The Grafton Gully cycleway opened yesterday. My post yesterday afternoon covered the opening ceremony and this post is about the cycleway itself.
Moving from South to North the project starts at Upper Queen St before winding it’s way down beside the motorway to Grafton Rd where it meets the section completed last year which in turn leads on to Beach Rd.
At Upper Queen St the bridge over the motorway has been narrowed down significantly to provide more space for pedestrians and cyclists. Previous the bridge had 6 lanes of traffic plus a parking lane and footpaths on both sides. This has been narrowed down and the carriageway is now only four lanes wide (yet still seems largely empty of traffic). While the cycling area is fairly clearly delineated it does feel a bit like there should have been a slight height difference been the footpath and the cycleway.
On the Northern side of the bridge you enter the cycleway. Unfortunately there have placed some of the large staples which are obviously to slow cyclists heading towards Upper Queen to prevent them from blowing through on to the road. I wonder if the same effect could have been achieved by putting a short fence out on the road edge.
Moving on down and just after you pass under Symonds St the path starts to dip down. It’s quite interesting feeling seeing the motorway that close and merging in front of you
Just around the corner you get the sight of the gully opening up ahead of you and spanned by the magnificent Grafton Bridge.
As you approach Wellesley St you can clearly see that if we ever decide to humanise Wellesley St (which we should) it would be very easy to add a connection to do so.
At the same location you can also see where a bridge will be added which will give access to Whitaker Pl and Symonds St. It is meant to be completed by the end of the year.
From then on it is under Wellesley St where some motifs have been embedded into the concrete on each side of each entrance.
From Wellesley St it is a short ride down to Grafton Rd where the route joins the section opened last year which in turn flows on to the Beach Rd section. I do have one issue with this part which is the slip lane that has been retained at Alten Rd and for which the planting makes it difficult to see if anyone vehicles are coming when you are heading north. Also on the Northern side of the Alten Rd intersection there is a short and sharp incline which seems like it might cause a few issues.
The videos below show what the route looks like heading both uphill and downhill between Quay St and Upper Queen St.
While there might be a few issues they are fairly minor in the grand scheme of things and all up I think this is a fantastic addition for the city. One aspect I was pleasantly surprised about was that the uphill section between Wellesley St and Upper Queen St was no where near as steep as I thought it would be. Some people may need to get off and walk but for many people it is easily rideable. From a quality perspective these two projects do feel like a step or two above anything else we have which is great to see. I think this and Beach Rd are going to represent an important turning point in the development of cycling in Auckland and people are going to demand this level of comfort in future cycling projects. I think the challenge for Auckland Transport and the NZTA will be in how they can get similar results from projects for a much reduced cost, something that should hopefully be possible if it’s a case of reclaiming some space on our streets.