Bike Rave – May 2015

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.

Bike Rave Route

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.

Bike Rave Bike 1

One of the bikes decked out in colour

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.

Skypath Consent Recommended

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.

Skypath - Northcote support-opposition

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.

Skypath - Council RMA Report - Exec Summary 2

 

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.

Skypath - Council RMA Report - Visual Impacts

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)

Skypath - Northcote Design Mitigation

And the Skypath Trust have released some new pictures of what things would look like inside the landing, a few are below. There are some more images from outside here.

Skypath - Northcote Design - Internal

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

Skypath - Council RMA Report - On Stree Parking

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.

Skypath - connections

Bike Rack Trial

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.

Auckland Transport in association with Cycle Action Auckland (CAA) is asking what sort of bike parking Aucklanders want.

Auckland Transport has set up a bike parking trial at the Downtown Ferry Terminal next to the stop for the Airport Bus.

Walking and Cycling Manager Kathryn King says the trial is about giving cyclists something they want and they will use. “We want to make sure bike stands meet the needs of the city’s growing cycling community. We’re looking at factors like ease of use, safety and security.”

CAA’s Barbara Cuthbert says it’s important that cyclists make their views known. “This trial to test and comment on new cycling facilities is a first for Auckland. It’s a hugely valuable prelude to AT’s plans for new bike parking facilities at bus and train stations and ferries.”

The trial runs to the end of the week and Auckland Transport staff will be on site each morning from 7 to 9.

Auckland Transport’s current annual budget for bike parking is approximately $400,000.

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

Bike Tree

Bike Tree

Double Stacking

Double Stacking Bike Rack

and an example of them being used in Rotterdam

Harrogate rack

Harrogate Bike Rack

High density

High Density Bike Rack

And here’s an example of this type of rack in use at the Akoranga Busway station

High Density Bike Rack - Akoranga 2

Sheffield rack with sleeve

Sheffield Bike Rack with Sleeve

‘here began all my dreams’

*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.

Maria en Vélo_4427

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.

Maria en Vélo_4522

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.

Maria en Vélo_4516

 

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

 

Discography:

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

Maria en Vélo_4502

Photo of the day: Ride in to the mist

While most of Auckland basked in glorious sunshine on Tuesday morning, a patch fog enveloped the area around the upper harbour making Auckland’s second harbour crossing disappear into the distance.

Upper Harbour Bridge Cycleway

AT’s proposed 3 year cycling programme

A report to Auckland Transport’s board next week highlights their proposed cycle programme for the next three years which if built fully will see $207 million invested in cycling over that time. That includes funding from AT, the NZTA and the Governments Urban Cycling Fund (UCF) – for which AT and the NZTA have put a joint bid in for $82m in funding. It also includes cycle infrastructure included as part of other projects such as the AMETI. The proposed programme consists of:

  • A total investment of $179m on dedicated cycle projects
  • Approximately $20m of cycle facilities delivered through other projects
  • Over $8m on marketing, training and behaviour change programmes to facilitate growth in cycle journeys.

In total AT say it would add 53km of new cycle routes and increase annual cycle journeys increasing from 900,000 to 2.5 million per year. I’m not too sure how they work those numbers out but it is a significant increase. Since 2010 the handful of automatic cycle counters AT have installed have recorded a 23.8% increase in people riding bikes. AT also say their research shows that one in four people own a bike and 60% per cent of Aucklanders would cycle if separated cycle facilities were installed. Positively they also say this

Internationally the correlation between high levels of cycling and cycle infrastructure separated from volume and speed motor traffic is strong. The organisations own research shows that single greatest barrier to cycling in Auckland is that its roads are perceived as unsafe to cycle.

And of course safety is a big factor. In the 2014 financial year there were 2 deaths and 40 serious injuries and that equates to social costs of $36.5 million and that doesn’t count the costs of people who might cycle living having increased health problems from living more sedentary lives.

The programme isn’t without its risks though and the biggest ones are likely to be financial as it depends on more funding from the council. Other risks include deliverability – as it would require AT/NZTA to significantly ramp up processes to adapt to the increased funding, other major projects such as the CRL/LRT/new bus network and the need to remove parking from some streets.

It’s important for Auckland that AT get as much funding as they can out of the Urban Cycle Funding and they say this about it and their proposals.

The panel assessing UCF proposals has set out clear parameters for the funding. Submissions must deliver:

– Connected networks
– Cycle facilities on primary corridors
– An increase in utility cycling journeys: to workplaces, schools and shops
– Innovative, high quality infrastructure

The UCF will invest in the projects that are most likely to deliver the highest levels of modal shift and therefore justify further investment in cycling. In response, AT and the Transport Agency have proposed a programme focussed on the City Centre. The neighbourhoods within 5-7km of the City Centre currently record the highest modal share for cycling in Auckland, with approximately 4 per cent of people cycling to work. In addition they have the highest numbers of people that AT research identifies are most likely to cycle.

