Auckland’s long summer appears to have helped boost the number of people on bikes, especially on routes in and around city centre. This is based on data from Auckland Transport’s network of automated cycleway counters around the region but most of which are now in and around the city centre to help monitor the effectiveness of the cycleway programme currently under way.

For the nine sites scattered around the region for which AT now have almost six years of data they say April had a combined increase of 19.3% compared to April-2015 and May was even better seeing a 22.6% increase compared to May-2015. The numbers passing in the morning peak saw an even stronger increase at 24.2% for April and 25.8% for May.

But those are just the results from nine sites and in total there are now 28 across the region but some only from as recently as December so we don’t have a full year’s history yet to compare performance. AT’s data gives a breakdown of each counter and within that there are a couple of noticeable star performers.

The biggest of these is Grafton Gully which has been seeing the highest improvement in usage for six months in a row now. The results for April and May are staggering with usage up a staggering 59% and 54% for each month respectively compared to the same month a year earlier. Not everyone needs to travel all the way down but some of that growth is also seen on the Beach Rd counters which have also been recording strong growth of 39% and 34% for April and May.

As mentioned this is now the 6th month in a row that Grafton Gully has come out as having seen the largest increase in use and six months ago corresponds with the opening of Lightpath.

Monthly bike trips - Grafton Gully

Even if people don’t use it themselves, it does seem to suggest that Lightpath has been crucial in raising the awareness and profile of cycling in Auckland.

Not far behind with an equally whopping 47% increase on last year was the NW Cycleway at Kingsland and that growth comes from a higher base too. This counter has been showing stronger growth since December and as you can see on an annual basis is now starting to see quite a rapid increase.

May-16 - Cycling Monthly - Kingsland - Annual

There are some pretty good results here and in other locations too which are great to see although also some decreases too, such as on the Mangere Bridge.

While we know they are seasonal drops, it’ll be interesting to see how the numbers hold up over the winter months.

Given we already seem to be having a bit of a network effect going on I expect it will only increase further as more projects are completed. The next part to be completed will be along Quay St which is officially due to open in July and some parts of which are already able to be used now. We also know that AT are busy working on sections of the city centre network – and the wider cycle network too which they will hopefully be able to talk about in the near future.

Auckland City Centre Cycle Map - Dec 15

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76 comments

  1. Great data, and great trends. Completely agree regarding the network effect.

    Does raise the question: What is a reasonable long-run cycle mode share in Auckland? I always thought that with some decent cycle facilities we might achieve a cycle mode share of around 10-15%. By way of comparison, places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen nudge 40%.

    1. The old apples and oranges story. Auckland is not flat. Cycling is not all season for the majority, only the hardiest will brave bad weather. Cars, trucks, vans, buses, trains are all season. Why are there parallel routes planned throughout the CBD? Surely one route top to bottom is plenty? Wasted realestate otherwise. Do it properly nth/sth, east/west and then leave the rest alone. The best month’s cycling figures will only roughly equate to one days vehicles.

      1. Your so boring Ricardo. Same useless arguments as you people made about PT 10 years ago. Every ridiculous argument gets trotted out – must feel sad living on the wrong side of history.

        1. Ricardo’s just pissed I beat him to the first comment. Watching him flounder about like a floppy flounder trying to justify his absurd positions is rather hilarious, you have to admit. Thankfully, him and his ilk are quickly going the way of the dodo. As the above cycling figures attest!

      2. It turns out that the hardiest are 60%, as numbers drop by about 40% over winter. Repeating the old argument that Auckland is too steep does not make it true. There are so many routes that follow ridges. Take a look at SF, if you can be bothered comparing apples with apples.

        1. Traffic volumes drop 40% over summer. I guess we should close all the roads because they are less busy in December and January.

      3. Nice work Ricardo – this was one of your better efforts! It’s an art to add just enough plausibility to absurd arguments.

      4. yes, Auckland is different from Amsterdam and Copenhagen, hence why I suggested 10-15% rather than 40%. That is, one-quarter to one-third of what is achieved in those flat cities.

        That have awfully long and cold winters. Where only the hardiest 40% of the population continue to cycle. Or even more 60% at peak times.

      5. Ho, ho, ho, parallel routes; yes what a waste, imagine if there were ever parallel routes for drivers. You know, one road, then another one running in the same direction near it, nowhere can that be seen. It would be like people wanting to go to different places along routes, imagine such a world….

