This is a guest post [as promised!] by CAA‘s Max Robitzsch
As shown in the previous photo blog, NZTA and the Auckland Motorways Alliance (thanks!) recently allowed Cycle Action and Transport Blog the chance to walk over a surplus part of our motorway building boom.
Both of our groups have some interest in what you might call “urban archeology” (it comes with the terrain when you are trying to understand how a city is shaped) – but we didn’t just go there for the view.
Auckland CMJ: Abandoned Lane in red
Auckland CMJ: Abandoned Lane in red
Instead, we were keen to see – you guessed it – how this could become Auckland’s evolution of the New York City High Line concept. A new walk- and cycleway to one of the currently least walkable and cycleable parts of our City Centre.
The Nelson Street ramp became surplus for motorway use when a new ramp was built some years ago – but the costs involved in tearing it down means it is still there, and not going anywhere. It was at a time proposed to serve as a bus depot – but a year or two ago, it was agreed by AT and NZTA that it would make a great future link in the Auckland Cycle Network – connecting the Northwestern and other routes entering the City Centre from the south and west to the western parts of our downtown and waterfront, along a Nelson Street cycleway.

Auckland Cycle Network - City Centre

As you can see in the map above, the off-ramp and Nelson Street are both shown as red lines – future “cycle metro” routes (a route that is either fully off-road – or protected from traffic with physical separation). It goes from Upper Queen Street Bridge along Canada Street (or more likely in practice, along Canada Street, East Street and Galatos Street) onto the off-ramp, and then travels along Nelson Street to the waterfront.

Now, as Patrick has noted in his previous post, walking / cycling on the off-ramp is more pleasant than we thought – mainly because you are above or away from traffic noise and fumes for most part, rather than directly next to it. But it isn’t really the beauty of the route that is interesting here (that’s more for engineers and people who like looking at flyovers and skylines…).

The ramp-over route is useless without somewhere to go. So if it gets built, it really needs to link to a cycleway on Nelson Street itself, to give that transport-blighted area some human scale. Because who really cycles on Nelson Street at the moment? The numbers are so low, we might just as well treat them as rounding errors on two wheels – very brave rounding errors, but irrelevant nonetheless.

So it’s great so see that Auckland Transport has seen both the need and the opportunity for this cycleway, and included this route in their planning maps. But we know how long these kinds of projects take – years if you are lucky. Decades if not (still waiting for the Wellesley Street East walk and cycleway link to the Domain…).

And while this is a high-profile project that will appeal to many, it is likely to languish for quite a while before getting built, despite being prioritised highly in AT’s overall cycle project list. Funding is tight, bridges are expensive, even short ones like the one shown below (Day Street overbridge design produced by our good friends at Matter, for NZTA).

Day Street Bridge

So we started to think. Could this link be done a lot more cheaply, a lot more quickly? And yes, we think it can. As a pilot project.

The most difficult part is right at the start. It’s no use if the ramp is a dead end – so how to get onto it from the south? And on the cheap? 

What we came up with was that the best place to start from for a pilot project was not at the very southernmost end, near Canada Street or Galatos Street, where we would have to build a pretty sizable structure to get across a large gap of several motorway lanes underneath. Nor would a temporary bridge at Day Street as above be easy (unless of course, NZTA is willing to lend us one of their bailey bridges?).

We found the solution to our issue in Newmarket, back when the new train station was built a couple years ago. At that time, a company called Layher built KiwiRail several access ramps down to temporary platforms south of Remuera Road. Below, you can see an image from their company website – essentially, these structures are simply strong scaffolds with wheelchair-accessible ramps on them.

04 Newmarket Train Station - Layher Scaffolds

What Cycle Action Auckland is proposing is that we construct such a scaffold ramp down from K’Road overbridge, to the old Nelson Street ramp. It would require a minor reshuffling of one of the overbridge bus stops, and creating a gap in the side of the K’Road railings to attach the ramp to.

But importantly, it could be done without having the temporary ramp be above any live traffic lanes. The old off-ramp is almost 8m wide. So we can easily build a, say, 3m wide ramp directly in the centre of the off-ramp below, with no part having over (or getting anywhere close) to the edge of the southbound SH1 traffic lanes one level further down.

Scaffold Ramp from K Road Overbridge

It might cost us a bit to buy/rent that scaffold, but it’s likely to still be a steal compared to the permanent construction needed to access it from Canada Street or Day Street, which are going to cost us many millions (remember, time IS money here – if we wait until we get the money, we will have lots of time…). 

So now we are down on the old off-ramp, and now it gets cheap as chips. We can leave adding artwork and seats and planting to beautify the ramp later (or make it into a community initiative!). In the meantime, we simply cruise (or walk) northwards along a gentle incline towards Nelson Street.

At that intersection, we add a new signalised pedestrian / cycle crossing over the eastern side of the intersection of Nelson Street and Union Street.

