This is the second in a series of posts reviewing the year that has been. Part one reviewed public transport.

I think we can unequivocally say that 2015 was the best year ever for cycling in Auckland and NZ. Here’s why

Funding

There has been a step change in the level of funding for walking and cycling projects this year at both a local and national level.

The government came through on its election promise and started the Urban Cycleway Fund (UCF) – adding an extra $100 million to go towards cycle infrastructure over three years which is on top of what the NZTA and councils invest. Council’s and the NZTA have also increasing their funding substantially to take advantage of the government money and invest further beyond that.

In Auckland the council introduced an interim transport levy to rates substantially increasing investment in a number of areas with cycling one of the big beneficiaries. It increased council spending on cycling from $14 million to $124 million and together with the NZTA and the UCF there will be more than $200 million in investment in cycling in the region over the three years from July 2015. That is also outside money spent on cycling as part of road projects. To put things in perspective, in the 2014/15 year around $32.5 million was spent on dedicated walking and cycling projects in Auckland and prior to that the highest spent was around $17.7 million in 2009/10.

Auckland urbancycleways map 2015-18

Nelson St Cycleway

We ended the year with the opening of the fantastic Nelson St cycleway and Te Ara I Whiti – Lightpath. The cycleway down Nelson St is a welcome addition to what was previously a traffic sewer that only the bravest person on a bike would attempt but is now safe for people of all ages.

Kids using Nelson St

At the southern end the marvellous magenta surface of the old motorway off-ramp and light walls have created a statement that we’re starting to get serious about cycling and making our urban environment more fun.

LightPath - Vaughn Davis
photo by Vaughn Davis

We’re still waiting to hear from Auckland Transport on their plans for stage 2 which will extend the cycleway to Quay St. AT are re-examining their proposal to see if they can keep the cycleway on the western side of Nelson St rather than the unfriendly route they proposed.

Westhaven Promenade

It’s easy to forget that the Westhaven Promenade is less than a year old – only opening in February. It’s a fantastic facility that really enhances this area of waterfront.

Westhaven Boardwalk_02

Riding along Westhaven leads you to the foot of the harbour bridge and is just calling for a way to get over the harbour by bike, conveniently leading to ….

Skypath

Submissions on the consent for Skypath closed just after the start of the year and after hearings the independent commissioners granted resource consent for Skypath in July. The commissioners were very clear in their decision as to how positive this would be for Auckland. As expected a small number of residents in Northcote Point appealed the consent and the issue is currently before the environment court. We will get a final decision in 2016.

Skypath Consent - From Westhaven

Beach Rd stage 2

In September stage 2 of the Beach Rd cycleway opened, extending it from Mahuhu Cres to Britomart Pl. The extension wasn’t just a cycleway but also a big improvement for walking too with upgraded footpaths, planting and other features. Sadly the design of the cycleway hasn’t been ideal and as it looks like a footpath and as such it is often impossible to ride along without encountering people walking down it – often in groups blocking the way.

Carlton Gore Cycleway

In March, Auckland Transport confirmed they would build cycle lanes on Carlton Gore Rd – some parts of which would be protected. This was built and completed in the middle of the year. There have been a few issues with the lanes – especially from people parking over them and it will be interesting to see if this changes over the coming year.

Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr Cycleway

The first stage of the Eastern Path kicked off in October which will see a path built from Merton Rd to St Johns Rd. It is due to be completed late next year. Stages 2 and 3 are also due to kick off next year.

Sections of the Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive shared path 1

Quay St Consultation

AT launched consultation for a cycleway along Quay St from the intersection with Lower Hobson St through to Plumber St. The current shared path between Lower Hobson St and the Ferry Terminal is possibly the busiest route in Auckland for bikes right now and separating cyclists out from people strolling will be good for everyone. Unlike many other cycleways this change is a bit more temporary, possibly only in place for a decade until a full upgrade of Quay St occurs (can’t happen until the CRL is finished). Once AT confirm it in the new year it is likely to be built fairly quickly, probably completed by the middle of 2016.