        1. the need for a parallel cycle route is somewhat moot.

          Ricardo the taciturn troll
          Who is rather droll
          Parallel routes?
          What a preposterous hypothesis
          Bellows the troll, lol.

          On the other hand, Patrick lays it on thick
          Parallel routes? They’re a necessary accessory.
          Think of a young person on Tinder, contends the ol’ bandicoot
          with multiple roots who don’t live on the same route?
          parallel cycle links complement a bit of kink.

          As for me, nuff said; it’s time for bed.

          1. the Spatial Economics Department here at my university has a social club called “space cakes”.

          2. Beneath every cyclist’s a crank and I will wager, young sir, that you come from a chain of them…and who made you a cyclist spokesman. Bah humbug, hurrumph etc etc.

            More doggerel, please!

          3. More Space, Cake is needed, all should be heeded, in fact Space is needed.
            Keep up the good work I like it.

            Should we think about differing speed limits for the different types of roads/paved areas?

            Shared pavements = streets with pedestrians and vehicles (no footpaths).
            Streets = urban places where houses and schools are situated.
            Arterial roads = link villages and towns but are urban in nature.
            Roads = linking villages and towns
            Motorways = separated carriageways (no opposing traffic

      6. I’ve suggested it before, but I do think it would be awesome if Ricardo could do a guest post. His vision for transport in Auckland. We may all learn something.

      7. I agree Ricardo, the Auckland winter is so harsh compared to northern Europe, we couldn’t expect anybody to brave the typical of 9 degree morning commute temperatures we get here. Anybody who thinks otherwise is just out of touch with reality.

        I’ve heard rumours about some high tech devices called ‘jackets’ and ‘gloves’ that may be coming out soon, but i don’t think we can expect the average commuter to afford such gear. While they might be able to afford it in Northern Europe, you have to consider that in Auckland we have to pay for a second household car and CBD parking etc, so our disposable incomes are not so great.

        1. Yes winters in Europe are colder than Auckland. These cities are different for the following reasons:
          1) The winters are drier than ours – you don’t mind going outside wrapped up warm because you know you aren’t going to get wet… a wet winter has a ‘feels like’ 10 degree’s colder than a dry winter.
          2) Most of these cities are flat or a lot flatter than Auckland.
          3) Most of these cities due to their age and density have a lot more local shops (ie butcher, bakery, green grocer etc) which are only a short distance to walk/ride vs Auckland where it is dominated by supermarkets that are far enough away from where people actually live.

          Cycle lanes can however only encourage more people to cycle so that is a good thing and every cyclist is one less motorist on the road so that’s another good thing!

          1. 1) Winters in the UK are NOT drier than in Auckland. Occasionally things freeze up and all moisture crystallises out of the air. But more usually the winters are long, cold, and WET. I lived in Glasgow for several years in the 1980’s and can clearly remember one winter when it rained/drizzled/dripped non-stop for about 6 weeks. Didn’t stop me cycling. Simply put my waterproofs on.

            2) Auckland is not that hilly. Glasgow was not that different. Sheffield (where I lived previously) is as hilly as Wellington. Wellington is of course much hillier than Auckland. Cycling numbers in Wellington have steadily increased since the 80’s when I arrived. Of course we get the same ignorant arguments in Welly that “only a few people want to cycle because of the hills/wind etc”, even as the council struggles to install cycleways to cater for the projected growth.

            3) UK cities have sprawling, car-designed suburbs also. Perhaps not as far-flung as some of Auckland’s remoter ones, but not so very different from much of Auckland. Local shops there have also been swallowed up by big-box supermarkets and those that remain are dotted about similar to local dairies in Auckland.

            And in my experience, things are by-and-large the same over much of Europe. The big difference is that public transport is better than both NZ’s and the UK’s. This, and generally better infrastructure and attitudes to cyclists is what keeps cycling growing. Auckland is merely, and belatedly, playing catch-up. Weather and hills will not stop the trend.

          2. Dave, Did I say the UK? No I said Europe – which has a more continental climate. However speaking of the UK, having lived there myself while the winters are quite bleak (short days and usually overcast) they had less rainfall than Auckland. England as a whole averages 855mm pa. Auckland by comparison gets 1210 mm pa https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of_the_United_Kingdom#England
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auckland#Climate
            I’m not saying it will stop all people but that there definitely are a lot of people that are happy to wear warm clothes but who don’t want to ride in the rain in waterproof clothes.