06 Nelson Street - New crossing and cycleway


Why? Because the current Nelson Street off-ramp, to the west of the old one, doesn’t allow right turns into Union Street. So whenever that ramp runs, you can also run a signalised walking / cycling crossing in parallel on the right-hand side – no long discussions with the traffic control people about whether we can afford to lose precious car capacity. We simply sneak through in an unused part of the signal cycle!

And on Nelson Street?

We propose to create a two-way, planter-box protected cycleway on the eastern side of the road, at least as far as Cook Street (but ideally going even further north). The design would look similar to the below example from Vancouver, in Dunsmuir Street. It can be installed overnight for the total cost of a couple dozen planter boxes (reusable for our next temporary cycleway – after this one gets made permanent a few months or years later).

Dunsmuir Separated Bike Lane, Dunsmuir Separated Bike Lane

08 Nelson Street, Planter Box Cycleway Concept

But won’t that create traffic issues on Nelson Street? After all, there’s lots of cars moving along there in the peak hour. Won’t NZTA and AT have concerns, and won’t we have to run an extensive traffic model and somehow increase the size of the intersections?

No. Apart from the fact that we have been told that Nelson Street modelling has shown that the street CAN take some reduction in capacity without causing the (roading) world to end, what we propose is actually pretty limited again. 

We propose to run the cycleway along the current parking lane, which means that no “throughput capacity” is lost at all until we get to the Cook Street / Nelson Street Intersection (where the right-hand through lane would have to become a through-and-right lane). 

We can achieve this while losing barely more than 10 car parks over a stretch of 250 meters, because most of that street is already no parking. We might even be able to fit in one or two loading zones on the very wide footpath / verge (some sections still have ~6 m left before reaching private property).

So again, it is easy (if we keep some spine, and don’t give in to the “removing some car parks will doom the area” crowd). And if it leads to traffic jams because we lose 80m of dedicated right turn lane into Cook Street? Well, it won’t – but that’s the benefit of a pilot project. If it doesn’t work, you haven’t sunk millions into it, and can just modify the design as needed.

To summarise, Cycle Action Auckland thinks that the time is ready to throw down a Half-Nelson. We need some movement, some breath of fresh air – and a showcase project to prove that Auckland can be fast, flexible and at the front. 

We can do all that, and give the western City Centre a new cycleway in the next 10 months, rather than in 10 years.


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      1. Hmm, this would connect pretty well with the seperated cycle lanes on K Road that Gen Zero have been lobbying for (and which I think the local board is definitely on board with). If you can connect to the waterfront cycling route at the northern end, even better.

        1. Indeed, that is our idea. But even at the moment, K’Road is already one of the busiest cycle routes in town, so we don’t have to wait for the cycle lanes for this to be a great addition of course. One case supports the other, but neither is dependent on the other.

      2. That will be a very high ramp – how long would it have to be to be of a reasonable grade.

        The main cost to get this project up and running would be new barriers to stop jumpers – any costing for that.

        1. Why would there be jumpers? We don’t hear of it happening from the higher Hopetoun Bridge which has piddly little barriers. Nor does it happen on Symonds St, Upper Queen St or Newton Rd. Need to be careful not to go overboard with some of this stuff.

        2. You could be right – I was basing it on the K Road over Bridge and Grafton Gully over bridge and assumed this would be a requirement. I haven’t been across Hopetown for years so forgot about it.

        3. CRL is meant to have platform screen doors so not much chance on there (other parts of the network a bit more open though).

        4. Absolute minimum length I would say is ~6m height * 8 times long, plus some rest platforms. Say 50m plus. Ideally, we would want it at 1:16 instead, to make it easier on cycles and peds both. So a bit over 100m. Which would be from K’Road to Hopetoun Bridge, roughly.

        5. What about a staircase with push gutter? Not ideal, but probably quite easy to deliver. I assume temp stair towers are fairly common.

        6. Yes, could all be done, and would make it even cheaper. But we don’t want to reduce our expectations too much from the start!

  1. Looking at the first two images and it’s clear that the red line in aerial image is a very good match for one of the critical red lines on the plan. Of the pair that divide at Upper Queen St heading towards the harbour, NZTA are right now building the eastern, or right hand one from Upper Queen St to the Strand. AT are, they assure us, going to extend that through to Quay St later this year, so the issue of how to complete the other arm of these to links between the sea edge and the rest of the isthmus is now pressing.

    Max has shown how straightforward the connection to a cheap but high quality separated cycleway on the eastern [uphill] side of nelson can be achieved [no need to even change the traffic light cycle!], so the challenge remains at the other end, getting between the northern end of the NW cycleway and the souther start of the new Grafton Gully one and this resource through the CMJ.

    I will do a post looking at the options there, but meantime Max’s idea to get the link from K Rd through to Nelson St going quickly and cheaply is surely a winner.

