For a number of years now Auckland Transport have been conducting annual research into the use of active modes to allow them to track behaviour changes over time. This is not just relying on the automated counters but a survey to gauge the general population. They’ve now released the 2016 results and there are a lot of positive results and in total covers 1,178 responses.

The headline figure is that 31% of people surveyed had cycled, up from 27%. The researchers say this represents an increase of 45,600 people.

2014-16 cycling behaviour

These numbers are also broken down into different groups which are explained below. As you can see there has been a shift up the groups.

  • Rejectors (unable or never cycle and wouldn’t consider)
  • Considerer (never cycle but would consider)
  • Occasional (less than monthly)
  • Medium (monthly to weekly)
  • Frequent (twice a week or more)

2014-16 behaviour framework

While many people cycle just for fitness and it is the main reason people currently ride, many also do it for other reasons such as going to shops or commuting. Positively these non-exercise/recreational trips have all increased showing that people are using bikes more and more for everyday activities.

2014-16 cycling trips

Compared to last year, this year’s survey also shows increases to perceptions of cycling infrastructure. This was rated on a scale of 0-10 with 6-10 being agree. As you can see there have been improvements in the metrics but views show a lot more improvements to infrastructure are needed – which is not a surprising result.

2015-16 cycling attitudes

The number of people walking to activities, especially to PT has also increased positively.

2014-16 walking trips

The report also looks at the opportunities for growing the use of active modes for trips. First up for work where cycling is thought to be the biggest opportunity.

2016 Opportunity 1 - work

They break down the cycling to work opportunity as below. I can’t understand why they don’t also count the ‘Don’t own, or have access to a bike’ in the opportunity’. Within the last year I’ve personally heard of a number of stories of people buying bikes to take advantage of some of our fantastic new infrastructure such as Lightpath. It also highlights to me why we need to be looking seriously at options like bikeshare schemes, particularly as our cycling network expands and improves.

2016 Opportunity 1 - work breakdown

Next up for shops. I can’t understand why they think the barriers to cycling to shops are very strong but not for walking. It makes me wonder if those doing the survey only think of the only option to riding as being on high speed road bikes.

2016 Opportunity 2 - Shops

The Appendix also contains this interesting slide about what those surveyed thought of different travel modes. I thought it particularly highlights how much PT needs to be improved as it was considered fast, convenient, enjoyable by the lowest percentage of people compared to the other modes.

2016 Mode Associations

Overall there are some positive results but also some odd assumptions that have been made.

Old versions of the surveys can be found here.

Here’s AT’s press release on it:

In the past year an extra 45,000 Aucklanders have taken to two wheels.

Auckland Transport’s annual Walking and Cycling Survey, published today reveals that 353,000 Aucklanders cycle, up from 308,000 a year ago.

AT’s Cycling and Walking manager Kathryn King says the positivity about cycling in Auckland is also reflected in Auckland Transport’s cycle counts.

“We are seeing continual growth in cycle trips across the region with the biggest increase in the city centre.

“It’s great to see an increase in the number of people cycling to places like schools, local shops, work and to public transport interchanges.

New, protected cycling infrastructure such as the pink Lightpath is making cyclists feel safer, leading to an overall positive perception of cycling in Auckland to rise from 22 percent to 39 percent.

Currently more than 34,000 people cycle to work but the study reveals that there are a further 144,000 who could cycle to work but are not.

Ms King says that one of the main ways to get people cycling is good quality, connected cycleways.

“As we work with the Government on the three year programme of cycleway improvements, we expect the number of cycle trips in Auckland to continue growing.”

“Building a network of connected cycleways to and around the city centre as well to key public transport interchanges, is a key component of our strategy to improve the transport network.

The survey also reveals the number of people walking has increased by more than 11,000.

There was a big jump in the number of people walking for non-recreational journeys, up 17 percent from 2015.

Auckland Transport is working with project partners Auckland Council and the Government through the NZ Transport Agency and the Urban Cycleways Programme on a $200m programme of cycle improvements from 2015 to 2018.

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16 comments

  1. >>I can’t understand why they think the barriers to cycling to shops are very strong but not for walking.

    Makes sense to me. Shops are mostly on arterials, and AT has not been doing much in the way of making arterials bikeable. Or else the shops are in a mall with no bike parking and car-focused entrances.

    I wonder if they’re also thinking of the barriers to removing those barriers to biking to the shops (meta-barriers?), which certainly seem to be very strong in the current political and institutional environment.

