A good little piece of news from the government yesterday with Environment Minister Nick Smith giving requiring authority status to the NZTA for cycleways. As I understand it, previously the NZTA could only designate cycleways within their own state highway corridors while outside of that it was up to Auckland Transport or local councils to do the consenting. That can make consenting for many projects difficult and that’s before taking into account there are often only a few staff stretched across many projects. Now they’ll be able to (try) and designate cycleways anywhere.

Eastern Path Section 4
The Eastern Path will benefit from the NZTA now able to designate cycleways anywhere

The New Zealand Transport Agency’s (NZTA) application for requiring authority status under the Resource Management Act (RMA) has been approved by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith today.

“This approval will give NZTA requiring authority status under the Resource Management Act, so that it can apply to local authorities to set aside land specifically for cycleways and shared paths in the same way as it is already able to do for roads and motorways. It also enables NZTA to designate cycleway routes. The decision will better enable the Government to deliver on its ambitious plans of both safer and more convenient urban and rural cycleways,” Dr Smith says.

“The approval will make it quicker to construct, operate and maintain cycleways across the country, especially where they pass through different regions and land-use areas. This approval complements the initiative announced by the Prime Minister and Transport Minister Simon Bridges earlier this year, to invest $100 million in new funding for 18 urban cycleways. The requiring authority status is especially crucial for urban cycleways, as they can require access over hundreds of individual properties. Projects that will benefit from the approval is the Sea Path project on the North Shore, the Tamaki Drive cycleway and the Hutt Valley to Wellington cycleway.

“The significance of this decision is the Government affirming that cycleways, just like motorways, railways or transmissions lines and telecommunications cables are critical modern infrastructure in the 21st century.”

Today’s decision takes effect on 17 December.

The NZTA have been doing a fairly good job on cycling in recent years where they can and them being able to bring their power to bear outside of the state highway corridors can only be a good thing. Further with bike infrastructure now starting to get some meaningful funding from both central and local governments their expertise should be a welcome addition. Thanks Nick Smith

I wonder if there would be similar benefit in giving the NZTA the ability to designate rapid transit routes outside of state highways too.

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25 comments

  1. The Issue with NZTA dining this is who in NZTA is taking this roll .The man who took over from J.Towler.Came from Fulton Hogan .He has no formal training 8n this field. We will see that his loyalty to his past will so up in his roll .

  2. It might not seem like a big deal but it is actually a huge step forward. I tried to get Transit NZ to build a cyclelane and footpath alongside SH18 when they did the Notice of Requirement for the Greenhithe to SH1 section. They flatly refused. Eventually after pushing they told me they were prohibited paying for them by a Transfund NZ policy. When I asked who was stupid enough to write that policy they said “We did when Transit NZ included the Transfund function”. -I see people walking along the grass every week.

    1. I’ll bookmark this to link to next time someone calls you a right-wing petrolhead!

      Seriously, though, it is great to be reminded how far NZ’s transport agencies have come over the last decade.

  3. Maybe NZTA should give some of their dosh to the councils instead. We seem to have fantastic cycle lanes next to every motorway and nothing else. I use the south western every day and it’s great until I leave the cycle way and am pushed onto a blind corner of a busy road with no cycle lane. I think a bit of green paint everywhere would perform a much better job than spending lots of money next to motorways and none elsewhere.

      1. Yes they could build them anywhere in theory, but requiring authority status doesnt resolve the underlying land ownership issue. I wonder how interested NZTA will be in going down the PWA compulsory aquisition process to build a cycleway?

      2. But why are the NZTA building them instead of AT? Why have two organisations with different plans building different things? The only reason for the NZTA to build cycle lanes along suburban streets is because AT doesn’t have the money to build them! Why not solve that problem instead?

        1. in my mind there’s a more fundamental question here, why are NZTA involved in Auckland at all? to enable integrated planning of all transport systems in Auckland, why was AT not given a complete mandate when the amalgamation took place?

          motorways could still have been funded 100% and things like ramp metering could have been addressed in a holistic manner rather than “we’re looking after the motorway and are not concerned with the flow on effects on local roads”

        2. Simple issue of capacity. There’s only so much AT can do at once and the amount of work needed is more than that. By NZTA doing consenting on projects like GI to Tamaki Dr it means AT can work on other projects

  4. The first brochure for the three lane motorway construction is out for papakura to takanini and beyond.There is going to be cycle way from Papakura to Takanini along the western side of the motorway with links to Karaka shore, pahurehure inlet then conifer grove and wattle downs. A pedestrian cycle shared bridge. Awesome superhighway that seems to connect some nice recreational pathways. It just seems a shame that this can be built next to a motorway but we can’t get safe riding to the local primary school, shops or train station.

    1. No Auckland knowledge, but here at least it seems relatively easy to get a few, low%, extras added into a big project, where there is more of an acceptance of sorting out the whole corridor while you’re there. It can be relatively harder to get lower cost work done as a standalone project, where it’s fighting it out for funding on a long list of other small projects and personal preferences, and all the little anticipated hassles stand out as associated with the project itself rather than part of dealing with the area:- People can still see the value in principle, but it’s always easy to move the project and problems to “later years”.
      If this gives more direct ties/control between a long term strategy and getting works done on the ground it could help.

    2. I think that the proposed cycle way is a good idea. I think it will be a great addition to the area and make a nice addition to the Wattle downs cycleway (perhaps the wattle downs cycleway can then score higher than only the 10 best cycleway in Auckland).

      It would be nice if a cycleway between conifer grove and wattle downs could be built over the Manukau Golf Course once Fletcher builds the new houses there. Also having a cycle link alongside the papakura creek to te maha station might be useful. I haven’t seen the plans for the new cycleway could you tell me I can look at them?

      I’m not sure if wattle downs has a traffic problem….riding down those would be pretty safe….Its just riding though the Mahia Rd and Weymouth road intersections I’m not brave enough to try. I remember my old schools having bike sheds when I was young …but they all appear to have been demolished now.

  5. It wont actually make it faster to construct, the designation process isn’t any faster than a resource consent process – often its actually slower and in designating a site you generally have to address the mutlitude of land-use controls that apply to a site (even though the purpose of designations is to superceed them!). Plus requiring authority status doesnt exclude the requirement to seek regional consents, which in Auckland generally means any time you want to kick the dirt. A benefit might be in operation and maintenance, although one would think cycleways would generally be located in areas where they would already be considered ‘permitted activities’ hence no consent requirement anyway (excluding regional consents). Having experience in dealing with some in AC with respect to NZTA designations, they dont really seem to understand the purpose of designations so often you cant get things done any faster in any event.

    In my mind, the best part about this is about the intent it shows from government – I think this shows that cycling is an important part of our transport network and will be critical in addressing issues around congestion, emissions, pollution etc. and will help push it into the realm of main stream thinking with regards to transport for much of the public.

    1. It might not change the speed of how long it takes to consent but it does mean that if the NZTA are doing the consenting on projects like GI to Tamaki Dr that it means AT doesn’t have to, freeing them up to work on other projects.

  6. I wonder if this move will enable construction to advance on some of the national cycle trails where progress has been slow, i.e. the Twin Coast trail in Northland which has been very slow in development, possibly due to a lack of resourcing by FNDC

  7. “Environment” Minister Nick Smith will have seen the statistics on CO2 and methane to know we have no choice but to move to a more sustainable transport system, rail, trams, cycling and walking, no need for the car.

    At least Nick seems to be moving very slowly in the right direction.

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