The council have released some images of what the completed Nelson St off-ramp will look like and a video showing the lighting they are adding in action. Here is the press release

Interactive lights, Māori carvings and a vibrant magenta surface are set to turn the old Nelson Street motorway off-ramp into a must-see Auckland attraction for people to walk and cycle across when it opens later this year.

The off-ramp is being transformed into a shared path as part of the Nelson Street Cycleway, one of the network of cycleways being delivered in partnership by the NZ Transport Agency, Auckland Council and Auckland Transport. It will connect to Upper Queen Street by a new bridge off Canada Street – now nearly in place – and will continue to Nelson Street where a separated cycleway is being built.

The design was developed following an online survey in June when Aucklanders called for it to be ‘modern’ and ‘distinctly New Zealand’. It includes LED lights lining the safety barriers, that can interact and pulse as people pass them, as well as a strong magenta surface colour that will fade out at the northern end in a Māori design.

Political urban design champion Councillor Chris Darby says: “This project shines a light on walking and cycling and offers an inspiring new way through a previously impenetrable spaghetti junction. It offers a seamless walk-across-the-rooftops connection into the city-centre, with sweeping views of the city and harbour. “The innovative design catches the eye and captures the imagination, heralding the future of transport across Auckland.”

The concept has been created by Monk Mackenzie architects and LandLAB, in association with artist Katz Maihi. Māori patterns and narrative form a core part of the designs, following discussions with iwi. The path includes etched carvings at intervals along the length, with a 6-metre pou at the entrance. The colour represents the heartwood of a freshly cut totara, with the red and pink shades strengthened to contrast with the surrounding motorway lanes.

Brett Gliddon, the Transport Agency’s Auckland and Northland Highway Manager, says: “It’s great to see the beginning of our urban cycling future here in Auckland with a wonderful facility like this. It’s helping to make cycling a safer and more attractive transport choice as well as leading the way in world-class cycling infrastructure.”

The off-ramp was closed a decade ago and transforming it – as highlighted in the council’s City Centre Masterplan – has received strong support.

Barbara Cuthbert, Cycle Action Auckland chair, says “This cycleway will be the highlight of all the new projects we’ve seen in the city so far. It’ll be a beacon attracting people to walk, cycle and delight in the views – a new landmark for Auckland!”

Nelson St Off-Ramp impression

Nelson St Off-Ramp impression 2

Nelson St Off-Ramp impression 3

And a video of the lights in action

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34 comments

  1. Looks excellent. We criticised the prison-like nature of the walls, but it now seems that it is going to be transformed into a room-like space.

    One thing I think is important is that it has clear markings to show the centre, so that it doesn’t become yet another piece of infrastructure made unusable for cyclists by sauntering pedestrians.

    1. Getting a bell on your bicycle should solve that problem.

      A group of pedestrians will often prefer to walk with as many abreast as the with of the path allows, but most will be courteous enough to make room to let you pass.

      1. Bells are notably ineffective on iPodestrians, who seem to make up about 70 percent of Auckland’s walking population. Most of them do move aside courteously enough once they realise you are there, but it gets awkward when someone is coming on a bike the other way.

        Maybe this is a self serving observation but it does feel like we are short on infrastructure in Auckland where bikes can safely move at a good pace. With the sole exception of Beach Road and (soon) Nelson Street, you’re either racing to keep ahead of and safe from motor traffic (on road), or slowing to the dawdle of the slowest walker (on a shared path). Perhaps it’s in the nature of good off-road bike infrastructure that it’s highly attractive to pedestrians too, so it might be an unsolvable problem.

      2. Cycle Action was keen for separation between bikes and peds, but we didn’t get it. I am still not convinced why (not even with paint). However, with 6m width, and relatively little cross-movement (there’s no side doors or shops on the ramp after all) in practice you should be able to go pretty fast as a cyclist without being rude or dangerous, even if pedestrian use is busier.

    1. Seeing that they are quite literally being added as artworks for city beautification, have fun doing a cost-benefit analysis on, say, the Wind Tree Sculpture in Wynyard Quarter, or the Suffragette Mural.

  2. Cycling Lane should be marked clearly right in the centre of the ramp. Pedestrian will most likely use the sides.
    Also at the entrance, place warning to stay to the side as much as possible.

    1. NZTA already have security camera coverage of the area (spaghetti junction) and will be installing more as part of the path works.

  3. Where are all those people moaning about how awful the high fences are? Maybe they should consider that there are some planners, architects etc involved with projects in this city who are competent and know what they are doing. I have nothing to do with this project but I think it looks great. Well done Auckland.

    1. We’re still here, we’re just not being dicks about it, … since that blog on cycle action that asked us not to be rude about it but instead to acknowledge all the hard work and engineering expertise that has gone into this.

