Every few years we’ll see the media conduct a multi-modal commuter race. This is where multiple reports race between two locations, each on a different mode of transport to see what one is the fastest. Yesterday the Herald published the results of one and they were interesting for a couple of reasons. The race took place between New Lynn and their offices in Graham St involving a bike, bus, car and train. Here are the Herald’s results:

Overall, given the current state of our transport system, I found the results relatively unsurprising. For example, to get to Graham St from the Britomart involves a walk of about 1.3km so that adds quite a bit of time to the journey. That’s on top of the roughly 10 minutes extra spent travelling around to the wrong side of the city. It also didn’t help that she just missed a train so had an additional 10 minute wait. At the other end of the results, bikes always come out on top in these kinds of tests and so it’s no surprise it did again here. Bikes are the ultimate machines for gliding past congestion and providing a reliable trip and that’s even easier when there are safe cycleways to use.

Auckland has embarked on a journey of massive change in transport, and hopefully the new government will kick that up a gear even further. There are projects under construction and in the pipeline that will fundamentally change how people can get around the city. As such, if we were to run this test again in say a decade, I’d expect very different results. Here’s why:

Bike

It’s not entirely clear which route Tristan took on his ride to the city but improvements are on the way (or possible).

  1. the New Lynn to Avondale shared path will be the final leg in providing a safe route all the way from New Lynn all the way to the city. At Avondale it will link to the recently opened Waterview Shared Path which in turn links to the NW Cycleway. Other’s experience may vary but I find I’m able to travel faster when on a dedicated cycleway as I’m not having to ride as defensively, or dodge stopped cars. As such, I’d expect this could shave some time off the journey.
  2. The Ian McKinnon Dr cycleway has just started construction and is expected to take about 6 months to complete. Importantly, it will take out the nasty hill up to Newton Rd that riders currently have to climb and will whisk bikes up to Upper Queen St providing more time savings.
  3. Of course, it is also possible today to do this journey with an e-bike and at the current huge rates of growth they’re going to be very common in the decade timeframe we’re talking about. If you do this commute already via an e-bike let me know how long it takes but I’m assuming you could easily knock 10-15 minutes off that travel time with one.

All up, it doesn’t seem unreasonable that if conducted again in a decade and with an e-bike, that we could travel times of 25-30 minutes

Bus

Getting caught in congestion is the biggest Achilles heel of buses, something the herald reporter found out all too quickly.

I thought about this as I sat at the back of the bus, simmering with frustration over the fact Great North Rd was nearing a state of gridlock and there were not consistent bus lanes along the route.

Auckland Transport says 2.6km of bus lanes have been added to routes winding through the city over the past year.

This doesn’t sound like much and in that moment, I felt sure this should be a priority area of spending for Auckland Council. Top priority, in fact.

Thankfully, it’s one issue that is possible to solve. As great focus is brought to bear on public transport in coming years we expect to see a significant roll out of bus priority across the region. That should see the bus journey sped up a bit, although I’m not sure exactly by how much.

Train

Of all modes, the train journey is going to see the most change over the coming decade thanks to the City Rail Link and there are a few reasons for this.

  1. The CRL will allow trains from the west to head straight to town and avoiding the the long way around via Newmarket. For people going to Britomart this is expected to save about seven minutes. However, ….
  2. The new stations on the CRL will open up more of the city. In this case, the Aotea station will be a more convenient station to use. That will increase the train time savings to 10 minutes and with Aotea being about 800m closer to Graham St, it will save about another 10 minutes
  3. The third time saver is that the CRL allows more trains to run so that reduces the time spent having to wait, like the reporter had to do after just missing a train.

All up, 20-25 minutes could be saved, and possibly more if AT can get trains sped up in general.

Cars

Last and least, driving. As ATAP acknowledged, we can’t build our way out of congestion, and the motorway network is basically complete with only limited scope for more widening. More space is also likely to be taken out of the local road network for continuous bus lanes too. All of this means that driving to the city isn’t going to improve. If you’re someone who still wants to/has to drive then you’re going to have to accept that it’s going to take a long time. Particularly as PT gets faster, I wonder how many will still choose to drive?

