An article that went up on the Herald’s site last night, and presumably in the dead tree version today, titled “Auckland cycleways overestimated demand to obtain taxpayer funding, says Auckland Transport report“, raises questions about some cycleway projects.

Auckland Transport may have used exaggerated figures to receive taxpayer dollars for four cycleways in the city, says an internal AT report.

“The cycle demand was overestimated in all the four business cases” for the Quay St, Nelson St, Grafton Gully and Beach Rd cycleways, says an AT report, obtained by the Herald.

The City Centre Cycle Network: Post Implementation Review report looked at the number of cyclist figures used in the business cases to receive funding from the Government’s Urban Cycleways Programme against the actual performance.

Two projects – Nelson St and Grafton Gully – went over budget, performed worse than expected and may not have been economically viable, said the report.

The business case for Nelson St predicted 986 cyclists would use the cycleway daily, but in January last year the count was 333 when the report was written. The latest figures from AT at the end of September this year show 448 cyclists a day using the cycleway.

The divergence between the forecast and actual figures for Grafton Gully were also significant, said the report. The business case forecast 975 cyclists and the January 2017 count was 292.

At first blush, this sounds bad and it also plays right into the hands of those who oppose investment in cycling projects. But I had also noticed the article was authored by Bernard Orsman, who has gained quite a history in recent years of articles that try to generate some sort of outrage, usually related to the council and/or housing. I’ve also noticed there is a tendency in these types of articles for the real story to be somewhere in the last few paragraphs, a point by which many people have stopped reading. Sure enough, this ‘beat up’ fit the pattern perfectly. The key point is in this sentence.

“In undertaking this review, the audit and assurance team was informed that Auckland Transport forecast cyclist user numbers were based on cyclist user estimates forecast in 2026,” a spokesman said.

So Orsman, or the internal report he’s obtained that he’s basing this article on, compares cycling numbers in January-17 with projections for 2026 after we’ve completed an entire city centre networks. This includes projects such as the Ian McKinnon Cycleway, due to open at the end of the month, the Gt North Rd and Karangahape Rd cycleways, the east-west midtown cycleway and not to forget, Skypath. This part is quite important as we’ve already seen network effect benefits when we join high quality cycleways together e.g. when Lightpath opened, usage of Grafton Gully also increased too.

Here are a couple of quick graphs on some of the routes focused on in the article. These show a 12 month rolling usage. First, we can see Grafton Gully, usage was 87-90k trips annually until December 2015 when Lightpath and Nelson St opened. Over the subsequent year, usage rose to about 125k, a 41% increase.

On Nelson St, after the celebration from it opening, usage was fairly flat until about November last year when Stage 2 from Victoria St to Market Pl opened. Usage has since been rising

I captured this just the other day from a passing bus, a sight that would have never have been seen a even a year ago.

Both of these projects will benefit significantly from more of the network being built.

There is a genuine question that does need to be asked about transport modelling though. We’ve seen it be wildly inaccurate, often overestimating vehicle use and underestimating public transport use. How do the models fair for cycleways. A paper and presentation to last year’s IPENZ transportation conference takes a look at the modelling and how it had been adjusted for this process. It shows the the modelling is generally right, averaging slightly above what the actuals have been showing. It also notes that this is far better than some other assessment tools. Furthemore, it notes that the model has since been refined to improve it’s quality.

Below is where the model that’s been developed says people will be cycling. Some of these routes are in place but many of the significant ones that will connect to and feed the cycleways mentioned don’t exist yet

As a comparison, this is the change from 2013 to 2016. While it is the change, we’re mostly coming from almost zero anyway so it shows how much more significant cycling is expected to get to achieve the numbers Orsman quotes.

Finally, while the herald article is a beat up, I do find it interesting timing. From what’s been said, it appears to be that Orsman has his hands on some internal AT documents, someone with an axe to grind over cyclewas? This is right a time when AT’s CEO is telling us that cycling will be embedded in the culture across the organisation.

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126 comments

    1. It seems that the irony is a little lost on him “so the zealots can build their monuments to a transport system that isn’t wanted, isn’t used, doesn’t pay its way, is there by potentially fraudulent means, and ultimately will be seen for the sham it is.”

  1. Ah, the NZ Herald. Change bad, profit at all costs good.

    Queue the Hosking/Soper/Heather DPA et al outrage opinion pieces, and if we are really wanting to atone for our sins and God help us, Judith being appalled and referring to cycleways as “frankly, they’re a shambles”.

    Did they ever once critique Nationals mindless motorway spending?

