Over the past couple of weeks there has been quite a bit of controversy around changes Auckland Transport is making to some streets in the Grey Lynn and Westmere areas to improve the safety and attractiveness of cycling, as well as to improve safety on some of these streets. The projects getting attention are routes 1 and 2 on the map below.

The concept of improving cycling in this part of the city is strong. A number of the streets are very wide, as they used to have trams running on them and trip distances to the city centre are relatively short. Unfortunately though, it seems as though some of the design details for these routes has been poor. This has been exacerbated by, shall we say some rather colourful local characters.

Design issues have come to a head in the West Lynn shopping area. Simon Wilson has written a few extensive posts on the issues for The Spinoff and overall has come down pretty hard on Auckland Transport:

It’s tempting to think the urban designers and roading engineers and construction workers at AT simply do not know how to do their jobs. I’ve said as much myself. But is it credible? Does AT really not know how to channel ordinary flows of rainwater? Not appreciate what it’s like to ride a bicycle? Not grasp the basics of making a safe pedestrian crossing?

Yes, AT has been incompetent in West Lynn, but the problem, surely, is not at the construction level. Builders make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. Not just builders, but designers, engineers, supervisors on the job and managers back in the office. Communications staff who are supposed to be aware of the optics and good at keeping everybody talking.

But the problem here is not, fundamentally, to do with any of them. The measure of an organisation is how it manages its mistakes. How well it identifies them, fixes them, learns from them and improves the organisation by putting the lessons to good use. And the responsibility for all that goes to the top.

On the evidence of West Lynn, Auckland Transport is blighted by systemic incompetence.

If your organisation has declared it will prioritise safety, how is it possible that you then build a dangerous pedestrian crossing? How, during the processes of design, consultation, approvals and construction, does no one say, we can’t do this? Or, more likely, how is it that when people did say we can’t do this, they were not listened to?

Thank god they’re not flying planes.

Looking at some of the design details, it’s hard to not think Auckland Transport has suffered from incompetence. Just look at that sloping footpath that channels water into the shopfronts when it rains:

Photo by Simon Wilson

Some of the issues appear to have arisen as a result of Auckland Transport trying to avoid bikelash by retaining as many on street carparks as possible. This includes at West Lynn where the bike lanes have sharp turns on them.

Or this section on Old Mill Rd where the cycleway is on the wide kerb but locals are are parking all over it.

Other complaints are a bit more difficult to have sympathy for, like changes to the traffic islands at the nearby intersection of Garnet and Old Mill roads where a few locals have been camping out to protest what seems to be a design tweak to make things safer by slowing cars down a bit.

Curiously, Prager’s focus seems to have shifted in recent days. It started with carparking outside shops, then moved to the trees, and now kerb realignment has become the hot topic.

AT is realigning the roadway at some intersections in order to slow traffic, eliminate the temptation for drivers to just “nip round the corner” and make intersections safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Complainants correctly identify that drivers will have to slow down and take more care, and they think that’s wrong.

A lot of these complaints and protests seem to be variations on what’s known as “bikelash“, a backlash against providing safe and attractive facilities for those riding bikes. Auckland has generally managed to avoid bikelash up until now, although it’s pretty common around the world. Streetfilms even have a video on in:

Where things go next will be important for ensuring that momentum on improving cycling in Auckland is maintained. This requires two key steps that Auckland Transport need to focus on in the coming days, weeks and months:

  • Better communicating the strategy. The case for getting more people cycling is really strong, with a myriad of transport, environmental, economic and health benefits that provide excellent returns on investment. AT has already built a strong business case outlining the necessary level of investment and where efforts should be targeted. They need to do a far better job at communicating their commitment to this strategy – at times it feels as though too much of Auckland Transport doesn’t really support it. One thing that’s been particularly notable in the discussion about Grey Lynn/Westmere has been that ATs senior executives are missing in action. They appear to be leaving their staff to fend for themselves with no support.
  • Committing to higher quality design. Doing high quality cycling infrastructure within a street environment where there are already multiple competing uses is a challenging exercise that requires high quality design skills and the need to make challenging trade-offs. The tragic thing about the cycling infrastructure through West Lynn is that it’s pretty crap for those on their bikes, with very sharp turns and poor protection from vehicles in many locations. Truly great cycling design isn’t about pretty colours, but is about finding creative ways to allocate street space between different users while supporting attractive and successful environments. We know that AT can deliver this but it seems to be an issue of consistency. For example the works at Mt Albert Town Centre are looking good.

So Auckland Transport really will need to “step up” and do these jobs better. But they will also need help and constant reminders that Aucklanders really do want safer and more attractive cycling infrastructure to help create a healthier, safer and more successful Auckland.