Share this

101 comments

  1. I wonder how known bike haters, including Mike Hosking and Heather du Plessis-Allan, feel about the bike winning the race?

    1. They’ve both failed to understand Matt’s last point, so they probably think it’s terribly wrongheaded that we’re spending money on bikes and trains rather than just making the few tweaks necessary for cars to make it in their rightful 32min…

  2. Hi Matt,

    I’m a semi-regular work clothes e-bike rider. I suspect that the journey would have taken me 5 minutes longer than Tristan, but then I would have saved 10 to 15 minutes at the end of the journey by not having to shower and change clothes. Ideally the Herald should have counted Tristan time he needed to be ready for work. It would have been good if the journey was also done by a person riding an e-bike in work clothes, with the stipulation that they had to be in a state to step off the bike and start work at the end of their ride.

    I note the person who drove parked outside the premises on the street. They must be on a very good salary to even consider this as an option for all day parking. A more realistic option would have been to park in a car park and walk from the car park, which should have counted in the time element.

    It would have been good if they included the daily cost of the journey, which for public transport would be on a HOP card and the all-day parking cost.

    They could have considered a multi- modal journey such as cycle to New Lynn station and park the cycle, train to Kingsland, change onto New North Road or Sandringham Road bus which would drop them at the office.

    1. If you’re going to include the shower-at-work time for the cyclist, you’d have to subtract the shower-at-home time that he didn’t have to have.

      1. Also, shower at home is on your time versus shower at work on company time, and your commute is done when you exit the shower! If your company has a shower of course.

        1. I always figured a shower at work as being on my own time and work time didn’t start until I was at my desk, in the same way that my commute time finished at the desk if riding the bus

          1. When I was pinching pennies once I decided to turn the hot water cylinder off in my flat, and just shower at the gym each day after my cycle. 🙂 It helped justify the gym membership and was probably energy-wise too, as my hot water cylinder was old, not very well insulated, and had long uninsulated pipes to the shower.

          2. Heidi – did you do your dishes at the gym too? 😉
            (Probably boiled the jug I’m guessing, but the vision of doing dishes at the gym to penny-pinch is just awesome)

          3. More people will shower at work when more showers are provided. I once worked in an office which had been designed for 100 people – and had one shower. By the time I left there, they had 400 people – and still just one shower….. despite large growth in cyclist numbers.

            Basically – more people just smelled bad all day long. I hope they’ve changed their practice by now, and installed loads more showers…

            And – no parking facilities for anyone except the 5 directors. All the staff either walked, bused, or cycled.

          4. Seamonkey – I don’t remember actually. Wouldn’t put it past me. 🙂 I do remember how cold the water was when I had showers at home on the weekend. (Dublin) Brrr… I also remember there was a cinema that offered one pound movies on a Tuesday morning so we would fit our work around that. And a fish shop would give me a salmon carcass for free (probably assuming it was for a cat), until they cottoned on to the free but fiddly meal I was getting). But I am digressing when I should be doing the dishes!

    2. I have heard that argument before. If people biking and needing a shower at work should include that in their time, then people driving cars should include their shower time at home before setting out.

      Why? Because if I’m showering at work in not also needing to shower at home just before the ride! All it changes is where your morning shower happens!

      1. I cycle relatively slow, for about 7km one-way, and find that about 2 days out of 3 (when calculated over the whole year) I don’t need to shower. Though only if I DO remember that I don’t have to race 😉

      2. I’d imagine some people get so stressed driving on a randomly 1.5 hour commute day that they’d need a shower afterwards, but they’d have no time.

    3. Good point re the parking, not many can park outside their premises in the CBD. Wonder what the percentage is for onsite parking in the CBD vs using a public parking building etc

  3. Yes, cycling consistently comes out faster for most things my family members want to do.

    Have a care for the Waterview teenagers who aren’t served by any of the new cycleways to get to Avondale College, for which they are in zone. They have to use Great North Rd, amongst the buses and cars. Even walking along there is foul, but cycling is extremely dangerous.

    1. I travel down Rosebank Road most days by bike. The section between Ash Street and Avondale Road, including both intersections, is terrible for cyclists.

