In the second in my series of posts wrapping up the year I will look at Walking and Cycling
There have been a couple of major projects but in many ways not that much seems to have been done with most of progress being on proposed projects that have yet to start construction. Further perhaps the most disappointing aspect is there main focus continues to be on large feature projects – which are definitely needed – but little progress seems to be being made on the less glamorous but equally important need of connecting people to local amenities like shops and schools. Here’s what has been some of the biggest stories.
Grafton Gully and Beach Rd
The biggest advancement this year would have to be the opening of the NZTA’s Grafton Gully cycleway and the first stage of Auckland Transport’s Beach Rd cycleway providing a protected route all the way from Upper Queen St to Quay St. Just last week the latest link was added providing a connection to Whittaker Pl.
Beach Rd is only a short section so far but will be extended in 2015 to become more useful but is a great example of what can be achieved when Auckland Transport have the courage to remove parking. We need a lot more of this all around the city. In 2015 it will be extended from Mahuhu Cres to Britomart Pl.
Government Cycling Budget
Perhaps one of the more important aspects this year wasn’t something physical but the increasing political realisation that cycling needs investment. The election saw all major parties pledge to put more money towards creating urban cycleways. While the government’s proposal of $100 million over four years was the lowest of suggestions, it is still a significant improvement compared to what we’ve been spending.
Skypath Resource Consent
Skypath is probably the single most important cycling project in Auckland. When completed finally adds the major missing mode the Harbour Bridge and gives residents of the North Shore a walk/cycle connection to the rest of the region without having to go via Upper Harbour or catch a ferry. Earlier this month the project took a huge step forward when the resource consent for it was publicly notified and is open for submissions till 23 January.
Connecting to Skypath and providing more connections to locals, this year Auckland Transport proposed a series of walking and cycling upgrades to roads in around Northcote.
Unfortunately it seems to have met stiff resistance from locals fearful of losing carparks (despite most having off street parking) and the latest comments in the AT board papers suggest AT is scaling back the design. Some of that resistance and scaremongering has been driven by George Wood who put out this comical video.
Dominion Rd Parallel Routes
A big bone of contention in recent years has been plans to improve cycling around the Dominion Rd corridor. This was especially the case a few years ago when Auckland Transport decided not to put cycle lanes on Dominion Rd and instead focus on a series of back street connections. This year those local road upgrades got underway.
Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr shared path
This year we learned that the NZTA and AT were planning to push ahead with another major off road cycleway in the form of the Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr shared path which will follow the rail line between those two locations. The urgency of this route is partly being pushed by the NZTA who want use the existing designation originally intended for the eastern motorway before it expires. Work should start next year.
Nelson St Cycleway
Sometimes a project manages to catch on and move ahead much faster than normal and that is especially the case with the proposal to use the old Nelson St off ramp to provide a connection to an upgraded Nelson St. The NZTA and AT picked up the idea and seem to be moving ahead with construction due to start next year. The image below shows the proposal for Nelson St.
City Centre Priority Routes
Along with Nelson St we also learned about a number of other priority routes in the city centre that re being explored that when complete will provide a backbone of protected routes around and through the city centre. These include
- North-South Cycle route (Nelson St)
- Beaumont St/Westhaven Dr Cycleway
- Quay St Cycleway
- East West Route
- K Rd Cycleway
- Ian McKinnon Dr Cycleway
O’Connell St was completed this year and is undoubtedly the best shared space so far thanks to it’s narrower space and heritage buildings. It’s worth remembering that this outcome was far from certain a few years ago when AT said it was too narrow for a shared space and proposed to retain a defined road but without any parking that would have slowed vehicles down. While it is the best street more does need to be done to remind drivers what shared spaces are as a few treat it like a race track, especially courier drivers.
This should have been an addition to Auckland’s shared space network however unfortunately it’s poor design and multiple vehicle access needs mean there are still far too many vehicles on the street, many of which travel too fast scaring most pedestrians to the edges.
What have I missed?