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87 comments

  1. Having seen that sharp turn in person, I think it could be improved by simply moving that single parking space backwards by about 50cm. Wouldn’t make a difference to parking at all (plenty of space or if they must they could designate it cars only no long vehicles). As it is you tend to get SUVs move forward right to the rubber stoppers and overhang them into the cycle lane itself.

      1. +1
        Perhaps with a few of those rubber buffers strategically placed to discourage a four wheeled thing from pulling in there.
        Come to think of it, are there any designated bicycle parking facilities anywhere in this mess?

        1. Yes, several racks have been installed outside Harvest. I imagine there are more to come.

          I’m sad about the lack of seating. The only public place I found to sit there the other day was utility boxes and the bus stop. I think there’s still a bench near the RSC

    1. You call democracy in action feral? If most people didn’t want it after consultation, council shouldn’t have built it, even if all evidence suggests it is for the greater good. I suspect most people don’t even care as those RA’s usually only represent a small section of the community.

      1. Consultation doesn’t mean “AT will do exactly what I tell them to” – I have no idea how this absurd notion keep popping up. It means they ask everyone for feedback into certain design aspects and overall vision. A vocal minority not liking something doesn’t mean that the majority of feedback from consultation was not positive, or that people are selfish and have want stupid things that don’t work in reality. You even say that if it’s in the greater good that they should not proceed. Why, because some people are blindingly ignorant and selfish? What an absurd sense of entitlement you share with them.

        I’ve been consulted many times on many projects and I am at a 100% failure rate for getting my concerns/issues addressed – I am annoyed but I don’t have the arrogance to believe so much in my own ‘common sense’ that I’ll go out and block projects from happening.

        These people are entitled Luddites who associate anything but 100% car domination as the return of communism and it has nothing to with democracy.

      2. As far as I can see, how this works is that a small but vocal group of people with a lot of time, money and/or connections gets things their way, at the expense of everyone else. I would not call that democracy in action.

      3. Ari – maybe you haven’t seen the people in question. Totally, totally bonkers. Mad as a pack of cats in a bag.

        Island Bay Cycleway is the same sort of cycleway seen around the world, functioning well, and yet in Island Bay, with exactly the same kind of design, the lead person complaining calls it a “killer cycleway” and protests loudly. Key problem seems to be that some car parks have been lost, yet this is one of the few Wellington inner suburbs that actually have off-street parking. Their issues are nonsensical, and have largely all been resolved, except for one: they want the cycleway back where it was, in with the traffic, next to the buses and the drivers car-doors, and they plan to take the Council to court to enforce that. Nothing less will do for them.

      4. Ya’ll missed my point entirely. I never said council should listen to them. I implied these people only represent a small fraction of society.

        I said if the majority of the people don’t want something, in a functioning democracy, that is what should happen. Alcohol is one of the most destructive substances in society, but the majority want it so it stays. Democracy.

        You are calling people exercising their democratic right to protest, “feral”. I know they are a selfish minority, but that is entirely irrelevant. There is a reason why democracy is dying in this country and it partly to do with attitudes like this. You criticise them, when we should be cheering them on and also encouraging pro-cycling groups to organise counter protests.

        But no, its just easier to just call people who don’t agree with you, “feral”.

        Good luck with that.

        1. Ari, exercising one’s democratic right to protest is important. But we have a poor form of democracy that it has come to this. Better democracy means more meaningful conversations in the community, more understanding of others’ positions, more moving forward as a community, with individuals willing to make personal sacrifices for the greater good. There is nothing wrong with pointing out that the current consultation processes can cause unnecessary friction and create divided communities, and that there is a better and more democratic way.

          Democracy does not equal majority rules. We are above that.

    1. It’s sad to see people in the cycling cult discussing other road users in this manner.

      But not surprising given the superiority in which the cycling cult see’s itself.

      1. Lol. Never mind the imaginary cycling cult–have a look at the comments on any Anglo news site that is weak on moderation, such as News Corp Au outlets, and you see moto-fascism baying for blood.

      2. Yes whereas the people who drive cars for every single trip and therefore receive 99% of the roading subsidies squeal like a pig every time any tiny portion of their privilege is taken away.

        Your comments are nonsensical and show a massive confirmation bias.

  2. Not that I want to defend AT’s obvious design screwups in West Lynn, but by taking Lisa Prager (and, in the shadows behind her, Penny Bright) seriously, Simon Wilson’s article is committing the same error that the US media did re: Trumpism. Prager and Bright are reactionaries trying to look like radicals. They oppose all urbanism and progressive policies and are as much about keeping Auckland in a 1950s time warp as Mike Lee. There is also a nasty racist undertone to their activism, eg, Prager’s crew suggesting that bike lanes are a conspiracy to close down local shops in favour of people biking to FOREIGN OWNED malls. These people are our equivalent of the Tea Party. Deprive them of the oxygen of respectability.