Quay St Cycleway - Along Quay St

Old Mangere Bridge replacement

The NZTA have confirmed their design to replace the Old Mangere Bridge which doesn’t have much life left. They have applied for consent and we should hear more about it in 2016

New Mangere Bridge - NW

Franklin Rd

Plans for Franklin Rd have changed a lot over the year, at one point they weren’t proposing any cycle infrastructure at all. In November they came up with the latest round of ideas including one which would see Copenhagen style lanes added and protected by parking. Unfortunately earlier this month they finally confirmed they will only go for painted cycle lanes which even they admit is only use to confident cyclists.

Franklin Rd - October 2015 -revised option 1

Yellow Lined cycleways

While protected cycleways are what we should be striving for, the city already has a number of painted cycle lanes that are often abused by drivers who would park in the lanes. The problem is that many people don’t realise that parking in a cycle lane is illegal and so assume that if there are no yellow lines that they can park. This was particularly bad in places where AT had installed new cycle lanes and one such case is a road I use to get to work – Upper Harbour Dr – which had been made less safe as AT removed the existing yellow lines to put the cycleway in resulting in people parking on the road when they didn’t beforehand. AT had taken the stance that as the cycleway was marked they didn’t need broken yellow lines to say no parking. As you can see people simply ignored the cycleway markings.

Upper Harbour Cars Parked - 6

My post and similar ones from our friends at Bike Auckland prompted a meeting with AT and around a month later they changed their policy and will be putting yellow lines in all painted cycleways – although it will take time. I can confirm that the Upper Harbour cycleway has had them installed and since then the issue of cars parked in the cycle lanes has disappeared.

NZTA to consent cycleways

While a fairly minor change, one likely to have quite a lot of impact going forward is the government giving the NZTA the ability to consent cycleways. Previously they were only able to if the cycleway was within a State Highway designation. They’ve already said this ability will be used for projects such as Seapath and the Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr path.

Island Bay cycleway

In Wellington work has started and progressed well on the Island Bay cycleway which is seeing a parking protected cycleway added to the Parade despite huge noise and scaremongering by a small section of the community. The project will be completed in 2016 but the parts already built look great so far.

More people on bikes

AT have a number of sites that automatically count the number of people on bikes. They currently only publicly report on nine sites across Auckland as those are the ones they have the longest series of data for but they are showing some decent growth over the last few years, especially in the AM peak. One of the issues with such a limited number of sites is that increases in cycling may is quite possibly coming from areas where people aren’t being counted. All new cycleways seem to be having counters installed so hopefully in the future we’ll have a better picture of the changes that are occurring.

Nov-15 Auckland Cycling Numbers - Total

Nov-15 Auckland Cycling Numbers - AM Peak

Anything you think I’ve missed from my round up?

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42 comments

  1. If the government is to take climate change seriously it needs to prioritize cycling at the expense of road transport. but doubt it would be a election winner, even neighbors with water problems this early still think the car is a necessity I did point out it wasn’t when the cycle was king, we’ve been growing fruit and vegetables on this property for 37 yrs and never seen it dry this early or as hot, just because other counties are late to the war doesn’t mean we have to be, and this one needs winning but best we can hope for is limit the damage.

    1. +1. The issue is urgent, and of our biggest emission sources, transport is by far the easiest to address. Prioritising cycling (plus walking and PT) and deprioritising car use is a no-brainer.

      On a related note: the embodied energy in a RoNS or a project like the East-West Link must be massive, and all to encourage the burning of more fossil fuels…

  2. Regarding Beach Road Cycle-way… nothing a bit of green paint wouldn’t solve (with a pedestrian symbol with a big red stripe through it).

    1. Yes, agreed. People understand the green grit media on cycle paths means bikes only and having some more signage would definitely help.
      I think as the cycle lane usage goes up, it will be a bit less of an issue as pedestrians will quickly get out of the way if a steady stream of cyclists keeps coming at them.

  3. That map of urban cycle ways funded projects does not show an accurate route for the cycle way down Oakley creek past waterview. The actual path is further east through Unitec and is nowhere near as straight.
    Also interesting that bus lanes are being called cycle ways, even when they are not continuous e.g. Gt Nth Rd from Chinamans hill to western springs
    I’d very much like to see provisional dates for all the post 2018 cycle ways, a couple of those would be very useful. The pink path adds 1.5km and 10mins to my commute each way, so I won’t be using it. If it had connected to Newton Rd it would have been better.