  2. The bit we’re missing is what figures were used in the business case?

    If the 2026 figures were used in the business case that would be equally as misleading as Orsman.

    What did the business case say the usage would be in 2017-18?

    1. Do you not think any business cases should look at figures in the future? Roading business cases will generally look at 2026 and 2046, for example.

        1. No snark intended. I don’t understand your point. Why would the usage in 2017-18 be the appropriate measure for the business case? I’m genuinely asking you if the short term figures are what you think all business cases, including for roads, should use. It doesn’t seem like a wise idea. But perhaps you have a valid point for why they should? Or for why they should in the case of cycle infrastructure? Again – this is no snark, I’m genuinely trying to understand what you’re saying.

          1. Fair enough.

            My point is, if the business case had estimates of usage patterns over time (as you would expect it to). Why did the Audit and Assurance Team use the 2026 figures in their report and compare to current usage and conclude they had been over egged?

            Either the only figures in the business case were 2026 estimates and that’s all they had to work from or the Audit and Assurance Team are deliberately misleading

            (Nick R) says below he’s seen the business case (not sure which one he’s referring to) and the 2016 estimates area accurate so that implies the Audit and Assurance Team are deliberately misleading.

            It’s very difficult to comment sensibly on this when all we have are snippets of information from the business case and post-implementation review. In the interests of transparency AT should release both documents. But they won’t of course.

          2. Because the demand in opening year is the start point on a graph. It is also the most reliably number you have – usually. All we know from the article is that they used a number that was too high and then someone else has said that it is a future year flow. So the question is a good one. What was the opening year prediction? Was that the exaggerated number or was the exaggerated value a horizon year, in which case how do they know it is too high. Or was the opening number far too big and the whole 2026 claim is just spin to try and divert us?

    2. Business Cases are primarily a method to plan investment over time, and compare them to benefits over time, to work out the best programme. They usually have a 30 year evaluation period, although some smaller projects like cycleways might only look at ten or twenty years.

      The business case would have used 2016, 2026 and possibly 2036 and later estimates to determine a growth profile for the benefits side of equation. This would have been compared to capital and operating expenditure profile for the cost side of the equation.

      In other words, they make a prediction for every year of the evaluation period, based on two or more years modelling estimates.

      I’ve seen the 2016 figures, and there are quite accurate, some sites a little over, some a little under. On a whole I would say the programme was spot on for 2016.

      My guess is the 2026 predictions used will be underestimates and several sites.

      1. Fair enough, exactly as it should be.

        If the business case is as you suggest with projections over time why does the Audit and Process Team compare 2026 figures to 2016/17 actuals? I’m assuming these people are professionals.

        This comment below implies that the 2026 figures were they only ones they had to work from.

        “In undertaking this review, the audit and assurance team was informed that Auckland Transport forecast cyclist user numbers were based on cyclist user estimates forecast in 2026,” a spokesman said.

        1. Yep, I agree with your sentiment, they compared 2026 estimates to existing numbers and found a difference. Not surprising given some key infrastructure is yet to come online. Hosking et al should wait until 2026 and see what the cyclist numbers are then before complaining they’ve ballsed it up.

          1. Even then, the 2026 forecast numbers would assume the network was at the anticipated 2026 level of completion, because of ‘the network effect’. But cycleway works are running behind schedule, and so achieving those 2026 forecast usage numbers might also be behind schedule.

          2. That is an interesting point, Andy. The cycleways have been behind schedule consistently, haven’t they? All sorts of excuses, but basically the political environment hasn’t made their implementation smooth. Yet measured rider numbers have matched the predictions well according to the modelled / measured evaluation chart. It would be good to see that chart annotated with which cycleways were unlikely to have been able to meet their modelled numbers because the assumed connections were delayed.

  3. And the alternative is – https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12159087
    Is the bigger issue here not with the whole “business case” process, which is still focused primarily on travel time savings to drive benefit estimates – walking, cycling and PT projects (particularly around infrastructure) always struggle in this space. Doing anything “different” from increasing capacity on roads seems really hard in the NZ project appraisal space.

  4. There has been no news about an opening of the tunnels and hence bikeways under Albert Park. Consent has been given. Hopefully work can start soon and it wont take long to complete.

  5. Classic Herald, Classic Orsman, Classic Hosking. These chumps will be left behind as New Zealand starts to catch up with the worlds developed Countries in how we build, plan and run our Cities.