  2. I’m in! Actually I’m one of the rounding errors that use Nelson St. It’s a great way to get down to Vic Park area or even Victoria St easily (it is a motorway off ramp after all), but I’m aware that I’m one of the more brave souls, taking the lane all the way down, and leaving the other five or so for the cars. So a cycle lane on Nelson would work really well I think. And connecting up to Upper Queen, well, that’s the icing on the cake! Easy access to NW cycleway and GG cycleway.

  3. I’ve ridden on that sort of temporary scaffold structure down at Panmure where they’re putting the AMETI Road through. The old footbridge over the railway was removed and replaced with one of these structure whiles they rebuilt the “proper job” to cross the railway and the new AMETI Road.

    While it felt a bit wobbly at the very top where the ramp crossed the railway, it was a pretty impressive piece of scaffolding, and the only gripe I had was the one they built at Panmure was too narrow to support cyclist and pedestrians, so you’d need a fairly wide one.

    But the planned idea to link from K’Rd or a side street looks like a goer to me.

    I presume the grade going up Nelson St (for those biking uphill towards the Motorway) wouldn’t be too bad or much worse the grade up the Eastern Cycleway from Quay St to Upper Queen?

    So you could do a full circuit of the Motorway “moat” – starting at Quay, go up West or East cycleways to the Motorway then come down the other one.

    1. No reasons (beyond cost?) we couldn’t have it 4m wide. The permanent ramp certainly should be generous – for the temporary solution we could make do with anything 2.5m or wider, I think.

      1. Max,
        I presume that the same kind of tubular structure SkyPath will use would be ideal for this as well – so could we piggy back on SkyPath’s eventual “order” for their carbon fibre structures, and add an order a couple more sections – then use them to do these structures on this off ramp?

        I see a real similarity between SkyPath’s ramp designs and tubular structures – which have the super big plus that they are “AC” and NZTA “approved” – so NZTA won’t mind them being attached to their motorway structures or put over their motorways either, and since they’re (by design) low maintenance, they would not need to have ongoing “over the motorway” maintenance which would make any solution expensive otherwise.

        Of course, lets start with scaffolding if thats the cheapest way to get started then replace it in 18 months when SkyPath is built with the Skypath design.

        I’m all for it.

        1. The SkyPath design won’t quite work for this, as it is designed to be hung underneath an existing structure, with most of the strength coming from the existing clip-ons. And it is proposed as a composite “mold”, where I understand the main cost is creating the very specific mold – so changing it to suit this location isn’t actually any cost-saving. So if you are using composite materials, making it afresh is likely to be cheaper.

          I think the permanent ramp would be relatively simple mostly pre-fabricated structure, made of any suitable material really, whether concrete, steel or composite. We can get artistic with the cladding and railings of course, to make it look stunning (like in the Matter design). And the off-ramp itself has lots of opportunity for things happening on it, either semi-informally as community projects, or for a permanent linear park (after all, if we use 4m for the permanent path, that still elaves almost another 4m for other things.

        2. I understand, my thought was to take some SkyPath segments “as-is” and use them to make the permanent crossing.
          Of course as you say they are designed to be hung under/next to a bigger structure which provides the horizontal and lateral stabilising.

          But hello – we have that already – that huge retaining wall and the K-Rd overbridge provide a very similar environment for SkyPath “tubes”, so rather than building a short bridge over the motorway, why not lauch along the retaining wall, and across to the offramp under K’Rd bridge where we get a good environment for horizontal and lateral stability.

          The ramps could use the SkyPath design as well. My thoughts are to (if economically justified) not re-invent the wheel which adds costs, and take a 90% SkyPath “out of the box” solution and use it, even if means a longer structure than we actually need is built who cares.

          Skypath is 100% NZTA approved – so for the permanent links we need their buy-in as its their motorway we’re impinging after all. So a SkyPath design ticks lots of the (no doubt, many) NZTA boxes out of the box.

  4. “We propose to run the cycleway along the current parking lane, which means that no “throughput capacity” is lost at all until we get to the Cook Street / Nelson Street Intersection (where the right-hand through lane would have to become a through-and-right lane). ” In fact at Cook Street the two right hand lanes are both right turns, so removing the outermost right hand turn only lane would still leave us with a straight ahead and right turn lane, no changes in lane markings are even needed.

    1. Fair point – got that wrong! Still, paint markings are the easiest to change. We could also phrase it the other way around – even if we turn the remaining lane into a dedicated right turn, there’s still 3 lanes able to go straight down…

  5. Hi Greg – the steepest gradient on Nelson Street is at the northern end, between Victoria St and Fanshawe Str. That could get you a bit huffing and puffing. However, I see the Nelson Street route not just as a connector to the waterfront, but also as a dispersal route to and from the western City Centre itself. All those apartment buildings, the various offices and other workplaces in the western side of twon and so on. Those are currently not well served at all, and even a partial cycle route on Nelson St would help!