    1. Look what happened when people didn’t take Trump seriously. Besides, the article doesn’t actually show Prager or Bright in that great a light.

    2. Hm.

      …and [when] asked did she object to the needs of kids on bikes being met, she said, “How can children ride bikes in a modern city?” — and so on.

      Feel free to draw your own conclusions.

      1. and I’ve heard her say to a meeting that parents don’t let their children cycle because they’re frightened of stranger danger, not traffic. Luckily the full room put her right on that one.

    3. “biking to FOREIGN OWNED malls.”
      Yeah, because cyclists feel super welcome navigating car-oriented hellscape suburban intersections just to wander about acres of car parking searching for a random tree or cart corral to possibly lock to.

      1. this is the funniest of the lot, I use my bike to ride to my local shops, which happens to be West Lynn…. And never to any mall, I also never drive to malls either, I shop as local as possible, because I’m riding, and in the city centre, also by bike because of the great range and pleasure of being there, unlike being in any mall ever. No matter who owns them.

        People on bikes shop more locally; these people are spectacular fantasists, with absurd and baseless claims.

  3. When commenting on the sloping footpath, yes sure, the design isn’t optimal.
    The designer has limited space to work with (in being able to create a good design that works well for all factors) and probably has parameters they have to meet, most likely assessability and more probably cost.

    What would have been great to see was a separated upper and lower footpath linked with ramp and stairs, with glass balustrade (or similar), with the upper footpath sloping back towards the gutter, with the lower footpath being taken care of in much the same way as it is in the photo.

    In saying that, the design implemented as it is, should not flood the shops (although from reading the article, it does), unless it is a major event. The majority of the catchment is the new sloped footpath, with the shop canopies taking the lower footpath’s catchment away through downpipes. An improvement could be a larger profile dish channel that actually catch the water as it cascades down, but that would reduce aesthetics/accessibility. What I was mistaking for a sump is actually a telecoms pit cover, so perhaps some more sumps/catchpits would help.

    Sometimes it is a case of:
    rock –> designer <– hard place

    especially when you are taking all stakeholders into account, that includes councils (planning and engineering depts), AT, utility providers, local communities, accessibility advocates and affected business owners. It is very hard to get it 100, even 80% right most times.

    1. Actually, I think that slope was a matter of the team having neither budget nor inclination towards green infrastructure. It should have been terraced rain garden plantings with stormwater overflow to the stormwater network.

      One thing that is missing is the overriding requirement that any work AT does needs to retain trees, plant more trees, and increase areas of permeable planting.

  4. Great article from Simon.

    The problem is that AT is incompetent as an organisation and doesn’t actually have a strategy for what it does as a whole. Strategy implies concerted action to overcome a specific problem. AT just lists a whole bunch of random ideas some old white dudes came up with to throw money at and they just do that. No specific goals, no specified problem to overcome, no concerted effort. Thus, no strategy at all, no pleasing anyone, pissing off everyone. Don’t expect to achieve much with no actual strategy. Just lots of rates money down the drain.

    I know there are plenty of good people at AT, but I think the organisation can’t actually do anything other than build/maintain roads. It is so bureaucratic, it couldn’t change if it wanted to.

    1. Sorry but you are wrong. They do have a strategy and they implementing it. They just get bike and PT backlash every time they try and implement it.

      Change is hard and scary, juts like it was in 1955 when the powers that be decided to take away everybody’s trams and force them on to buses and into cars. Massive protest but no consultation or RMA back then.

  5. Surely this is a storm in a tea cup as it isn’t finished yet, colouring of cycle path bits not done etc. Though, NZ’rs seem pretty crappy at parking on them in either case even when they are fully painted that bright hideous green. In urban shop areas anyway, I think would be much nicer in some other colour, wish NZ hadn’t adopted that colour.

    1. No, it’s not a storm in a teacup. Pt Chev is next, and we are now a suffering, divided community as a result. Initiatives here are being undermined by the cycleway as proposed, and other community initiatives could have been supported had the cycleway been proposed in a slightly different location, which would have been a win-win-win situation.

      AT could have known this, but their process locked them to a route before either they or the community had seen what the issues of the route were.

  6. This thread’s important – Simon in discussion with others https://twitter.com/simonbwilson/status/937045701879480320

    There are so many things going on here… cycling and walking showcasing, yet again, the flawed approach of giving a transport-only mandate to folks whose handiwork profoundly affects place.

