Club in Phyllis St Reserve.

It was attended by representatives from the organisations collaborating to fund and deliver the path as well as members of the local community.

The Waterview Shared Path is part of the Waterview Connection tunnel and interchange project and will join with other shared paths that are part of the Government’s Urban Cycleway Programme.

The 3.5 metre wide shared cycling and walking path follows Te Auaunga (Oakley Creek) between the Alan Wood Reserve in Mt Albert and Great North Rd in Waterview and will be a convenient way to access local parks, sports grounds, and the Unitec campus. Walkers and cyclists of all ages and abilities will easily be able to access the shared path as it includes low hill gradients to assist prams and elderly people to use it.

The scenic route travels through an area of Mahoe forest and includes three bridges. The bridge crossing Oakley Creek, connecting Great North Road and Unitec, will be 90 metres long, a similar length to Grafton Bridge in the city centre.

The Government through the NZ Transport Agency, together with Auckland Transport (AT) and Albert Eden Local Board have contributed funding for the project which will be built by the Well Connected Alliance (WCA), which is delivering the $1.4bn Waterview Connection project.

Waterview Shared Path - Alford Bridge creek

The Alford St Bridge – Looking South

Starting from the south, the path will begin at New North Rd where it connects with the shared path being build as part of the Waterview Connection project it will cross over to Soljak Pl via a new set of traffic lights that will be installed. It will then pass over the rail line on a new bridge before travelling through Harbutt and Phyllis reserves which will be connected via a 70m long boardwalk. It passes through part of the Unitec site including right through the middle of one of the carparks before getting to the 16m high and 90m long Alford St Bridge where it will connect with the shared path on Gt North Rd.

Waterview Shared Path - Route

And here’s what the bridge over the rail line will look like, it has screens to prevent things being thrown on to the rail line and wires.

Waterview Shared Path - Rail Bridge

Investment in Cycling Infrastructure: What is it Good For?

While the answers to this question are largely sell-evident, it’s great that NZTA have recently released a summary of their view: Benefits of Investing in Cycling in New Zealand.

Follow the link for the full PDF, below is a summary of the seven ways NZTA have identified as beneficial. Followed up by a few images that do the same thing.

IMG_1076

 

1. Investing in cycling is giving people what they want

People want cycling infrastructure. Many people say they’d like to cycle more, especially if separated cycling infrastructure was provided.

2. Cycling makes towns and cities really liveable

Cycling improves quality of life in towns and cities. ‘Quality of life’ rankings consistently show bike-friendly cities at the top.

3. Cycling makes travelling around urban areas better for everyone

More people cycling potentially improves traffic flow so travel times are shorter, more predictable and reliable, and the transport network performs better. Bicycles are considered to impose 95 percent less impact on travel flow than an average car.

Getting just a few people onto bikes can15 make a di erence to tra c ows. On the congested 5km Petone to Ngauranga section of State Highway 2, for example, research suggests that only 10-30 vehicles out of the 250-280 vehicles occupying the space at congested times are causing the congestion.16 Evaluation of Hastings’ iWay cycling network indicates there was a 3.6 percent reduction in tra c volumes soon after it was built.17

4. Cycling is great for the local economy

Cycling saves people money to spend in their local communities. With no fuel, registration, warrant of fitness and parking costs, and much lower purchasing, maintenance and insurance costs compared to operating a car, people who cycle have more money to spend on other things.

Cycling potentially also boosts retail spend. Various studies have shown that cycling infrastructure can lead to an increase in retail sales.25 People who cycle have been found to be more likely to stop and visit shops more often, and to spend more money at those shops over time, than people who drive.26 Cycleways that run past shop doors can be a very good thing for retailers.

5. More cycling means reduced costs for the council

An increase in cycling saves councils money. This is especially clear where populations are expected to grow. In Christchurch, for example, where 50,000 additional car trips per day are predicted in the city by 2041 unless there is a mode shift to walking, cycling and public transport31, more cycling would mean reduced costs for additional road capacity, maintenance and operations.