      1. Another Auckland Cycling Black Hole. What is the official criteria by which new bike paths are decided? Lack of opposition? Strength of positivism? Ease of build? Connection of dots? I can’t work it out from the map but is the non-housed land in the back of Waterview all mangrove swamp or would it be feasible bike path territory?

        1. That’s what I’m looking at. One cycle bridge over some of the low-lying area could really connect up these areas.

          Your question – how do they decide – is a good one, and nothing like as transparent as AT would have us believe. The next question is: how do they change their minds? Because cycleways have been so far down the priority list for so long, even cycleways planned for an area – and printed as such on cycle maps – just surreptitiously get removed from the programme.

          This is what happened along Great North Rd by Waterview. Because the kids there don’t matter if they’re trying to get the cars through.

          1. Cycle lanes along GNR were just about to start moving into serious territory when Waterview got approved – then they got canned because NZTA wanted full flexibility to do whatever they could along the corridor during tunnel construction. Time to put it back on the list, but the budgets and even more, AT’s attention is already oversubscribed – they need to boost cycle delivery resources, not just funding…

            As for any cycle path west of Waterview through the Mangroves. I had long discussions with the Local Board on this, and because of the wording of the relevant reserves / foreshore act / bylaws (I don’t remember the exact legal instrument), they were really scared of designing it for bikes, because while WALKING was an approved activity in the reserve, biking was not, and they didn’t want to risk it 🙁

          2. Thanks Max, I’ve long wondered about that.

            There are two important things here:

            1/ The cyclelanes on GNR were supposed to be finished by 2009. Was NZTA really stopping them in 2008 and 2009 before they’d even done their traffic modelling? I’d imagine that it is only the low priority nature of the cycleway programme that meant they were still unfinished when WC came on the scene.

            It was bad enough when I thought AT had decided to can the GNR cycleway because of the new Waterview Shared Path, which we were getting as mitigation for the negative effects of WC. Now that you’ve said that it was indeed NZTA who canned the GNR cycleway, this actually means that the total of NZTA’s mitigation is what they provided MINUS what they stopped from happening.

            Mitigation? Don’t think so. Certainly not for the Avondale College kids from Waterview. They’ve just been shafted. Thanks NZTA, and thanks AT for allowing it.

          3. Sorry, I’m not saying NZTA themselves stopped it. It was likely more along the line of Auckland Council saying “Well, NZTA have said they are going to change GNR back and forth many times as part of the construction works, so why would we do a cycleway on it, waste of money, and afterwards maybe we will change all of GNR anyway, so no use doing something interim.”

            Remember this was old Auckland City Council back before amalgamation – the entity that had a target of 1 km / year of cycle lanes (!!!). Cycle projects then were even more at risk from anything that in any way made them seem “problematic”.

          1. My guess is that it hasn’t started because the local board are scared stiff of angry vocal NIMBYs. I also heard that Forest and Bird were slowing it down by raising objections because it passes through reserve.

            My understanding was that this was one of the Waterview connection amelioration projects from the Waterview board of Inquiry so presumably the funding for it is sitting somewhere unspent? Earning interest?

            I also heard that it would be a walking only boardwalk and that cycling would be banned. Although that PDF does say “accessible” so maybe at least it won’t have stairs like the bridge from NW cycleway to Waterview Reserve.

            I’m kinda treating it as similar to book 6 of Game of Thrones. Would love it to happen, but not holding breath, not expecting any time soon, not really expecting that it will ever be delivered.

          2. Thanks for that Kevin. That’s a really good route. I see that it gained resource consent last year: http://temp.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/AboutCouncil/meetings_agendas/hearings/Documents/HollyStreetReserveAmendedDecision.pdf

            The only thing that worries me is that this is for a walkway, not even a shared path, let alone a cycleway with a walkway. This is a massive step up for walking access for the Avondale kids. And if they change it to a cycleway as well, will repair the Cycling Black Hole well too.

          3. I’d imagine a cycle bridge would have less ecological impact than a ground level cycle path. It may remove some of the “security” issues raised by residents, too.

            Another way to look at the environmental impacts would be: GNR needs trees and better green stormwater infra. It’s an ugly and barren streetscape, and for many environmental and social reasons, it needs trees. Once it gets the buslanes it needs, and the trees, there’ll be room for only one traffic lane each direction. (If that.)