    Picking up on Guy’s observation about Island Bay (now a national watchword, in the trade, for entitled, bikelashing feralness)…
    For the record, some big shared issues between Island Bay and Grey Lynn:
    1. senior management hanging staff out to dry, especially failing to promulgate with the public and shop owners the “Why Story” that they committed to inside council and on which basis they sent staff forth to deliver. (in our town councillors didn’t just hang staff out, they strung ’em up and gave people sticks to poke ’em – GL is different I gather?)
    2. initial mandates for “cycling infrastructure”, not even for ridership outcomes, and definitely not for placemaking or anything sufficiently holistic. (But note: Island Bay had a very good placemaking process done as a consequence of the initial controversy – Love The Bay – that the residents’ association tried to undermine)
    3. heavily compromised cycling infrastructure *specifically to preserve carparks and minimise backlash* (o the irony)
    4. budgets for “cycling infrastructure” only, so there’s almost none of the general urban area beautification that might sweeten the pill of Someone Moving My Cheese
    5. Reactionary and (in our case wilfully) ignorant, politically ambitious boomers enjoying being A Big Noise In The Community, loving the opportunity to Hate On Council, and claiming to speak for a potentially far greater number of people who are nonplussed, conflicted, or just quietly Ok with the changes. (And no, those protestors’ behaviour is not democracy in action if you and I share the generally positive glow around that phrase. Island Bay residents’ association behaviour has been pretty despicable and their power and domination of the conversation space is a tyranny of the privileged minority perpetuated by lily-livered councillors. I hesitate to use such strong words about a Community Group, but it must be called for what it is.)
    6. loose language around “democracy” and the need to “bring the community with you”, failing to kill off discourse that implies it’s a vote or referendum (where, of course, street property owners get 90% of the say)
    7. mistakes or interim uglinesses in construction that weren’t quickly-enough fixed or have just been left
    8. The role of leadership in creating demand-leading infrastructure. Of *course* people won’t ask for this, they’ve been steeped in a car-centric environment for the last 60 years. If we want change, as our leaders secretly know, they will have to lead – and be firm, well-documented, evidence-based, relentlessly explanatory, but unapologetic.

    Big differences with Island Bay: IB has had truly immense amounts of engagement and consultation. There was more on that than the $30mill ASB sports centre. Yes it started too late and made some elementary errors (I know, I was there) but quickly got a lot better. And it’s out of all proportion with the council’s Significance Policy – the disruption doesn’t merit it!

    Anyway. Have views. And experience.

    1. This set of comments cuts to the quick: Simon Wilson: “But I don’t believe those streets can’t handle foot berm bike park carriageway.” Max Robitzsch: “And also keep the flush medians? When a flush median SHOWN not to be used much was proposed to be removed (Franklin Road) the locals revolted in just the same fashion.”

      I agree with Max on this. These streets are not wide enough for footpaths, grass berms, cycleways, traffic lanes, parking and flush medians. Let alone buslanes, as many of the streets need too. When Goff instructed AT to reallocate road space to PT and active modes, he did not specify parking only. So why is AT taking some parking but also taking berms and footpaths\, which are necessary for the active mode of walking?

      In some cases, the traffic needs to become one way to accommodate the other modes, and in others, the cycleways need to be put on the back streets.

    2. Their protest is democracy in action. How else would you define it? Seriously. You saying it isn’t democracy doesn’t negate that. I don’t think they represent many people, but they are allowed to use all resources at their disposal to have their say in how their community is developed, even if their view is irrational.

      It is up to council to decide if these noisy people represent the majority, or just a tiny, annoying minority that they are.

      AT’s problem is that they don’t have a clear vision,mission, strategy, or the organisational structure that could deliver it well. They just tend to bumble along.

      1. So what if it’s democracy in action? It’s the motivation (the continued death of active road users for driving convenience) that is feral.

        AT needs to continually express their regional cycling strategy and work far harder to complete it.

  7. It’s unbelievable how the planners have put obstacles in the way of just about every bus, train, bike and pedestrian project. The poor outcomes and silly decisions make me think they do it intentionally.
    To have just one entrance at the K’rd station is stupid and must be a safety issue for OSH.

  8. What a thoroughly sad article. Makes me wonder about things like Concerned Citizens, or residents associations and business associations. Were they once upon a time decent people, or have they always been this terrible, god-awful blight they are now?

    1. There are business associations that do good work. Here we have a few loose organisations that are supportive of placemaking and children’s needs and environmental improvement. They are truly members of our community, with kids at the schools and who play sport and music together, etc. AT just doesn’t know how to engage them.

