City Centre Priority Cycle Routes

An update to the Auckland City Centre Advisory Board (page 25) provides some new information about improvements to cycling planned for the CBD and include some artist impressions of just what they might look like – although unfortunately because it comes from a document that appears to have been scanned the quality of the images leaves a bit to be desired.

The update is from Auckland Transport and they say there are six top priority projects and a map of them is below.

  • North-South Cycle route (Nelson St)
  • Beaumont St/Westhaven Dr Cycleway
  • Quay St Cycleway
  • East West Route
  • K Rd Cycleway
  • Ian McKinnon Dr Cycleway

CBD Cycling priority routes

Working through them

North-South Cycle route (Nelson St)

This has been divided into two stages. Stage one is the old Nelson St Off ramp bridge through to Victoria St – which is due to be completed by the middle of 2015 – and stage two is the section north of Victoria St as well as Union St. On Nelson St there will be a two way protected cycle lane on the Western side – which is presumably easier due to less carpark entrances. AT say it’s currently undecided which route they will build to get to Quay St either going by Nelson St – Sturdee St – Lower Hobson St or taking the route along Victoria St and then down Hobson St. Personally I think they probably need to do both.

AT have listed a range of constraints and issues for the project and almost comically one of these is that Nelson St is a constrained road corridor with narrow lanes. Below is an image of what the cycleway might look like.

Nelson St cycleway

Beaumont St/Westhaven Dr Cycleway

Readers may recall this one which I wrote about a few months ago. The plan was to install a separated cycle lane down the western side of Beaumont St to lead to the new Westhaven path currently under construction. Unfortunately the marine industry the cycleway would go past were up in arms about the loss of carparking despite them having significant off street parking and the on street carparks often being empty.

Unfortunately it seems that Auckland Transport have caved to their demands and are now only proposing a shared path despite their only issues list stating that high pedestrian volumes are an issue.

This is the only one of the projects that doesn’t have an image associated with it.

Quay St Cycleway

AT will create a two-way separated cycleway on the Northern side of Quay St by removing the median islands and some dedicated right turn lanes then turning one of the existing traffic lanes over for cyclists.

Quay St Cycleway

East West Route

This could be one of the most important of the lot – and not just because it’s the only route through the core of the CBD rather than skirting around the edge of it. It will link Grafton Rd, Wellesley St East, Kitchener St and Victoria St. It will also contain a direct link from the newly opened Grafton Gully. The plan calls for one way protected cycling routes on either side Victoria St, a two way path on Kitchener St past the Art Gallery and a shared path along Wellesley St.

Wellesley St corridor Cycling

K Rd Cycleway

This is of course a project that Generation Zero have pushed and it is set to become a reality. AT say the design will have one way protected cycle lanes on either side of the road. They are also looking at what happens with the four traffic lanes along the route. The two options are either two general traffic lanes and the outside lanes as peak hour bus/parking lanes or four general traffic lanes with no bus or parking provision.

K Rd Cycleway

Ian McKinnon Dr Cycleway

With the opening of the Grafton Gully Cycleway there is an even clearer gap in the network of the NW cycleway. Currently users have to climb up the side of the Newton Rd motorway onramp, cross Newton Rd then drop back down to Ian McKinnon Dr to a poor quality shared path. It would be far better to be able to connect to and travel alongside Ian McKinnon on a safe cycleway. A two way cycleway is being proposed that would travel through Suffolk St Reserve which is land the NZTA already has a designation over and would then travel up Ian McKinnon Dr. For Ian McKinnon Dr there were two options considered, using the berm and NZTA land which would have required works such as significant retaining walls or to take a lane off the road itself. AT have opted for that option and suggest removing an outbound lane.

Ian McKinnon Cycleway

Overall there are some really good projects here and they all feel like they need to be completed yesterday however only the first stage of the North South Cycle Route (Nelson St) and the Beaumont/Westhaven Dr project have funding so the rest will be at the mercy of the councils LTP funding discussion.

