Quay St opposite Spark Arena, is the second busiest location for bikes in the city – based on ATs ever growing network of automated bike counters. This is despite the only options being a narrow shared path or on the road. Further along Quay St, the addition of the cycleway has already resulted in a marked shift in where people ride. Previously 47% of people rode on the footpath, that’s dropped to just 3% while those cycling on the road have decreased from 53% to 33%
The plan, as it always has been, is to extend the existing Quay cycleway and that will eventually be linked into the proposed new cycleway along Tamaki Dr. That will also provide for connections to the Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr cycleway. All up this will make it an even more important route for people on bikes.
The area opposite Spark Arena is also used to park buses off peak and so to accommodate the cycleway, AT plan to narrow the central median in places so that the vehicle lanes can be shifted over. Only that central median currently has Pohutukawa in it. AT gained consent shift the Pohutukawa following a publicly notified process. And shift is an important distinction, unlikely with St Lukes a few years ago, AT aren’t going to cut the trees down but instead move them to nearby Teal Park and other locations within the city centre.
Some had already been moved
Happily relocated tree, a few hundred metres from where was taken out of lonely spot in middle of a highway. More tree pits waiting too. pic.twitter.com/chlFkX4dbd
— Luke Christensen (@lukechristensen) January 11, 2018
These aren’t even the first trees moved from the Quay St median. A bunch were moved for the first stage of the cycleway to the Harbour Bridge Park. If you go back on Google Street View and have a look, Despite being in the median for decades, they never looked nearly as big or healthy as the images in the tweet below.
Proof positive that pohutakawa trees can be successfully transplanted from the Quay Street median. These are from about two years ago in Harbour Bridge Park. There are a few more in Teal Park. pic.twitter.com/bOjnkVLBJU
— Alan Gray (@alangraynz) January 11, 2018
However, shortly after work started, many of the same people protesting against cycleways at West Lynn have moved in to stop works under the guise of saving the trees. Despite claiming it’s all about saving the trees, it’s notable that we never hear from these same people in other circumstances. For example, what about the strand of 375 Kauri being chopped down as part of the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway, where were they in the discussion about the East-West Link or any number of other roading projects. At least these trees are being moved, not destroyed. At some point it has to be realised that some these people are only really there to stop progress because its a cycleway. It won’t surprise me if we end up seeing them finding a reason to repeat this at other upcoming cycleway projects, such as Ian McKinnon Dr.
I think the most valid criticism of the project relates to retaining a large amount of bus parking along Quay St, space that could have instead been used for the cycleway. I have some sympathy for this, especially knowing how AT tend to work in silos and the cycling team were probably told that retaining that parking is a non-negotiable. At the same time, I’m also aware of the need for layover facilities for buses near the city, which can help reduce operational costs. Needing this space is one of the side effects of running a lot of extra buses to provide extra capacity at peak time.
I hope that AT are able to resolve this soon. Perhaps one thing that would help would be them promising to plant a significant number of street trees elsewhere in the city centre. They’re something we could always do more of.