  2. What’s the margin of error for these stats? Would go a long way to understanding how much of an increase we are sure of.

    1. With a sample size of 1178, that leads to a 95% confidence interval of +/-2.9% at worst (questions with less than a 50/50 even split in responses will have smaller margins)

  3. Love how Auckland is progressing, however, cycling remains way behind priority compared with cars. Auckland (whole of New Zealand) remains to be car-centric. If the same effort is made in making cycling easy, safe, and accessible then we can start calling for a transport revolution.

    Also, their has to be a cultural change in how Kiwis view cycling. Right now, majority of people view it as a recreation sport rather than an alternative transport. This cultural shift will take a while to be embedded, so I suggest trying to influence the younger generation and instill this on them at a younger age.

    The negative stigma associated with the ‘Lycra’ cyclist is a barrier for this cultural shift. People need to realise that cycling is for everyone, not just the people on lycra. Everyone includes kids, students, office workers, etc.

    1. These data suggest the shift might be happening. Notice how the extremes of the scale haven’t shifted, still the same number of harcore ‘never’ and ‘always’… but the middle categories are creeping up. The considerers are becoming doers.

    1. Well, it’s healthier than sitting on the couch doing nothing, because at least it’s exercise to get to the car and climb into it!
      Maybe that’s what the 37% have in mind ^¿^

  4. things that caught my eye: the 67% who find driving safe, and the same proportion who find it enjoyable (really?). The fact that the proportion of people finding cycling enjoyable is less than that (again, really?) and a suggestion for another dimension to test: dependability. cycling would probably trounce all other commuting modes there.

  5. “Auckland has a well-connected cycle network” → 37% answers yes. That is weird. Most parts of town don’t even have a cycle network. Makes me wonder how they selected people to fill in that survey.

  6. The stats above are presented in a number of different ways. Cutting through the % this or that the only fact is that 34,000 ride frequently. More people walk by comparison, although the numbers are not there, a magnitude of many more 100 times drive. Forget % increases in this or that, that is how politicians present information to ‘ prove’ their case. Hard numbers are what is needed to have any sensible comparison. If you really want to get those frequent (daily) cycle numbers higher you must start with schools. Look around Auckland school bike sheds and see how few cycles there are. Plus with the changing demographic ( it is what it is) the Asian kids are typically driven everywhere. So to make a change, I believe you must start the campaign in the schools. These kids are the ones who will be the fashion leaders going forward. Much as I think the hundreds of millions being spent on the 34,000 is out of proportion, I would like to see greater use of this infrastructure my rates are paying for.

    1. Sigh… It said 34,000 frequently bike to work (not necessarily every day), which is only a fraction of all cycle trips. You seem to have overlooked the 31% who cycle sometime in any given year and the 22% who would consider it. So you have almost 500,000 already using the cycle network and another 300,000 who might bike if the network keeps improving.

    2. Here are some hard numbers for you.

      The Waterview Connection is projected to carry about 80000 vehicles per day by 2026. Based on typical car occupancy that will be something like a cost of 1.4 billion to cater for 120000 people.

      So even assuming no increase in the absolute numbers of people cycling the cycleways program is much cheaper per head than the Waterview connection.

      And of course we know by looking at other cities the number of people riding will increase significantly and the cost per user for the entire cycleways program will be a small fraction of the cost per user for just one road.

      If you are worried about how your taxes and rates are spent, you should look at things other than cycleways.

      1. Actually if it’s 80,000 vehicles per day, the majority will be people who use it twice in the day by making a return trip. It might only be 50,000 unique vehicles using it each day, or something like 60,000 people.

  7. I love “While many people cycle just for fitness and it is the main reason people currently ride, many also do it for other reasons such as going to shops or commuting.”

    I’m not sure if I’m cycling for fitness (lost 15kg in first 12 months, and feeling more vitality and energetic for 24 months) or if I’m just commuting (My car used to do 7,000 – 15,000 km a year… has probably done less than 200km in the last 12 months?) I do occasionally commute by train… but it’s getting less and less frequent as my fitness (and tolerance to poor weather) rises…

    Maybe I commute on my bike for fitness? {sound of survey designers head exploding}

  8. let’s not underestimate the impact of electric bikes, I’m seeing them more and more and my favourite bike shop says they’re getting one enquiry a day

    I admit to having had a somewhat snobbish view of these “low effort” bikes, bike after trying one I quite liked it

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