Auckland Transport are now consulting on a cycleway that will make live a lot quicker, easier and more pleasant for users of one of Auckland’s busiest cycle routes. The Ian McKinnon Dr cycleway will cut out the need for the steep climb up to Newton Rd, either cross the road or loop around under it and then having to cross again at the intersection with Upper Queen St. Instead a two-way cycleway will pass through Suffolk Reserve, under Newton Rd and up the western side of Ian McKinnon Dr. AT suggest that people on bikes could save around 2.5 minutes per trip by using new cycleway which also sheds about 6m in height off the route.

Ian McKinnon Cycle Route

This section of cycleway as one of the busiest in Auckland and the counter at Kingsland has been seeing some of the strongest growth across all counters in the region. Usage has almost doubled in just under 5 years.

Jun-16 - Cycling Monthly - Kingsland - Annual
As you can see from the map earlier, the project is split up into two sections, the link through Suffolk Reserve and the section on Ian McKinnon Dr

Section 1

The first section will see a shared path slip between the existing ramp up to Newton Rd and the houses then through Suffolk Reserve before joining Ian McKinnon Dr under the Newton Rd Bridge.

This section of the cycleway is approximately 200m long and is proposed to be a 3m wide concrete path that is shared by pedestrians and people on bikes. The route of the path through the reserve is currently indicative until further onsite investigate works are completed.

The current route has been selected to minimise the impact on surrounding properties and vegetation, while avoiding the steepest parts of the hill.

Ian McKinnon Cycleway - Suffolk Reserve

In a discussion with AT about the project a few months ago, we and our friends at Bike Auckland urged AT to make this section as wide as possible as it’s bound to be a popular walking route too and so we want them to design it with that in mind. Overall, this section is fairly straight forward.

Section 2

This section of road is likely to undergo a lot of reconstruction in coming years due to the prospect of light rail. As such and like Quay St, AT are looking at options which can enable the cycleway to be built a bit more temporary than some of the other projects they’ve been developing. There’s no point in spending millions on a route that might be dug up again in just a few years. This means that they’re also trying to keep the costs down by not moving kerbs or building expensive structures such as retaining walls or cantilevering the cycleway over the motorway wall. AT have realised it’s more important to get something in now than wait for projects that might not eventuate for years (although we hope it will be soon).

For this section there are two different options AT are looking at. Both are the same on the upper part (the end closest to Upper Queen St) but they are different on the lower part of Ian McKinnon Dr. For reference here’s what the road layout currently looks like with four traffic lanes and then a shared path, there is also a narrow median on the lower half.

Ian McKinnon Cycleway - Existing Layout

Option A: 

In Option A, a 3m two-way cycleway is added to the western side of the road in lieu of one of the southbound traffic lanes. The southbound direction loses a lane as it is only expected to have minimal impact. A longer term option, such as when light rail is built, might be to permanently shift the cycleway with some more expensive engineering solutions – which in the scheme of $1b LRT project would be fairly small.

Ian McKinnon Cycleway - Option A

Option B

This option is the same as above for the upper section but on the lower part where there is more room, would send the cycleway down a motorway maintenance road allowing for the second southbound lane to start again a little earlier. The extra protection is nice but is only for an extra ~150m and does cost a little more to build. With it only being fairly short and the cycleway on the street being protected, I’m not sure it makes a huge amount of difference what option is chosen here.

Ian McKinnon Cycleway - Option B

When completed, as pointed out with AT when we met them and by Max over at Bike Auckland, this cycleway is likely to be a magnet for walkers too. Like we’ve seen with other cycleway projects such as Beach Rd stage 2, Nelson St and many more, pedestrians are almost certainly going to end up walking up on western side too and like those on bikes, avoid having as steep a hill to climb and having to cross the road multiple times to get to the city. This has a chance of creating conflict which we obviously want to avoid. One suggestion from Max is to try and have a small footpath for as long as possible on the western side.

The consultation is open till Monday 29 August. Unfortunately, the project won’t be happening any time soon with it not scheduled to be completed till about mid-2018 so if you’re using the NW cycleway you’ll have a few more years of slogging up the hill to Newton Rd yet. Who knows, by then we might have more information on if and when the light rail project happens.

Ian McKinnon LRT
An earlier impression of what LRT on Ian McKinnon could look like
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    1. Agree. Who wants to walk through sussex reserve and then have to cross over the road and walk up to upper queen st and then cross back. Option B has room for a 3m grass verge but no footpath??? The 2m grass verge on the south side could go and we could have separate ped and cycle path there also.

  1. Thinking Option A, we know from crash reports traffic is too fast on this dangerously over built road, so best slow it as much as possible. Also with LR likely might as well get drivers used to one lane each way for as much of it as possible already….

  2. The illustration with light rail is misleading – there is not room to cater for traffic + light rail + dedicated cycleway within the existing road reserve. To allow bi-directional light rail along Ian McKinnon Drive the new cycleway along the northern side will need to be alongside the road on NZTA (motorway) land, which works ok for the first hundred metres or so but then the available strip of land tapers away to almost nothing, requiring a cantilevered structure supported off the top of the motorway retaining wall for the last section up to Upper Queen Street. This is exactly what I proposed 20 odd years ago before they built the current path which requires users to cross over I.M. Drive twice.