            Auckland is hilly…. It has over 50 volcanoes for starters and that’s not including all the other hills that make up most of Auckland’s geography. Wellington is very hilly however the vast majority of people in Wellington live in the few areas that are flat (and those areas are actually quite flat). Auckland CBD has an elevation gain of around 100m up to K Rd, then areas that surround it like Parnell and Ponsonby also have similar elevation gains.

            Your comment about UK cities is interesting. Again having lived there I noticed a lot more local shops all over the place rather than large supermarkets. Sure there are large supermarkets but their numbers are far less per capita than NZ because they have all those local shops. Again Europe has even more.

          3. The Netherlands and Denmark have pretty similar annual precipitation to New Zealand, actually.

            I agree that dry cold is a different beast from wet cold, but what a lot of Europe has (especially coastal countries) is wet cold and slushy snow, not a nice dry cold with powdery snow. Also, rain is easier to bike in than any kind of snow. Having biked in winter in various places through rain, slushy snow and dry snow, I’ll take the rain.

            And if you can alter your departure by half an hour either way, it’s pretty easy to avoid showers. I’ve only got wet once or twice this winter and I bike every day.

          4. Wet winters huh … The ‘Wet Coast’ of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia might have a point or two to say about that. And as for hills / flat topography … Have a look at the contours of Vancouver. (although downtown vancouver is quite nice and relatively flat).

          5. Yeah most of Vancouver and Portland are flat so I don’t get your point? They also have nice grid patterns which helps – not sure why Auckland has such a clusterfuck street layout over most of the city. Newest suburb is Millwater and it looks like a brain explosion meeting a alcohol induced kebab vomit all over the landscape. Stupid layout.

          6. Downtown and nearby suburbs in Portland and Vancouver (where most of their cycling happens) are very hilly; you have to go further out to get flatter terrain.

      8. True – the first time I biked up Newton Road it was a big hill. After only a few weeks of biking it became a small hill and now it’s a short gentle incline. When I was a car slob everything seemed steeper than it actually is.

      9. Actually, if we concentrate on 2km to 3km trips by bike (which is a most common trip even in the Netherlands), most of Auckland is indeed flat enough.

      10. Dear Ricardo. Keep the silly comments coming. I totally enjoy the effect they produce. I look forward immensely to my daily dose of laughter. It’s people like you that keep blogs from growing stale. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to quit!

      11. The old chestnut about hills; I feel like I’ve said this a number of times before…
        – Vienna
        – Zurich
        – Bristol
        Just some examples of cities with quite reasonable chunks of hilly terrain but at least four times as much cycling as Auckland has.
        (in terms of both PT and cycling, I feel that Vienna is a pretty good model for Auckland; a similarly large, rolling city; here’s some cycling impressions, although most of the pics are down on the flat: http://cyclingchristchurch.co.nz/2015/07/19/vienna-cycling-on-the-rise/)
        And if you want some non-Europe examples:
        – Portland
        – Seattle
        – Vancouver

    2. > What is a reasonable long-run cycle mode share in Auckland?

      Depends what you’re talking about. For work commutes I doubt it’ll ever be that big, since a lot of commutes are beyond a reasonable cycling distance for the lazy (i.e. most of us) or need to compete with PT, which keeps you dry for most of the trip, doesn’t require you to pedal, and allows you to dick around on your phone. Whereas for really short trips, you also need to compete with walking, which doesn’t require equipment or parking.

      So I’d say 5%. E-bikes can flatten hills but don’t make a huge difference to the effect of the horizontal distance. For non-work trips, 10-15% overall seems achievable, with much higher amounts for kids, teenagers, and tertiary students.

      FWIW, I’d also think we can eventually achieve public transport mode shares more like Sydney or San Francisco: 20-30% citywide, and the vast majority (80%+) for the city centre.

      1. Why think mono-modal? For long trips, Bike to train or busway!

        Harder to classify for work transport mode share, but so what…

      2. yes I was talking about mode share for all trips, including education and personal related travel.

        I don’t like to focus on journey-to-work travel; it’s only about 20% of peak demand.

