A report to Auckland Transport’s board next week highlights their proposed cycle programme for the next three years which if built fully will see $207 million invested in cycling over that time. That includes funding from AT, the NZTA and the Governments Urban Cycling Fund (UCF) – for which AT and the NZTA have put a joint bid in for $82m in funding. It also includes cycle infrastructure included as part of other projects such as the AMETI. The proposed programme consists of:
- A total investment of $179m on dedicated cycle projects
- Approximately $20m of cycle facilities delivered through other projects
- Over $8m on marketing, training and behaviour change programmes to facilitate growth in cycle journeys.
In total AT say it would add 53km of new cycle routes and increase annual cycle journeys increasing from 900,000 to 2.5 million per year. I’m not too sure how they work those numbers out but it is a significant increase. Since 2010 the handful of automatic cycle counters AT have installed have recorded a 23.8% increase in people riding bikes. AT also say their research shows that one in four people own a bike and 60% per cent of Aucklanders would cycle if separated cycle facilities were installed. Positively they also say this
Internationally the correlation between high levels of cycling and cycle infrastructure separated from volume and speed motor traffic is strong. The organisations own research shows that single greatest barrier to cycling in Auckland is that its roads are perceived as unsafe to cycle.
And of course safety is a big factor. In the 2014 financial year there were 2 deaths and 40 serious injuries and that equates to social costs of $36.5 million and that doesn’t count the costs of people who might cycle living having increased health problems from living more sedentary lives.
The programme isn’t without its risks though and the biggest ones are likely to be financial as it depends on more funding from the council. Other risks include deliverability – as it would require AT/NZTA to significantly ramp up processes to adapt to the increased funding, other major projects such as the CRL/LRT/new bus network and the need to remove parking from some streets.
It’s important for Auckland that AT get as much funding as they can out of the Urban Cycle Funding and they say this about it and their proposals.
The panel assessing UCF proposals has set out clear parameters for the funding. Submissions must deliver:
– Connected networks
– Cycle facilities on primary corridors
– An increase in utility cycling journeys: to workplaces, schools and shops
– Innovative, high quality infrastructure
The UCF will invest in the projects that are most likely to deliver the highest levels of modal shift and therefore justify further investment in cycling. In response, AT and the Transport Agency have proposed a programme focussed on the City Centre. The neighbourhoods within 5-7km of the City Centre currently record the highest modal share for cycling in Auckland, with approximately 4 per cent of people cycling to work. In addition they have the highest numbers of people that AT research identifies are most likely to cycle.
The bid proposes four packages to develop a network of cycle routes within and leading to the City Centre
- City Centre Package: This package includes segregated cycle routes across the City Centre as well as minor interventions that will make the whole City Centre more permeable for people on bicycles.
- Eastern Connections: This package focuses on delivering a high quality off-road route along the rail line from Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive, and connections to this route.
- Western Connections: This package delivers new routes through the Western Bays as well as connections to the North-Western Cycleway.
- Connections to Public Transport Hubs: This package will focus on the busiest public transport stations in Auckland and will deliver ‘end of trip’ facilities as well as on-road improvements to support cycle trips.
I’m sure many will be concerned about having such a central city focus however I do think that’s the right strategy. In my opinion we need to have a couple of areas where there is a decent amount of cycle infrastructure so that the general public can start to see that things can be better than just a few bits of paint on the road. Using the past approach of spreading any investment around the entire region means we could be waiting decades for there to be a strong enough network to see significant changes in bike use.
The map below highlights AT’s proposed cycleways. Despite the city centre focus there are still some notable gaps such as Ponsonby Rd, Franklin Rd and many others however if this is delivered within three years it would be a significant improvement on what we have now.
The tables below summarise the investment over the next year and the three year period.
Of that $179.4 million for dedicated cycleways it is broken down as per below.
The NZTA’s $58.7 million is made up of the following projects
While AT’s $111.2 million is made up of the projects in the table below which also provides an idea of timing for each of them.
The other AT CAPEX which comes as part of other AT projects.
These projects will really help improve cycling in and around the city centre and as mentioned should help in showing Auckland in general what kind of cycling facilities are possible when we put our mind and some money towards it.