There’s been quite a bit of cycling news in the last few days (including during today) so this post is really a bit of a combination of a few of these.

The Role of Cycling in Auckland

You will recall on Tuesday my post on The Role of Cycling in Auckland. Yesterday the report was discussed by the Infrastructure Committee who also heard from Cycle Action Auckland and Generation Zero who also spoke on our behalf. My understanding is that most of the councillors on the committee were quite supportive and the herald published this part from Chris Darby

Committee deputy chairman Chris Darby, a cyclist, said other comparative cities around the world but particularly on the Pacific Rim were well ahead of Auckland in developing bikeways which raised public transport patronage by widening the catchment of buses, trains and ferries.

“We have been failing Auckland miserably – cycling is a badge of a smart city and we really need to have that badge on our lapel.”

The initial recommendations were also strengthened and ended being

That the Infrastructure Committee:
a) acknowledge the importance of cycling in contributing to the vision of creating the world’s most liveable city particularly through enabling Auckland Plan Transformational Shift #3, “Move to outstanding public transport within one network” and Auckland Plan Transformational Shift #4, “Radically improve the quality of urban living”
b) working with the Auckland Development Committee, support greater financial commitment within the Long-term Plan for cycleways, including the preparation of an integrated regional implementation strategy.
c) encourage Auckland Council and Auckland Transport to explore innovative trial projects in the near-term that increase safety and attract a wider range of people to cycling
d) request staff to review baseline data monitoring and its adequacy in understanding cycling and walking contribution to transport, and further to provide recommendations on key performance indicators (kpi’s) that may then be incorporated into the Auckland Transport Statement of Intent (SOI)
e) endorse that the committee Chair writes to the Chairman of Auckland Transport forwarding the report ‘Role of Cycling in Auckland’ and communicates the Infrastructure Committee decisions on the need for a significantly enhanced effort to improved cycling infrastructure in Auckland.

At the end of the day we it’s really up to the council to provide the funding needed for AT to implement more cycle facilities so this is a good outcome.


Hidden in today’s Finance and Performance Committee agenda was a discussion on providing additional $175,000 in funding to help complete investigations for Skypath.

  • In December 2013, the council approved a way forward for the investigation of the SkyPath project, a walking and cycle pathway to be attached to the Auckland Harbour Bridge. ATEED’s Chief Executive is sponsoring the project for the council group. ATEED is seeking additional operating budget of $175,000 in the 2013/14 financial year for investigation work that cannot be undertaken with internal resources. Some of the costs to date have been covered by ATEED’s working capital, with an understanding that the entire cost would be funded by the council.
  • In regard to the additional funding sought, approximately $50,000 is allowed for specialist legal input in addition to the in-house legal services, which is required due to the somewhat unconventional nature of the SkyPath proposal.
  • The project team also intends to provide a grant of $85,000 the Auckland Harbour Bridge Pathway Trust, which is a contribution to the preparation cost associated with the reports and assessments that the trust will submit in its resource consent application to the council. These materials (e.g. traffic effect report and images) will be of interest and use to the public and the Auckland Council group in future investigation and consultation.
  • Last but not least, approximately $40,000 in consultancy charge is allowed for as ATEED’s share of the total cost of the patronage projection review. The project team engaged Angus & Associates Limited to undertake surveys and develop a model to assess the likely patronage profile for SkyPath over a 20-year period. This essential work has and will continue to help understand the revenue projections to manage the council’s risks in relation to the potential underwrite. The majority of this work was undertaken in the second half of 2013. However, further targeted work is necessary in the next few months to investigate the likely peak or daily usage to assist the council in understanding these effects on the surrounding network and areas.

I understand there was some fairly robust discussion and I’ve had it reported that George Wood was mischievously trying to mislead the committee. He seems to have a real problem with Skypath and perhaps he’s talking the same line the Northcote Residents Association use that cycling can only be provided over the harbour if an additional road crossing is built. The extra funding was approved 15-4 with George Wood, Dick Quax, Cameron Brewer and Sharon Stewart opposing it.