  9. If my neighbour paved a large sloping area and directed the stormwater into my place I would be totally pissed off. Having dealt with AT since they formed I have to say I am not in the least surprised. Their idea of consultation is to let you know they are doing something and ask you for your views and then ignore them entirely. Consultation is a box for them to tick. I tell clients that the Auckland Council is trustworthy and so is NZTA, even if you dont like what they do, they won’t mislead you. By I tell clients they should never trust AT. You have to object and then appeal before they will even consider your point of view and then you have to make sure your lawyer documents any deal in full before you agree.

    1. “I tell clients that the Auckland Council is trustworthy” Have you never witnessed the beautiful and intricate dance between consenting and enforcement?

  10. To AT.

    There’s plenty of advice about clear objectives and public engagement in the EC report “Reclaiming Streets for People”? http://ec.europa.eu/environment/pubs/pdf/streets_people.pdf

    Here’s how I think your process should go:

    1/ Clear strategy from AT, reinforced by consistent action from all of AT’s different teams, and advertised widely to the public, along with supporting research.
    2/ In an area where an improvement is intended, don’t design it first! Hold public meetings in as many different venues and times of day and days of the week as you can, advertising as widely as you can. State the objectives, ask about problems of the area, provide the relevant research, and let people hear each other’s concerns.
    3/ Then do the design, based on the research AND on the information the community has given you.
    4/ Put the design out for public consultation.

    I believe that this approach exposes people in the community to the views of others – some of whom they probably know in another capacity – before they are entrenched in an opinion about a certain design. So then when they see the design later, they have a picture in their mind of friends or acquaintances whose needs are being met by the design, even if it is not something they themselves would have thought of or needed. This way should lead to far fewer people taking black and white positions on a design, and far fewer would have any time for the extremists.

    I also believe that this approach means you don’t go down an entrenched path for a design before the community – who know the area best – have filled you in with important details.

    1. Great suggestions. It’s not rocket science. I think clear strategy and consistent actions from AT is virtually impossible. One problem is that most people don’t understand what good strategy is. Strategy isn’t making a long list of stuff to do.

    2. “2/ In an area where an improvement is intended, don’t design it first! Hold public meetings in as many different venues and times of day and days of the week as you can, advertising as widely as you can. State the objectives, ask about problems of the area, provide the relevant research, and let people hear each other’s concerns.”

      This is *exactly* what AT did here. There is a small minority who wanted children to keep dying who were rightly ignored and are now throwing a tantrum.

      1. Which “here” do you mean? Did they hold all those meetings before they designed? Why did they change to a different model then for Pt Chev where they designed first and then didn’t hold any community meetings, only “info desks”?

        1. Here meaning the inner west cycling improvements.
          Where AT asked the community ‘what cycling improvements do you want?’
          and the community said ‘protected cycle lanes’
          and AT designed protected cycles lanes
          and AT said ‘these are the plans you asked for, what do you think?’
          and the community said ‘even more protection’
          and AT said ‘here are the construction designs with more protection’ and then a tiny grumpy minority said ‘the community wasn’t listened to’

          Anyone complaining about consultation at this stage is simply upset that AT didn’t do what they wanted.

          https://at.govt.nz/about-us/news-events/feedback-sought-on-pt-chev-to-city-cycle-improvements/

          1. SB, I’m also really pissed when people say AT don’t listen when in fact AT got a majority of submitters in favour of their proposal. But let me explain how what AT did is not what I suggested in my point 2:

            I submitted in that original consultation you quoted.

            AT did not: “Hold public meetings… State the objectives, ask about problems of the area, provide the relevant research, and let people hear each other’s concerns.” None of those things happened, as far as I am aware.

            That consultation was about routes. And then the routes were set. In asphalt. So when the problem arose subsequently that the 12 pohutukawa trees on Pt Chev Rd were in the way, there was a very clear solution: Use the parallel “bird streets” instead. Which solved another community issue that had been petitioned for – traffic calming required in the “bird streets”. Something wonderful could have come from that.

            “Anyone complaining about consultation at this stage is simply upset that AT didn’t do what they wanted”

            No, I’m thrilled that we’re getting a cycleway. What I want is for AT to improve its consultation process so that there is less bikelash and so other communities have a nicer time with less hatred on Neighbourly, etc. I also don’t want to be taken for a ride (excuse the pun):

            The consultation documents showed new trees about every 15 m coming out of the footpaths. When I said the footpaths shouldn’t be reduced for trees, I was told that actually, there wouldn’t be any trees. The documents weren’t honest. The documents also showed the existing trees would be ‘moved’ – I asked where to? And they asked if my community group could help them find places! Again, the documents weren’t honest. When I said that we needed the trees retained, I was told that they had to go anyway, because in the future there might be a buslane. Then they they said they now realised that the trees were important to the community so they’d try to retain them. Then – and this one takes the cake – “Auckland Transport is always mindful about what impact any development may have on trees and will only look to remove them where no viable alternative is available.” So how come then they were only trying to retain the trees after they’d realised they were important to the community?