  6. I’ve checked the map and Streetview, and rather than going from Day St I reckon Galatos St, is a better option.

    Why?, because doing that will enable a better tie-in with the Upper Queen St cycleway, and avoid the need for cyclists to cross K-Rd “at grade” as they can cycle under it – like the cars do.
    Galatos is a shorter span, but the ramp is lower the Galatos St, so a ramp will be needed to span the gap, and that may be tricky.
    But it could be built as a flat bridge to the off-ramp then the ramp up to it built on the off-ramp.

    Day St is a quite a bit bigger “gap” to span, and its main attraction is that its a level link to the old off-ramp. But the stub road that would be used is used for car parking now, so you are going to run into issues immediately of someone having to give up parking to make way for it.

    So all in all Day St is not really the best place for this pilot to use, longer term – as a second link (or even the main link) could be put there, but for the initial “suck and see” program, Galatos St ticks my boxes.
    Even better than K Rd.

    So I’d prefer Galatos St.

    1. For clarification, for the PERMANENT layout, we would love to see a link both from south of K’Road (to link to the Northwestern Cycleway from IanMcKinnon) and one to the north of K’Road. Think large, act staged.

    2. I also think Galatos street would be a good connection as the first sideways one, as it would make the area behind K Rd more of a grid layout again. It’s also more of a functional street that Day St (which is really just a path through to Beresford Square – useful, but not as much potential for revisalisation).

    1. What the height difference between the K’Rd bridge and the Nelson St Off-Ramp structure? Looks to me to about 6 metres or is it more like 8 metres? (Photo doesn’t really show).

      I think this would work as a staged idea, presumably “breaking” the bridge railings on K-Rd won’t be a problem (given the side are glassed will there be a need to support the ends of the glass where the break is put in for the ramp to join K’Rd.

      Oh, and you can see that Day St car parking that would be impacted by the link from Day St in that photo – left hand side of the frame (at the foot of the Lion Red sign)..

      1. Hi Greg – sadly that parking area (a section of former Ngata St apparently) is privately owned (just checked property records), so any Day Street bridge would likely have to be built just north of it, which could make it more expensive / harder to do.

  7. Inspiring stuff Max. This seems like a total no-brainer to me and is the kind of project that would truly set Auckland on the path to becoming the world’s most liveable city. AT/NZTA can we have this in place for summer time please?

  8. This needs to be treated like the Fanshawe Street bus lanes. No studies, no consultation. Put in New York style, cheap and quick. If it doesnt work or cyclists dont like it (no chance of that anyway) then we can remove it.

    A big challenge here to AT and NZTA to put their (relatively tiny) amount of money where their greenwashing press releases are.

    The cost of this might cover the cost of consultant lunches on a motorway project, if they were cheap lunches.

    1. I would argue you do study and consultation… When the temporary link is up in beta mode. But with this level of investment no need to preempt the test.

      1. Yes, agree 100% Nick. Do the consultation and feedback after the temporary solution is in place and people can assess the actual impact, not a theoritical one based on their pre-conceptions. If the response is still overwhelmingly negative then easy to dismantle.

        How many retailers in Time Square would have responded positively to its pedestrianisation? Not many but now they would probably chain themselves to the street furniture to leave it in. They would see dollar signs disappearing before their eyes!

        Enough talk, action!

        1. Agree, do whatever they do in NY *and no more*.. no need for years of NZ based R&D to see if it may work here…

      2. Probably don’t even have to go that far. Just crowd fund for some concrete planters on Pledgeme and get them delivered late one night. Al long as the number of cyclist out number the number of people who (1) notice and (2) complain, then it stays.

        The cost for this would be minimal.

        The cost to get the old off ramp upto even minimum standard does appear to be a lot higher so would need AT to sacrifice about 2m of new road to find enough budget.

    1. For the ramp down from K’Road? See the discussion above – anywhere from 1:8 (more of a push-ramp, at least uphill) to 1:16 (cycleable relatively easily). The actual motorway off-ramp is very, very gentle. Can’t give you exact gradient tho.

      Permanent ramp would be anyone’s guess, because you could extend it more or less as long as wanted/needed/able to fund it (shorter ramps would be cheaper of course). So not too worried about that detail yet.

  9. So for this to happen we need to get AT to support the Nelson St cycle lanes in quickly and cheaply. Then NZTA to support and build the Access ramp from K’Road to the off ramp. It feels like it could be a very quick win for NZTA and AT. With the former commissioner of New York City Dept of Transportation in Auckland next week, great time to raise the HighLine style project.

  10. Brilliant post, Max. Go Noodle Park!

    Any idea of the cost of this temporary bridge? It is hard to imagine that money is the issue here.