            So, to provide a cycleway, would you put in a cycle bridge to Holly St, or would you remove the entire corridor of trees on GNR that are required? Which would have less environmental impact? I believe it would be the Holly St cycle bridge, and it would be a far nicer environment for cycling, helping to increase cycling mode share and public health.

            🙂

          4. Hi Heidi – sadly it wasnt about ecological impact at all – only about the wording of the reserves rules 🙁

            Here’s something I got from a Local Board member back in 2014

            “The land borders the Marine Reserve. There has been no design work done yet and no public consultation of much note although it was mentioned in the Draft Waterview Precinct Plan and the feedback we received showed a lot of community support.

            It will impact on the DOC estate and won’t be able to be built to accommodate cyclists because it is through a Marine Reserve (which do not have transport corridors as a key function or purpose). That said, the SH16 motorway goes right through it on the northern boundary. However this is a new connection and DOC approval is required. We see it as an opportunity to increase public access to appreciate the natural landscape and flora and fauna of the marine reserve (which is a function of the Marine Reserve).

            However DoC do not have to agree to the concept and can veto it.

            1st step: The Whau and Albert Eden Local Boards did submit on DOC’s Conservation Management Strategy on 15 March 2013 supporting the introduction of a walkway. We spoke at the Hearing and the Government do need release their decision on submissions until approx. Aug 2014.

            2nd step: if its supported by DOC we need to find money to apply for Resource Consents in the Coastal Marine Area and a Marine Reserve. Pricey.

            3rd step: If we get the Consents approved, we need to find a huge amount of money to build it

            So it’s a slow process with no guarantees…but cyclist use is not incorporated into it. Sorry.”

          5. “So, to provide a cycleway, would you put in a cycle bridge to Holly St, or would you remove the entire corridor of trees on GNR that are required? Which would have less environmental impact? ”

            Removing all of the trees would have less negative ecological impact. Installing cycle lanes on GNR will allow people to give up cars. That is an enormous net positive impact.

          6. Yes, I’d agree with you, SB, that’s a good point. But we need buslanes (or LR) too. I need to look at the widths in detail, and use the recommendations given in RASF… what’s left if we have sufficiently wide footpaths, cyclelanes, trees, buslanes? Is there anything left? I’d imagine *cough* that we’d have to keep one general traffic lane? 🙂

          7. Sadly, yes. On this corridor it has to be the trees that go. On some Corridors (Queen Street) it will be the cars that go. On some (Elliot Street) it will be a combination of everything so that we can get enough width for the footpath and the trees.

          8. This isn’t my neighbourhood, and I am a bit past school age, but being a tactical urbanist of a sort, I have a habit of riding where I believe a bike path should be, in the expectation that one day such a thought will fruition. A healthy dose of advice to AT to back up my physical activity too. So if they build a walking path I encourage the bike minded to turn it into a shared path, 2.2m is wider than than a fair few pinch points on the North Western Cycleway so I can’t imagine any real issues with some bike traffic. “Hasta la victoria siempre” as my tattoo is famous for saying 😉

          9. SB – Or, to quote Mirjam Borsboom, director of the Dutch Cycling Embassy, “You don’t need to make every street have a cycle lane – it’s called the back street principle – it’s much nicer to cycle on a quiet street than on the main road anyway” (Paper Boy, 2 Nov 17). Certainly much nicer to cycle through or over some mangroves.

            Matthew – that is indeed a design process acknowledged in both A Pattern Language and in permaculture. 🙂

          10. I asked local board and heard back just now. They said ‘In November the Board were told that all consents had now been progressed and that tenders were being evaluated for construction. ‘ Maybe I should start holding my breath after all.

          11. Also, I see in the resource consent PDF that para 37 says

            “providing a community asset which will provide better pedestrian and cycling connections between different parts of Avondale”

            so it does say cycling

          12. Yes Heidi, it’s much nicer to cycle over mangroves, but that isn’t what that quote means at all. The quote actually means that we don’t need to build cycle lanes because we can reduce traffic instead. Cycling over the mangroves is great unless you want to get to a house on GNR.