            Note, I asked these questions on the 1st April, and today is the 5th December. I still don’t know what’s happening to the trees!

          2. ““Hold public meetings… State the objectives, ask about problems of the area, provide the relevant research, and let people hear each other’s concerns.” ”

            I’ll address this bit. I agree with you with regards to the trees.

            AT stated that the objectives were to improve conditions for cyclists and asked where people found problems when cycling. AT didn’t hold public meetings or encourage a public debate, and frankly, that’s a good thing. We should do that when we set the citywide cycling strategy (which we haven’t done enough of), not every time we build a cycleway. Consultation should be scaled appropriately to the project.

            There is also only so much that AT can do with regards to providing research, what on earth would you have them provide? Research again should go into the strategy stage. Set the regionwide strategy based on the evidence and then ask locals how to best implement the strategy in their area.

            Some local may well have wanted the cycleway removed and traffic calming put on the’ bird streets’. That’s fine, but the majority of submitters didn’t, and it doesn’t align with what research says is the best way to build cycling networks; high quality separated routes on direct connections. Traffic calming should be done as well as cycleways, not instead of.

    3. What you’ve just described is genuine, good faith consultation. Unfortunately AT (and the Council) treat consultation as a box that has to be ticked in order to progress what they’ve already decided to do.

      Then you get into a death spiral where locals no longer bother participating in any consultation process because they try and engage a couple of times, get discouraged and never bother again.

      In parallel the consultation process gets hijacked by well organised interest groups with links to the organisations who can then say “look, the consultation showed everyone is overwhelmingly in favor of our proposal”

    4. Great suggestions. Particularly waiting to design until proper consultation has been done. It would avoid the defend the design approach of AT and the various engineers (noone likes their designs being criticised)

  11. I’ve been coming on here for a long time telling you all that AT is a leaderless, rudderless organisation.

    AT must be the #1 liquidator of businesses in Auckland. Honestly they have no clue whatsoever about the impact their works have on business. Their response is to erect small signs and we as a society let this organisation get away with it. If AT works cause business loss (which is the case in the vast majority or projects) then AT should be paying for it.

    Projects needs to be balanced across transport modes. Yet AT seems to intent on implementing trendy modes supported by the highly entitled, wealthy vocal minority. That is why we are seeing communities torn apart by these projects.

    AT needs a personnel clean out and a culture change. Nothing less will do.

    1. “AT seems to intent on implementing trendy modes supported by the highly entitled, wealthy vocal minority” – oh, you mean petrolheads with Beemers? Honestly, anyone who thinks that “only the rich ever use a bike” needs to get out more…

    2. “AT seems to intent on implementing trendy modes supported by the highly entitled, wealthy vocal minority.”

      Absolutely agree AT needs to stop pandering to the needs of SUV drivers.

    3. I don’t tend to agree with you most the time, but….Many businesses have gone under because of AT projects diverting away customers, but it can be impossible to prove and difficult to fight.

      Glen/Doug, unfortunately it is mostly true in the case of Auckland. Affluent white men are the majority of cyclists in Auckland and they are the ones driving the discussion. If I were to make an educated guess, they are also the ones designing and delivering these projects. You don’t get many poor brown people using cycling infra here in Auckland, even if they are the majority of the workers building them. One reason is that affluent white men have a poor understanding of the world outside their bubble. It will hopefully change over time, but that’s what it is at the moment.

      1. ” Affluent white men are the majority of cyclists in Auckland ”

        Citation needed. Perhaps you just need to get out of the wealthy white suburbs more.

      2. There are certainly interesting demographics to watch. But the rich white men in lycra stereotype also fits the “I’m fine on the road – I wouldn’t use that silly path anyway” stereotype. From what I’ve seen, both Mums and Dads are taking the kids to school by bike in traffic and vocally asking for better, or taking them for weekend urban cycling trips and praising the cycleways. And from what I’ve seen, there are lots of women in groups like Bike Auckland and Women in Urbanism who are calling for better cycling infra for the “interested but concerned” demographic and for children.

      3. I see a lot of people in the central city who are obviously using their bicycle just to get around and are definitely not white or wealthy or men. I think there is a huge amount of confirmation bias in what you are saying.

        Plus a lot of the lycra cyclists are often against cycle infrastructure as for them it encourages the “wrong kind” of cyclist. By that they mean cyclists who cycle slow and get in their way, just like when they are in their car. To this group you can add Jonathan Coleman and Mike Hosking.