Skypath consent publicly notified

On Friday one of Auckland’s most significant projects reached an important milestone – the resource consent for Skypath was publicly notified. Given the sheer number and size of them I haven’t read through all the documents yet – the Transportation Assessment Report alone is over 200 pages long – however you can find all of the documents related to it here.

All involved in the project should be congratulated for their mammoth efforts and dedication to get the project to this stage. This is especially true for the project director Bevan Woodward who has devoted untold hours into making Skypath a reality. The cover letter accompanying the consent application to the Council from Bevan highlights some of this and why the project is needed.

The application represents the accumulation of over ten years of work, due largely to the efforts of the Pathway Trust, a small and committed number of community orientated Aucklanders. Often unpaid, these citizens believe in what SkyPath will achieve for Auckland and its contribution to making it a more liveable city – as succinctly put by London mayor Boris Johnson “I have long held the view that a cyclised city is a civilised city”.

At many times the odds that the SkyPath project would ever get to this stage appeared highly unlikely. Not only were there significant funding and engineering challenges but it also took a long time before the necessary institutional support arrived.

Hence it is important to appreciate at the outset what SkyPath represents and to understand the principles that have sustained the longevity of this community-initiated and developed project:

  • SkyPath resolves the most critical gap in Auckland’s walking and cycling network, but perhaps even more importantly, it is a flagship project for ongoing improved walking and cycling facilities all across Auckland. Before its construction has even begun, SkyPath has helped progress plans for walking and cycling connections to the north and south.
  • SkyPath represents a significant change in Auckland’s transport planning, and a shift from the car dependent city that it has become. We must prioritise public transport, walking and cycling over private motor vehicle use. This is important for a host of reasons, including air pollution, community severance, climate chaos, traffic noise, unsafe streets for walking and cycling, health issues exacerbated by car dependency, and economic vulnerability due to reliance on overseas oil.
  • SkyPath directly attaches to the Auckland Harbour Bridge, the most iconic structure on New Zealand’s transport highway network. SkyPath will transform this icon that for 55 years has stood for motorised transport only. The Auckland Harbour Bridge will finally become a multi-modal bridge, reaching the standard that is expected of many harbour bridges around the world.
  • SkyPath has been born from the initiative and energy within the communities of Auckland. There has been extensive consultation with a vast array of stakeholders to enhance the design and mitigate the challenges. This has included meetings, presentations, workshops, open days, surveys and public demonstrations of support. The Pathway Trust has engaged over a number of years with the NZTA, residents, business owners, mana whenua, community groups, professional institutions, user groups, Members of Parliament, media (radio, TV and newspaper), local boards, the Council, Auckland Transport and Waterfront Auckland.

Skypath Consent - From Westhaven

Skypath Consent - Observation Deck

The design for Skypath is largely unchanged from what we’ve seen before except for at Northcote Point where they have come up with a new design following feedback from residents. It will now loop back under itself  and they say the new design has the following benefits (an image of the older proposal is here).

  • Better alignment and closer proximity to NZTA’s SeaPath (direct link to Takapuna) meaning less adjacent properties
  • Smaller footprint
  • Maintains 5% gradient and does not require any change to the existing road layout at Stokes Point

Skypath Consent - Northcote Point

Here’s what the Harbour Bridge will look like before and after the Skypath is added.

Skypath Consent - Before and After

This is a fantastic project and one the Auckland and in particular the North Shore desperately needs. This is definitely a project that should be supported and I suspect most do although there is a small vocal group from Northcote Point who will disagree (many others in Northcote Point do support it). Public submission on the resource consent are open till 23 January and the hearing will be in March next year.

Once again congratulations to Bevan and all the others involved in the project for getting to this stage.

It’s not the 1970s

A great video on how Pittsburgh is trying to become one of the best cycling cities in the US. I love the quote by the mayor on why the investment in cycling is needed with him saying “It isn’t the way it was in 1970, not everyone’s dream is to have their own car”.