    1. Yes, some of the existing cycleways are anything but…
      It shows cycle lanes down the length of Dominion Road. I’m not sure in who’s reality that is the case!

  4. Do you know if there’s much / anything planned outside of central Auckland? Wanted to bike out east to Maraetai at the weekend, took a drive through the would-be route and decided against it on the basis that getting through from South Central out east is basically heavily trafficked multi-laned highways (Sylvia Park, Te Irirangi Drive / Botany etc etc) with very little or no safe passage for cyclists. Sure that’s a fringe use-case, but curious to know what the plans are beyond central.

    1. Agreed, Great South Road between Penrose and Otahuhu is a disgrace, only “infrastructure” is the footpath marked as a shared path on the bridge over the railway lines.

      A safe path out of the isthmus starting from the Church St – Gt South Road interchange, could be to take the cycle path along the South Eastern Hwy to Sylvia Park, Make your way through Sylvia park to Carbine Rd. travel south along Carbine Rd, Panama Rd through the suburbs to Mt Wellington/Meadow St travel south and over the pedestrian bridge into Church St. Make your way through Otahuhu to Trenwith St, Frank Grey Pl onto Curley Bay Rd and then south along a Motorway cycle path to Highbrook Dr. Highbrook Dr will take you out east.

      When cycling in the morning around Highbrook Dr I’ve noticed most of the cyclists use the footpath (part of which is a shared path, but not the bit towards the east through the business park), It really should be a shared path. I haven’t ventured further east than Highbrook but I’d like to. I always see cyclists when I go out, so I imagine there is probably some latent demand.

    2. The focus has been on the city as that is where there is expected to be the highest uptake and therefore the best return on investment. I’d expect that if successful we’ll see it carried on and the next tier of projects won’t be so central.

      1. You would hope so! There is a general feeling around Greater Auckland that all the money is going into the old Auckland City. Of course central areas have the most benefit and CRL will benefit the entire network (and allow for airport and North Shore rail).

        Penlink will be a good 10km of bike lanes (or 25km if built all the way along its length).

      2. It does make sense to do things where there is most demand.

        However, people outside the central area are rightly concerned when they see large investments of resources into the central city and its surrounds, and see very little in their area.

        I don’t think it’s a matter of one or the other, but a balanced investment approach would see better buy-in and support from the people of Auckland.

        1. A ‘balanced’ approach of a bit of a cycle lane here, a shared path there scattered across the Auckland region has been what the council has done to date – leaving a disjointed network that doesn’t connect and attracts no one that doesn’t already cycle. As people say, anything is only as good as its weakest link and a cycle lane that ends on a typical Auckland arterial isn’t appealing to anyone. The intention is to focus on one area, with the highest existing and latent cycling (further the population density in the city now and in the future is already very high) and build an actual network of lanes. Unfortunately even if this is a step change in funding it’s still not enough to canvas the city with protected lanes…

          1. I’m 100 percent with George D and Bruce on this one. One of the fears when creating one Auckland Council was that it would lead to a rates hi-jack by the old Auckland Council, and that is what we are seeing, especially in public transport investment and subsidies. It’s not just cycle lanes – whether it’s the new bus network, new train lines and stations, light rail, shared spaces, event travel, subsidised fares, even fare integration, there’s a consistent pattern of AT wanting to provide a lavish service to the old Auckland Council region and leaving little to nothing for the rest of Auckland.

            We’ve actually gone backwards with fare integration. We used to have an integrated weekly pass (bus/ferry/train) called the Northern Pass. AT canned it, promising that integrated fares would be so much better, but here we are still waiting and having to pay double the fares that central users have to pay, more in fact because we are stuck with having to change modes for nearly every trip. We were better off with the old North Shore Council, which got the busway built.

            Above all else, I want to a better sense of fairness from AT this year – a recognition that all of Auckland is paying for them and that the appetite for improved public transport is not just in the centre,

          2. Sorry I don’t buy that argument. The New Network is region wide, it’s being rolled out in the hibiscus coast and the south first. The rail station upgrade has upgraded almost every single station in the region, quite a bit of money is going in to papakura and pukekohe, much more than say meadow bank which has an ancient rickety footbridge. Hop is a region wide success, and the biggest service increases have happened on the northern busway. I mean it runs every five minutes across the day, and goes as late as 3am unlike untying else.