    1. Sorry, can’t really give an estimate – lots of unknown factors at this stage yet, such as how wide the scaffold ramp is, whether one buys or rents it, whether we go for a short 50m ramp or a more gradual one of 100m… if this gets traction, a rough costing would be one of the first things to be done in the “serious” study. Or if anyone has experience in costing this, we’d love to hear from you.

      There’s also the bailey bridge option, which is more “off the shelf”, but again it depends on a couple factors that we need someone in AT/NZTA to look into, such as whether we can land it north of the Ngatea St car parks. If we need to avoid those car parks, it’s a 30m gap to bridge. If the private owner would allow access across /renting out maybe one car park, the bailey bridge would only 15m long, as it could cross to the little edge of grass north of K’Road bridge.

      1. Max,

        The Dilworth Ave footbridge across the motorway near Newmarket, which was built/installed as part of the Newmarket Viaduct replacement program in late 2012 has similar ramps at each end.

        That could guide the costing for the permanent design as the bridge is 6.2 metres above the road deck so the ramps at each end will be at a similar height to the K’Rd ramp down would need to be.

        Heres the link from NGA about the motorway closure when it was installed (

        Same page has some facts about the footbridge further down and a media contact who might be able to get you some rough the costings for the ramps

        The deck is quite wide for both cycling and pedestrians (4 metres I think) and has the “required” rests every 9 metres in the ramp – from memory there are about 10 of these rests on the ramp so the actual ramp length is about 10*9 = 90 (+ 10*1 metre long “rests”) = ~100 metres long to rise 6.2 metres of height. Easy to cycle (and walk).

        Admittedly the Dilworth Avenue end ramp does double back on itself for a bit to get the overall rise needed in a shorter space. The other end does a right angle bend to get the extra length.
        Neither here nor there, for cycling a u-bend or right angle bend may be desireable.

        Now this article doesn’t mention costs (I recall something like $5 million “more” bandied about for that bridge over the original half-assed replacement plan – which kept the original narrow footbridge bridge as-is and just improved the access. So I assume that $5m cost is mostly the bridge itself and installation (which wouldn’t have been cheap given the need for closures and two cranes etc).
        $5m is chicken feed for a road project like Viaduct replacement, but that bridge spans 7+ lanes of motorway (some 43 metres) without any central pier to hold it up, so its a pretty extreme example.

        Main point is the ramps at each end are similar to the permanent design you’d need for this one.

  11. Absolutely. The timing couldn’t be better. JSK has a global following. If the chiefs at AC/AT/NZTA could at least agree to look into this the positive press would be immense. We need to show that Auckland is going places and can compete with the likes of Portland, San Francisco, Vancouver etc. when it comes to making our city more liveable and attractive. Cities are leading the way so Auckland needs to be up there with the best.

  12. This is a great idea. The only question I have is the current railing on the old off ramp to a safe standard for pedestrians?

  13. Hmm, this looks too good to be true! Given the gradient, I would hope that segways, e-scooters and other powered transport options would be permitted. I really think those would be massively popular with city-fringe residents in the next 5 years, if we can get these strategic infrastructure links built.

  14. NZTA is likely to be the barrier here – and Auckland Transport and Council don’t usually fight NZTA. They’re unlikely to surrender a single centimetre of “their” space without a fight.

    The path will require barriers, especially in the areas where it is aligned with full speed active traffic. This is because traffic requires protecting from humans (but not the other way around). What are the options for temporary fencing?

    It may be that there are options available to us without the full spend. But it seems equally likely that there isn’t the shortcut we want. In that case, we build the case for this facility, and in October the new government suspends NZTA’s spending priorities and asks them to reallocate across all modes.

    1. NZTA have already agreed to give the ramp over for a walk/cycleway. That issue is already solved. They have even cooperated in the production of the concept designs for the permanent layout (See Image 3) and were part of the planning for the Auckland Cycle Network (See Image 2). They are very much part of the solution, not the problem.

      The issues here, as so often, come down to funding and time (i.e. the long periods it takes to get things done).

      However, the whole logic of the pilot project proposal is to cut back the amount of funding and time needed, so it’s more likely to happen soon.

  15. This is a great idea! Radical, innovative, and a cheap trial. Which is why it won’t happen. Yes I see NZTA being a major obstacle. Taking that parking/spare lane out on Nelson up to Cook will impact the offramp which will impact the motorway which is a high speed environment so can’t have any queues backing up onto the motorway…. In order to confirm this you need to do a crazy expensive model that is probaly incorret anyway and just show what you want it to show. So no, this wont happen.

    The jumper issue is a problem though. People do jump, it is just never mentioned in the media. Also an issue of people chucking crap off onto the motorway below. So you would have to put up some solid barriers of some kind, bla bla bla. AT/AC are risk averse for good reason. Death by a thousand cuts.

    1. If its needed cheap-as Rent a fence can be put in place and attached to the existing Armco barrier between K’Rd and under Hopetoun St bridge which is the main “danger” point height wise.