The bid proposes four packages to develop a network of cycle routes within and leading to the City Centre

  • City Centre Package: This package includes segregated cycle routes across the City Centre as well as minor interventions that will make the whole City Centre more permeable for people on bicycles.
  • Eastern Connections: This package focuses on delivering a high quality off-road route along the rail line from Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive, and connections to this route.
  • Western Connections: This package delivers new routes through the Western Bays as well as connections to the North-Western Cycleway.
  • Connections to Public Transport Hubs: This package will focus on the busiest public transport stations in Auckland and will deliver ‘end of trip’ facilities as well as on-road improvements to support cycle trips.

I’m sure many will be concerned about having such a central city focus however I do think that’s the right strategy. In my opinion we need to have a couple of areas where there is a decent amount of cycle infrastructure so that the general public can start to see that things can be better than just a few bits of paint on the road. Using the past approach of spreading any investment around the entire region means we could be waiting decades for there to be a strong enough network to see significant changes in bike use.

The map below highlights AT’s proposed cycleways. Despite the city centre focus there are still some notable gaps such as Ponsonby Rd, Franklin Rd and many others however if this is delivered within three years it would be a significant improvement on what we have now.

AT proposed cycleways 2015-18

The tables below summarise the investment over the next year and the three year period.

AT proposed cycleways 2015-18 Accelerated investment

Of that $179.4 million for dedicated cycleways it is broken down as per below.

AT proposed cycleways 2015-18 Dedicated Cycleways Accelerated investment

The NZTA’s $58.7 million is made up of the following projects

AT proposed cycleways 2015-18 NZTA Accelerated investment

While AT’s $111.2 million is made up of the projects in the table below which also provides an idea of timing for each of them.

AT proposed cycleways 2015-18 AT Projects 2

The other AT CAPEX which comes as part of other AT projects.

AT proposed cycleways 2015-18 Other Projects Cycleways Accelerated investment

These projects will really help improve cycling in and around the city centre and as mentioned should help in showing Auckland in general what kind of cycling facilities are possible when we put our mind and some money towards it.

Guest Post: FlyKly Review

This is a guest post from our friend Lennart Nout on his FlyKly. If you don’t know what that is then read on.

Why would a (relatively) fit young man like me invest in an electric bike?

Because I am lazy. I am not a cyclist, I don’t necessarily enjoy sweating and, my genetic make-up (I’m Dutch) does not make me appreciate hills, especially when I’m on my way to work. I dress for the destination, not for the trip, so anything that helps me up the hills is very welcome.

In May 2013, I “invested” in FlyKly, a new start-up company from the United States. Their Kickstarter campaign promised a wheel that would turn any bike into an electric bike in 5 minutes: a wheel with a built-in motor, battery pack and control system. As any gadget-appreciating young urbanist with a credit card would do, I immediately pre-ordered one. And so did 2,357 other people, pledging a total of over $700,000.

FkyKly Kickstarter

As is common with Kickstarter-type projects, the delivery was pretty slow. After about 8 months, the initial company announced they had merged with an Italian company and had completely redesigned the product from scratch, which resulted in an additional 6 month delay… followed by more delays. Eventually, in December last year, the wheel arrived.

Of course I was very excited– but the fun was short-lived, as that first wheel turned out to be a lemon. Long story short, and with many thanks to the efforts of the customer service department, a new wheel was shipped to me relatively quickly. And here it is:

FkyKly Wheel

After about a month with the FlyKly, I can finally give you a fair and unbiased review of the machine. I will judge it by five measures:

  1. Installation
  2. Operation
  3. Look
  4. Feel
  5. Will it change the world?

Installation (10 out of 10)

The FlyKly is delivered as an entire wheel, with all the electronic components well hidden in the aluminium hub. This makes for extremely quick and easy installation: I am literally talking 5 minutes. You take off your old wheel, you plonk in the new wheel. Done. As the Dutch would say: “A child can do the laundry”.

After the physical installation, the only thing left to do is input some settings like circumference of the wheel and the size of your cogs. The entire process, from unpacking the wheel to riding the  bike, takes less than 15 minutes. I am not kidding. Ten out of ten.

Operation (9 out of 10)

The wheel settings are controlled on an app via bluetooth. That means you have to connect your phone to change the speed, power and regenerative braking power (yes! Braking recharges the motor). This can be a bit tricky, as the bluetooth range is about 5 cm. But once the settings are done, there’s nothing more to do and the wheel will run itself.