            However I don’t deny the centre of the region gets a larger focus and a larger spend, but that is only fair. The simple fact is that’s where the greatest density of people live and furthermore it’s where a lot of people from across the region end up. More people live on the isthmus that the North Shore and West Auckland put together. Furthermore, over a quarter million people visit the CBD each day on a typical weekday for various reasons. The investment has to go where the usage is, where the problems are, where it will work. We could spend a billion dollars on a light rail line from Howick to Manukau (for example, as others have suggested), but there is no pressing need there (unlike the isthmus where buses every two minutes are bursting full). Or the city could spend the same money on the isthmus lines and carry literally twenty times the number of people for the same buck.

            If you expect the Shore to get the same as the isthmus, they youre really asking for peole on the shore to get two or three times their fair share. The idea that every arbitrary part of the region should get the same isnt fairness, its quite the opposite.

    3. the top map shows funded projects as distinct from planned projects, can’t talk about the West, but I know that there’s significant work planned in Northcote to support Skypath

      however travelling down Nelson St and along Quay/Tamaki Drive on Monday, I must have seen over 40 cyclists, many in the City and Tamaki Dr MAMILS a distinct minority

  5. Missing from this list: has there been any progress with the Mangere streetscape upgrade program? I was last there in November, and didn’t see anything.

        1. The first thing that springs to my mind when looking at these pictures of Pershore Place and Windrush Close is “do we need a cycle path there?”. Both will be cul-de-sacs when the project is finished. If cyclists need protected infrastructure even on a street like that we have much worse problems than a lack of cycle lanes.

          And 3 metres ought to be wide enough for a shared path, at least outside the town centres. But we have to figure out how to build one which doesn’t stop and start at every intersection.

  6. It’s not just Auckland and Wellington that have major cycle projects in the pipeline. In Christchurch, we have had;

    Finished this year:

    -Matai St East cycleway
    -Tuam St cycleway
    -Colombo St cycleway
    -Hagley Park (South) shared pathway
    -Grassmere-Rutland St shared pathway

    Consultation finished:

    -Papanui Parallel cycleway
    -Little River Link cycleway
    -St Asaph St cycleway
    -CBD-Linwood cycleway

    I know Wellington is considered NZ’s ‘second city,’ but in this context of active transport projects, CHCH by far surpasses Wellington in the number of projects.

  7. Why is this post titled “Walking and cycling” when really it’s only about cycling?

    Also, the Island Bay cycleway is lovely – except if you’re a parent unloading small children from your car, and now do not have a safe “pedestrian” side to do it from. So it’s a fail, I’m afraid.

    1. You have a marked door zone for unloading from cars. This is next to a 2m-wide cycleway, which is mostly only going to have single-file riders (and relatively few of them at times, for now). And there is a normal footpath for waiting as well. Coupled with the fact that every rider I’ve ever known wouldn’t want to bowl over a kid and would ride accordingly. Really, I don’t see the problem (and I had four kids under five one time).

    2. People riding are well used to watching for car doors that might open, since the usual state of affairs is that they might tip us under a bus. We’ll easily see the small children exiting the car and take extra care. And isn’t it nice to think that the children will have somewhere safe to ride when they get a bit older?

  8. Can we make 2016 the year of a true change in culture? Because for all the achievements, we’re not changing the issue: fundamental culture. Some may think me (and others) negative on the shiny new stuff built this year, and while i’m certainly looking forward to riding on it when I come home next year, I feel like we’re going about everything in the wrong way, including advocacy.

    I think it needs to be looked at more holistically, from first principles and in a way that will actually influence culture, cyclists being outsiders and perception from other parts of the population. My Manifesto:

    * Create a culture of cycling in local communities, everyday New Zealanders – we know the roads are wide enough. I don’t mean local action groups (though good on them!), I mean the city itself needs to do this, otherwise we’re pissing into the wind. Bike lanes, kids getting to school, biking to shops. Pick some suitable suburbs (because not all are) and do it, ask for volunteers. Show it off. Get ‘everyday’ advocates (cyclists are ‘the liberal left’, which is largely true – flip that on it’s head).