        The cycle infrastructure being installed does not really benefit the majority of existing cyclists and certainly not the hard core 1%. They will cycle regardless of the conditions. The new infrastructure will benefit the next 10% who want to cycle but are scared by the existing roads.

      4. Sailor Boy, one of the things you notice when you do exactly that is that cycling infrastructure is largely limited to a few very wealthy suburbs. As a consequence you can expect the majority of cyclists to be wealthy.

        I can recognise two main demographics. There’s the few lucky birds who can afford a $1.5 million dollar house in suburbs like Belmont or Grey Lynn, or were lucky enough to buy there before the housing market blew up. So they can now cycle around on those new cycle lanes. And they’re raving about how great cycling is in their corner of Auckland.

        Meanwhile in the rest of Auckland you have the others, more invisible and spread out. Quite often stuck between parked cars and high-speed traffic on arterial roads, copping stupid overtaking manoeuvres and occasional abuse from drivers. Every day, one little mistake by anyone and they may end up dead. They don’t give a flying toss about new cycleways because they’ll never be able to afford living near them. And yes you definitely see more of them than a few years ago.

        1. Belmont? Other than the painted cycle lanes on Lake Road, what has Belmont got going for it? I cycle heaps in that area and there is nothing there for cyclists.

          1. Oh come on. I know painted lanes aren’t ideal, but the status quo on most arterials is weaving in and out of parked cars and high speed traffic. You must at least notice some difference between those two.

            I mentioned Belmont because that’s where they’re boasting the school with the highest cycle mode share. So how exactly are those kids cycling to school?

          2. How are they cycling to school? Riding on the footpath mostly (illegal). You do see the odd student riding on lake Road but very few.

            At the Belmont intersections it is basically a complete dog’s breakfast. It is when not if a child will be killed or seriously injured.

            Until quite recently a lot of the principals at those schools actually banned cycling so it is a recent renaissance in the area.

            There are lots of arterial roads in Auckland with painted cycle lanes as they are seen as low hanging fruit. However, they do very little for anyone beyond the 1% “fearless” demographic. Lake Road is quite successful as Devonport is the 2nd biggest cycling area in Auckland after Whenuapai, and that is despite an almost complete lack of facilities.

        2. I completely agree that we should be building cycle lanes in less affluent areas. We should be building them everywhere! It’s ridiculous that we have to focus on the inner city :/

          Hopefully the Northcote Safe Route and Te Ara Mua will show that cycling can be incredibly popular in less affluent areas as well.

          PS, if Belmont has good cycling infrastructure then Puhinui must too (continuous cycle lanes on Station Road). I don’t think that is the case.

          1. I’m a bit more familiar with the area around Takapuna, and there there’s at least some connectivity there. You can cycle all the way from Narrow Neck to AUT (continuing along Esmonde Road and Akoranga Drive) without too much bravery. And Takapuna itself, although there’s no cycle lanes there, its street grid means that you often have alternatives to arterial roads, eg. Killarney Street instead of Anzac Street. In more recently developed areas with their ratmazes you’re often SOL.

            Is any of that ideal? Of course not, and there’s plenty of warts even on this big path along Esmonde Road. But, look around at the wider area. Often you’re on arterial roads lined with parked cars. These are every bit as annoying as the cars parked on cycle lanes, and there’s a lot of them.

            There’s good compared to best practice overseas, and good compared to surrounding areas in Auckland. Nuance.

            I commuted along Taharoto Road and Wairau Road for a while and I definitely prefer the former with it’s little cycle lane. Which means at least there is legitimately some room for you on the street. At some other point I went from Glenfield to Birkenhead, and Glenfield Road / Birkenhead Avenue, oh well, I can’t say anything polite about that. That’s why I’m moderately impressed with just actual, continuous cycle lanes.

            The inner city focus is understandable, you have to start growing that network from somewhere. In the meantime stop being surprised by people who think cycling is an upper class thing. It will be, until that cycle network reaches the more moderately priced areas.

          2. “You can cycle all the way from Narrow Neck to AUT (continuing along Esmonde Road and Akoranga Drive) without too much bravery” – sorry but you are obviously (like me) in the 1% fearless category. The other 99% would not go near that area by bike.

            Just because AT has done some bike washing and splashed some paint around, doesn’t mean they have created a network. If they wanted to that they have seriously upgraded the Green Routes and offered a cycle path through the mangroves from Esmonde Road to Takapuna.

            The local board is a joke and the laziest and most useless in Auckland. The demographic is too old and so they only listen to their old friends.

            If you are in that are, please try and get involved with Bike Shore who are dong some great stuff along with us at Bike Devonport. But it is a constant uphill struggle against reactionaries who want to preserve the failing auto centric model..