6. Cycling is great for the environment overall

A small reduction in short vehicle trips potentially generates signi cant reduction in carbon emissions. Shifting 5 percent of car trips to bicycle could reduce emission impacts by up to 8 percent.33 Similarly, reducing trips by car can reduce the amount of other air pollutants.

7. Cycling makes people healthier and more productive

Cycling reduces the incidence of a range of serious illnesses.

In New Zealand, physical inactivity contributes to around 8 percent of all deaths37, and one in three adults and one in ve children are overweight38. The Ministry of Health reports that only 50.5 percent of New Zealand adults are regarded as sufficiently active for health benefits and physical inactivity is the second leading risk factor of disability adjusted life years.

IMG_0898

IMG_0884

IMG_0950

IMG_0966

 

IMG_1108

 

IMG_0881

BIKE_1116

IMG_1020

IMG_1027

IMG_1065

 

IMG_0924

 

IMG_1079

IMG_1115

IMG_1130

IMG_0978

IMG_0914

IMG_1109

IMG_1074

Bike Numbers Rise in Auckland

Auckland Transport and the NZTA are celebrating increases in number of people cycling across Auckland.

Kids using Nelson St

The number of cycle journeys through Kingsland on the Northwestern Cycleway has gone up by more than 16% in 2015 compared with 2014. This has contributed to a growth of 7.4% of cycle journeys throughout Auckland in the same period.

The number of people cycling on this route is expected to increase further with a major upgrade to be completed this year and a city centre cycle network which continues to expand.

The NZ Transport Agency is upgrading the Northwestern Cycleway from Westgate to Waterview as part of the Western Ring Route. The cycleway currently joins the Nelson Street Cycleway and the Grafton Gully Cycleway.

With the government, council and the NZTA all increasing how much they spend on cycle infrastructure there obviously needs to be some targets and monitoring to ensure that what gets built actually has an impact. As such the NZTA have set a target of a 30% increase in the number of cycling trips across New Zealand by 2019 based on 2015 levels.

To go with the increases in funding for cycle infrastructure that we’re now seeing the NZTA obviously want to ensure that it has an impact and as such they’ve set a goal for the number of cycling trips to increase by 30% increase in New Zealand by 2019.

To monitor cycling numbers, over the last five years or so Auckland Transport have installed automated cycle counters at a number of locations across the city and they’re installed in new projects too – such as the Lightpath. AT report some of this data on their website however it is only for nine of the original sites which are:

  • Upper Harbour Drive
  • Great South Road
  • Highbrook
  • Lake Road
  • North-Western cycleway – Kingsland
  • North-Western cycleway – Te Atatu
  • Orewa cycleway
  • Tamaki Drive (east bound)
  • Twin Streams path

As you’ll see below there are quite few more sites now.

Based on the results of those nine sites the charts below show the 12 month rolling total of cycle numbers for both across the total day and in the AM peak. As you can see there has been growth in cycle numbers and as the comments above note, the total is up 7.4% over the last year while the AM peak numbers are up stronger at 9.9%

Dec-15 Auckland Cycling Numbers - Total

Dec-15 Auckland Cycling Numbers - AM Peak

The biggest problem with the data is that it is limited to just nine sites and there are a lot of trips by bike that take place nowhere near any of them. Over the coming few years some of the biggest changes for cycling in Auckland will be occurring in and around the city centre as highlighted below. AT have now installed cycle counters on streets all around the city centre, creating a cordon and the numbers from that will be used to judge the effectiveness of the cycle investment occurring.

Auckland City Centre Cycle Map - Dec 15

AT kindly provided me with a list of all the cycle counters and the data from them for December. As you can see by how many NAs are in the list quite a few are only new having been installed in the last year or two. Of the ones that were around last December all but two have shown some very good growth with Grafton Gully and Beach Rd showing the strongest percentage growth. Based on the percentages the largest increase in total numbers is on Tamaki Dr with over 7,000 more trips this December than December last year (I’m sure bike rave helped with this a little bit). Tamaki Dr is also Auckland’s busiest place for bikes. The counters in bold are the nine that contribute to the charts above.