On the issue of the Northcote Residents Association, it appears they’re continuing to run misleading information themselves in their latest newsletter. There are a couple of major ones

The Draft Issues register – despite it appearing that the issues are all outstanding, I have heard that they have all been addressed as part of the process currently going on, many of which were done last year.

Questioning Patronage Numbers – this continues to be a line that the residents use despite the numbers having been produced and checked by independent consultants. I believe another round of work is going to be done do this again.

Parking – For some reason the residents seem to think that they own the public roads and have the sole right to them. This is simply not the case however I also understand that the one of the most likely options is a residents parking scheme similar to what exists in St Marys Bay and that would address the problems.

Additional Harbour Crossing – the residents like to claim that when an additional harbour crossing happens that it would free up a lane for pedestrians and cyclists on the bridge. However if it ever happens an additional road based crossing could be decades away and even then the NZTA have said Skypath will still be needed and will become a walking connection with any extra lanes freed up being for cycling (like in Sydney)

Greens Policy announcement

I posted this morning about the greens walking and cycling to school policy. Julie Anne Genter questioned Gerry Brownlee on it today in parliament. To be honest I can’t see many kids cycling alongside a RoNS to get to school. I’m also unaware of any cycling facilities being provided in many of the RoNS projects and in the case of Waterview, most of the cycling provision is only being done because the Board of Inquiry forced the NZTA to do so. Also have to love cry at the last answer.

AA on cycling

What a brilliant ad from the UK version of the AA. Also good to see the NZ AA supporting it too (although with a hi-vis mention)

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  1. North Shore Councillor Chris Darby maintains the vast majority of the residents of Northcote Point are keen on the Skypath, and why wouldn’t they be?, it will materially improve their access to the city and therefore their property value. But that a cabal of self-entitled bores running the NRA [LoL] principally obsessed with fear of parking competition are making up any story to slow it down. Seems like old George is their big gun. Oh dear.

    1. Yes I long suspected that the NRA is primarily run by a small group that don’t really represent the wider area. We saw the same thing with the St Marys Bay association but from memory there were a number of people who support the skypath who live in the area and who turned up and made their voices heard.

      1. I live on Sentinel Road in Herne Bay and I bloody well can’t wait to be able to walk/cycle to Northcote Point for brunch at the Sausalito Café.

        1. I live a block way from Trev, and a friend of mine lives in Northcote Point and both of us want to see it as soon as possible as well.

        2. Great. Then you pay for it. I hope they set the crossing fee sufficiently high to ensure a very quick return on investment. Auckland’s debt situation is getting seriously… serious.

          1. Sigmund, do you fully understand why debt is increasing? Can you suggest a fully funded programme that addresses the issues of a growing city that sees debt remaining stable? Please do post an outline of the expensive infrastructure projects you would drop to stop this from happening. Central Collector? Which part of the transport program doesn’t work for you?

          2. Skypath will operate no differently than Vector Arena will – its PPP “owned” – until its paid off by users.
            After then council owns and operates it. Like the Civic was – except that was a 80 year “PPP” where council contributed the land it stands on..

            There is no gold plated guarantee to the SkyPath folks here, it has to stand on its own two feet – unlike say Transmission Gully which is Gold Plated.

            Worst case the council could get stung for about $2m – but there plenty worse things council could do that would waste more than that.

            As for council having serious debt, where is your evidence of this? More hearsay from the likes of Phil or Cameron Slater?

            Last time an Auckland council decided to “trim its “outrageous” debt” levels it took an absolute bath by selling its airport shares – to the tune of many tens of millions of dollars at .2044 valuations.

          3. Auckland Council does have some serious debt but worrying about Skypath is not the place to fix the issue.

          4. Sigmund, Auckland has a very long way to go before it’s debt situation gets as serious as Christchurch City which has had to borrow $10,000 per ratepayer. Half of that is because the LAPP only had one quarter of the reinsurance cover needed to pay the council’s claim for earthquake damage to it’s underground infrastructure and because NZTA has refused to accept that aftershocks are earthquakes because they “occured gradually, over a period of more than 30 days” (section F13 of the funding manual). Consequently Auckland Council (and Watercare) has become the first to council to opt out of LAPP so you’d better hope the council is paying it’s former insurance premium amount into a reserve account which it can invest (like EQC did) and hopefully when the big disaster does eventually occur it will (like EQC) have enough funds to cover a one in 5000 year disaster (that’s approximately the interval since the last known MM9 shake in Christchurch.