FkyKly App

The wheel kicks in after about 10 seconds of riding; you know it’s working when you hear a gentle hum from the hub. Back-pedaling will start the regenerative braking, which makes the wheel charge itself a little while going downhill. I found this particularly useful when riding slowly approaching intersections or when there are pedestrians around. NB Don’t expect this to replace your normal brakes! Not fantastic, but a nice feature.

You charge the battery pack by removing a cap from the side of the axle and plugging in the provided charger. Again, very inconspicuous and very easy.

And the wheel shuts itself down automatically after 4 minutes (or so) of inactivity, so no need to remember to turn it off. All up, super easy! Nine out of ten.

Look (9 out of 10)

Because everything is contained within the hub, your bike won’t look like an electric bike. I particularly like this feature, as I find most electric bikes particularly big and bulky.

FkyKly installed

The wheel only adds about 3.5 kg to the weight of your bike, as well. This means that you can still quite easily lift your bike up a set of stairs or into a bike rack.

The only thing that reveals what’s inside the hub is a little blue LED that shows the wheel is “on”. This is nice, especially if you like LEDs (I do),

Feel (7 out of 10)

So how does it perform? I tested it on some of Auckland’s hills, and it easily gets you to the top of Queen Street and Franklin Road with very little sweat. The FlyKly does not transform your bike into a high-powered super speedy race bike – the top speed is 25 km/h – but what this wheel does is take the edge off cycling. It’s like somebody giving you a push all the time. It may not be powerful enough for some, but it’s perfect for me.

The range of the battery pack is approximately 35 km, compared with the 50km that many other electric bikes boast. This may be a limitation for some, but for me it’s plenty, as I usually cycle around the city with an occasional trip to Henderson or to Mission Bay (BIKE RAVE!).

World changing capabilities (7 out of 10)

The key question for all new gadgets: will it change the world?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: A device like this – especially one so easy to use — takes away another barrier to cycling. It gives people more confidence when riding, as it feels like you’ve always got a little bit of help. At the same time, you don’t really have to think as hard about your route, as it will help you get up the hills a lot quicker and without effort. It allows you to dress for the destination, even on longer, hillier routes. Buying a wheel is also a lot cheaper than a whole electric bike. I got this wheel for US$600. It retails now for about $1,000, but this price is likely to drop with competition coming in. You can keep your cool, old, heavy, grandmother’s bike on the road! In combination with the infrastructure that’s on the way (hello city centre cycle network), innovations like this will make cycling a lot more viable for a lot more people.

Final verdict: Very likely to become pretty popular in the near future.

Visualising complete and incomplete networks

A few weeks ago, I posted a map showing how Auckland’s city centre-based cycle network is full of gaps. We’ve got some nice bits of infrastructure, such as the Grafton Gully and Beach Road cycleways, and a few on-street cycle lanes, but it all stops and starts without warning.

The post attracted so much interest that I thought it would be good to make a similar map for the entire city. So here it is: Auckland by car versus Auckland by bike. The map on the left shows the region’s road network, which includes motorways, arterial roads, a dense street network within the built-up areas, and little tendrils of roads stretching out into the countryside.

Auckland’s current cycle network, on the right, consists of a bunch of random lines that don’t really connect. It looks like a plate of spaghetti that’s just been strewn all over the kitchen floor. Relatively few of these streets have truly safe infrastructure, either – it’s mostly green paint next to traffic. If you want to cycle in Auckland, you’ve got to spend a lot of time on roads battling it out with large steel boxes and risking being doored.

Auckland map for cars and bikes

It’s no wonder that only 1% of commuters are cycling to work in Auckland if less than 1% of our roads have safe cycle infrastructure. However, I’m optimistic that we can fix this problem and deliver better transport choices to Aucklanders. I was down in Christchurch a few weeks ago for a conference, and while roads are still a bit chaotic from the earthquakes, they’re pushing on with a bunch of new cycle facilities and a re-think of their street design manual. It can be done in New Zealand!

So: what can we expect to happen as we fill in our cycle network? I’ve previously looked at some of the research on the subject, finding that:

  • From 2006 to 2013, the number of people commuting by bike in Auckland increased by 26%. Overall, 6% of new commute trips over this time were made by bike – even in the absence of a concerted effort to provide safe facilities.
  • New Zealand researchers find that a larger, more ambitious programme of cycle upgrades will deliver a higher benefit-cost ratio than a smaller programme. In other words, if we make every street safe to cycle on, more people will choose to get on their bikes.
  • Research from Christchurch, which we highlighted in a Sunday reading post, also shows similar results from Christchurch’s major cycleway network. Importantly, 28% of the network’s benefits accrue to drivers as a result of reduced traffic volumes.
  • Data on demand for previous infrastructure networks suggest that there can be an “S-curve” of uptake as networks get built and completed. This means that there’s likely to be a period of steady if not spectacular growth in demand as new projects come online. But at a certain point, the gaps between safe cycle infrastructure will be filled in, enabling rapid growth in demand as cycling becomes safe and useful for many more trips.