      12m rolling % change from previous year % change from same month previous year
  Dec count Dec ADT
Beach Rd 9,192 297 NA 50.6%
Canada St 1,037 33 NA NA
Carlton Gore Rd 5,074 164 NA NA
Curran St 8,504 274 NA NA
Dominion Rd DISCONTINUED DISCONTINUED NA NA
East Coast Rd 4,190 135 -2.7% 17.8%
Grafton Bridge 13,995 451 7.6% 23.5%
Grafton Gully 10,161 328 NA 59.1%
Grafton Rd 1,975 64 NA NA
Gt Sth Road 2,666 86 -4.0% -7.0%
Highbrook 1,336 43 11.1% 22.8%
Hopetoun St 3,911 126 NA NA
K Rd 14,730 475 NA 14.3%
Lagoon Dr 4,670 151 -6.9% 3.0%
Lake Road 8,796 284 -4.1% 11.6%
Mangere Bridge 13,690 442 -4.5% 12.7%
Nelson St cycleway 12,101 390 NA NA
Nelson St Lightpath 29,176 941 NA NA
NW Cycleway (Kingsland) 16,295 526 16.3% 24.0%
NW Cycleway (Te Atatu) 13,545 437 7.0% 31.5%
Orewa 10,563 341 17.2% 30.1%
Quay St 32,689 1054 NA NA
SH20 Dom Rd 3,293 106 5.3% 21.0%
Symonds St 10,110 326 NA 10.9%
Tamaki Dr 39,044 1259 7.0% 22.2%
Te Wero Bridge 23,060 744 NA NA
Twin Streams 4,109 133 -3.1% 9.5%
Upper Harbour 4,795 155 -1.8% -0.8%
Upper Queen St 4,286 138 NA NA
Victoria St West 3,519 114 NA NA

At the very least this we should see the NW cycleway as far as Lincoln Rd complete along with the rest of Nelson St and Quay St

Te Atatu Rd Underpass

The fantastic new underpass through the Te Atatu Interchange which opened in December

There are still diversions at Western Springs and Patiki Rd at the Causeway which will be in place until late February. In early February the section from McCormack Green (just west of the Te Atatu underpass) to Henderson Creek will be open with the completion of the Te Atatu Interchange Project scheduled for March and the Causeway Project scheduled for August.

The Northwestern Cycleway is one of the busiest cycle routes in Auckland says Auckland Transport’s Cycling and Walking manager Kathryn King.

“We know that these routes are popular which is why they are being improved and soon other routes will connect with them to further develop the cycle network,” she says.

“Construction will begin early this year on the Quay St Cycleway and by the middle of the year the Nelson St Cycleway will be completed all the way to Quay St. This is only the start of the three year programme of cycle improvements in the city, so to see an increase like this already is very promising.”

“By mid-2018 we will have an inner city cycle network to be proud of with great connections to the inner east and west suburbs. We are already working on plans for projects beyond 2018 which will further develop the city’s growing network of cycleways,” she adds.

The NZ Transport Agency’s Auckland Regional Director, Ernst Zöllner says the agency has a target of increasing the annual number of cycling trips across New Zealand by 10 million, or 30 per cent by 2019 compared with 2015 levels.

“We’re thrilled to see these figures showing more people are choosing to get on their bikes in Auckland. There is strong customer demand for a cycling network that provides predictable, safe journeys for people wanting to cycle to work, study and for recreation.”

In some more good news cyclists (and bus users) Auckland Transport’s traffic operations team have informed us that they’ve examined the results for the first quarter of the trial to let taxi’s use Grafton Bridge. They say the impacts have been more than minor with the main areas of concern being the failure of them to adhere to the 30km/h speed limit and the number of recorded instances of taxis overtaking cyclists on the bridge. As such a recommendation is going to AT’s Traffic Control Committee late next week to terminate the trial and return it to bus and bike only.