            Every cloud has it’s silver lining – there is now an elevated cycle trail alongside the Avon most of the way from Fitzgerald Ave to the Estuary (actually a string of emergency floodbanks built within days of the Feb quake but very popular with walkers and cyclists).


          5. No, because pet projects are precious and should always be encouraged. Please. How many of you actually deal with budgets and debt management? Given the greeny leanings here, I doubt many.

            The best place to start? Remove ridiculous parts of Council like “economic development” – they do dick all and for some reason house an “international relations branch” consisting of about 6 pretty well paid people that don’t need to be there. All up, ditching “economic development” (approx. 100 staff) and leaving it to central government agencies, as well as ditching ATEED (simply a rehash of NZTE on a local level) should get the ball rolling on savings.

            I’d end all cycle lane development, park upgrades, town centre titivations and and sell all council housing to Housing NZ, or if they won’t take it for a reasonable commercial rate, hoik it off to developers with a provision for public housing for x number of years to account for current tenants. While you’re at it, sell off any remaining airport or ports holdings, maybe Watercare, even if just down to 51% to appease the xenophobes. Use proceedings to pay off debt or at least shore up your balance sheet to lower the cost of future debt.

            Ditch the pet projects across local boards, get the contracts with bus providers sorted so there’s clarity around how much of the subsidy they really need to operate their services, slap on some user-pays for public facilities like pools… aaaaaand so on. Oh and absolutely go back on the “living wage” nonsense. I’d also put the kibosh on the most marginal ferry services and consider a hotel rooms tax. Slash funding for “public events” and leave it to them to either find sponsorship or charge for entry. Independently, some of these things are pretty minor but they add up longer term, particularly with reduced long-term commitments.

            Sorry folks but Auckland can’t afford all the little pet projects and . And favorably comparing Auckland’s budget position to post-disaster Chch is really pushing it for credibility. Auckland is bloated with vanity projects and bureaucrats that don’t deliver. You won’t notice them when they’re ditched. Valuable resources are tied up and could be used for more valuable activities. And revenue opportunities are going wanting.

          6. I know right. About time we stopped doing useless road projects and built something with a decent bcr

      2. More disingenuous crap from you two. As you know from the meetings attended by Skypath Trust and the local residents there is widespread objection to the project from the residents. One of the questions raised at a meeting late last year was why couldn’t the path have a less intrusive step access instead of the large ramp – the response from Skypath – We don’t want to get off our bikes.

        Your not wanted on Northcote Point or SMB – you may get your project – but stop pretending its wanted by the people that will have to live next to it.

        By removing this post – which I have taken a screen shot of – you just add to the concerns of the NRA as people can see that censorship is being used to try and pull the wool over peoples eyes.

          1. Whilst Phil is not in NZ at this time (I presume), he is indeed a resident (and a ratepayer) at other times of the year. While I don’t share his opinion on this project (diametrically opposed would be an accurate description I expect), he does have a right to an opinion.

        1. Phil, your comments get deleted because of the vile way in which you express yourself (and your intentional trolling, which you’ve admitted in emails). You show a singular lack of ability to contribute meaningfully to dialogue. It’s not about what you say, but how you say it, and how we’ve had to put up with it from you for the last nine months. You can go on about car-haters and people who aren’t property owners not paying rates all you like, but it’s going to get deleted, because you’re just toxic (and confused, in a lot of ways). Perhaps we could all go along to a meeting of the NRA together, and we could read out some of your more fruity comments, on the blog or in emails?

          1. No such email exists Phil. I think I and all the other moderators have shown a great deal of restraint in dealing with you.