          13. Dr Stuey – great follow up thanks.

            Sailor Boy – I concede the point. Thanks for persevering with me; I can see that now. The main roads need cycle lanes, the back streets might just need low traffic volumes and speeds. And the best paths might be over the mangroves.

  4. I’m not sure I’m that optimistic about the infrastructure in Auckland. Even though some good projects are on the cards the implementation tends to take forever or even longer. Auckland Transport takes months to extend a bus lane hours, years to add a few meters of green paint – just think about AMETI or Mt Eden Rd bus lanes. Cycleways are being built, but when a local road get’s redone it’s left exactly as it was, for most suburbs – racetrack-wide with generous space for parking but nothing for cyclists. Building just ‘cycle motorways’ is not sufficient. People have to get from and to them somehow, adding bike-compatible speed-calming measures would be great thing, by that I don’t mean creating artificial pinch-point of the exact with of the car where cyclists get pushed into cars paths.
    I feel like we’re being left with no choice at all – if you look at those times – that’s over 1h to travel 12km. It’s really beyond a joke.

    1. There are seven stops between New Lynn and Aotea, a five minute saving would require a 51 sec reduction in the dwell times at each station, I think your calculations are a bit optimistic!

      While our dwell times are bad I don’t think there is 51 sec of savings available at each station.

  5. Yes this really highlights how transformational the CRL will be. Explained to someone the other day as they thought it was a waste of money.

  6. Pretty sad really that even if you happen to live in the heart of one of our best transport hubs, and even if you happen to work in the city, it isn’t any quicker to take PT than to drive (and that’s driving on a bad day). Over an hour from New Lynn to city by PT is simply terrible.

    1. This is a little unusual to me, I do that trip daily and it never takes over an hour at peak times.

      New Lynn to Britomart is 34 minutes by train. Worst case scenario you have a ten minute wait if you just miss one, so 44 minutes at worst. How did they take 71 minutes then?

      Delta Ave is 300m from New Lynn station. Graham Street is 1,100m from Britomart.

      Did they really take 27 minutes to walk 1,400m?!

      1. Given it happened on Tuesday I would have thought there would be a 20 min wait with the industrial action. I thought it odd that the Herald article mentioned a 10 min wait.

      2. Perhaps they had to wait for the pedestrian lights at Queen, Albert, Hobson and Nelson Streets?

        And the buses from New Lynn have also been slow this week due to overcrowding with diverted train passengers.

        1. … and the reporter didn’t take the shortest walking route from Britomart to Graham St, which is along Customs St and up through the Fanshawe St carpark.

      3. That doesn’t sound unusual to me: it’s often assumed walking is about 5 km/h, so around 17 minutes. Add a couple of minutes to get up and down the platforms. Then add many more minutes to wait at traffic lights. If you don’t want to jaywalk you’ll easily rack up 10 minutes of waiting right there.

  7. This suprised me train is slower than bus.
    It demonstrated how inefficient our train currently is, yet kiwirail has been so reluctant to improve its dwell time, line speed, and frequency.

    Even if train gets 25min faster, it is still slower than driving off peak. This will not get people off cars.

    Train has to be at least double its journey time to be competitive.

    1. This particular train route is exceptionally slow because of the time-consuming “Newmarket Shuffle”. Political expediency has ensured that we are stuck with this even though it significantly degrades the service. This is no fault of the rail mode but just of the way AT has chosen to operate it. If this was Wellington, some trains would run express and would by-pass Newmarket saving at least 3 minutes at this point alone. However there are some on this blog who think this would be a bad idea and that Wellington’s approach is flawed….

      CRL will make a big difference.

  8. This overcrowding of trains at New Lynn is probably good reason to look at some rush hour (at least) limited stop express trains. Henderson-New Lynn-Grafton then round the northern curve omitting Newmarket and direct to Britomart.
    Might need some overtaking loops or would Existing Henderson and Mt Eden loops be sufficient?

    1. At rush hour there are already four to five trains going in the peak direction on the western line at any given time. Express trains are totally impractical, and totally moot. We don’t have any spare trains, and you can’t get any more trains into Britomart anyway.