What do you think of Auckland’s cycle network? How could it be better?

Lastly, if anyone wants to send me appropriately formatted (.shp or .kml) maps of current cycle networks, I’m happy to make a similar map of your city.

Next stage of Beach Rd Cycleway underway

Auckland Transport yesterday started the second stage of the Beach Rd cycleway which when finished should finally help to make the first stage as well as the Grafton Gully cycleway useful.

Beach Rd Stage 2 render Waldorf

The Beach Road walking and cycling project begins its second and final stage on 30 March, continuing the transformation of a key link into the city centre.

Auckland Council and Auckland Transport (AT) are making it safer, easier and more enjoyable to walk and cycle on Beach Road, upgrading the northern side of Beach Road, between Mahuhu Crescent and Britomart Place.

Part of Auckland Council’s City Centre Masterplan (2012) this jointly funded project will transform the look and feel of the street through use of high quality paving, feature lighting and planting of native coastal species an echo of the area’s rich cultural past as well as a reference to Auckland’s original foreshore.

The works will extend stage one of the Beach Road cycleway, successfully completed in September 2014, connecting to the pedestrian laneway network in Fort Street and with the shared walking and cycling path on Quay Street. The route will be a mix of separated cycleway and sections of shared path around intersections, with paving designs and cycle symbols helping to separate pedestrians from cyclists.

Auckland Transport’s Walking and Cycling Manager, Kathryn King, says: “By linking with the Grafton Gully and north-western cycleways, the completed Beach Road cycleway creates a continuous, safe and convenient route for people to access the city centre by bike.”

Ludo Campbell-Reid, General Manager of Auckland Council’s Auckland Design Office, says this project is one of a range of cycle route projects that are making Auckland city centre a far more attractive place in which to walk and cycle.

“We are creating city spaces in which people want to spend time shopping, dining and relaxing.” he says.

“Beach Road’s upgrade includes innovative features such as small pocket parks and information plaques, and special stormwater rain gardens located at the junction of Beach Road and Tangihua Street to help filter out pollutants in the stormwater before it flows to the sea.

“Coastal plants will reflect the location’s history as a beach and the large attractive London Plane trees will be uplit at night as a stunning feature.”

Of the $3.5 million project cost, $1.5 million is funded through the City Centre Targeted Rate, a special rate that all city businesses pay to fund improvements to streets, parks and plazas. This is administered by the Auckland City Centre Advisory Board, which is made up of community and business representatives.

“Innovative, smart and progressive cities around the world are finding that having safely designed and well-connected cycle routes passing through their areas brings great economic benefits to businesses as well as demonstrable health benefits to the cyclists” Mr Campbell-Reid says.

The upgrade aims to:

  • encourage an increase in walking and cycling within the area.
  • increase safety and the perception of safety for people walking and cycling.
  • expand the Auckland Cycle Network and provide connected, continuous routes.
  • incorporate place making into the design.
  • create an attractive and distinctive street and public space.
  • Works completion is expected by early July.

Power infrastructure company Vector will undertake works within the same area, to future-proof underground cabling so that the footpath does not require digging up again at a later date.

Beach Rd Cycleway StageTwo Overall Plan

I’m looking forward to having this part finished along with hopefully soon the other city centre priority projects.

City Centre Priority routes

Would we ask motorists to tolerate this?

A few readers had some insightful comments on a recent post about Auckland Transport’s quite good plans to add safe cycle lanes on Carlton Gore Road. They highlighted how it is necessary to deliver a complete cycle network if we want to improve Auckland’s livability and choice of transport modes.

Goosoid commented that it’s often really, really difficult to use cycle facilities to get where you’re going:

How many people used to drive their car across the harbour from St Marys Bay to Northcote before the bridge was built? Not too many.

Most people will only start cycling when there is a joined up network that allows them to safely travel around. Until then we will be stuck with the usual 2-3% of people who will cycle on substandard infrastructure.

How many people would use SH1 if every few kilometres it stopped being a motorway and became a local street again? That is basically what people cycling are dealing with.

Very helpfully, David Roos illustrated this point with a map comparing the street network in downtown Auckland (left) with the nascent cycle network (right). A very big contrast in accessibility and connectedness:

Auckland incomplete cycle network

And remember: most other parts of the city have it much worse. I hope that transport agencies in Auckland and other New Zealand cities are mapping their cycle networks and looking for ways to fill the many, many holes.