      Longer term fancier barrier can be put in place along its length, as much to isolate motorway users from the cyclists/peds as the other way around.
      This basically a viaduct along its length so doesn’t actually allow easy access to the motorway lanes nearby so its mainly keeping the rubbish chuckers at bay.
      Jumpers always have Hopetoun bridge – even now.

    2. Well, Ari, won’t question the fact that there’s a lot of obstacles in the way. I don’t expect it to be easy on the managerial side, just the technical side. No reason not to work for it though – everything that pushes projects like this forward is useful.

  16. squeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! In other words “yes, great idea – I’m a fanboy.”

    Nice views from up there I guess?

      1. The view from the Karangahape road bridge go ruined when that world cup “upgrade” was made. They installed that slatted glass that is hard to see through and the stupid white metal stuff that in parts rises above eye-level. I’ve been meaning ever since it happened to find out who did it and let them know about the error of their ways…

  17. An interesting urban archeology fact. If you look at the picture above of the intersection of Pitt St and Nelson Street you can see how the North Western off-ramp was originally built to be the onramp from Hobson St to the Central motorway (not built). Rather than build the original plan for an offramp they stuck a left hand kink on the end to join to Nelson St and used it in the other direction.

  18. Council has a waste minimisation fund with big grants of over 25k. What about using some sort of repurposed industrial product for the planters. And Applying for funding that way.

  19. Fantastic proposal Max and the Cycle Action team. I would love to see this happen (especially as it will be my safe route to the Waitemata Local Board office on Graham Street!). Auckland’s transport engineers seem to find it really hard to do quick, easy and cheap (as we experienced with the “trial” Ponsonby Rd bike corral and the pocket park on Lower Albert Street) so I very much hope they can rise to this challenge.

    1. Thanks Pippa – the ideas aren’t new. I am standing on the shoulder of people at least as large as I am!

      Following on from some questions from readers, what is your view (knowing Council and AT from the inside) of how people commenting here can get engaged to get this done?

      1. Hi Max. It is great there is so much positive feedback on the proposal and support to get it done. Based on your work so far I think AT and NZTA are in a position to make it happen ASAP as a trial if they really want to. They already have broad political endorsement for the concept of using the off-ramp for walking and cycling in the City Centre Master Plan (refer page 172)

        I doubt it will require any new money. NZTA will have a motorway budget and AT a safety budget or similar that they can use. There is probably also the potential for a contribution from the city centre targeted rate.

        Of course it always helps to keep up the political pressure too (as you’ve suggested “crowd politics”!)

        1. One thing brings another. Could be a bit of a snowball. Fingers crossed. Ok, let’s work out how to get this done.

  20. Hmm, you know, longer term – that southern end of the old ramp is not that far from the Upper Queen St bridge (150m or so), if we could get the cycleway extended beside (or under) the existing motorway viaduct to the strip of land between the Southern Motorway going North and the Northern and North Western on-ramps from Grafton you be able to repeat the K’Rd trick with a longish ramp down from Upper Queen bridge to the cycleway extension, which then joins the cycleway.

    Doing this has the attraction of offering a complete link from Nelson St side of Auckland to the North Western Cycleway via Upper Queen St bridge (or v.v.).

    I reckon you could hang a ped/cycleway under the viaduct that carries the Southern Motorway north there as its the old “Square under-section” type viaduct construction with overhangs on the road deck, which makes it similar in cross-section profile to the Harbour Bridge clip-ons – so you could hang a light weight structure under there without too much danger of impinging on the height clearances there.

    The main issue with that design would be how to bring the underhung cycleway back up to off ramp level, but you could bring up along side so its level, then you have an easy transition to the existing deck..

    Of course this is a future idea, once the main part is built.

    I’m sure a future NZTA (as directed by a future government) could easily build this for bugger-all if they really wanted to make full use of the legacy they have left us.

    Be a small pay back for the absolute f**king mess NZTA’s predecessors caused in the first place.

  21. A bit off topic but I have to say I much prefer the solid line planters used as dividers in the Vancouver photo to the ‘usual’ situation of a planter every few metres. It’s nicer aesthetically and looks a lot more solid, which should make it a stronger psychological barrier between the different modes of traffic.

      1. The concept was literally that, a quick drawing. But I would suggest that leaving some short gaps will feel totally fine. Even a gap of 2-3m length is practically impossible to enter for a car driver except at walking speed.

  22. The Nelson Street concept looks like a fine idea, regardless of any motorway trickery. That ought to happen anyway.

    Less sure about the off-ramp, for the reasons given below. Still, I appreciate the experimental nature of this proposal ­— and the shopping list to match — which makes for no harm in trying. I’d support such a “green paint” initiative if there was a substantial promise of rapid delivery and iteration from AT/NZTA, and if it didn’t distract from sorting out our existing street network at the same time.