  6. I read that smear and I have wondered what the agenda was.

    It is all well and good to attack the appalling journalism, but Orsman was clearly leaked the report from within AT in a way designed to cause maximum damage to the credibility of the cycle network – the story itself says:

    “…”The cycle demand was overestimated in all the four business cases” for the Quay St, Nelson St, Grafton Gully and Beach Rd cycleways, says an AT report, obtained by the Herald…’

    Obtained by the Herald. Leaked by someone at AT, in other words.

    Who at AT leaked it and what that means should be just as big a story, but Orsman is a useless and carping loser and the Herald basically just repeats the lazy and unrelentingly negative do-nothing know-nothing opinions of it’s little ZB MAGA crew.

    1. Thanks, Sanctuary. This is exactly what’s happening here. It leaves me with more appreciation of Ellison and the massive job he has to do. His organisation has too many change-averse roads-only dinosaurs and they’re fighting every bit of progress towards a balanced, people-friendly transport model that they can.

      But Ellison, the evidence so far is that the problem is not just with any underling who might leak a document to a journalist known for his inaccurate inflammatory anti-progress articles. The evidence is that the problem lies very close to you, in people who write budgets and put progressive documents under review, and refuse to fulfill commitments made in heart-wrenching speeches about safety.

      Be careful who you to turn to for support in this difficult job of bringing culture change to the monster.

    2. A perfect example of why its so important to have strong media ownership rules. Particularly cross ownership over several media formats leading to a greater dominance than overall percentages would suggest. I recall these rules were watered down to allow this dominance to occur by someone formerly in the industry but then in a position of power. The removal of the comments section from the Herald at the instigation of Hosking leaves many without a right to reply.

      1. “The removal of the comments section from the Herald at the instigation of Hosking leaves many without a right to reply”.

        And your evidence is what?

          1. That Hosking asked for its removal. First I’ve heard of it.

            Hardly surprising. The removal of comments sections is always just an excuse to be able to publish whatever you like without any fear of confrontation. As far as I know the Herald basically just ripped it out… the last thing I heard about it was comments were going to become a subscriber feature. The Spinoff’s logic is completely spurious (newsflash… the people who use comments sections are perfectly happy to act as community moderators) but at least they published an article explaining what they were doing.

  7. Matt,
    Both you and Orsman are surely burying the lead here.

    The major point is the massive, sky is falling sized – cost overruns – given as the last thing in the story:

    “The review said the cost of cycling projects went over budget by 15 per cent on average, saying Auckland’s Lightpath and Nelson St cycleway project shot 71 per cent over budget, from $9.76 million to $16.67m”

    Oh!, No! A “normal” 15% cost blowout on the average cycleway and a massive cost blowout on Lightpath and Nelson St cycleways, no wonder Ratepayers are up in arms about them.

    A whole $7m more than expected was spent on the Lightpath & Nelson St cycleways projects!

    Oh, this is serious stuff, $7m is not to be sneezed at.
    Its like the annual salary bill for some of the AT comms department.

    Imagine if AT and NZTAs roading projects routinely had such costs blowouts, where would we be?

    Oh, wait, road projects do routinely blowout? And some quite spectacularly more so than 71% too?
    Really? I didn’t know that. Are you sure, I never read about that in a quality paper like the Herald? or other respectable news media?

    How come I never heard of that before? And you say roads projects chuck in a contingency factor that cycleways are never given? So if roads go 10-15% over budget its considered “normal” and seldom remarked upon?

    Still these cycleways – bloody money pits. Soaking up valuable tax and rate payer dollars.

    No wonder AT got rid of the cycling and walking team, likely couldn’t manage their way out of a paper bag.

    But seriously – caning projections of usage for 10 years in the future as not being met today – thats the same metric used with roading projects, they always project 10 years forward with numbers to justify the time savings required to make the project stack up.
    AT and NZTA know If you look forward 5 years you wouldn’t bother as you’d see induced demand would swamp your roading project.
    But 10 years from now – well anything can happen, including flying cars!

    Also kind of also overlooks that both projects were tag-alongs on NZTA-led projects with NZTA assuming the lead. So costs were not paramount to NZTA, after all they threw down a lot of money on that excellent Lightpath bridge structure from Canada St to the old Motorway off ramp structure.
    That must have cost $10m more than whatever was planned?

    No doubt on AT’s side having to redo the lightpaths pink paving within a couple of years didn’t help things much. And to be fair that bloke Mike Sherin who posted here for a while said as much at the time that it wouldn’t last due to cheap product and inferior adhesives and techiques being used.

