Auckland’s newest and certainly it’s most colourful cycleway (so far) was officially opened today by Transport Minister Simon Bridges. And I must say, Simon gave a fantastic speech showing he gets it, talking up the environmental, health, congestion and economic benefits of investing in cycling – this view was reinforced in discussion with him later. Equally good were speeches from Councillor Chris Darby, Barbara from Bike Auckland and Ernst Zollner from the NZTA.


Here’s Simons speech

The new bridge connecting Canada St to the old offramp has been given the name of Te Ara I Whiti or the lightpath and combined is a fantastic addition to Auckland.

In what is probably another first for New Zealand, I also happened to witness the minister giving an interview to a journalist while he was riding a bike.

One of the most surprising things about the project is just how little time it has taken from inception to delivery. While the City Centre Master Plan from 2012 suggested making use of the disused motorway off-ramp for a New York High Line type development nothing was actively happening about it – it was one of those ethereal ideas that goes in documents but that rarely happen. Then just a little over 18 months ago Max from Bike Auckland wrote a blog post which we also published, suggesting a temporary bridge down from K Rd to access the old off-ramp linked to a cycleway down Nelson St.

Given how long and difficult so many projects are the idea was considered a bit of a pipe dream but to everyone’s amazement the NZTA, AT and the council picked up the idea and ran with it. There’s a bit more of Max talking about the project in this article.

Along the way it was decided to turn this project into more than just a cycleway but to make a statement – and boy does it with it’s striking magenta surface. But that’s not the only feature.

It turned out the option of a bridge from K Rd and some other locations just weren’t going to work and so in the end it was decided the best way to connect to was via a bridge from Canada St. The NZTA and their partners came up with a stunning design for it as Patrick highlighted the other day with the photo below showing the serpentine like structure.

Canada St Bridge_5179

Another feature is its interactive lighting that will not only change colour but follow people. Here’s a quick video and bit of PR from iion, the company behind the lighting.

Creative director David Hayes designed and developed software recognising cyclists and pedestrians as they cross the old Nelson St off-ramp. They will be followed by light, which symbolises the bridge as a sleeping creature who is woken by the people crossing it and wants to play.

The bridge has 4.2 billion colour combinations and minimises power when not in use thereby reducing electricity consumption and helps make this fantastic piece of public art into an eco-friendly masterpiece.

“Beyond the technical complexity of the installation, it’s a celebration of light and colour woven into the urban fabric of Auckland.

“The sheer length of the bridge created technical challenges – receiving then processing data in real-time to control 290 fixtures as a coordinated whole across 700m, not to mention having to walk the length of the bridge multiple times a day,” Mr Hayes said.

Managing Director Jonathan Wiseman said “Internationally these urban installations are where we are heading, having completed large scale projects internationally part of this happening in Auckland.”

And here’s a few photos of the cycleway lit up at night from reader Brett from a few nights ago.

Nelson St at Night - Brett - Blue

Nelson St at Night - Brett - Red

Nelson St at Night - Brett - Greejn

And the kowhaiwhai pattern that signifies the end the offramp.

Nelson St at Night - Brett - Kowhaiwhai

You may also want to watch this video on the team behind the design.

Nelson St design TVNZ On Demand

The bridge and off-ramp truly are stunning and will quickly become an icon. An ugly duckling bit of motorway detritus has become a glorious pink swan.

But it’s not just the old off-ramp that’s opened today. At the same time Auckland Transport’s contribution to the project has opened and has seen a two way cycleway created down the Western side of Nelson St as far as Victoria St. Nelson St must be one of the widest roads in Auckland yet surprisingly it doesn’t carry all that much traffic. It could afford to drop a lane or two.

Nelson St heads downhill as it flows north and one thing I was interested to find out was just how steep it was and whether it was something that regular people could do. In this regard it pleasantly surprised me. The section between Victoria St and Cook St is actually fairly flat while I personally found that the section south of Cook St up to the motorway wasn’t too much of an issue although I’m guessing some might get off and walk up hill (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

One interesting feature is that AT designed the cycleway a little wider between Wellesley and Victoria St which I understand is to provide space for rubbish bins so that trucks don’t have to block the lane. As they’ve done this without reducing the cycle lane it seems like a good bit of thinking from ATs engineers.

For both sections well done and thank you to all involved.

Of course the next stage the project will see the cycleway extended to Fanshawe St and the Waterfront. AT cosnsulted on this some weeks ago and AT are currently looking at the issues that were raised.

P.s. don’t forget there’s the first hoon that Bike Auckland have organised for 7:30 tonight.

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  1. “not to mention having to walk the length of the bridge multiple times a day,” Mr Hayes said”
    maybe cycle next time?

