A few weeks ago, I posted a map showing how Auckland’s city centre-based cycle network is full of gaps. We’ve got some nice bits of infrastructure, such as the Grafton Gully and Beach Road cycleways, and a few on-street cycle lanes, but it all stops and starts without warning.
The post attracted so much interest that I thought it would be good to make a similar map for the entire city. So here it is: Auckland by car versus Auckland by bike. The map on the left shows the region’s road network, which includes motorways, arterial roads, a dense street network within the built-up areas, and little tendrils of roads stretching out into the countryside.
Auckland’s current cycle network, on the right, consists of a bunch of random lines that don’t really connect. It looks like a plate of spaghetti that’s just been strewn all over the kitchen floor. Relatively few of these streets have truly safe infrastructure, either – it’s mostly green paint next to traffic. If you want to cycle in Auckland, you’ve got to spend a lot of time on roads battling it out with large steel boxes and risking being doored.
It’s no wonder that only 1% of commuters are cycling to work in Auckland if less than 1% of our roads have safe cycle infrastructure. However, I’m optimistic that we can fix this problem and deliver better transport choices to Aucklanders. I was down in Christchurch a few weeks ago for a conference, and while roads are still a bit chaotic from the earthquakes, they’re pushing on with a bunch of new cycle facilities and a re-think of their street design manual. It can be done in New Zealand!
So: what can we expect to happen as we fill in our cycle network? I’ve previously looked at some of the research on the subject, finding that:
- From 2006 to 2013, the number of people commuting by bike in Auckland increased by 26%. Overall, 6% of new commute trips over this time were made by bike – even in the absence of a concerted effort to provide safe facilities.
- New Zealand researchers find that a larger, more ambitious programme of cycle upgrades will deliver a higher benefit-cost ratio than a smaller programme. In other words, if we make every street safe to cycle on, more people will choose to get on their bikes.
- Research from Christchurch, which we highlighted in a Sunday reading post, also shows similar results from Christchurch’s major cycleway network. Importantly, 28% of the network’s benefits accrue to drivers as a result of reduced traffic volumes.
- Data on demand for previous infrastructure networks suggest that there can be an “S-curve” of uptake as networks get built and completed. This means that there’s likely to be a period of steady if not spectacular growth in demand as new projects come online. But at a certain point, the gaps between safe cycle infrastructure will be filled in, enabling rapid growth in demand as cycling becomes safe and useful for many more trips.
What do you think of Auckland’s cycle network? How could it be better?
Lastly, if anyone wants to send me appropriately formatted (.shp or .kml) maps of current cycle networks, I’m happy to make a similar map of your city.