On Friday another piece in the upgraded NW cycleway finally opened, the Patiki Rd underpass. The old bridge over the motorway on-ramp was narrow and with tight corners that was far from ideal, especially if there were other people walking or on bikes going in the opposite direction.

NW Cycleway - Old Patiki cycle bridge

As part of the motorway upgrade the NZTA have replaced the bridge with a wonderful swooping underpass and so on Saturday I went to try it out resulting in the videos below. There is obviously still landscaping to come but already it is far better than what was there before.

This follows the opening of the fantastic underpass at Te Atatu Rd a few months ago and the much improved causeway section. The section from Te Atatu to Henderson Creek will also open soon too.

Te Atatu Rd Underpass

It’s such a shame that the NZTA decided not to take the opportunity to do the same thing at St Lukes Rd, a decision I think they’ll eventually regret.

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33 comments

    1. Will the St Lukes one remain an up and over? I tried riding to western springs from city on the weekend but got detoured through a suburb for a few blocks before a not terribly cycle friendly looking intersection – I assumed something large going on to bypass, but apparently not?

      /Edit: These look lovely though, not sure I’ll ever get far enough out to see them myself 🙁

      1. You’ll need to cross three roads to get across St Lukes and resume the path. I’ve often had to huddle up with 5 or 6 other cyclists on the middle island before crossing. Will be better than the detour though!

        1. The diverion at St Lukes was supposed to be removed prior to Xmas. Then the signage was updated to say late February. Its now rapidly approaching late March. While the sign points out its only a 5 min diversion, it is also hazardous on road with several intersections and corners, and hilly. What price per day has been put on this inconveniance and safety issue?
          How much longer do we have to put up with it?
          What has to occur for an underpass to be deemed necessary at St Lukes if the increase in traffic and road width is not enough?
          How much would it have cost if built in conjunction with motorway works, vs a future independant project?

          1. A couple of weeks ago they were saying the 11th of March. Now they’re saying Easter, but I’ll believe that when I see it.

            Today they were driving trucks kind of sloppily around the diversion streets, which was super fun to share with.

  1. So when is the god awful part between Bright Street & Newton Road going to get some attention? That seriously needs to be improved for cyclists and pedestrians. Also needs to be given an underpass to bypass the ramp.

  2. It demonstrates the difference between doing it as part of a project and trying to add something later. That is one sweet underpass. I did the benefit cost analysis on the old bridge and that section of cycleway. It was an add on just after the Patiki interchange was built which meant we struggled to get to the B/C cutoff and the designers had to cut costs wherever they could. The part over the creek needed a crash proof steel fence which cost a fortune. The rest had enough space for a crash barrier.

    1. Interesting. Though of course that was when the cost-benefit calcs for cycling assumed even fewer benefits. So now the numbers would look a bit different (plus user assumptions would be higher). But the key is still to cut costs by doing it together with another project wherever you can of course. Which is why I am afraid St Lukes is going to stay that way for 10-20 years…

      1. Yes the benefits allowed were certainly lower. I got hold of some data from the health board on excercise levels and health costs and put it in anyway but the auditors argued that a shorter ride would mean fewer health benefits and crossed it out in their peer review. The real challenge back then was the B/C ratio cutoff was around 5.0 for funding (with a 10% discount rate). It meant everything was built on the cheap.

        1. ‘but the auditors argued that a shorter ride would mean fewer health benefits and crossed it out in their peer review’

          hahahahaha: more induced traffic denial. This is the perfect corollary for: a newroad will mean fewer emissions by polluting vehicles. No mention in either case of how the new route [for bikes or cars] influences the number of users. A good safe and direct cycling route [or better a whole network] will, we know, induce more users, therefore lifts the health benefits for more people. In the same way that new roads, especially motorways, for which these crooks bank ‘carbon emission benefits’, will induce more driving leading to higher overall emissions.

          Sophistry.

          Just watch what happens when Waterview opens; that;s going to be an induced traffic showcase; infarcting the CMJ, by the way. And generating more, not fewer emissions. And the call will go up for more motorway to ‘relieve’ this new one, for sure.

          1. I am with you on Waterview. It will cause chaos up here in Greenhithe as the motorway traffic will increase beyond the existing capacity at the Paul Matthews intersection. We told them that 15 years ago.

  3. Great post thanks, Matt. Must get to check it out.
    Along with missing St Lukes Rd, Lincoln Road is going to be another multi lane crossing to stay on the cycle way up to Royal Rd and beyond.
    The on-line plans show no underpass at Royal Rd either. How do we get that changed before they turn a sod and get it into the original build as mfwic suggests?