      1. May be you are right but I would think an express limited stops would be very popular, 15 to 20 minutes Henderson, New Lynn to Britomart.
        Replace one to two all station stoppers between 7am and 9am

        1. The best you could achieve is about 8 minutes saving running a train express, until it catches up with the train in front (ten minute headways less about two minutes for the signals to change). To do more than that you’d need to cancel the train in front, which means two trains in a row out of service. Putting a 30 minute hole in the timetable for most stations isn’t going to make trains less crowded.

          1. Instead of departing six Western trains per hour from Britomart via Newmarket at 10 minute intervals, you depart three expresses per hour two minutes after the previous Western stopper, and these overtake the stopper while it is in Newmarket. The express would then arrive at Swanson just behind the previous stopper, potentially shaving 10 min off the journey time. You could also run expresses on the Eastern and Southern but would save less time as overtakes are currently not possible.

            The trade-off is you would lose your fixed 10-minute pattern and frequencies would reduce to 20 minutes at stations skipped by the expresses. I would have thought that this could be justified at certain lesser-used stations since a 20-min frequency is still not bad. But it would require a change in operating philosophy to prioritise faster journey times from key stations rather than every station getting a slow train every 10 min.

            Like what seems to work well and be popular in Wellington :o)

          2. Dave – that pattern doesn’t really make any sense in the Auckland context for a few reasons.

            The new network has recently been implemented out west, it makes no sense to be reducing frequencies when there has been an increase in the number of transfers.

            There are a number of passengers that make trips within the western line, something that is not as common in Wellington, the express pattern would enforce a transfer for these passengers.

            Some of the stations with the lowest numbers on the western line are those furthest out, so I’m not sure why they should be getting that level of priority anyway.

            Newmarket is the main transfer station on the network, reducing the frequency on one of the lines through here doesn’t make sense for transfers.

            I’m not sure Britomart has the capacity to have western line trains departing so close together. Twice an hour Onehunga services depart 2 minutes after the western line train.

          3. Thanks Dave and Jezza, Just wondering… would there be any point in having an express service that doesn’t even originate at Britomart? Just thinking of friends from Helensville who don’t bothering driving to the train for their commute to Ponsonby or Parnell or Greenlane – they drive to Albany to get on the NEX. Surely some sort of express to get closer to town for all the people who don’t go to Queen St, for both people down south and out west could be useful…

  9. I was shocked, SHOCKED, to learn there are still people who don’t realise that cycling is the fastest mode of urban transport there is.

    “Cycling fastest mode of urban transport. In other news, the sun rose today.”

      1. Not true. That’s actually motorcycles – 100 times more dangerous. Cycling is comparable with the danger of cars – but that is not factoring in the health benefits of cycling, which as numerous recent studies show, are huge.

        1. Ah yes apart from motorcycles.

          I checked the numbers of the ministry of transportation a while ago and cycling is in fact a lot more dangerous than driving. Cycling is still safer than riding a motorbike but only by a factor 2 or so.

          1. The problem for me is when it comes to children. Higher risk for much better health, sure, but you still have to get them through to adulthood, and they’re more likely to make random manoeuvres… at the same time, what will set them up better for lifestyle habits than cycling-as-transport as a child? It is very tricky.

          2. Heidi, agreed. The health benefits of cycling are not a reason to accept the safety risks (as a society).

          3. That’s something that has never sat right with me: the idea that increased fitness and activity at a population level can somehow offset injury outcomes. Sure we do this all the time, we’re happy to trade road safety for economic performance, clearly. But there isn’t any solid logic in accepting broken bones or worse in individually for narrower waistlines on average in the population.

          4. “But there isn’t any solid logic in accepting broken bones or worse in individually for narrower waistlines on average in the population.”

            Yes, there definitely is! A broken bone is an inconvenience for 6-20 weeks. Inactivity takes years or decades off of lives! Everyone who goes to a gym or goes running makes this trade off every time they exercise.

            The only thing in which there is no solid logic is saying ‘cycling already improves life expectancy, we don’t need to improve safety’.

          5. When you remove cars from the equation, cycling is actually one of the safest modes of transport we have (besides walking).

          6. Yes, Alex, that is the point, isn’t it? It’s driving that’s the most dangerous by far. One pedestrian hit a day in Auckland! So much for modal choice. We can’t even make what should be the safest choice of all.