          3. Well, different perspective. You can have that little bike lane on Lake Road. Or you can have the mass of parked cars on your more typical arterial. Although both are scary, one of them is distinctively more so than the other.

    4. Lets be honest. It has an affect on already struggling businesses only. Most businesses are able to ride out the construction phase, and reap the benefits of upgraded streets-cape, services or patronage. Sometimes the Businesses need to adapt however as the upgrades attract more people, therefore increasing patronage, but also rents due to higher demand.

      In the end if the Business is at low enough turnover that AT ’causes’ them to go under or make more losses, then anything else in our business environment would most likely also taken them under. Remember quite often businesses are compensated for losses during construction for certain project, the amount may depend on the business skills of the owner, but commonly small business owners will make a lot of noise as a viable tactic to get increased compensation.

      In the end, lets not let small or large business owners stand in the way of upgrades, especially when its those small or large business owners who commonly benefit the most in the long term.

  12. +1 @goosoid, this is correct. Rarely communicated well though, to make it clear “who’s this project for??” – hat tip to @Heidi’s process suggestions.

    “AT is the #1 liquidator of businesses” – really? If you weren’t on a forum and actually talking with people face to face, could you stand by that?

    Let’s remember: running a small business is frickin’ difficult. Especially retail or hospo.

    1. There are 100+ things outside your control that affect your profitability every day (everything from the popularity of the neighbourhood to the trendiness of your product to the location of customer-amenable infrastructure nearby to whether your neighbour has annoying music playing to whether the weather’s been good or not).

    2. And a few things in your control, which you may or may not use to their maximum (advertising, quality of your product, service experience, business strategy, staff management).

    3. And some you have some control over (or at least choose at some point), like rent.

    The question is: if a business’s profit will be dented by a project, what’s the net outcome for society?

    If that dent is such to put them under, but it’s happened as an unfortunate “egg” broken for an amazing “cake” that will make a big difference to hundreds for the next 50 years, maybe just maybe that’s OK. And if it’s not, we gonna have to be MUCH heavier-handed in how we plan, so we aren’t prevented from making *any change at all* to this street *ever* because Barry, Small Business Owner And Disgruntled Ratepayer, runs a small business on it.
    And Shanaye, and Peter, and Sarah. And all their businesses will be dented by *any* improvement.

    Dairies are the classic example. THey run on such tiny marginal profit from each sale that even a great stormwater upgrade outside their shop (so it doesn’t flood any more) can mean custom is reduced. And the dairy may go under. Would you say @The Re’al Matthew “that infra organisation is in the business of killing businesses?”

    1. The biggest liquidator of businesses right now especially hospitality (and I deal with lots of small businesses day to day) is out of control rents. A client of mine just got hit with a $50k rent increase that effectively ended their business by taking away the small profit being generated.

      Another restaurant chain I am an independent director of has suffered a huge hit at a mall because of construction happening next door. The subsequent changes to the food area in expanding the selection of food at a lower price point, may well kill the business. We will need to roll with the punches and adapt to survive.

      This is all just part of the rich tapestry of running a business. No one guaranteed these business owners an unchanging playing field.

      Just like in evolution of the species, when things change, we either adapt to the changes or go the way of the billions of species that have gone extinct during the Earth’s history. Change is inevitable.

  13. Reading about this Prager person gives me a strange sort of respect for Robert Moses. I mean if that’s who AT have to consult with…

  14. The problem here (and with the Island Bay issues in Wellington too) is that people expect to park in front of the shops in a major city in the 21st century.

    It is no longer 1955, and you are not in Ekatahuna

    Arterial roads should not be clogged with car parking. People need to get used to the idea that they will have to park at some distance, either in a side street or a dedicated car park area/ building and WALK to the shops. Roads like Mt Eden Rd, Dominion Rd should be for traffic only with cycle/ bus lanes down both sides, and that should have been the case here too by the look of it.

    Eliminate the parking, everything becomes far easier to design and safer for all concerned. Additionally traffic will flow faster without the epic bottlenecks caused by parking outside shops, so it would be a win for motorists as well as cyclists. And some people might get some exercise walking from their cars

    1. Agree 100%. You could also have a few 5 min parks so that people can do the fabled dash in for a bottle of milk. But there is no reason parking for a 30-60 mins shop has to be right outside.

      1. And absolutely no reason for that horrible angled parking outside Harvest which these business owners are trying to have reinstated. Those particular parks are really scary to pull out from: Buses, cyclists and cars all pass there at a reasonable pace, but you have no visibility while inching out. That – and the horrendous parking issues nearby – are why we never drive to Harvest. We manage by bike, and have enjoyed the new cycleway despite its shortcomings.

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