H/T to Next City

Auckland Transport November Board Meeting

Every month I comb through the reports to the AT board looking at what the organisation is up to (that they’ll say in public). I’ve already covered the separate reports on additional bus priority and the New Network for the Hibiscus Coast so this post covers the rest of the reports for the meeting held yesterday. As such this post is a combination of a lot of little items

Once again all of the most interesting papers appear to be in the closed session which means we only have the agenda items to go off. The items being discussed are:

Items for Approval/Decision

  • Budget Realignment
  • Development Proposals
  • CRL Update
  • Parnell Station Update
  • Wynyard Quarter Roading
  • PT Security & Fare Evasion
  • Ferry Downtown Access
  • Ferry Services Strategy
  • Off Street Parking

Items for Noting

  • Deep Dive – Wharves
  • Heavy Rail Strategy Update
  • Customer First Strategy

Most seem fairly self-explanatory however two items draw a bit more attention for me. They are the vaguely titled Development Proposals – what are AT thinking of developing? – and the Heavy Rail Strategy update. The latter is interesting as it’s the first time I’ve seen AT refer to heavy rail as opposed to just rail and comes just after the herald suggested AT were looking at light rail to the airport.

On to the board report and there are number of brief updates on a range of projects. Many we’ve talked about separately or there hasn’t been much change in the report from last month but the ones that stand out are:

Onewa Rd – AT say they are going to be creating an additional westbound general traffic lane after the intersection with Lake Rd. It’s not clear why they are creating a general traffic lane and not a bus or transit lane seeing as westbound bus priority has been needed (and promised) on the road for a long time.

Electric Trains – As of the time of writing the report there were 31 of the 57 on order now in the country with 28 given provisional acceptance. From December four trains a month start arriving which means they should all be in the country by the middle of the year. They also say they have successfully tested modified software to control traction on the EMUs fixing issues from the overhead feed which was presumably the issue behind the problems earlier in the year.  The report also talks about six car EMUs being in operation from mid-November however I suspect that’s been held off till the new timetable.

City Rail Link – There are a number of comments related to the recent briefings to the incoming minister about the CRL however perhaps most significantly they say:

The City Rail Link has recently been subject to an intense period of public scrutiny due to the Council’s deliberations on the Long Term Plan (LTP). Extensive media coverage on the project led to a significant amount of feedback, including positive endorsement of the CRL by a variety of proponents. This was a timely reminder of the need to continue to “tell the story” of the CRL and its benefits, especially across the entire region. For example rail-users (and potential new rail users) will see their journey times substantially reduced as well as a much more frequent service. More effort will go into promoting these and other benefits of the CRL story from now on, particularly in the lead-up to the beginning of the enabling works in the second half of 2015

AT telling the story of the projects benefits across the region has been something we’ve talked about numerous times. It will be interesting to see what they come up with this time.

Northcote Cycle Route – AT say that as a result of the consultation they are making changes to what they initially proposed, particularly in Queen St. I suspect this will mean AT are watering down the proposal to retain more car parking

Newmarket Crossing (aka Sarawia St) – was approved last month after an in dependant review looked at the options again. I’m sure some of the Cowie St residents will continue to fight the proposal though.

Pukekohe Bus Rail Interchange – AT say they have $1.5m in funding for this financial year to upgrade the station which I’m sure is something that will get the locals will be pleased about. AT will also be moving the facilities to refill diesel trains from Papakura to Pukekohe

Puhinui Station – The station will be getting an upgrade to the standard Auckland design to improve customer experience. It is expected to be finished by June 2015.

Grafton Bridge – From early next year AT will be allowing taxi’s to use Grafton Bridge as part of a one year trial. While they say they will review the impacts in 3 months. Overall this seems like it could be quite a bad outcome for those on bikes but we’ll have to wait and see.