  3. Fantastic for NW cyclists.
    For Dom Rd cyclists id like to see more room allowed in the southbound lane. The shared path is far too dangerous and intimidating for pedestrians with the speeds achieved downhill. At the moment you pretty much have the whole left hand road lane to youself as hardly any cars use it.

    1. Agree.

      I wonder if Option B could be done, but instead of growing to two southbound traffic lanes on lower ian mckinnon, turn one of them into a dedicated bike lane (effectively extending north the lanes which currently begin after piwakawaka st) – which also gets drivers used to only have one lane as patrick has said above. Protected lanes, not just painted ones.

    1. I think AT just got a bit cautious with giving dates. The mid 2018 is the drop-dead date for when Urban Cycleway money has to be used. We certainly want it done earlier (and hope it will).

  4. 220,000 trips a year x 2.5 minutes saved x $11 per person-hour value of time = $100k every year in time benefits.

    What’s the budget again?

    1. At a discount rate of 6%, that’s equal to around $1.6 million in present value terms. So if the project costs more than $1.6m they’re going to need to consider other benefits, eg reductions in crashes and health benefits from added cycling.

      Still looks like a good idea. This is a key missing link, and one of the most uncomfortable places to cycle around the city centre.

    2. Also ignores cycle growth – this is an uncomfortable / unsafe spot on on of our busiest routes. It is totally conceivable that in 3-5 years, the numbers here will be double what is there now.

      Plus, there are health benefits and crash savings. A single fatality avoided (and there are cyclists at risk on that hill!) and it will have been well worth it on numerous levels.

      1. This will have an enormous BCR. I have done economic assessments where we don’t even bother looking at other transport benefits because the increased cycling, or decreased route length gives us a BCR over 5 already and if it is any better no politician believes you. Seriously, cycling is unfathomably good value.

  5. Shame the cycleway to Newton Rd isn’t adjacent to and matching the grade of the on ramp, rather than using Takau St. Given the footpath on Takau St is always blocked by rubbish bins and cars parked across it, the road has a lot of conflicting movements – cyclists, pedestrians, cars & rubbish trucks.
    3.0m wide is narrower than the 3.5m wide waterview cycleway, central park drive, etc.
    It will be interesting to see how the junction of the two cycleways and Takau St is arranged.

  6. Great stuff AT. I think 3m is a little narrow through the reserve if the visibility is low and it must have it’s own lighting like the new bits of the North Western cycleway. The current roadway model that provides street lighting for the cars (which all have their own lights) and spillover lighting at best for pedestrians is unacceptable. For concrete examples of this ludicrous situation look at where the lights are angled on roadways where they are present and the total lack of lighting on most motorway overbridges eg; Hopetown.

    1. All new cycleways will (should) get appropriate lighting. We (Bike AKL) have been told some further lighting improvements along NW Cycleway are in the works too…

      1. OK we’re talking about a shared path.

        We have those as well, in the nearby campus (a bit to the southwest from that image). They too are about 3 metre wide, and really busy when the seminars were about to start. I went to the seminars via these paths every day for a few years. There would be a lot of cyclists, some people walking, and maybe someone in a wheelchair. It got a bit congested in the morning but overall it still worked well enough. Even at only 3m wide a path like that can take a lot of cyclists.

          1. The paths back in Belgium were used by students (I think that counts as commuters). We don’t have steep hills but we have a few bends in those paths, with poor visibility due to lots of trees.

            A lot depends on how many pedestrians are going to use the path. If you expect a lot of pedestrians, then a small footpath is indeed a wise idea.

            On the other hand, the counter at Kingsland counts about 25,000 movements per month, so let’s say on a weekday there’s about 500 cyclists heading into town? That’s only a trickle. Those paths I’m talking about don’t have counters, but I think you’d see 500 cyclists passing by in less than 10 minutes over there.

  7. It really is a shame that all these paths are being built as shared spaces… How hard it is to build dedicated cycle paths? Pedestrians have a much greater ability to walk around/over/across things. Shared paths end up being a jack of all trades master of none situation that isn’t pleasant for cyclists and is dangerous for pedestrians (and cyclists if they come off their bike).
    The whole point of cycling is that you can travel faster than walking or running yet that is hard to achieve when dodging pedestrians!

    1. Exactly. Shared spaces make a lot of sense in a lot of places, but this will be a thoroughfare for a lot of people who are travelling.

      Cyclists are still very much second class citizens.

      1. “Cyclists are still very much second class citizens” – just remind me how much is being spent on cycle facilities, how much is being spent on pedestrian facilities, and how much pedestrian space (not necessarily with this project) has been/is being turned into shared space?

        If cyclists are second-class citizens, well…

  8. This is great news, but I hope improving cycling safety along Newton Rd / Newton bridge is also on the list of high priority things – it’s one of the most unsafe spots for cyclists currently. rerouting the NW cycleway away from the bridge will help a bit but Newton Rd / Newton bridge need to be cyclable too

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