          2. I don’t know Mr. Polkinghorne other than by his contributions to this blog, but from what I can judge of his character I am quite willing to bet that such an email does not exist. Not in the sense that you haven’t received correspondence from JP, but that “unprovoked” and “vile” are terms that no-one other than yourself would find fit to describe its contents. I don’t want to risk throwing this thread any more off-topic than it already is (and mods, feel free to delete this if it seems too much like a request), but were the contents of this email to be made public, I would bet actual money they are absolutely benign.

            Such a revelation, were it to be the case, would in fact prove the points made above. Namely that your just a tiresome shit-stirrer with a victim complex. I’ve said this to you before – if you don’t like that characterisation then perhaps you ought to do something about it.

            Or, you know, start your own blog?

        2. Funny how Phil likes to claim a 4m shared path isn’t wide enough to meet the guidelines (it is), then turns around and suggests stairs in the shared path would be acceptable. The guidelines tell you to avoid stairs in simple footpaths, let alone shared paths or cycleways.

          And censorship, Puh-lease!
          I can see it now: “I went to this blog run by a bunch of enthusiasts, then logged in under multiple fake identities to pretend to be different people, then I wrote comments calling them all morons and c*nts, then impersonated one of the administrators, then wrote them whinging emails, and then when I ignored their regular and patient requests to follow the comment guidelines like everyone else, they started to delete my nasty off topic comments! It’s a censorship conspiracy I tells ya, they’re plotting to take down the NRA!”

          1. You guys use the term trolling to easily. You only use it as it sounds like a defendable term/excuse to alienate people who don’t agree with you. You are aware that this blog is public, if you don’t want people expressing their opinion if it doesn’t align with yours why don’t you make it that everyone needs to sign in and create a private board for the ‘enthusiasts’.

            I have seen this blog get increasingly hostile over the last few months towards people who don’t agree with the regular posters. You might also might want to think about the fact that it can be very frustrating and hurtful to someone who posts a comment on here for it to get blown to pieces and attacked quite viciously/personally by the regulars. This in itself could be a reason why posters then get a bit miffed and retaliate. It is almost that the regulars are waiting with baited breath ready to pounce.

            you either need to formalise the ability for people to make posts or be more open to peoples opinions.

          2. “You are aware that this blog is public” – No, noone is aware of that as it isnt true. This is a private blog run by volunteers with donations. Just like Whaleoil or KiwiBlog the editors are allowed to do what they like.

            You realise this isnt the blog of the CCO Auckland Transport? It is just a blog about transport in Auckland (and sometimes further afield).

            That isnt a suppression of free speech. Phil is welcome to start up another blog and say whatever he wants. The fact noone would bother to read his drivel is irrelevant.

          3. @goosoid – nice way to prove Sandy’s point.

            This website is becoming something of an echo chamber, particularly on issues of cycling, which are, frankly, a minute element of Auckland’s PT infrastructure and always will be. Meanwhile, the 85% of PT users that use the bus get the occasional posting but otherwise it’s all trams/trains and cycling, as though Auckland is some kind of Scandinavian wet dream gone awry.

          4. Bus users are not ignored on this blog. I presume you missed the bit about the potential of some Fanshaw St fixes for buses? Fixes instigated by a contributor to the blog. Or the articles about NW busway etc? Also, while bikes are currently only a minor element, with the right infrastructure, and combined with PT, safe routes etc, I predict they will become a very viable way of getting around Auckland. For a minor fraction of the total transport spend.

          5. Sigmund really? Kvetching about the site is a peculiar way to help bus users. Tell us what bus idea you’ve got instead; you never know it might lead to real changes like ours do.

          6. And Sigmund, if you use twitter, I suggest you follow TB. Then you will see the volume of ideas that circulate all the time. I can assure you, bus users are getting lots of attention. For the basic reason that many people, who watch and contribute here, often use buses.

          7. I wasn’t attacking. My suggestions were serious in response to the claim that TB has been ignoring bus users when the truth is quite the opposite.