Integrated Fares – The AT board signed off the business case for integrated fares last month although we’re still waiting to hear just what that will entail. What we do know from the report to the board is that integrated fares won’t go live till the end of next year. This is due to AT needing to re-program much of the system to handle proper integrated fares. As for HOP as it is now, once again the board report¹ says that the percentage of trips on the PT network using HOP has remained the same as last month, AT say they think the ” Get onboard with Jerome” campaign will improve results over the coming months.

HOP ticketing usage October 2014

 

More details on the Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr path

Auckland Transport have released more details about the route for the Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr shared path that they and the NZTA are going to build over the next few years. The $30 million path will be built between 2015 and 2018 in four stages (down from five initially). The stages are shown below and previously section 2 was two separate stages.

Sections of the Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive shared path 1

AT say the project features are

  • The path will be around four metres wide and constructed mostly in concrete. Timber boardwalks will be used for short water crossings such as Orakei Basin and concrete for longer structures such as the proposed Hobson Bay crossing.
  • The path will be safe and convenient for use by people on foot or on bike.
  • Good lighting will extend hours of access, particularly during winter months.
  • The route’s geography is hilly in places, but the design of the path will keep gradients as low as possible.
  • The path design will link into local communities and the project will identify future links that could be built at a later date.
  • The path will connect communities with public transport along the route.

 

AT have put out this video showing the route.

And here are the

I think the thing that surprised me the most was that the path will travel down the northern side of the railway line till around Purewa Cemetery before crossing over to the southern side. I had previously thought they would squeeze it in on the southern side. Being on the northern side might in future open up the opportunity for some of the areas on the northern side of the tracks to have access to Meadowbank station which would be useful, although it might also increase calls from the local board to have another station in the vicinity.

I also wonder what the longer term plans are for the section of land between the path and the railway line south of St Johns Rd. We know it’s now not going to be used for an Eastern Motorway.

And here are a couple of images of what the path may look like.

Eastern Path Section 1

Eastern Path Section 2 - 2

Eastern Path Section 2 - 1

Eastern Path Section 4

My biggest concern with the path is that there won’t be enough done to build cycle facilities on roads that lead to/from the path. That includes both in the eastern suburbs and of course Tamaki Dr. Overall though I think the path will be very popular and busy with people walking and on bikes, especially across Hobson bay on a nice day.

Bike to the Beach

Tomorrow Bike Devonport are holding a family bike to the beach ride

Bike to the Beach Event

There are more details here.

While you’re at Narrow Neck you can also check out the NZ Sculpture Onshore 2014 Exhibition.

I really like that for transport to the event AT are talking up walking, cycling or using PT. In addition AT are putting on some guided rides to the event even saying

“Encouraging Aucklanders to ride to public events promotes cycling for leisure, pleasure, fitness and convenience,” he says. “The ride from Bayswater to Fort Takapuna is designed to show folks how easy it is to take the ferry, hop on a bike and get to where you want to go, and back again.

Personally the Bike Takapuna one sounds more fun.

Perhaps it’s just me but AT should use the walking and cycling time indicators on maps for the rail network, Northern Busway and ferry terminals.

Photo of the Day: Lone Commuter

Lone Commuter Passes Lines of Private Property Stored on Public Land

LINCOLN ST_3890

Beach Rd Cycleway stage 2 design

The new Beach Rd cycleway is fantastic addition to the city however at the moment it’s a little short only extending from Churchill St to Mahuhu Cres.

Beach Rd Cycle Way

That’s set to change next year as the second stage gets underway which will see the cycleway extended through to Britomart Pl along with an upgrade to the footpaths in the area. It is expected to be completed by July 2015 and report to the City Centre Advisory Board gives an idea of what it may look like which is more than just adding a cycleway and more like a linear park. Firstly here’s what the area looks like today.

Beach Rd Stage 2 Current

Here is a high level view of the concept It includes Plaza type areas on the intersections of the three roads it interfaces with – Mahuhu Cres, Tangihua St and Britomart Pl – all three of which lose their dangerous slip lanes. The existing trees are obviously retained and the footpath and cycleway are defined by planting. There are also different types of concrete to help define which section is the cycleway and which the footpath.