          7. Ah the fitness argument. We’ve spent 100s of billions to engineer out any physical activity in our lives. And now we have to campaign for more exercise and go to the gym. The marvels of modern life.

            And I realised my above statement is a lie. If you drive, what actually happens is trading a lower risk of getting yourself killed, for a bigger risk of killing someone else. Parents trade a lower risk of getting their own kid killed in traffic, for an increased probability of killing someone else’s kid. I’m sure game theory can tell you how that will work out.

            And rational or not, look at the typical experience of cycling to work. You’re between parked cars and moving cars. Maybe someone will open a door in front of you. Maybe the driver next to you will swerve to evade oncoming traffic. Maybe you’ll hit a pothole and get under a car. One little mistake, by anyone, and you may get dead. It will be hard enough convincing people that they’ll survive that for more than a week. Balance that with some vague long-term risk… I’m sure psychologists can tell you how that will work out.

            Finally the statistics itself: cycling happens mostly in places where there’s already some safe infrastructure, so if anything these statistics will understate the risk to cyclists in places where there’s no such infrastructure. Which is most of places in Auckland. A factor 2? It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the motorcycle to work is safer than cycling to work for a significant amount of Aucklanders.

          8. Sounds like you agree with me Roeland and take umbrage with merely recognizing that cycling increases life expectancy. Not sure why.

            We both agree that cycling has a higher crash risk than driving.
            We both agree that cycling is healthier than driving.
            We both agree that people are more likely to focus on the first point.
            We both agree that reducing crash risk is better than selling health benefits.

            What do you actually disagree with?

          9. Cycling increases life expectancy → 100% agree, no offence taken there. It also increases happiness and reduces cabin fever. And it’s as close as a silver bullet as we’ll get for getting around in the city.

            It’s just a strange kind of dissonance. On one hand you hear things like cycling to work or getting 30 minutes of exercise per day. On the other hand, most of the time getting out on foot or by bicycling is thoroughly unpleasant. And for the most part that’s because we’ve spent tons and tons of money on making it so.

          10. +1, it’s ridiculous that we’ve made something so positive such a horrible experience.

          11. That is kinda my argument. There is one line of reasoning that effectively says its ok to have more, but still unsafe, cycling because people will be fitter. Being long run ‘healthy’ from fitness isn’t an excuse to expose people to injury risks.

            Sailor Boy, broken bones usually aren’t temporary, especially for adult populations they can have lasting effects. For example my partner, a former jogger, simply cannot run anymore after breaking the same ankle twice in ten years. And of course when those broken bones happen to include the spine, skull plates, pelvis etc you can be permanently disabled, or worse.

          12. Agree, Nick, at a very real level, cyclists are required to cycle when it’s not safe in order to advocate for cycling infrastructure.

      2. You’ve clearly not seen statistics more motorcycle use or the statistics for early death through inactivity.

        On average, cycling for transport extends people’s lives.

        1. Do you think we need to pick apart the stats a little sometime? I’ve read both what Roeland’s referring to and what you are, and I think the truth will be complex. Some of the stats are from other countries, some of them from eras and places when the only people brave enough to cycle were fit, alert and experienced. And of course we’d have to figure out whether it’s most meaningful to consider per km, per hour or per commute.

          1. If I ever find the link I’ll post it for you. I’ve seen a study (English or British) that showed that even if you account for diet, other exercise, smoking, drinking, and some other lifestyle factors, the risk of death or injury on a cycling commute is a fraction of the expected increase in lifespan.

            I agree that it’s a shitty trade off, but it make cycling the most survivable mode, not the least as previously claimed.

            The trick now is to reduce the risk, especially because people are much more sensitive to catastrophic events (traffic crash) at low probability than they are to smaller scale events (reduced lifespan) which are certain.

        2. I don’t cycle for exercise, I cycle because it is quicker so when I use my e-bike, it is 20km a day, but I’m not really doing much exercise at all. So I don’t really think you can argue for health benefits of cycling with the surge in e-bike demand.

