While NZTA are being pretty damn reluctant about even future proofing for a northwest busway, I have to give them good credit for progress that has been made on extending the northwest cycleway – with the most recent 1.24 kilometre stage through Kingsland being opened today. Here’s the NZTA press release:
NZTA says new cycle link will ease congestion
A new section of Auckland’s popular Northwestern Cycleway is officially opened and the NZ Transport Agency says it will provide an improved alternative transport choice for people and help ease traffic congestion.
The new section between Bond and Myrtle Streets in Kingsland is 1.24km long, and runs alongside the Northwestern Motorway (SH16).
It was officially opened this morning (Thursday 15 April) by the Minister of Transport, the Hon. Steven Joyce, and cyclists can now take advantage of an almost entirely off-road 12 kilometre-long stretch of cycleway from Te Atatu Road in Waitakere to Newton Road in Auckland City.
The NZTA’s Regional Director for Auckland, Wayne McDonald, said cyclists will no longer have to leave the existing cycleway and ride along steep and busy roads in Kingsland before re-joining it again.
“The cycleway is already popular and is joint fourth highest in terms of cycle volumes in Auckland with around 500 trips daily, and the improvements we’ve made will add to that popularity,” said Mr McDonald. “It is also wide enough to safely accommodate walkers as well.”
Mr McDonald thanked the community living next to the new section of cycleway for their support.
“It is never easy constructing any project close to neighbours, and we are grateful for the co-operation we have had from the community here,” he said.
Mr McDonald says that although the cycleway has opened, there are still a number of finishing touches to be made to provide more privacy for residents. The improvement project also includes upgrading fences and screening, and replanting native trees and bushes between the cycleway and houses when the dry spell ends.
With the Kingsland section nearing completion, the NZTA is now focussing on extending the Northwestern Cycleway further into central Auckland.
An investigation is underway to find a suitable route through Upper Queen Street, the Central Motorway Junction and along Grafton Gully to the Auckland University of Technology and Auckland University. The NZTA plans to have the 3 kilometre long-extension completed in 2011.
Mr McDonald said all the improvements to the Northwestern Cycleway fitted with the NZTA’s objectives of supporting cycling and walking projects that reduced congestion on the roads and delivered a viable alternative to the car.
“When we’ve brought the cycleway into central Auckland, it will be much safer and much quicker for cyclists to commute between west and central Auckland,” said Mr McDonald.
Further improvements are also planned to the cycleway between St Lukes and Te Atatu interchanges when the NZTA project to widen the Northwestern Motorway gets underway.
I’m a big fan of cycleways like this one. Being able to offer a fully off-road cycle path takes away the issue that probably puts most people off cycling – safety concerns. I also think that putting the cycleway next to the motorway is a good idea from a marketing point of view – in that a lot of people are aware of it because they can see it. If I’m honest I actually don’t know about any other off-road cycleways around Auckland other than the NW one, and the reason I know about this one is because it’s so highly visible.
Because of cycling’s health, environmental and congestion easing benefits, cycleway projects don’t need to attract too many more riders to pay off in a cost-benefit analysis measure. Cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam have huge proportions of their population choosing to cycle to work each day (even though they have much harsher climates that Auckland), and the benefits to those cities are huge (for example Copenhagen spends only 4% of its wealth on transport whereas Auckland spends 16%). I look forward to further extensions of the NW cycleway, and also to other cycleway popping up around Auckland. Surely we could have one next to the southern motorway perhaps?