Beach Rd Stage 2 Concept 2

 

Moving from south to north here are some renders of what the finished result may look like.

Mahuhu Cres

Beach Rd Stage 2 Mahuhu Cres

In front of the Waldorf Hotel

Beach Rd Stage 2 render Waldorf

In Front of the Scene buildings

Beach Rd Stage 2 render Scene Buildings

At Britomart Pl

Beach Rd Stage 2 render Britomart Pl

Overall it looks like it will be a fantastic addition.

Cycling: the benefits of complete networks

A group of New Zealand researchers recently published an excellent paper on the costs and benefits of investing in a complete cycle network and safe street design. Their paper, which is available online, found that:

the benefits of all the intervention policies outweighed the harms, between 6 and 24 times. However, there were order-of-magnitude differences in estimated net benefits among policies. A universal approach to bicycle-friendly infrastructure will likely be required to achieve sufficient growth in bicycle commuting to meet strategic goals.

Our findings suggest that the most effective approach would involve physical segregation on arterial roads (with intersection treatments) and low speed, bicycle-friendly local streets.

We estimate that these changes would bring large benefits to public health over the coming decades, in the tens of dollars for every dollar spent on infrastructure. The greatest benefits accrue from reduced all-cause mortality due to population-level physical inactivity.

The researchers employed a system dynamics modelling approach that incorporated feedback loops between infrastructure provision and street design, people’s travel behaviours, and actual and perceived safety.

As a transport economist, I found their methodology incredibly interesting. It illustrates how you often need complex modelling tools to quantify things that are intuitively quite simple. In this case, the fact that if you make every street safe to cycle on, people will choose to get on their bikes.

Macmillan et al (2014) causal loop diagram

Feedback loops in cycle networks (Source: MacMillan et al, 2014)

Importantly, the researchers found that a larger, more ambitious programme of cycle upgrades will deliver a higher benefit-cost ratio than a smaller programme. This is what economists sometimes call the “complete network” effect – in effect, the more places you can get to easily and safely on a bicycle, the more likely you will be to cycle. (This is also why Facebook has so many users: You have to have an account because everybody else also has an account!)

Right now, Auckland’s obviously not doing too well when it comes to complete cycle networks. If you look at Auckland Transport’s online cycle maps, you’ll see some streets with strips of green paint down the side, and many more that you could in theory cycle on (if you were especially bold).

However, we’re lucky enough to have a local example of a city that is rolling out an ambitious complete cycle network. Since the 2011 Canterbury Earthquakes, Christchurch has planned a network of 13 major cycleways that will extend throughout the city, a re-jig of its city centre street network, and a new street design manual that will deliver better on-road cycle facilities. (Disclaimer: I have previously worked on the An Accessible City project as a consultant.) And they’re planning on getting it done over the next five years.

Christchurch Major Cycleways

Will Christchurch “go Dutch”?

It’s going to be interesting to watch Christchurch over the next few years. I expect they’ll provide a good example for a lot of other New Zealand cities.

Campbell Live on Cycling Safety

On of the few media organisations to take the time to look at the issues surrounding cycling in this country has been Campbell Live and in particular Lachlan Forsyth. On Thursday he had a fantastic segment looking at a number of issues and in particular the need for protected cycleways and safety around trucks.

Campbell Live - Protected cycling

There were a couple of things that are worth highlighting.

Agreeing that we need protected cycleways we now have:

  • Transport experts
  • advocates
  • the AA
  • truckies

Considering how much debate about solutions occurs in other areas of the transport debate that’s a remarkable outcome. What we’re waiting on is our politicians to to deliver the funding and for our agencies like Auckland Transport to build them.

The blind spot issues that truck drivers have is something that is important for everyone to be aware of.

It was fantastic to see families using the Beach Rd cycleway showing that if we built cycling facilities suitable for all ages to use that they will use them.