          8. Before you clap yourself too hard on the back, here’s an idea – upgrade bus schedules NOW. In 2014. Not 2016, or, let’s face it, 2017. NOW. But no, because there’s endless consultations you all think this is progress. Seriously, the best way a bureaucrat can delay actually doing something is to consult. By the time schedule changes are introduced, my home route, the 767/9, won’t have seen a weekday increase in frequency since sometime in the late 1990s, and only a weekend upgrade circa 2002-ish. And this isn’t an isolated case across Auckland.

            But because the politicians applaud your CFN, you sit back and accept this as a reasonable timeframe for bus service upgrades. Bravo on your pretty map – pity it doesn’t translate into anything meaningful. Meanwhile, the Britomart bus station remains severely sub-standard (amenities, information availability, seating, shelter, enough space for buses, air quality, safety), real-time information is anything but (evidently that project to fix it has stalled), bus reliability remains patchy on the best days, abysmal on most, the buses themselves are totally unsuitable for the needs of users (more three-door units), onboard information is woefully lacking (if the Link can have voice notification of stops why can’t the others? Where are the maps of connecting services?), bus-stop information is woefully lacking (fares, readable maps, local shops that can assist), impossible to actually find anywhere within cooee to buy a bus pass or find fare information (aka Hop – all village centres need a retailer). And patronage flatlines or even declines.

            But stop everything because we’ve got a map with some pretty lines. And Len Brown says he’s keen. And new timetables (assuming an actual upgrade) remain 3 years away, which will take us from 30-minute frequencies to, 15 minute ones? Ooo aaaah! No doubt fares will have risen substantially in the meantime. But no, stop…. someone think of the cyclists!

          9. Sigmund we’ve pushed for better bus quality many many times and I too wish that the new network could be rolled out sooner but it’s not as simple as you think. The new network may look similar in some places but in reality there is so much changing both publicly and behind the scenes that it does take time. I know for a fact the people at AT behind the network would love to have it rolled out sooner. They are basically changing every route, every bus stop, the way the entire network is presented and at the same time the entire contracting model. The changes will bus operators have to change what they do too and in some cases they may need time to source new buses and new depots in order to service the network.

            BTW there is a lot of advocacy we do behind the scenes that we don’t always talk about. In fact just this week we will be giving some ideas to AT on some short term ideas for improving buses.

  2. Apart from the T3 lanes in Remuera and the failed censure motion against Len Brown has Cameron Brewer ever voted *for* anything?

      1. It’s Brown’s role as Mayor to propose the budget. If he opposes spending money on something, he doesn’t have to vote against it – he just doesn’t put it in the budget in the first place.

        1. Nothing, his role appears to simply oppose anyone and everyone from spending any money or doing anything that will improve the city, unless the money being spent is on widening a road or building a motorway, and then he supports it, unless however Len Brown supports it, in which case he opposes it.

  3. The NRA are claiming that the wait time to exit Queen St Nortcote by car in twenty years will be five hours! I find it hard to agree with their faith in that particular estimate.

    1. One of their objection points is that it is a ‘heritage area’. Surely they will therefore be pushing for these new fangled cars to be banned from the area in any case, least they scare the horses.

  4. The really ironic thing about Northcote Point is the suburb is totally dominated by the approaches to the Harbour Bridge! While it may have been a lovely quiet village once up on a time, that hasn’t been true in 60 years.

  5. In their newsletter they link to a due diligence document. They make some good points. One is whether or not they have gone out to tender, or have investigated cheaper options, incl. presumably not a PPP. This is the standard for govt projects so it sounds reasonable.

    1. No the council haven’t gone out to tender because it isn’t a council project. If it wasn’t for the private company trying to build it then it simply wouldn’t be happening.

      1. why was Phil’s comment removed? I read it this morning and there was nothing wrong with it. It just pointed out that that as part of the money to build/investigate the skypath was being funded by public money then there should be some additional scrutiny.

        You have also removed the comment he mentioned about you censoring things…. that could be a bad look if you guys are looking to lobby, make a submission or get involved in some of these projects…..

  6. JAG should be given more opportunities to talk.

    I struggle to see where $100M gets spent.

