The City Rail Link (CRL) is a vital project for the city however as we know the government commissioned review has rejected the business case for it. While many of us know that the review has many flaws, some of the recommendations made about how to improve the BC for it are sensible, in particular the need to get more people using the existing rail network. Some of the more commonly suggested ways to increase patronage are things like better feeder buses, more park and rides and also having higher residential density around stations. Of course there are downsides to each of these, feeder buses can be costly to run, park and rides take up a lot of space or are expensive if built as a parking building and we still get a lot of people that complain about the idea of having higher densities, especially the fear of increased traffic in the area.

One thing that isn’t often discussed is about making it easier to walk (and cycle) to train stations. Thinking about this I thought it might interesting to see just how accessible the area around my local station is.  Most people are only likely to walk for a maximum of 10 minutes to catch a train and this probably equates to about 1km so how far does this get us? For this I decided to use my local station, Sturges Rd, as it is not next to a town centre it has very few places that would naturally attract patronage so it is key that it is as easy as possible for people to get to.

The red line is the rail line, the red shaded area represents the area 1km from the station (yes there is a big bite out of the bottom but that is because that area is so close to Henderson station) and the blue lines represent how far someone could get by walking for 1km in any direction away from the station, this includes all roads and any pedestrian only areas like alleyways etc. Most of the area around the station is pretty flat so walking/cycling to or from it is not hard.

Of course we are never going to get every single house in the red area to be within a 1km walk of the station however due to the poor road layout there have been some serious gaps allowed to develop. Probably the worst of these is just to the northeast of the station with the houses around Te Kanawa Cres. Some of these houses are as close as 400m to the station yet someone would have to walk for over 1km just to reach it.

Cycling of course has the ability to extend the reach of the station and these residents could ride a bike but it is hardly the friendly place to cycle in Auckland. It would require riding along a busy four lane arterial or on skinny footpaths as the streetview image below shows and when they get to the station there isn’t really anywhere safe to leave bikes for the day (yes there are a couple of bike loops installed but they are all very exposed and it is no surprise that no one uses them).

One thing is the station does already have a park n ride and a decent one at that at about 170 spaces, perhaps two or three of them could be converted into a covered and secure bike storage area?

Issues of accessibility like this are all over the city and it’s hard to say what the best solutions are as they will be different in each case. In some cases the removal of a couple of houses could be all that’s needed to give a lot of people much better access to local stations while in others it might just be something more simple making the existing access safer and more pedestrian friendly.

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  1. I noticed Middlemore hospital has a bicycle cage. A big caged room where you can store your bike. This sort of thing would be perfect for train stations. Bike lockers like on the northern busway are very inefficient in terms of space. A cage can store many more bikes.
    Maybe access to the cage could be restricted to HOP card users who have registered some form of ID against their card so if anything went missing you could track down the people who opened the cage.

    1. Yes that is exactly what I think as well, a cage with access to only those with registered HOP cards with perhaps the added security of CCTV would be perfect

      1. Check out the photos of bici box cages on my post at

        Melbourne also has cages called Parkiteers

        Both or either of these types of cages could easily be integrated with a Hop card.

        I would pay good money to park my bike securely in one of them. Like $1 an hour or $3 a day. I’d pay even more if there was a power supply and I could recharge my bike’s battery.

  2. great post. These are definitely impt issues to think about. The New Lynn cycle parking isn’t caged but it is also quite good because it is a) inside the station and b) it is in a spot where it gets seen by heaps of people. This makes it feel a lot more safe as you assume people would notice thieves trying to cuts bike off. And, of course, there are generally some security around the station as well.

    1. I’m not a huge fan of straight grids. I don’t know why. I think they often make for boring and uniform suburbs, not to mention people using backstreets as shortcuts. However I think we need to build new suburbs based on the loose grid, like around Mt Eden, Epsom, Sandringham etc. With arterial routes every 2km with the roads in between being mostly grided but with a few dead ends and missing pieces to discourage people from using them as arterials. Also why align them North/South, East/West. They should be aligned on a North West/South East, North East/South West alignment. This would ensure that every house has either it’s front or back facing northish and receives a dose of the sun each day. Also it would reduce sunstrike.