    * New Builds. We know how to do this right, now make bike infra and walk-ability mandatory. No more cul-de-sacs. Insistence on ‘third places’. If we’re going to sprawl, lets at least reduce dependency on cars for local trips and make those areas more human scale.

    * Cycling is not about commuting and commuters. No more bike highways (unless they run along highway!) Every cycling project should be considered as a method to achieve every human activity, not just coming from somewhere else to something else. The ‘in-between’ is the important part, as the in-between is a destination. At the moment we are only building for destinations, but EVERYTHING is a destination. With this view, Beach Road, Grafton Gulley, Nelson Street/Lightpath Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr and Westhaven are all failures. Carlton Gore for all it’s faults and detractors (I will admin, I’ve not used it or seen it enough) at least gives access to both sides of the road! This means bidirectional lanes only when it makes sense. This means intersection design at every intersection. This means creating cycling places, not cycling bypasses.

    * Honesty about reasons for cycling. Biking is not exercise any more than walking is (and if you disagree we’re not advocating for the same type of cycling). If you don’t cycle 45 minutes to work now you probably never will. I’ve gained weight since moving to Amsterdam and have lost all my Vancouver (hill) fitness entirely. Barely anyone cycles to work to (Legitimately) save the environment – if you do I hope that bike is bought (at least) second hand and you haven’t been on an aeroplane for a holiday recently etc… Cycling is about efficient use of space, as is public transport. These are rational solutions to problems of limited space – nothing more. If you argue it any other way you will lose, as people respond to incentives, not doing the right thing or emotive feelings of freedom.

    * Helmet law must be repealed or adjusted. I’d accept requiring helmets when not riding on shared spaces/separated bike infra, or an official statement from NZP that they will only use the law (and others) under the intent of public safety/having a law to punish nuisance/dangerous riders. I will continue to ride without a helmet regardless – if I feel so unsafe that I feel a helmet is necessary then I will not ride there.

    * Transit integration as a fundamental, not an afterthought. Enough bike racks, safe access to and from neighbouring suburbs, charging to park a car. Bike racks on busses (not everyone has the luxury of using trains)

    * How ‘we’ look from the outside is not improving, perhaps the opposite. Retiring specific terms such as quaxing etc need to happen, unless you want to create and permeate the view that we’re a club of outsiders with our own secret lingo and insider knowledge. Friding? Kill it – riding a bike is for every day and every occasion, not some special activity. Advocates should not be bicycle fans that are enthusiastic about anything to do with bicycles regardless of practicality or utility. Rationality must be presented above fan-ism.

    I don’t know what else we can do, but that feels like a start. We’ve not started – we’ve skipped all these steps and the wider public has reacted as expected, because they are not ‘us’ and we are not ‘them’. We know what the end result is because we see it other places, but we ignore how it got to the current place.

    Connecting the dots:
    1. Facilitate cycling within local ‘communities’ – make it a way of life – short trips by bike instead of car and linking in with rapid transit
    2. More users, more like minds, less tolerance for dangerous drivers and improper road space allocation
    3. Connect ‘communities’ together – longer routes to allow inter ‘community’ cycling and getting to further afield stores and places or work
    4. Where we are now – big budget pink bridges, cycling across the harbour bridge, prominent waters edge cycle-ways and recreation areas
    5. Iteration and improvements

    I’d like to reiterate that I appreciate and congratulate all involved parties – TransportBlog, CAA/BikeAkl, Local community groups and individuals – we’d have nothing otherwise I suspect. I’m not calling anyone out. I feel like you’ve raised enough awareness to perhaps make my manifesto a political reality. Maybe we need a big pink bridge to prove we have the political capital. But we have to address the fundamentals.

    1. “Fundamental culture” is the hardest thing to change, and focusing on this will just result in trench warfare. Although it’s frustrating I think the winning strategy is to gradually isolate opposition by picking winnable battles. The campaigners here appear to have the advantage because they’re surveying the entire theatre, while the opposition is often only focused on their own local street.

      1. A related point is to “show, don’t tell”. So sometimes we really just need to go ahead with things despite opposition. The cycle lane on Hobson Street was no exception.

    2. Agree with some of your points- mandatory helmet law should be repealed for all circumstances and all ages bar racing, kids cycling to school and transit integration.