We were critical of the trial when it was announced assuming these exact issues would arise but in hindsight perhaps the trial was useful to prove that exactly what everyone expected would happen did happen.

2015 – Auckland’s Watershed Year

The more I look at the events and data of 2015 the clearer it becomes that this has been a profoundly significant year for Auckland. It is my contention that this year the city reached a critical turning point in its multi-year evolution back to true city pattern. I have discussed this change many times before on this forum, most notably here, as it is, I believe, an observable process that has been building for years. Generally it has been gradual enough, like the growth of a familiar tree, as to easily pass unobserved, but now I think it has passed a into a new phase of higher visibility. The group who see it most clearly are people returning from a few years overseas. Many ex-pats express surprise and wonderment at the myriad of changes in quantity and quality they find here on returning.

HOPETOUN_6234

Changing City: New apartments with views over the city and harbour, a Victorian school and park, 20thC motorways, and the new LigthPath.

Below is a summary of evidence for 2015 being the year Auckland returned as a city, in fact the year it crossed the Rubicon onto an unstoppable properly re-urbanising path. Later I will add another post on how 2016 and beyond is certain to see the city double-down on these trends, and why this is very good news. This transformation is observable in all five keys areas:

  • Demographics
  • Transport
  • Development
  • Economy
  • Politics

DEMOGRAPHICS. New Zealanders returning in big numbers are one of the key metrics of 2015. Along with new migrants and natural growth, the other change driving Auckland’s demographic strength is fewer people leaving, all of which, of course, are a vote of confidence in the city as a place to want to live and to likely fulfil people’s hopes for a better future. Population growth for the year was at 2.9%, the strongest rate since 2003, the strongest in the nation, and biggest raw number on record. See here for Matt’s [Population Growth in 2015] and Peter’s [Why is Auckland Growing?] posts on these issues.

Auckland LB Population Change - 2015 2And importantly for my thesis many more people are moving into the centre, particularly into new apartments. This is a evidence that the The Great Inversion is happening in Auckland as it is all over the developed world; the return of vitality to centre cities all over. Auckland’s urban form is reverting to a centred pattern; with proximity to a dense centre as a key determinant of value.

City Centre Population - 1996-2015 2

TRANSPORT. The huge and sustained boom in rail ridership way in advance of population growth is the headline transport news of 2015, and is the result of the upgrade in quality, frequency, and reliability of the service brought by the new electric trains. Sustained growth of over 20% is very strong; this year every four months an additional million trips have been added to the running annual total; 13 million in March, 14 million in July, 15 million in November. I am not overstating it to say that these numbers change a great deal: They change the argument for further investment in rail systems in Auckland, and significantly they change growth and development patterns across the city:

2015-11 - Rail Patronage

BRITOMART JULY 15_3388

Elsewhere on our Public Transport systems the news is great too; The New Bus Network is just beginning, and is already showing huge growth in the few areas it is in effect. This year we have also seen new ferry services, including a new private Waiheke service that means there is much more like a real turn-up-and-go service there [started late 2014]. Ferry modeshare is holding its own at 7% which is a strong showing given the explosion in rail and bus numbers.

Importantly AT is now routinely rolling out long overdue bus lanes across the city. And now that they are doing this confidently and more consistently, surprise and anguish about this more efficient re-purposing of roadspace by car drivers has fallen away to nothing- there surely is a lesson there.

So total PT ridership cleared 80 million annual trips this year, for an overall growth of 8.1%, a rate running at nearly 3x population growth, evidence of a strong shift to public transport at the margin. Growth that is certain to continue despite capacity issues becoming pressing at peak times on both buses and trains.

2015-10 - Total Patronage

HOP card use also became strongly embedded this year [except on the ferries] which is another sign of a maturing system.

2015-09 - HOP Use

More population and a growing economy of course means more vehicles and more driving on our roads, [see: What’s Happening to VKT?] but because of the powerful trend to Transit outlined above the per capita number is flat to falling. This is a historic shift from last century when the two tended to move strongly in lockstep.