  2. Are there any decent maps showing how the cyclepaths currently connect?

    This weekend, would like to go for a cycle, but looking at Google Maps, I am really confused as to how going from Canada street connects to Nelson St and/or the other cycleways. Coming from the shore, I am supposed to cycle up Queen St and down Nelson?

    One good/bad thing is that the relatively rapid progress on cycleways/bridges and renaming things, means that lots of online resources are out of date. Or have lovely photos of a beautiful bridges without any maps showing where they start and end.

    Still, exciting times; buying wife a new bike for Xmas so can fit in some cycling between exploring cafes over summer.

    1. I would have thought up Nelson, along the new bridge to Canada St, then down Grafton Gully & Beach Road back to the waterfront. Or do it all in the other direction, but I suspect Grafton Gully is steeper than Nelson St.

      The only non-cycleway bit currently would be waterfront to start of the cycleway at Victoria St.

    2. I agree – NZTA does not have any decent map showing where it starts, finishes, and how to connect to the Grafton Gully path.

      I am wanting to do it with the little ones when my bike is ready – is it easier (downhill) to start from Nelson St and go towards Canada St?

  3. Great blog Matt, as always. And thanks for all the work you and TB have done for cycling yourself.

    I couldn’t make this morning – folded a bit overnight after a horribly busy November – but I’ll get my first ride tonight.

    Lightpath, eh? Yes that could really catch on.

  4. This is going to become an iconic tourist spot. People will love taking photos here. I personally love how the lights and the pink reflect on the glass. The whole thing reminds me of the Fushimi Inari-taishai Shrine in Kyoto.

      1. Or the ‘tunnel of lights’ effect created by the Christmas lights around the Marunouchi business district by Tokyo Station.

        But we get to enjoy the Lightpath all year round!

  5. Why oh why would you paint this path such an offensive colour?

    Should have been painted cycle path green or better still not coloured at all.

    Who comes up with this stuff?

    1. Lol. TRM, are you as miserable in real life as your portray yourself to be on this blog? Surely not…. 😉

      While there is an argument it *could* have been green as per the rest of the cycle network, that magenta really stands out amongst a sea of grey concrete. Its awesome.

    2. I’m not fond of the colour but I don’t care too much and it will probably fade with time. Besides, it is something different from the bleak concrete grey that dominates everything around it.

      Very few people other than Superman or people in Skytower will actually see it ,so it is hardly offensive. If it were the Skytower or the harbour bridge that were that colour would be a different matter entirely. You could sue for environmental pollution.

    3. Funny how the usual “anti” brigade don’t like the colour… [This comment has been lightly edited as it made a personal remark about a specific commenter.]

      1. rode it this morning and the glare from the pink is full on, will remember sunglasses next time! looks great but 1 day in its already scuffed and marked

  6. Must be pretty cool to have new stuff and projects and announcements and just, you know, a future, to look forward to….

  7. LightPath. This is going to be the next big tourist attraction in Auckland. Add on SkyPath and SeaPath. I can’t wait for what the future holds for Auckland. We are heading the right path with this matter.

    Also it would be really nice if LightPath, SkyPath and Sky Tower all do some synchronise lighting show with music maybe. I would pay to see that.

    1. Yes, it will be interesting to see how many tourists wander up some of the way to get some views.

      Hopefully they will do something equally innovating with the Harbour Bridge lighting once SkyPath is implemented. Its pretty boring now.

        1. No, has lighting, able to display patterns and colours as well. Just some more restrictive rules where it comes close to residences, which is fair enough.

      1. Actually, and I’m not being at all negative about the project here, but in my view this route will work brilliantly and best as an image, rather than as an experience. The idea and image of the route, in all it’s transgressive colour, is powerful and seductive. The ride is fun, largely not of huge utility, and the ambience is very ‘in the motorway’.

        But the images! Pictures are already flying around the world, helping to change Auckland’s place in the rank of cities doing things differently, adapting to this century, moving fast, getting it right.

        This project is all about the semiotics rather than the sensible.

        SkyPath will do that too, but will also be an extremely useful route and stunning experience….

        [discuss 600 words…]

        1. If not nothing else, it will mean more and more people are saying they want more of the same, when they start to realise what a difference full separation makes.

          You only have to see how many people are letting their children ride on the new route to appreciate the impact.

  8. Wasn’t part of the plan to have some greenery and vegetation installed or am I simply recalling an earlier artist’s rendition?

    Would quite like to see some shrubbery here and there. Perhaps even some grassy areas (or even seats!) at the spots where tourists and photo seekers are most likely to linger.

  9. One of your best posts Matt and that’s saying something. Thank you!

    I cannot believe how quickly it has become reality

  10. Those poor cyclists with disabilities such as not being able to cycle along roads by themselves. Why not design a pathway to carry them on clouds and rock them to sleep. Sure we have the money, just cancel that facility for the disabled thing, no one needs that. In fact the disabled should really just f off. It would make the city look so much prettier with just sporty and athletic people able to get around.