      I do think your being needlessly negative though and missing the point. Fundamental culture change in places like The Netherlands and Denmark went hand-in-hand with infrastructure development. And these countries are not averse to building their own OTT dick-swinging cycling facilities- plenty of snakey bridges and fancy-schmancy elevated roundabouts. Sure, the local infrastructure needs to follow on in Auckland, and it will.

      And cycle commuting, while not the be-all and end-all, has still to be a major concern, just like roads are engineered for the am and pm peaks.
      You’ll never cycle 45 mins to work if you don’t already? I disagree- I think plenty more will if they have access to safe separated cycleways for most of their trip.

      A cycling culture change will only happen by people actually cycling, and they will only do that as the infrastructure is built.

      1. Torken Faddy,

        >> Fundamental culture change in places like The Netherlands and Denmark went hand-in-hand with infrastructure development. And these countries are not averse to building their own OTT dick-swinging cycling facilities- plenty of snakey bridges and fancy-schmancy elevated roundabouts. Sure, the local infrastructure needs to follow on in Auckland, and it will.

        There are two points of difference between them and us:

        1) Historically, the Dutch and Danes built local facilities first — much of it in a short span of time, a long time ago — and only decades later followed it with conspicuous optimisations (bridges and bypasses) and grandiose architectural statements (snakey bridges, waterfront promenades). In the intervening time, they iterated on existing network sections with increasing levels of upgrades, including grade separation (mostly underpasses), intersection rebuilds, unravelling routes, etc. This is a common-sense blueprint for developing such a complex system — only a certain strain of engineers, advocates and politicians seem to think otherwise.

        2) There is a fundamental logic to the Dutch and Danes building “dick-swinging” & “fancy-schmancy” facilities. The cycle snake, for example, is a proper network optimisation: it expands capacity where a large threshold of demand has already been reached, and it connects two points across a legitimate geographical barrier. Contrast this with Auckland’s Lightpath, which parallels a barrier (i.e. does not cross it), takes the long way around from origin to destination, and both origin and destination are junkspace disconnected from the front doors where unmet demand really lives. There is a kind of internal logic to it (i.e. build by the motorway), but this is nothing at all like the Europeans’ proven approach.

        1. The difference I would see between here and The Netherlands is that the cycling mode share never dropped below a crucial threshold there. I completely agree that suburban and local routes and networks are the ideal, but I don’t agree that the focus should (at least initially) be completely on these. You only have to look at the Island Bay cycleway here in Wellington, and the completely OTT opposition and political point-scoring surrounding it to see how difficult it would be- this in a city and suburb with a much bigger percentage of cyclists than anywhere in Auckland. Until the bums-on-bikes exceeds a certain percentage, you’re going to be on a hiding to nothing pushing for suburban routes- and commuting cyclists are going to be a big percentage of getting the numbers up.

          Statements like “Cycling is not about commuting and commuters” are not helpful (unless you missed a ‘just’ there!)- cycling is as much about commuting as it is about local trips, sports, recreation, school commutes etc etc.

          1. Torken Faddy,

            Given that supply controls demand (and not the other way around), then the most you could say is that the Dutch etc never lost their sweet medieval street grid which is the primary factor for enabling mass urban cycling. They did give up space/priority to cars in cross-sections and intersections and built motorways outside the old town quarters, so bike numbers inevitably dropped, but they never went full cul-de-sac the way we in the New World did. That’s also why a cycling recovery was perhaps easier for them, as they were working upon a solid infrastructural platform, whereas we would have to rethink the shape of our street networks as a first step.

            But the bums-on-bikes argument certainly holds no water. Build the right network, and there will be more bums on bikes. Build the wrong stuff, and there will be fewer of them. Waiting for a trickle of new riders before building the necessary infrastructure is like waiting for water to flow before opening a tap.

            Opposition to projects like the Island Bay cycleway can be addressed in other ways:

            * One is to note that even though Island Bay is a worthwhile project for everyone, it does nothing to advertise itself to the non-cycling populace as something relevant to their interests. Rolling out a different geometry (a green carpet up to many more front doors in a grid) would begin to show its relevance to the greatest number of people in the area. When there are zero barriers to picking up the rusty bike in the shed and pootling to the school, shops or transit stop, then your non-cycling neighbours will start counting its benefits. Some may still oppose it, but at least you’ll start to build a local constituency beyond the cycle advocacy bubble — like the Dutch had.