    1. I went to the open day for the Royal Rd over bridge replacement. I asked about the underpass and was told something about engineering problems. I told them that if you really wanted to do something then engineering problems can be solved. They also said the bridge would have to be lengthened again in the future for the NW bus way. They couldn’t future proof it now. I also prodded them about Lincoln Rd. They said an underpass would have been too long and so there would have been safety issues. It is the same old excuses. If you decide something is desirable then you work out how to do it. Their attitude is, oh too many problems can’t be bothered. They are going to make a connection from Triangle Rd, at the widened Huruhuru Rd bridge, onto the extended cycle way so at least we can use the Triangle cycle way and then connect here to the new cycle way.

      1. Well the obvious answer to an underpass being too long would be to have less lanes above it. The savings would more than cover the cost of an underpass.

      2. Too long for what? We have lots of cycleways with no side accesses for 1km or more. We also have, on one of our busiest cycle trails (Hauraki Rail Trail), a tunnel of several hundred meters with no side accesses.

        As for Te Atatu – I would have loved to have daylighting in the middle (basically using the road median above to let some light in), but they obviously felt that a “clean” pipe was better.

        In fact, my original submission had TWO (shorter) underpasses, and then going under the existing bridge – I guess they may have already been thinking about the busway and didn’t like the idea:
        https://twitter.com/BikeAKL/status/676895399236497408

      3. wayne, did they really say they can’t make the Royal Rd bridge wide enough for the NW busway now? Why on earth not? How much extra will it cost later? Are they crazy or what?

    1. That reply to your email is extraordinary: basically not enough people on bikes have died at that intersection yet, and in anyway it’s the bike users’ fault when it does happen.

      Nothing about time travel delay for bike users, or policy to incentivise sustainable modes…. etc etc

  4. Problem with putting in an underpass at St Lukes Road is the thick bassalt rock the underpass would have to go through. An option could have been to add a cycle lane alongside the motorway itself, but then there could have been a problem getting up to St Lukes Road, Western Springs and the like. When that stretch of motorway first went in the rock was blasted through with explosives – holes were drilled, explosives rammed in, and all was sealed off with a big steel plate with a bulldozer sitting on it.

      1. The removal still going on is extraordinary if you look on either side of the widened bridge. Every time I see it I keep hoping they’ve just trolled us for 6 months and will surprise with a new path beside the widened motorway… hey, let me dream a little dream…

    1. Yeah, I don’t buy that excuse. It certainly doesn’t make it impossible. It just is a matter of whether you want to solely prioritise cars or give some priority to cyclists too.

      1. Yeah; either this is a valuable route that deserves incentivising or it isn’t; NZTA are hardly treating this mode consistently. Another example of the gap between policy and culture in our public institutions.

  5. The new tunnel is awesome. I used it last Sunday. I was yahooing all the way through it as the week before I almost got hit by a speeding car trying to cross the road there.

  6. Does anyone find this underpass in any way imposing? Just asking as I know AT don’t seem to like them and prefer bridges. Seems fine to me but would like to hear any thoughts.

    1. That is what I don’t understand, this underpass is wonderful and takes a lot less effort to navigate than the gradient of a bridge. Yet last time I suggested an underpass here I was shutdown by most of the people now praising this underpass. I was told it was a safety hazard due and an old fashioned idea. Funny how things change.

      1. We ran with the bridge option rather than a box section underpass as there were severe sightline and headroom issues with the box section option that could have only been alleviated by have a 90 degree turn in and out of the underpass. The bridge allows users to flow without reducing their speed significantly, and has better urban design and crime prevention benefits.

        1. What bridge are you two talking about?

          Anyway, horses for courses – at some locations, bridges are better, at others, underpasses. Generally, a bridge means 2-3m more vertical climb for pedestrians / cyclists, so if it can be done, underpasses provide better transport benefits (in general – as noted, horses for courses).

  7. It is fantastic. I am a bit worried though, about a fence being constructed in the new cycleway just south of Henderson creek. The wooden fence is being constructed around the power pylon, making it a blind corner. If the steel fence continued here, it would at least allow some visibility. Does anyone know who to contact to discuss this?

  8. Why is it such a problem to cycle over a bridge, yet new sections of the cycleway into the downtown areas, also at gradient, are applauded. Maybe the powers that be looked at these blogs and thought to themselves “these cyclists are perfectly okay with cycling up and down gradients, so there’s no reason why we should get rid of those bridges”.

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