It seems so long ago now, and if you’d only turned up in the city in the last month you wouldn’t believe it, but Auckland has been having one of its wettest years ever. By September we’d already received more rain than we normally get in a year. Although I don’t think I got as wet this year as I have in previous years, I was certainly getting sick of constantly wet roads while riding my bike. Then, suddenly that completely reversed and we’ve had weeks of warm, dry weather. Perfect conditions for getting out on a bike, and the public seem to agree.
Every month Auckland Transport publish the results from their growing network of automated cycleway counters. There are now 37 automated counters on cycleways around the region, with most being in and around city centre, to help measure the impact of the investment being made. The most notable of these is on Quay St where a counter has been hooked up to a display showing how many bikes have rolled past.
Throughout that wet winter/early spring the counters for most routes were showing modest growth, or at least the numbers were stable. That in itself was positive given the rain. However, the numbers show that since the weather settled there’s been an explosion of bike use. For many of our cycleways, November was the busiest single month ever recorded. Here are some of the results.
Tamaki Dr is easily our busiest cycleway with more than 450,000 trips recorded along it over the 12 months to the end of November (and probably a lot that aren’t recorded). Over that time frame, just 95 of the 365 days have had fewer than 1,000 trips recorded. The graph below shows a 30-day rolling average for nearly the last two years. As you can see numbers were tracking similar to last year and then …… BOOM
As mentioned above, Quay St is perhaps our most visible counter due to it’s display that ticks over every time someone rides past. It is now one of our most popular cycleways. The graph below shows how many trips were made on each day with the days above 1,000 in red). November last year had just 7 days with over 1,000 trips recorded while this year had 3 times that with 21 days.
NW Cycleway at Kingsland
The Northwest Cycleway has seen some impressive growth in recent years as we’ve connected new cycleways to it. In November, more people used the cycleway at Kingsland than in any other month in its history.
These are just a selection of the counters but there are similarly impressive results all over the place. They’re an ongoing confirmation that if we build safe, connected cycleways, that people will use them. With cycle numbers typically peaking in the summer months, if the numbers are as high as they are now, we could see some huge results in the coming months.
Related to all of this, AT announced that due to the train strike last Friday, the counters recorded the strongest Friday ever in the city.
Auckland’s city cycle counters have recorded their busiest Friday this year, with many routes seeing more than a 60 per cent increase.
On Friday 8 December, 8787 cycle trips were recorded across cycle counters in the city centre and fringe, the highest count ever for a Friday.
The average Friday city count for 2017 is 6,031 cycle trips.
Kathryn King, Auckland Transport’s Walking, Cycling and Road Safety Manager says riders are making the most of great weather.
She says people also took the opportunity to ride to work as an alternative to catching the train during Friday’s industrial action.
“People looked for other options to travel to work, and more and more decided to ride their bikes.
“Over 8500 bike trips in one day shows people are using their cars less for short distances and means public transport, freight, commercial vehicles and people who still need to drive can move around the network more quickly and easily,” Miss King says.
“As we continue to connect our cycling network, people can now use lanes safely separated from vehicles.
“We always experience an increase as the weather improves but we are really seeing the impact that projects like the Waterview Shared Path are having, as they give people more links to the wider cycling network.”
I wonder if some people the people who jumped on their bikes are about to start doing it more often.