    1. Ah, the same complaint I found over on the Newton Road thread at Bike Auckland. Same answer applies here as there – these projects cost peanuts relative to any other transport spend, and they will more than pay for themselves over time in encouraging more people to be more active, reducing healthcare costs related to inactivity, and freeing up more money for all kinds of other healthcare spending.

      The Nelson Street and Canada Street upgrades have cost $18 million upfront for something that will last decades – split it up over the years and it’s a rounding error. By contrast, cancelling just a couple of the most wasteful current motorway projects would pay for decades of improved disability spending and more besides – so why not write letters and emails and direct your ire / attention that way (if you don’t already do so), instead of towards these relatively tiny and very worthwhile projects?

      Otherwise, if it’s all about some tiny changes to your regularly used city street (creating maybe ~30 seconds extra length in your morning/afternoon commute), I suggest you follow NZTA’s example, build a bridge, and get over it…

      1. Do they reduce healthcare costs when someone loses work due to lack of access? Or how about when real physical damage is done due to that loss when just trying to get by to live? That was last week 3 falls directly due to the Nelson Street cycle way. With a current loss of two days of work and more to come. How much does it cost a cyclist to use a footpath? Peanuts indeed. Our blood gets spilled so a cyclist can boost their times. There is real damage being done by the cycleway and unfortunately the rich using it are not paying for it. Tolls, the cycleways installed should have tolls. In reality this is something that has caused damage and depression to the weak in society, those unable to cycle, run, go to a gym or afford not to work. Those on the high suicide risk.

        1. I think that you’re confusing personal costs and societal costs. I doubt any contributor to this blog would not regret any damage/injury etc. caused to individuals through thoughtless/careless/negligent/accidental use of any transport infrastructure in any shape or form.

          But the reality is that there are global society wide benefits from having active, healthy citizens, particularly among the older population.

        2. You must be confusing the point of infrastructure. That people can use it and that it does not harm any of those people. If a local government building had walls fall on people, or did not let a race of people in you would rightly question it’s facility. That the infrastructure is poorly designed to cause harm is a serious failing. You are also blinding associating cycling with health benefits for people who cannot walk unaided. One might say that is a bad assumption. It also is a bad assumption that by people using the lane that it automatically improves the lives for everyone especially the disabled in the area. Because in reality it makes it much worse. A benefit for a few with a high degree of already accessible and affluent lives to the many who do not have that facility or accessibility. Take the example of a disabled man falling outside the gym not 1min away. He may cry out for help. Struggle and continuously fall back to the ground in pain. He will be abused, ignored and hit by more than 30 gym goers. It is his fault after all for being outside. He will be afraid to ever try to come outside again. That is the society you breed. That is what this cycleway has aggravated and repeated last week. What is blindly assumed is that through ignorance and poor design the damage is not being done simply because the elite laud the money spent on their 10cm drop and 30 sec speed boost. Really it has turned the street into a dead zone for those at the most risk because no one ever thinks that they might need that minimal accessibility to live.

        3. I’ve read DBI’s comment 3 times and still have no idea WTF he’s talking about. Anywayyyyyyyyyyy ….

  11. “It turned out the option of a bridge from K Rd and some other locations just weren’t going to work and so in the end it was decided the best way to connect to was via a bridge from Canada St.”

    Fair enough, but is there any opportunity for a pedestrian stairwell on K’Rd? There is a patch of green space between the old Rising Sun (now about to be a restaurant) that might be a good spot to place one. Given the number of new eating establishments opening up on K’Rd it would be good if the Cycleway (which is also a walkway) was more connected to where people wanted to go.

    There’s probably room enough on that green space too to have bike racks so cyclists can stop for a bite as well.

    1. From memory that land [accessed off Day St] is privately owned and the owners weren’t keen on allowing cyclists and walkers to use it.

      Short [term] answer is therefore no. Long term, maybe.

      1. Bugger!
        I saw they’re building an apartment behind the old Rising Sun but there was nothing indicating any work in that spot. I can’t imagine the council spending any money to buy that small patch…

    2. The “green space” is owned by NZTA so there could still be an access via that one day but it wasn’t the first choice in the end…

    3. I walked it this afternoon and I think it will be a great asset for cyclists, but it’s not really going to be of much use to pedestrians. (It’s certainly no Highline, nor was it meant to be). *If* they ever decide to add a stairwell (with a small footbridge connecting) for pedestrians, I’d imagine it would go here:

      But it”s more likely NZTA (if they do own it) will sell the land to the adjoining landowner, because that’s how we roll in NZ.

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