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.

The map below shows the location of the new stretch of cycleway:

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?

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  1. Responding to your query where else in Auckland do we have off-road cycleways: Along SH20, from the Sandringham Road extension down all the way to Onehunga. That SH20 cycleway (also known as the Waikaraka Cycleway) is similar to the Northwestern in being pretty much totally off-road (with one section being on a quiet – but sadly also rather steep – backstreet in Hillsborough). The final missing sections between Queenstown Road and Onehunga, and along Mt Roskill are currently being built.

    The Waikaraka Cycleway also continues along the Mangere Inlet (eastern part of Manukau Harbour) but is more a recreational route here (though to the same high standards), before ending at Southdown. It is hoped to eventually connect to the east over SH1 and the rail line there.

  2. It is definitely good to see it extended and you are right, it is really visible which is great. I have often thought about using it just for a recreational ride (but never have as I don’t have a bike)

    One problem I can see with this part is that is next to a residential area with a lot of entrances (all the other parts are next to the causeway or golf course etc.) I imagine it would be popular with walkers, especially in the summer evenings. It could lead to a bit of congestion on there.

    If there was a busway along the other side (and you know I am a fan of it), this would probably be the best and most well rounded transport corridor in the city.

  3. I do wonder whether putting cycle lanes next to motorways is the best idea. The air quality is very poor around these areas and many people will find it hard to breath. While I strongly support the idea of cycle lanes and often cycle to work myself, I believe that riding next to a motorway has its downsides and would much rather cycle away from traffic, in a peaceful area of the city.

  4. There are also the Twin Streams Cycleways in Waitakere, following (surprise) the two streams that go through central Waitakere (Henderson), and there is an off-shoot of the Northwestern Cycleway into the Te Atatu Peninsula.

  5. You’re right max I did know about the SH20 cycleway, it had just slipped my mind.

    Matt, I certainly agree about SH16 becoming a pretty well-rounded transport corridor if there was a motorway, a cycleway and a busway. Maybe a cycleway up the side of the Northern Motorway could happen in the future?

  6. Brent, a study from Sydney has shown that cyclists cycling in the CBD there are exposed to LESS pollutants than drivers in the same CBD. So when cycling along the Northwestern, you are getting better air than the motorists in their little boxes travelling straight in the exhaust of the cars ahead of them!

    While I agree with you that more pleasant routes could exist than along the motorway, the motorway has the big advantage of having a designation with space which allow such paths, has no sidestreets to cross, and an NZTA managing it, which, contrary to local Councils, is currently spending on cycling infrastructure while Councils have cut back on that. Also, the motorways happen to go straight where the cyclist commuter wants to go – to the same places the motorists do.

  7. A Northern Cycleway would be an obvious project in conjunction with cycle lanes on the bridge.

    One along the Eastern Line would make for an awesome ride, people could do tamaki Drive one way and the cycleway back. Plus it would take a lot of the commuter cyclists off Tamaki Drive as it would be a more direct route to the city.

  8. I think the main complaints drivers have on Tamaki Drive with cyclists is actually with sports cyclists. It is one of the few flat sections of road in Auckland that has practically no traffic lights.

  9. Certainly the motorway & railway corridors offer the most obvious location to put off-road cycleway through the city. Unfortunately NZTA seem to be proposing a pretty half-arse job when it comes to a cycleway in association with the Waterview Connection project. They’re doing some at the Allan Wood Reserve end, some at the Waterview end but then leaving a big gap in the middle.

  10. Jarbury, to be fair, that missing section in the middle is defined by the future look of Great North Road. No reason the redeveloped road could not have a good off-road path on it.

    But yeah, something to watch to make sure there’s a reasonable connection. Just think of the boost the Northwestern Cycleway would get if the Waterview/Avondale catchment actually had a safe way to get to it!

    1. Max the latest alignment of the Waterview Connection avoids running under Great North Road, so I can’t see that road having an upgrade any time soon.

    1. Threading two more busway lanes through CMJ sounds like a bit of an impossibility I would think. My NW Busway idea would probably go via Nelson/Hobson streets.

  11. “Max the latest alignment of the Waterview Connection avoids running under Great North Road, so I can’t see that road having an upgrade any time soon.”

    Um. No. It will in fact rip it up for over half a kilometre to construct the non-bored tunnel section. The works (both temporary and permanent) in the section between, roughly, Waterview Downs (Road) and SH16 will be massive. No reason not to reinstate it to a better degree than before, even if it stays all within the existing corridor rather than being transformed into a boulevard.

    Also, once the Waterview tunnel project commences, it will remove the uncertainty for the area – there is no reason why Council shouldn’t finally go about making this road better in any case. Everything has been on hold here for a long while because of that.

  12. I think the best immediate option would be to build the busway where the widening project is, i.e. as far as the Great North Rd interchange. From there the buses could run along the existing Great North Rd bus lanes into the CBD (with a little improvement where necessary).
    This avoids the CMJ and any tricky connection from there to city streets, making the whole lot plenty cheaper.
    (I was toying with the idea of using the abandoned Nelson St off ramp as a two-way busway link, but I can’t see how you would get to it from the west).

  13. Nick the widening is going through to St Lukes Rd, from there the run into the city is fairly free flowing most of the time (its the southern link that is bad). In the evenings it is a bit busier from town but bus priority at the interchange would help there.

  14. Not that I know of, and sadly he didn’t ride a bike either. But it is nice that he did open it – and the real heartening thing was said by Wayne McDonald, when he committed NZTA to a 2011 opening of the extension of the cycleway through the CMJ.


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