      It’s a bit like when your aunt gives you a really expensive Christmas present that is not really what you wanted. You still say thank you and give her a hug even if you’d rather have had the cheaper more useful item.

  4. Auckland should start lighting up the harbour bridge permanently… the temporary lighting earlier this year was fantastic. It adds more to the Auckland night-light beauty.
    It be nice when SkyPath finally opens up… Plus this Ramp… Auckland will be the city of colours (Wishful thinking)

  5. I’ve stood on K’Rd and given it a good look and I still don’t like those high walls. I think this video may well bite them in the bum if it doesn’t look as fabulous in real life as projected here (seriously, all that was missing was a Unicorn galloping down the path in slow motion).
    I don’t think that cyclists have much to fear since the reality is that pedestrians will not use this, beyond the first summer opening months (out of curiosity), because there is no access stairwell from K’Rd. That said, I suspect a repaint to separate pedestrians and cyclists sometime in the future once that inevitable clash occurs. Which will in itself bring another debate: who dares to repaint a ‘Māori artwork’?

    1. Entrance to the Off-Ramp can be accessed from Canada St. Which is <200m from K'Road. I mean you gotta be lazy if you cant walk 200m.
      I do agree however on the pedestrian problem. That would soon end up in the 6pm News.

      1. I don’t think pedestrians will use it much. You’ll get the odd person going down for funsies or maybe joggers, but it’s not a useful pedestrian route.

      2. It’s not a matter of laziness; it’s often about time: 200m is a 2-minute walk. So if you have an alternative that saves you more time than detouring 200m, a pedestrian may well use it instead of this. Same reason why a pedestrian often won’t walk 100m to a crossing and back again if the direct route seems do-able.

    2. The bike volumes will be pretty low too, one per minute at the very most I’d have thought. I’m not being cynical, that would be far higher patronage than say the Grafton Gully cycle way. There’s going to be a lot more space than people and bikes!

      1. I agree Nick. That’s why I’ve always maintained that the most important point of this route is symbolic: The very image of people gliding through the CMJ on bicycles is potentially powerful as a sign of a changed emphasis for our transport agencies. And that is why I am disappointed by the scale and height of the barriers, as they may well undermine this message. This route is not there to serve a huge natural need, but simply because it the disused ramp was available which made it possible. It can’t possibly justify its cost on a ‘predict and provide’ basis; only on a ‘decide and provide’ one.

        It is serving the semiotics of transport not its practicalities.

        I applaud those who said; yes, let’s do it. I just worry there may be something of a missed opportunity in the detail of the execution. We will see.

  6. The random pedestrians in the pictures are accurate.
    There will also be dog walkers.
    As its greater than or equal to 4m wide it should have pianted cycle and pedestrian lanes as per ausroads standards.
    $14M could have been spent a bit more widely. A simple higher handrail on the existing bridge barriers would have been enough. The glass walls are OTT.

  7. I would prefer a few plants along the way. It feels too urban.

    A few seats and maybe a coffee booth would be good.
    Something like the downtown shopping centre overpass.

  8. I think its good it doesn’t have markings for cyclists – the proposal seems to be more about place making rather than an out and out transport link. They are seeking to make it destination in its own right, hence the lighting/ public art component. If the likes of children (who don’t often care for arbitrary lines) and the elderly are going to be encouraged to use it, I wouldn’t want a dedicated zone marked out for cyclists. It should work more like a shared space so if their are a reasonable number of pedestrians, cyclists should be forced slow down to avoid any conflicts with pedestrians rather than barrelling through – this is the same logic for the old mangere bridge design.

    1. Yes and no, it was developed and proposed as a cycling link and is being funded out of the urban cycleway fund budget which is specifically for developing cycling infrastructure and cycling as a mode of transport – it’s the increase in this that is being measured as whether this fund has been successful. We won’t be seeing an increase if all that are developed are shared paths on which cyclists are made to feel unwelcome al la Tamaki Drive.

  9. Artist impressions always look better. That’s the whole point. In reality it wont look like that. And I agree, the glass walls are totally OTT. Huge waste of capital and the maintenance costs will be horrendous. A simple rail would have been better and the millions saved could have been spent on more cycling infra elsewhere. Yes it is an important piece of infra, but I guess I’m one of those function before form types.

  10. Had a look at it yesterday as I drove past in my truck on my way to do some work up north. It actually looks quite good, and the glass walls should be effective and certainly look good. Certainly aesthetically more pleasing than the glass walls on the Grafton bridge, which were erected for a specific reason – not everyone is at peace with the world. And I am sure that cyclists and pedestrians can learn to live together, like they already do on the cycleway alongside the north western motorway.

  11. I can just see the expensive glass walls getting horribly tagged. Oh Well.
    I also though there would be more stuff there.
    The glass walls provide shelter, so why not a couple of park benches and a planter box? Then people would walk there just to sit and enjoy the view. Nice break for coffee, or after a run.

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