      1. Yeah the “deformed grid” of Balmoral/Sandringham is an almost ideal street layout I think. Although the legibility and ease of understanding for the basic grid is very nice, particularly for people not familiar with an area.

        1. I always have problems navigating grid systems because all the streets look the same. Sure you can look out for road signs but they are sometimes hard to see.

        2. I found it pretty easy to navigate Manhattan due to its grid and street naming system. When stepping out of a subway station you just needed to work out which way was uptown, plus what north-south street you were on, and you could figure out where to go pretty much straight away without the need for a map.

      2. Just make sure you have pedestrian and cycle access through the dead ends / missing pieces so they can get to the stations / stops.

        Looking at that map above, you could put a short path in the bottom left of te kanawa cres to that right of way and give all the residents easy access to the station

  3. If you are going to commute by bike & train, get a folding bicycle.

    You can save time biking from station to work at the other end.

    You don’t have to worry about security leaving it in a quiet suburban station, instead leave it in the secure bike parking provided by your employer, or if they are behind the times and don’t provide parking, fold it and store it under your desk.

    My employer ( in london ) provides about 300 secure bike parks in the basement (with showers and lockers too)…

  4. I think making people buy folding bikes which to be honest are more expensive and not particularly nice to ride on isn’t a solution, the solution is to rather improve bike storage facilities such that people can start riding to the station using the bike that a very large number of Aucklanders have sitting under their houses. I considered cycling to the Mt Albert station on numerous occassions and instead drove and parked there, simply because there was no where that I felt was secure enough to leave my bike. Another solution is a large cage into which dozens of bikes can be stored, access could be through HOP cards as suggested, at least initally, I think once PT is something that is being used frequently all day long the worry about bike thefts declines.

  5. Perhaps they could build something like this ?

    Joking aside providing enough bicycle parking can be a real issue in cities. e.g. around London Paddington train station there are thousands of bikes parked on the platforms, used by weekday commuters from the suburbs completing their journey from the station to their office, and it took me about 10 mins to find a spot for mine on a weekend when i was getting a train out of the city.

    Of course the solution is not one size fits all, we need parking at the stations as well as folding bikes. But i do feel folding bicycles are rather ignored in NZ despite their benefits in reducing the amount of parking needed and reducing travel time at both ends of the trip.

  6. I guess my personal issue with the folding bike solution is that I work pretty close to Britomart so would have no need for it at the other end and wouldn’t want to lug it around, also with the CRL the vast majority of the CBD would be within pretty easy walking distance of a station so for most it would probably just be a case of getting to/from their local station. If I worked somewhere else in the city where employment was more spread out, like around Penrose, then it might be more useful.

  7. Definitely need better bike parking – free, easy to access, secure, dry – at every station. Every one. I don’t think the lockers are the answer – they’re large, expensive, and not easily scaleable. I currently have to have someone drive me to Otahuhu station every day, because there’s no way I’d leave a bike locked there during the day, and there’s nowhere to park or secure a bike at the other end in Glen Innes. Putting them at source stations would avoid having hundreds of bikes crowd trains.

    There’s a mentality in NZ that still hasn’t been broken: that you need to have some extraordinary justification to give anything to cyclists. Whereas things for car users: they’re just built in – you have to have strong reasons not to give them anything as of right.

    Try it, at one station, and we’ll see how it works and go from there. I think that Meadowbank or Sturges would be great places to start trials.

    1. I agree with you George. Every station needs to have secure bike parking. I actually think it is a no-brainer as it makes the catchment area of a train station much bigger. Why wouldn’t the train company want more people on its trains, especially if the cages have the potential to be self funding? I’d be going out of my way to put them in.

  8. Cycle Action raised a number of these points with Council earlier this year when we presented to them – one of our key comments was how cycling could extend the reach of the train network (see slide 30 and 31).

    As for secure bike parking, the experience with individual cycle cages has not been very positive, as they are very expensive and serve only a small number of people (they are generally rented out individually – so if you don’t use it that morning, nobody else can). A solution like the “Parkiteer” cages in Melbourne would probably work quite well – accessible only with specifically enabled HOP cards, maybe? (scroll down a bit for images)

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