2014 VKT - AKL VKT + Pop

Another discontinuity from last century is that GDP and employment growth have also separated from driving VKT, as shown in the following chart from Matt’s post linked to above. Another sign that the economy too is shifting on the back of public transport, and not driving as much as it was last century:

2014 VKT - AKL Econ 2

So whereas investment in the rail network has been answered by an extraordinary boom in uptake the multi-year many billion dollar sustained investment in driving amenity has not led to massive uptake. It is hard to not conclude from this that 1. We are far from discovering the latent demand ceiling for quality Transit; only the degree of investment will limit it. And 2. Driving demand in Auckland is saturated; this mode is mature, well served and not the area to invest in for new efficiencies or growth.

2015 also saw the launch of the Urban Cycleways programme; a multiyear government led investment in infrastructure for walking and cycling. This, like the Transit boom is another shape changing departure from the past. Although the active modes are not well counted [what a culture counts shows what it values] it is clear that the shift back to the centre is also accompanied by a growth in active mode transport. This is one of the great powers of Proximity; the best trip is the one that isn’t need because the potential traveller is already there, or near enough to use their own steam:

LightPath_5971

DEVELOPMENT. All over the city investment is going into building projects of various kinds, the retirement sector is particularly strong, as is terrace house and apartment buildings, all three at levels not seen for a decade and together support the argument that Auckland is not just growing but also changing shape into a more more city-like pattern, as John Polkinghorn has kept us up to speed on all year on the Development Tracker:

Auckland Dwelling Consents to Sep 2015

Significantly there is also renewed investment into commercial projects especially in the City Centre, led by Precinct Property’s 600 million plus Downtown rebuild and tower, and Sky City’s massive Convention Centre and Hotel project between Hobson and Nelson. Additionally Wynyard Quarter is also moving to a new level soon with a mix of Hotel, Residential, and Commercial buildings. Somewhere in the region of 10 billion dollars of projects are underway or close to be in the City Centre. And as Peter clearly illustrated recently this is in no small part due to improved regulatory conditions [The High Cost of Free Parking].

ECONOMY. Cities exist simply because of the advantages for humans to be in close proximity to each other for transactions of all kinds; financial, cultural, social, sexual. And Auckland is beginning to show real possibility of opening up an agglomeration advantage over the rest of the country now that it is really intensifying. The latest data on Auckland’s performance shows a fairly consistent improvement over the last five years

GDP Growth Dec 2015 AKL

POLITICS. Two major political programmes begun this year will have profound impacts on Auckland for decades to come. The first is the Auckland Transport Alignment Process. Something we haven’t discussed on the blog because we are involved in it and are awaiting the first public release of information which will be soon. Then we will certainly be discussing the details of this ongoing work. But the importance of this process is already clear; it is a reflection of a new found acceptance but the government that Auckland’s economic performance matters hugely to the nation and that transport infrastructure investment is, in turn, critical to that performance. We are of course striving to make the case for a change in the balance of that investment in Auckland away from a near total commitment to urban highways now that motorway network approaches completion [post Waterview and Western Ring Route] and that the evidence of success from recent Transit improvements, particularly to the Rapid Transit Network, is so compelling. There are hurdles here in the momentum and habits of our institutions and politics but also huge opportunities to really accelerate our cities’ performance across a range of metrics through changing how they are treated.

The other political shift is another we are yet to cover in depth but soon will, and that’s the agreement in Paris on Climate Change. This does indeed change a great deal. The city and the nation will have to ask the question of all decisions around urban form and transport how they fit with the new commitment to reduce our carbon intensity. This will clearly lead to a further push for higher density and greater emphasis on Public and Active Transport, as these are current technology and long term fixes to this global challenge. Unleashing further the urban power of proximity and agglomeration economies. So much of the conversation around New Zealand’s carbon intensity is around the agricultural issue and this tends to ignore the opportunities our cities offer, particularly Auckland, and particularly the Auckland transport systems, to this problem.