    However, the repeated High Line reference is unfortunate. Its physical similarity to the motorway is limited to being a grade-separated, linear, loosely car-free and urbanised space. However, the High Line is much more than that: it is also a highly-connected, street-based function of New York’s dense urban tissue. So long as the off-ramp remains buffeted by motorways and not lively streets, this piece of real estate can hardly be compared to the High Line. In other words, the High Line is not a simple link from one arbitrary point A to exactly another arbitrary point B; it is situated “at” and “among” a series of neighbourhoods—not just as a way to “go” to one. Think sponge, not pipe. (I refer to my previous comment at

    Also keep in mind the nearest parallel line on a map just happens to be Pitt Street. This option offers the dual benefit of both being as wide as an aircraft runway (thereby discounting arguments about a lack of space for cycling) and of being an actual street with interesting frontage, heritage and a grid of connections (including the proper Nelson half of the proposed “Half-Nelson”). If you want cheap, it’s there for the taking — just a few more planters.

    Having never been on the ramp’s surface, I’ll have to rely on Patrick’s word that it’s sufficiently pleasant. Or maybe it’s a matter of taste; even the K’Rd and Hopetoun overbridges, I think, are disturbed by the belligerence of the raging stream below.

    But then, that’s the kind of thing an experiment would test. I’d be happy to stand corrected, but I’d also hope a negative or non-result would help us move on to better things.

    1. I understand your argument, and I agree the Highline analogy is mistaken [and recommended against using it], this will not be a leafy and calm elevated walk through buildings away from traffic as the Highline is. This is a cycling and walking [probably to a lesser degree] superhighway. Like the Grafton Gully route it is a motorway engineer’s idea of cycling amenity: Separate from everything, and therefore peculiar but potentially useful if the connections are good enough. I am looking forward, now, to using the upper GG route.

      I was initially pretty sceptical about the whole plan, like you I see the value in cyclists and walkers going past the front doors of destinations, not being funnelled by out the back. However unless this is considered being built instead of K Rd bike lanes I now see it as a valuable addition to the necessary completion of the ridge routes like Ponsonby and K Rd Especially as a means for longer commuters on the NW route to be able to access the city well and efficiently. It is not a system you would design from scratch but a useful work-round of the monotonic severance forced on our most important city by the Motorway Age.

      1. And I conciously called it an “evolution” of the high line, i.e. catering for cyclists as well as pedestrians. Using handy terms and concepts that people are likely to have heard before is key in spreading an idea. Plus, with JSK coming next week, the connection was too good to pass up!

        Re dense urban tissue and local connectivity – we are already discussing up to four suitable access points to the ramp. Similarly. Grafton Gully cycleway has potential for several more access points along the initial route. So there is definitely potential for making such routes much more finegrained.

        It’s there. Lets use it for more than soaking up sun and rain. I simply do not believe “the glass will be emptier” attitude. Any cyclists these routes draw off from other streets will in my opinion be more than made up by more cyclists riding in total, and riding further and to new places.

        It certainly worked for motorways – the whole idea of motorways was give CARS their own space, away from houses and nice leafy streets. Look where that led us too. Cars everywhere, including next to houses and in our leafy streets. We can do the same for cycling, and cycling “highways” will help, not hinder that.

        1. I think peoples expectations need to be managed on this. It is primarily a new cycle trail. Realistically very few pedestrians would use it other than a bit of initial novelty.

          While it would be great to have exhibitions there such as the fact that it is on the edge of town, isn’t really serviced by public transport (maybe from teh KRoad end) and there are no parking buildings (the rich that support the arts love their Audis/BMWs/etc) means this is an unlikely destination.

          Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t go ahead but what you/we are trying to achieve should be clear.

          It is using redundant roading infrastructure (the flyover and the excess of lanes down Nelson) to quickly and cheaply improve cycle infrastructure.

        2. “the fact that it is on the edge of town”

          Uhmmm, it connects one of our main entertainment / nightlife areas (K Road) with one of our key young adults dormitory areas (Nelson Street). You will be surprised at the pedestrian use of this route!

          Also, it isn’t “on the edge of town” – it is wedged between the inner city and the inner suburbs, hardly away from everything…

        3. You may be right re walking but that then brings in issues of safety at night. Does the High Line have issues with this?

          Re edge of town, I should have said CBD which it is due to the fact, as we all know, the motorway creating a fairly solid line. My point was you wont pop up there at lunch time to have lunch or see an outdoor exhibit as you would at (say) Aotea Square. Likewise, if you are trying to attract families at the weekend, it is hard to compete with the NorthWharf area.

        4. Max,

          > And I conciously called it an “evolution” of the high line

          “Evolution” implies some kind of essential commensurate quality. I’d warn against reinforcing that idea. With JSK being in town, it would be better for all of us to more carefully understand what makes these things tick. It shouldn’t be an opportunity to fluff up any old plan from the attic and slap an I-heart-NY sticker on it. Parts of this proposal have merit; let it be what it is.