          1. That doesn’t fit with anecdotes from many people who have added a lot of exercise to their otherwise sedentary lives by getting on an e-bike. Nor with the anecdotes from many people who are using their e-bikes to go further than they would have gone when they just had a bike. One other aspect is that it puts you out there in the cycling network so you are familiar with it… this actually changes how you connect the city’s geography in your mind, and makes you far more likely to set out to go somewhere on foot or bike, or to suggest a route to someone else.

            Probably time for some research on it, but these anecdotes I’ve heard first hand from people have changed my mind – I used to roll my eyes at e-bikes thinking they were just another expensive toy allowing people to be lazy. I’ve seen instead that they are getting people more active and allowing people to stop using the car. Doesn’t mean I’m going to get one yet, though…

          2. Depends on the e-bike. Some e-bikes still require that you pedal, and the harder you pedal (there must be some sort of sensor to detect this), the more output the motor gives. You can also select the level of assistance you get for a given amount of pedalling. But the assistance only happens up to 25Km/h, above which it cuts out and you’re under your own power if you want to go faster.

            So this type of e-bike makes cycling easier – particularly the tough bits where you likely wouldn’t be exceeding 25Km/hr anyway – but you still have to do some of the work.

            I believe there are other e-bikes which will power you along without the need to pedal, and of course the 25Km/h limiters can be disabled by the savvy. But you lose the exercise benefits.

          3. That’s not actually the case for ebikes in NZ. The 25km/h limit is an European one, so all ebikes made for their market have that limitation. In NZ the limit is 300W of continuous power delivery (so it can spike even higher). That’s for pedal-assit bikes (i.e. you have to pedal in order to move). There’s no legislation (AFAIK) around ‘throttle’ electric bikes (i.e. when you don’t have to pedal) except for the same power limit. Throttle is not legal in Europe. Some bikes (and conversions) support both modes. In reality that means that an ebike can easily sustain 30-35km/h on a flat stretch (like NW cycleway along the causeway) when the rider is pedalling.

          4. During the recent humidity, I found myself relying on the throttle on my ebike a lot. Otherwise getting to work way too sweaty and no showers.

          5. I rode a bike during high school and the start of uni then gave up and drove my car never looking back. Then I hired an e-bike, loved it and bought one. I’m a fair weather cyclist so I dont get out all the time, but it is a lovely mode that I enjoy. I think e-bikes will change Auckland for the better once people try them out and as we expand a protected bike network.

            My bike has a 300w motor and spikes up to 450w when going uphill. It is pedal assist with a throttle. I love the throttle because it really helps me starting off at traffic lights, but for the most part I don’t touch it. I really see it as an important safety feature. The bike motor maxes out at 30kmph which is way too fast to be on the footpath or even in shared spaces, but on the road it is great. If you want to go faster you really have to pedal a lot, but it isn’t geared for that. MAMILs pass me all the time on Tamaki Dr doing 35-40kmph. Technically I could fool with the speed sensor to turn off speed limiting, but I am happy with the speed and don’t want to blow up the motor.

  10. Heidi – I think banning throttles is undesirable. So, I have a cargo bike. Long front, with a box and seat my two kids sit in. They are 36kg between them, and rapidly gaining. Kid related supplies make another 3-4kg. The bike itself is over 35kg. Plus additional groceries. Pointing it up a steep hill at a traffic light, trying to push the whole thing forward to pick up enough speed to balance would be a battle. What I do, is lean on the throttle for a couple of seconds to get me moving, then pedal and let the throttle go.

    The e-cargo-bike has been amazing for letting me get back to cycling with two small children in a city with hills.

    1. Thanks for that, SomeOtherAnthony, Deinotes and Ari, That does make sense about throttles for cargo bikes. And of course that means all bikes, really, when you consider cargo trailers can be towed by regular ebikes.

      I tried out an ebike yesterday for the first time, at the Bike Carnival at Selwyn Village. No point in an ebike in that location, on the flat with a speed limit of 10 km/hr, let alone a throttle. But with cargo, absolutely. I put a lot of my leg strength down to cycling up the path from Pt Chev Beach with a child in the cargo trailer. But when I have the cargo trailer loaded up with gear for a job, it is really heavy, and I only do that for local jobs… I had two jobs in Herne Bay recently for which I needed lots of gear and an ebike would have been great for that – and I imagine going up West End Road would have needed a throttle.

Leave a Reply