Cities are emerging as the key organising level that are most able to react to this problem as discussed here in The Urban Planner’s Guide to a Pst-COP21 World:

In many ways, Melbourne’s experience represents a coming-of-age of the urban sustainability movement. The private sector is listening to cities and responding. Now it’s up to cities and national governments to continue the conversations that began at COP21 and continue the evolution.

“The commentary for a long time has been ‘nations talk and cities act.’ We’ve been part of that dialogue too. That’s changing now,” said Seth Schultz [director of research at C40 Cities]. “National governments are coming to organizations like ours and saying ‘help us. We get it.’ I want to change the trajectory of the conversation. Cities are a vehicle and everyone should be getting in that vehicle and joining in for the ride.”

So in summary 2015 has seen:

  • Completion of Electrification of the Rail Network and the New Trains
  • The start of the New Network
  • New Interchange Stations
  • New Buslanes
  • Improvements to Ferry services
  • Start of the Urban Cycleways Programme
  • CRL start
  • ATAP
  • Paris COP 21

I will follow this post with another looking ahead to what is going to be a huge 2016/17. Here’s a short list to start with:

  • Fare Integration
  • Further Interchange Stations
  • Western Line frequency upgrade
  • New Network rollouts
  • Queen St Buslanes [so overdue]
  • More Cycleways
  • SkyPath underway
  • CRL seriously underway
  • Huge city developments begin
  • ATAP concludes
  • Council elections
  • Progress on Light Rail [it could be closer that many expect]

For all the frustrations and compromises that we’ve highlighted over the year I think it’s very clear that there are many very hard working and dedicated people in AC, AT, NZTA, and MoT and their private sector partners and it is their collective efforts in a very fast moving and changing field go a long to making Auckland the dynamic and exciting city it is fast becoming. I am keen to acknowledge their efforts. Onward.

I also want to personally thank my colleagues here at the blog, as it has been another big year for us, Matt, Peter, Stu, Kent and John, from whom I continue to learn so much, it doesn’t look like we are going to be able to give this up anytime soon…

Also I would like to shout out to colleagues over at Bike Auckland, our sister site, they’ve had a fantastic year, so cheers to Barb, Jolisa, Max, Paul, Kirsten, Ben, Bruce and the rest.

And of course to y’all, the reader, you are what really makes this thing work, so if what we do here makes any kind of difference, ultimately that’s because of you.

Kia ora tatou…

WIRI DEPOT JULY 15_6623

Photo of the Day: Caption That

Courtesy of the NZTA comms team we have this fine photograph from the opening of Te Ara I Whiti or LightPath. I guess it’s calling out for a caption or two.

11250_376

Had a good discussion with the ministers en velo, no imminent big news; things are winding down for the year; but next year will be a biggy…!

Kudos to Nikki for riding in proper heels. Is the first time I have ever worn hi-vis on a bike, won’t happen again except with this shirt.

Very good speeches from Ernst Zollner of NZTA, Minister Bridges [pictured above], Councillor Chris Darby [also above] and Bike Auckland’s Barbara Cuthbert. A lot of love for Cycling, Auckland, and huge growth and change underway here.

It is impressive that not so long this looked like this: http://transportblog.co.nz/2014/05/19/photo-of-the-day-concrete-journey/

So truly great work by all involved, especially NZTA and the contractor Hawkins.

Photo of the Day: Changing City

Apartments, tower cranes, and the coming new cycling/walking amenity right in the heart of the city’s motorway singularity.

Canada St Bridge_5179

 

A footpath to ride?

Last week I spent a few days on the Gold Coast and I wrote about their great new light rail system. While I was there I was also struck by a few other observations – in particular cycling. It started on the way from the airport when I noticed multiple large groups of teenagers all getting around on bikes – many of which were sit-up city bikes rather than BMX or mountain bikes. As this is something you don’t see too much here, it immediately stood out.

I thought that perhaps initially it was just a one off, but the more I looked around the place the more saw people of all ages, genders and body sizes riding bikes. Further, on many of the street corners I noticed a lot of small bike racks, and they most often had a handful of bikes locked up to them. To be clear, in no way am I talking about anything close to Dutch or Danish levels of cycling but it was a difference from Auckland. Note: I stuck to the beach corridor so things might be quite different in the suburbs.