  2. It definitely is a network effect, and the Lightpath has been instrumental in raising awareness of the new cycling infrastructure in the CBD. I just hope it doesn’t take the usual 10-15 years to spread to other parts of the city.

    The next flagship project that is likely to have an even bigger effect on cycling than Lightpath is Skypath – bring it on!

    1. Yes the SkyPath is the CRL for cycling; will be truly transformational, and all the more so for these other parts of the network getting first in the city, and of course SeaPath etc on the Shore.

      These core routes will lead to many more elsewhere, so long as the strong numbers continue, which they will, as the infra joins up.

  3. Has AT released details of the the new market place to quay street route? I’m assuming it will just connect via custom street west across to lower Hobson street as previously planned? Any detail though?

      1. A proper link to Wynyard Quarter would make the most sense.

        /Digression
        That said, building Wynyard Quarter with bike infra makes the MOST sense, and here we are. They have made the streets nice and narrow, but encourage driving with all the parking and massive road entrances to Fanshaw. In Akl that just means greater cycling danger as cars get even angrier than normal at me doing 10kph.

        Has Panuku ever justified their design decisions here? The current setup is confusing and dangerous.

        1. Yes I do find Wynyard disappointing in that respect. I think it was just designed a year or two too early, before shared spaces really took off. It’s far too car-centric. Jellicoe street gets really busy sometimes, with a constant stream of cars moving at quite high speed between all those restaurants and bars. It’s insane that it’s not a shared space, or that cars are even allowed there at all.

          1. Ugh… Jellicoe. Whoever designed and approved this surface actively hates cycling and should be forced to ride on it every day, all day, for eternity. And fall off a couple of times.

            The narrow smooth bits on the edge (~30cm) are the world’s narrowest ‘bike lane’, when a car isn’t parked across it.

            /Edit

            Notice too, that other countries put tram tracks separate from where bicycles ride. For fairly obvious reasons….

  4. Yeah I’m seeing pedestrians prefer the Quay St cycleway already. People are standing in cycleway area waiting for the pedestrian crossing also. Will be interesting to see if this is avoided when open.

    What happened on Grafton Gully in Dec 14?

    1. The intersection at the Hobson Street/Viaduct end where the quay street lane ends is going to be a disaster. It’s poorly designed (or rather, not designed), but I gave up on that battle a while back because we’re supposed to be happy we get anything at all.

    2. If the cycleway is busy enough then people won’t think to step into it. The other option is to chuck some planters up to delineate it better.

      1. That doesn’t work in reality, unfortunately (anywhere). You can’t make people conform to a bad design, have to make a design that takes account of how people work.

          1. Yeah but that’s force of numbers and years of familiarisation that’s making that one work. Places like Beach Rd need to have really clear delineation – the footpath needs to look like a footpath and the cycleway needs to look like a road. Signs etc don’t work. And to be honest, I kind of think pedestrians should have the right to walk pretty much anywhere they please. It feels wrong to say “You can’t go here”. After all, in terms of prioirity of street users, it should be pedestrians first, then cyclists, then drivers.

            So the only answer is to design cycleways that don’t feel like a place a pedestrian would want to walk.

          2. Beach Road is a colossal failure, but Quay Street is actually quite different IMO. A ped will never walk an extra 40m to keep cycleway clear, but 4m they might.

    3. So a few pedestrians have been seen on the unfinished cycleway! What a crime.
      They could well be trying to avoid the cyclists who have been using the footpath as a cycleway for many years (which it isin’t from the west of Queens Wharf).

  5. Just imagine the numbers when SkyPath and SeaPath are both completed. That would give Auckland Cycling a massive boost. LightPath has lit the way for a cycle revolution in Auckland. Hopefully this years and next years election continue to build on this momentum rather than put a stop to it.

  6. Sorry Guys. I rode the light path and Grafton the other weekend. My first grump was that the bloody trains weren’t working so I had to drive in to town. Transformational is when I can ride to MY train and to MY town centre in complete safety at 6:30 am in the winter. Each village and school with safe cycling. When the plan and roll out of that occurs that will be truly transformational. My ride along the lightpath was great BUT it is not my everyday ride. Same for skypath great if you live and work there but if you don’t…

    1. So your complaint about a good thing is that it isn’t omnipresent? One project can’t be everywhere at the same time.

      1. I feel there is a fair point. For the price tags of some of the ‘off road’ parallel routes, New Lynn to Avondale for example, we could civilise a huge number of km of roads.