            * Another angle is to develop area transport plans, including features for transit and motoring (even it basically limits car priority!) as well as cycle improvements. We traditionally only install cycleways according to corridor plans or similar linear-thinking, mono-modal instruments. A comprehensive plan would allow allied interests to pitch in together — especially non-cycling transit users, local walking & disability concerns, children, schools, etc — and so you can find wider support for the diversity of changes needed to improve conditions for cycling, rather than framing it as a yes/no question about a specific linear cross-section. Such a plan could include, for instance, car parking space optimisation, where we would otherwise feel a need to compromise cycle infrastructure quality so car parking is left untouched.

            * And finally, you can expand buy-in using temporary trials (limited in space and/or time and/or material permanence). Asking non-cycling locals to commit to a seemingly high-cost transaction in its entirety, up-front, is obviously fraught. Asking them to commit to a 6-month experiment using road cones or something like that is much easier. Measure the pre- and post-conditions, demonstrate benefits, allay fears, let people fall in love with it, and only then make your cycleway or whatever a permanent structure.

            The basic point is simple: we get what we build for. So let’s plan and build the right stuff, to let the greatest numbers of people ride bicycles. Why wait?

          2. James,

            The question isn’t whether Aucklanders will cycle en masse, but when and how.

            We can’t build our way out of vehicular congestion, and we’ve already ruined enough of our city and local environment trying to (nevermind the planet or the human sacrifice). Transit is a necessary component of the solution but will never scale down well to cater for short, local trips, or for front-door access, or for children, etc etc. Indeed, an effective transit system will increasingly depend on more walkable and bike-enabled street grids for the last mile.

            So what else is there? Telecommuting? That has a decades-long record of failure to cope with the need for human interaction. Self-driving cars? Same spatial geometric issues as human-driven cars, with only a minor tweak to the temporal characteristics of mass motoring (and possibly no net gain). Pods? Hyperloops? You’d be entering the realms of fantasy — to paraphrase a certain captain.

            There’s no question that Aucklanders will have to cycle en masse so they can enjoy the benefits of proximity to each other and to their places of work or other interests. Mass cycling is no-sweat cycling because it’s slow — like walking, only faster. It’s for mostly short, frequent trips, relying on transit or electric-assist for grunt. Yet cycling is also more individually efficient than urban car travel on a net basis, accounting for time lost on funding travel costs/maintenance, or just faster whether within crowded/buzzing central streets or within safe, child-friendly, traffic-calmed neighbourhoods. Mass cycling doesn’t have to be “wet”, given the right designs, architecture and sensible clothing.

            The ultimate payoff, of course, is the quiet calmness of a bike-enabled neighbourhood; the public space freed up for shared community life (rather than parking cars or running over children); the freedom for children to play and grow up with mobility and access to the world around them; the sense of safety and trust that no one is about to kill you or a loved one with a vehicular weapon. Any one such neighbourhood might be called “desirable”, but when all our neighbourhoods can choose to live like this, then we might just have a liveable city — better yet, an equitable city.

            The Dutch, Danes and others have proved all this can be done. There is no nirvana, and the preceding examples are flawed in many ways. We can do better, and we should do better, but we’d better learn the right lessons first.

            So the disagreement that matters now is how best to roll out infrastructural and policy changes to cope with the incoming tide of demand for cycling. What features are most important to focus on and develop with limited resources? How should they be structurally organized for maximum benefit to everyone? How can we do this without loss of life/limb? How do we build consensus for appropriate cycle networks in neighbourhoods sooner rather than later? There are differing opinions on these questions among advocates, activists, professionals and politicians, but it’s a stretch in 2015/2016 to say that mass cycling in Auckland is impossible.

            Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to cycle out to see some fireworks — in Auckland. No sweat.

    3. David,

      Great manifesto. If I could flesh out some details:

      1) Creating bike-enabled communities at a neighbourhood scale is essential, but obviously difficult. A major gap in advocacy as well as the statutory consultation approach is the Janette Sadik-Khan factor: temporary trials. Maybe we need a plague of street parties involving vehicular traffic closures (opening local streets to people) to begin demonstrating benefits. When we’ve learned to develop multimodal comprehensive transport plans for a neighbourhood (not just a solitary “cycleway plan”), then perhaps we could test and iterate with temporary trials at the next level.