          > Re dense urban tissue and local connectivity – we are already discussing up to four suitable access points to the ramp.

          Adding a few points of connectivity is unfortunately not going to cut it. A spur connection is always going to be secondary in relevance to directly fronting on to the interstitial space, or intersecting with a transverse route. Proximity, permeability and cross-traffic are key aspects that highway topologies flatten aside. (Nevermind the High Line, just compare the off-ramp with nearby street network improvement options.)

          Again, that’s not a reason to dismiss the whole idea, but it ought to be of a lower priority as a consequence.

          > Any cyclists these routes draw off from other streets will in my opinion be more than made up by more cyclists riding in total, and riding further and to new places.

          This isn’t about draining demand away from streets, as if the point of the street network was to recruit more road warriors. Safety in numbers is real, but there’s more to the life of the street than that.

          Induced demand is also real. But there are other and better ways to induce demand for cycling, such as improving streets that already exist, that are already connected together, that already bind to interesting destinations, and that are dying to be places in themselves. We don’t need to go out of our way to cater for this.

          > It certainly worked for motorways – the whole idea of motorways was give CARS their own space, away from houses and nice leafy streets. Look where that led us too. Cars everywhere, including next to houses and in our leafy streets. We can do the same for cycling,

          This is true of cars because the geometry of motorways is optimised for their operation — consider scale, speed, acceleration, engine efficiency, turning radius, following distance, grade etc. And then there’s land use planning and parking facilities integrating with it.

          The same geometry is not optimal or even applicable when it comes to city cycling. The analogous urban structure that suits city cycling happens to be a civilised, dense, gridded street network. With land use and parking that integrate in walkable, visible proximity. That’s why I keep bringing it up.

          Ultimately, however, I agree with you and Patrick that we should do it because we can, as long as it’s cheap (as in this proposal), won’t detract from other development opportunities, and has room for iteration (which so far AT and NZTA have not demonstrated capability for).

      2. I’ve been on this off-ramp and while it is much nicer than I expected, it’s never going to have any park like attraction. However, it can serve as a great transport corridor for walking and cycling. We build motorways so motorists can bypass places they don’t need to go and save time, so my not for those walking or cycling? Especially so as it already exists. That link to Queen St. How cool would that be?

      3. Patrick,

        > However unless this is considered being built instead of K Rd bike lanes I now see it as a valuable addition

        This is the crux of the matter. We’re constantly told how there is a limited amount of funding for walking and cycling, and AT/NZTA constantly point to their other white (or translucent) elephants as proof of the pudding when their commitment is challenged. I can point to concrete examples of this playing out as recently as right now (see Carlton Gore Road’s limitations).

        In principle, if we want AT to prioritise projects with discipline, we ought to lobby for them in the same order.

        Also, interestingly, whereas you and I see this kind of project as a practical compromise, AT/NZTA seem to take it as a near-optimal solution. This lack of understanding spills over into how they plan for and treat their street level cycling infrastructure. It seems one has to be careful what one asks for, or how one asks for it.

        > It is not a system you would design from scratch but a useful work-round of the monotonic severance forced on our most important city by the Motorway Age.

        Yes, and there will need to be more of this sort of thing to heal the gaping wounds caused by the motorway network; the profound scarring may never disappear. I’d only argue that there is a different and more critical threat to our street network that ought to be remedied first.

    1. The funding is cheap, as transport projects go. We need “crowd politics” more than crowd funding – call your councillor!

      1. NZTA can so throw a few dimes at this. After all it redeems one of their more obvious and expensive re-dos. How about crowd funding Puhoi to Wellsford or other uneconomic motorway projects? That would be interesting.

  23. NZTA have a spare bailey bridge that was used as the temporary cycle path over the Henderson Creek. It must have been nearly 100m long.

    1. It wasn’t a bailey bridge and was cut up and removed in sections. One of the sections has reappeared at the Whau river bridge construction.

  24. Great idea but it seems that the whole premise is forgetting that access to driveways will no longer be possible or seriously compromise the safety and flow of the cycleway.

    1. Other cities manage this compromise. Why wouldn’t Auckland be able to? Oh that’s right, Auckland and it’s inhabitants are somehow different to other cities.

    2. Drive access remains, car drivers simply have to LOOK with their eyes and give way to cyclists exactly as they *supposed* to do (but rarely do) to pedestrians walking on the footpath. If anything, fines and penalties need to go up such that drivers take their responsibilities whilst driving a tonne ton slab of metal at 50km/h+ around the city seriously.

    3. Compared to many other routes, there are very few driveways here. Less than ten. In suburbia, the same stretch could have over 20. As Bryce has already said, driveways can be managed well enough with a bit of proper design. Good visibility to and from cyclists will be easy, and the drivers will only be turning in/out in one direction, which for once is a bonus of the one-way street.

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