    2. How many people live or work on the harbour bridge? Does this mean skypath will be a failure. Was the harbour bridge itself a failure as it does help easterners get to the airport?

  7. Aside from, the bike lockers at some bus/train stns, is much being being done in terms of infra to encourage cycling to the RTN? That seems to be quite underutilised at the moment

      1. A few people can, but I don’t see how even 50 people could possibly bring their bicycles onto a full train.

        So if planners think about riding a bicycle to a station they should assume you’re going to leave your bicycle at the station and catch the train / ferry / bus without your bike.

        That also implies that your destination had better be within walking distance from the station.

    1. Nothing. Northern express doesn’t accommodate bikes and there has been no effort to make it safe or convenient to access any of the stations by bicycle (or even walking, quite frankly)

  8. We walked up to the Orlando vigil on Monday evening. In the 15 minutes we were walking on the NW shared path from Mostyn St to Newton Rd we would have seen about 30 cyclists going the other way. Much busier than it was about 3 or 4 years ago then we did the walk regularly.

  9. Unseasonably warm weather through much of March and April will have helped to keep numbers up. I suspect also a lot of people will have returned to the NW once the horrible dog-leg at St Lukes was finally resolved, but whether that shows up in the counters I couldn’t say unless I knew where they were.

    The NW has been steadily busier than it was for some time, but it was this year that I suddenly clicked to how dramatic the change has become – it now feels like a properly active transport route. Unfortunately this means some proper money needs to be dropped on it for widening and safety improvements. I see/experience near misses with oncoming bikes or bike versus pedestrian most days now, just as a function of the number of people out there. AT have put up stickers on the footpath encouraging courtesy, which is great, but it’ll take real design fixes to solve the problem properly.

    The romantic “only one on the path” days are gone – now we’re in the realm of workaday bike transit, with the attendant benefits, and problems.

  10. The hills? Buy an electric bike. Ditto for that other pest, the westerly wind. Wrap up warm in winter. The one unique element to Auckland is New Zealand’s very changable and rainy weather, which makes it difficult to plan exactly what to wear. The solution to that is to fully cover and weather proof the cycle network as patronage justifies.

    1. The rule of thumb is that when cycling you dress for 5degress colder than it is. Whereas for running you dress for 5degress warmer. In both cases this assumes you will be putting in some effort.

  11. Are the trips in those graphs one way or two way? Ie does the little machine count the person in the morning and going home? Either way the numbers seem very low on a daily basis – only a few hundred users? Perhaps they should have under 50cc scooters allowed on them?

    1. Like any other traffic counting regime, the counters record any person who crosses over them regardless of direction. So someone going to and from work using the same route would get counted twice (just like we do for counting cars).

      There are still only relatively few sites where you would get >1000 cyclists/day (e.g. Tamaki Dr); remember they still only number about 1/40 of the motor traffic in Auckland.

      Important to appreciate too that AT’s official counters will only ever capture a fraction of all cycling that is happening around Auckland City. Household Travel Survey data would suggest that the total number of cycle trips in Akld is at least 50,000 per day (for comparison, that’s about the same as is seen in Christchurch, with 1/4 the population).

  12. I’d love to see the stats for the South Auckland ones like Weymouth Road, Great South Road, Browns Road etc

  13. Ebikes for the win – to flatten out the hills, neutralise the demoralising effect of wind, and to enable you to commute 5 days of the week without being a superhuman. Some form of incentive from local or central government would tip the scales.
    Another Question, does anyone know if it is a requirement for new business premises to provide bike facilities and showers? That has a massive impact too (if you don’t have them you can’t realistically cycle to work).

  14. I wonder why Federal Street has been earmarked as a bike route instead of Albert Street. Federal Street is supposed to grow into a long mixed use lane way. Hardly a safe and speedy bike route. Albert Street has plenty of room for dedicated bike lanes. It is relatively flat, has views of the water, and has very little traffic.

    1. I have been wondering why Federal isn’t used more because it doesn’t carry many cars. I still think the Nelson St lane is the worst idea. Albert St is/was (and presumably will be in future) a busway, and bikes and buses are not happy lane mates.

  15. Interesting that when you analyse the data from the “nine sites” link, most have either low growth or no growth over the data periods shown.

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