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.
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.
And the kowhaiwhai pattern that signifies the end the offramp.
You may also want to watch this video on the team behind the design.
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.