    Everybody knows holiday traffic is lighter, many will remember walking and cycling to school. I don’t think my daughters school even has bike racks. My sons school has about 12 slots, I’ve only ever seen one other bike. All the schools I went to had numerous bikes and many people walking. It was a small minority that went by car.
    Hard to argue against facts.
    I think this is a good campaign, although I’m not sure if the current situation can be improved sufficiently for it to work.
    For starters, to cycle safely on footpaths, front fences can’t be more than 1.2m high to allow sufficient visibility between cars in driveways and children on the footpath.
    Pedestrian crossings on main roads aren’t sufficient given the attitudes of todays drivers and their poor eyesight. We’d need a lot more traffic lights.
    Upgrading the walking bus routes would be a good start.

  7. Love the classic motoring attitude of the NZ AA – we don’t have any ideas for how to get drivers to start paying attention and stop hitting cyclists so we’ll continue to blame cyclists and tell them to wear more ridiculous crap thereby further discouraging cycling and hoping to make the problem go away by getting cyclists to just give up. Maybe in addition to neon jumpsuits and strobe lights, all bikes should have beepers mounted to them like reversing trucks that continuously beep whenever the bike is being used.

  8. I can’t believe that people are actually opposing the Skypath as if it is some huge monstrosity that will demolish hundreds of homes. Even more ridiculous is the claim of widespread opposition. It is only a tiny, vocal minority that oppose it. The other 99.99% either support it or don’t care.

    1. Exactly, it’s not like it is a proposal to bring 8 motorway lanes to the shore, more a proposal to add an amenity that really should have been there from the beginning. And remind me again, why isn’t NZTA paying for this? The minister is clearly proud of his government’s record of cycling and pedestrian funding. This really would be the feather in the cap.

    1. Never thought I’d say it but there is actually a reasonable idea on whale oil – remove parking to allow more space for cycling.

      1. Yes that is a goi=od idea to remove parking. But I would say Cameron Slater has it half right. You still have the problem of cars travelling at 50km/h – this is very intimidating for young children, women and the elderly which is why you dont see these groups cycling in comparison to younger men. But you do see them in palces that are cycle friendly. This is a much bigger problem than parked cars.

        Have a look at how this Utrecht neighbourhood was redesigned for a more friendly walking and cycling environment:

        It bwasnt tahte xpensive, it took away no street space from cars (just restricted access) and didnt even remove that much parking. Everyone just needs to take a deep breath and chill out once they are off the arterials.

        Arterials need separated cycle paths – end of story. In Melbourne the separated cycle paths have resulted in a 50/50 gender split for cyclists on those roads – that is an amazing result.

        1. The stupid (and very predictable) thing about the WhaleOil blog is that they are quick to blag the $ 50 m but don’t stop to think about the likely return of $ 1 bn over 40 years. Or perish the thought, consider the avoided costs that such an investment might bring. Or their own time saved by not having to drop little Johnny off at the school gate.

          Funny how, rather than think with a clear business head about an ROI of 20:1 all the commenters seem to be able to do is hark back to their own mythical childhoods in Hokitika or Invercargill.

          It’s also deeply ironic to see how all these so-called right wingers are being taken along for a ride and cheerleading for one of the world’s most one-dimensional, centrally planned, socialist style we-know-what’s-best-for-you state-provided transport systems (i.e. our roads) that offers little or no effective customer choice and for which they are, apparently, happy to fork out $ 10s of bn of capital which will largely be wasted and which will load up debt for their kids to pay off, all the while trashing our balance of payments with $ 8 bn and rising of oil imports per year.

          Reading the JAG v GB Qs & As yesterday it’s startling how on the subject of transport the so-called left wing is championing choice, efficiency and hard business sense.

    1. You’re correct on that point, Phil. Especially if causes a funding crisis during the next GFC when the Min of Fin is more woriied about preserving the governments credit rating and resorts to creative accounting to pretend that the government is already spending too much on Auckland when in fact its only spending about the same as its collecting in taxes from Auckland. Is Len gambling too much on population growth reducing the per ratepayer repayment amount to acceptable levels in 20-30 years time?

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