Gold Coast City Bike Racks

As someone who advocates to make Auckland more bike friendly, this intrigued me as to what caused this – especially given Australia is the only other country in the world¹ with a law requiring people on bikes wear helmets.

Now of course the Gold Coast has a couple of things going for it right off the bat, it’s flat and warm which, while not the sole determinant of bike use, certainly don’t hurt. But from the experience we’ve seen in other cities that’s not enough to drive bike use, infrastructure is.

Next I thought I’d look to see what level of bike infrastructure exists, assuming there must be some sort of bike network. So I searched and I searched and to my surprise struggled to find anything. The closest thing to any bike infrastructure was the wide walkway and separate shared path alongside some of the beach at Surfers Paradise – but that’s only about 750m in length.

Gold Coast City Beach Walkway

The bike in the picture was basically an electric scooter with pedals, often driven too fast around pedestrians

Next to the beach walkway the road had these markings. I guess you could call them sharrows but there wasn’t much space for cycling, and I’m not sure why you use it given the walkway above is right next to it.

Gold Coast City Sharrow

The only other infrastructure I saw was very poor on road cycle lanes on the main North-South route – the Gold Coast Highway. By poor I mean a strip of very faded paint – often quite narrow and in the door zone of parked cars. The image below was one of the better locations.

Gold Coast City on road cyclelane

If good bike infrastructure didn’t exist, what was it that was generating the bike use I was seeing. I had to think back to all of the times I’d seen people on bikes and there was one common denominator, they were all riding on the footpath. A quick google confirmed my observation with Queensland allowing people ride on the footpath – as does Tasmania, ACT and the Northern Territory.

As we know, people will ride more if they feel safe, and in the absence of bike infrastructure a footpath often provides a much safer environment than a road does. With the exception of some high pedestrian areas, allowing cycling on footpaths effectively creates an instant network. Naturally the biggest concern is the interaction between bikes and pedestrians, and just how that works in real life is hard to tell, but everyone seemed to get on OK. Unlike on a shared path where the width encourages people on bikes to ride a little faster – and get frustrated by pedestrians taking up the whole thing – a narrow footpath encourages slower speeds allowing for better interaction. Queensland also has a requirement that people on bikes give way to people on the footpath, although I’m not sure how well that is enforced or if it needs to be.

In my view allowing riding on footpaths definitely isn’t a substitute for a high quality cycle network but perhaps it’s something we should consider in the interim, at the very least just for kids to help encourage parents to let their children ride to school.

On that note, perhaps my last observation was the most powerful. From the top of a double decker bus to the airport as I was going to leave we passed a school – I happened to have a seat upstairs right at the front so had a great view and while gazing out of the window I noticed the school had a bike storage area and this is what it looked like.

Gold Coast School Bike Racks

My guess is there are at least 50-100 bikes parked up in this space from kids who have ridden to school. That may not be Copenhagen or Amsterdam levels but seems fairly impressive for this corner of the world, and in the context of what we’re used to seeing in Auckland where very few kids will ride.

What do you think, should people be able to ride a bike on the footpath?

¹Some specific cities/provinces/states in other countries require them but they’re not a requirement for the entire country.

NZTA now able to consent cycleways

A good little piece of news from the government yesterday with Environment Minister Nick Smith giving requiring authority status to the NZTA for cycleways. As I understand it, previously the NZTA could only designate cycleways within their own state highway corridors while outside of that it was up to Auckland Transport or local councils to do the consenting. That can make consenting for many projects difficult and that’s before taking into account there are often only a few staff stretched across many projects. Now they’ll be able to (try) and designate cycleways anywhere.

Eastern Path Section 4

The Eastern Path will benefit from the NZTA now able to designate cycleways anywhere

The New Zealand Transport Agency’s (NZTA) application for requiring authority status under the Resource Management Act (RMA) has been approved by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith today.

