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