      2) Cycle network geometry is critical for serving in-between destinations and not only long-distance commuting. In particular, we need to develop a bike-enabled street grid with a high intersection density and a high frontage exposure — a connection-oriented network, if I may adapt Jarrett Walker’s transit theory. That means seeking out and treating junctions, not bypassing them or neglecting difficult turning movements. That also means prioritizing for cycle paths (of whatever subtype) on-street, with access to front doors and with frequent crossings. It’s only when we neglect grid geometry and its spatial economics that Plan A by-the-motorway seems as worthwhile as Plan B along-main-street, or indeed Plan C being a local-area-dense-grid.

      3) Determining whether a street, route or area is bike-enabled is a nuanced question. As Glen K shows in his blog post, there are a variety of treatments, but the fundamental test for me is a matter of user experience:

      * A street is bike-enabled if an 8-year-old standing with her bike at the kerb-face can intuitively plot a route to every front door or entrance in her field of view, or to any point just outside her field of view via any intersection in any direction. Whatever the cycle facility happens to be, it should function as a green/pink/red carpet, passively inviting people to use it — it just so happens to recommend taking a bicycle. Jarrett Walker identifies a similar notion for transit, called “onward welcoming”.

      * A route is bike-enabled if an 8-year-old riding her bike along it always feels like she knows what to do next. If she’s travelling straight ahead, there should be at least one obvious way to go (default). If she spots a place of interest, it should be possible to stop anywhere without significant risk. She should not have to improvise movements to avoid danger — no kerb-hopping, hook turns, evasive manoeuvres, dismounting, red-light jumping, merging across vehicle lanes, or any such nonsense. Definitely no “taking the lane” (where full segregation isn’t appropriate, the lane should already belong to her, such as on a fietsstraat or a well-designed shared space).

      * An area is bike-enabled if an 8-year-old standing at the front door of every building in the 1-3km area can easily discover, encounter or intuitively plan a route to every other front door by bicycle ­— and especially to schools, shops and transit stops. Bonus points if the best route by bicycle is the best route by any mode!

      * A connected network is bike-enabled if an 8-year-old cycling without a map can ride roughly in the direction of her destination (such as a landmark) and make incremental progress at every leg or turn, without having to double back, getting trapped at a dead-end, or missing key waypoints. Whatever route she generates must itself be bike-enabled (requiring no life-preserving improvisation).

      4) Implementing such a network on the whole is straightforward: incrementally develop it, but in viable pieces, small neighbourhood by small neighbourhood, local area by local area, and eventually suburb by suburb. Certainly not highway by highway (in the distant hope that this will have indirect benefits) or even arterial by arterial — it’s about areas with logical groupings of origins/destinations, and not about corridors or cross-sections.

      1. Indeed, the devil is in the detail, but suburbs are the areas to focus advocacy (said as an inner city apartment dweller) and build up the base.

        Something I didn’t swell on much was suitable suburbs. The cold hard fact is that we’ve developed some areas that are just too far gone – dormatory suburbs like where I moved to NZ as a teenager (https://goo.gl/amd3Q3) should be ignored and the efforts focussed where the gains are largest. If people value the cycling and walkability that can be developed elsewhere then those areas will become desirable/moved to by those that desire them.

        My only concern is how little of Auckland can be fixed.

  9. Those dashed lines should be a temporary thing. We should be able to expect drivers to eventually learn you cannot park in cycleways. The council on the other hand has to find a way to mark cycle lanes in a way that it is unmistakably recognisable as a cycle lane at any point along the street. In Belgium we use dashed lines on both sides of the cycle lane, nobody will mistake those for a parking lane, or another car lane. In Auckland it appears that newer bus lanes are marked with a white + green line, that can also be applied for cycle lanes.

    If a street with cycle lanes is quiet enough, then we can still allow parking on the street. But then parked cars can’t block the cycle lane, you’d have to park strictly on the right of the cycle lane.

    If the street is too busy for that, then we should have the dashed lines.

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