“This approval will give NZTA requiring authority status under the Resource Management Act, so that it can apply to local authorities to set aside land specifically for cycleways and shared paths in the same way as it is already able to do for roads and motorways. It also enables NZTA to designate cycleway routes. The decision will better enable the Government to deliver on its ambitious plans of both safer and more convenient urban and rural cycleways,” Dr Smith says.

“The approval will make it quicker to construct, operate and maintain cycleways across the country, especially where they pass through different regions and land-use areas. This approval complements the initiative announced by the Prime Minister and Transport Minister Simon Bridges earlier this year, to invest $100 million in new funding for 18 urban cycleways. The requiring authority status is especially crucial for urban cycleways, as they can require access over hundreds of individual properties. Projects that will benefit from the approval is the Sea Path project on the North Shore, the Tamaki Drive cycleway and the Hutt Valley to Wellington cycleway.

“The significance of this decision is the Government affirming that cycleways, just like motorways, railways or transmissions lines and telecommunications cables are critical modern infrastructure in the 21st century.”

Today’s decision takes effect on 17 December.

The NZTA have been doing a fairly good job on cycling in recent years where they can and them being able to bring their power to bear outside of the state highway corridors can only be a good thing. Further with bike infrastructure now starting to get some meaningful funding from both central and local governments their expertise should be a welcome addition. Thanks Nick Smith

I wonder if there would be similar benefit in giving the NZTA the ability to designate rapid transit routes outside of state highways too.

Auckland’s Great Rides

Auckland Transport have come up with what they are calling great rides which are 10 of the best recreational rides that can be ridden by people of all ages and abilities.

The top ten most scenic bike rides in the Auckland region have been revealed today. One of ten bike rides featured in Auckland Transport’s Great Ride Passports is the Twin Streams bike ride in suburban Henderson, it runs alongside a stream and is surrounded by native bush and birds.

Each passport contains a map of a ride with a description of the terrain, length, amenities and points of interest along the way. The 10 passports are available at local libraries or on the Auckland Transport website www.at.govt.nz/greatrides.

The number of Great Rides has increased to ten from six last year and Kathryn King, Auckland Transport’s Walking and Cycling manager says they have proved very popular.

“We are often asked by people who are new to cycling where they can find safe, scenic, fun places to ride. In fact, our cycling maps are among the most searched for items on the AT website,” she says.

“These great rides offer a way to get out with family or friends and discover a new part of Auckland by bike. The Auckland region has some stunning natural beauty and what better way to enjoy it than on a bike.”

The rides are suitable for most ages and abilities and take in a variety of environments, scenic vistas and points of historical and cultural interest.  The webpage has maps and a short promotional video which provides a glimpse of some hidden gems, accessible only by bike or on foot.

The “Great Rides” are:

  • Matakana Trails
  • Te Ara Tahuna Pathway:  Orewa Estuary
  • Green Route: Devonport to Takapuna
  • Hobsonville Point
  • Twin Streams: Henderson Creek and Opanuku Stream
  • Auckland Waterfront:  Britomart to Mission Bay
  • Pakuranga Rotary Pathway
  • The Cascades Paths:  Pakuranga, Botany and Meadowlands
  • Waikaraka Cycleway:  Onehunga to Mangere Bridge
  • Wattle Downs

Great Rides: www.at.govt.nz/greatrides

It’s interesting they’ve highlighted the Twin Streams path in Henderson in the press release as I often use part of the route to get to Henderson for some shopping – my quaxing route if you will.

I look forward to the day in the future when they can talk about using Auckland’s extensive urban cycleways to safely go about your daily activities by bike – whether it be shopping, riding to work, riding to school or just visiting friends. Although in saying that once AT put an extensive urban cycleways in they probably won’t have to tell anyone about them, people will be using them anyway.

Are there any great rides you think AT have missed?

The Same Day

A great ad from the Spanish Transport department highlighting the growing frustration of constant traffic jams and the fight to find parking – urging people to re-think how they travel to and from work.

s