    But when you examine the “costs” and usage situation closer most of the costs AT incurred were for fixing up infrastructure issues not at all the fault of the cycle lanes per-se. Look at the Mt Albert town centre “upgrade” or the one nearby Grey Lynn. Total shambles, but while tagged as a cycling improvement, closer examination shows a raft of other projects thrown in the pot there too – no wonder every cycling project turns into a dogs breakfast.

  8. Interesting photo of cyclists, only appears to be a commuter the others are all on road bikes and wearing Lycra, which imo means they are likely a group of friends off for a ride, this is not an uncommon site in Auckland.

    1. Top picture shows two kids. Lycra doesn’t mean they’re off ‘for a ride’ at that time of day. And do commuters have more legitimacy than people getting exercise anyway?

      Interesting photo of all the cars, with all those inactive drivers who are contributing to our public health bill in so many ways – with their own inactivity, with the known inactivity they impose on others by making our streets unhealthy and unpleasant, with the air pollution that causes illness, with the road crashes their mode causes.

        1. There’s certainly some wasted road space in the picture that needs to be reallocated. One lane could go to providing some trees, with occasional parking spots so the driver of the truck parked illegally on the congested footpath has somewhere to go.

        2. The comment a site not seen even a year ago is complete bollocks, Auckland has always had its share of recreational cyclists, what it doesn’t have very many of is people commuting by bike, even with all these cycleways Auckland is never going to be Amsterdam or Copenhagen, our topography isn’t conducive to cycling, only someone completely blinkered will ignore that.

          6 of those 7 cyclists aren’t commuters, only the women appears to be. The guys are on there road bikes going for a ride, they aren’t taking any cars off the road. People do ride for fitness and enjoyment not just to make all the anti car people happy.

          1. Your arrogant comment is complete rubbish, one other at least possibly has a panier, we can’t see that clearly. It’s likely a normal midweek morning commute time or midday period judging by the Nelson st queue of cars & we know Matt L commutes to the north shore from train out west.

          2. It’s just the stupidity of wasting public money on cycling when Auckland isn’t a city that’s naturally blessed with commuter cycling terrain. Look at the cities where cycling is really popular, they all have one thing in common they are flat, there’s nary a hill to be seen in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Bremen, Hamburg……..

          3. Look around:

            – South Auckland is mostly flat but has practically 0% cycling mode share.
            – Both Grey Lynn and Hauraki have higher mode share, but are also quite hilly.

            So, no. That doesn’t stack up even just looking at Auckland:

          4. Lots of hilly Swiss and Italian cities with high cycle mode share. Hilly Nelson is one of the most cycle friendly cities in NZ because it has invested in infrastructure.

            Also, if hills are the only obstacle why don’t we see Dutch level mode share in Hamilton, Christchurch or Palmerston North? Why does Christchurch (that used to be the second biggest cycling city in the world after Copenhagen) no longer have its high cycling mode share it had until the 1980s? Because the city did not invest in separated cycling facilities. Simple.

            I know it seems easy to argue that cycling can only work in flat cities, but that argument just doesn’t stack up when you look at the evidence. Being hilly may suppress the mode share (you are unlikely to get the 60+% you see in Groningen for example) but it is certainly possible to achieve 10-15% mode share anywhere.

    2. You will find that long distance commuters will be wearing Lycra and riding road bikes. For example this morning riding across the NW causeway I was in a peloton of 8 riders, all in Lycra, all on road bikes, all commuters. We were doing 40kph.

      1. If someone’s invented a more comfortable attire for riding a bike then I haven’t heard about it. Until they do, I will stick with the lycra.

          1. That’s a photo of professional racing cyclists. Why would I pick that photo when we are discussing commuter cycling?

            I completely agree with you about cyclists in London, though. I have been living in London for about 7 months and it’s terrifying. Just like New Zealand about 70% of motorists and cyclists are pretty thoroughly law abiding, 25% push their luck, but the 5% of worst offenders here are awful. Motorists doing 50mph in 20 zones, driving straight through red lights as pedestrians cross, or driving at you, full speed, head on when there is a vehicle parked on their side of the road. Cyclists running straight through reds at 8 lane junctions or riding the wrong way up one ways. It’s a good thing so few people drive here or there would be hundreds of deaths a week.

          2. The bikes you see in that picture of Copenhagen are referred to as ‘city bikes’ (een stadsfiets if you’re from the Netherlands). Not a coincidence. Drop bars are quite unusual over there unless you’re in a race or on a 100km tour.

            I’m guessing that here you’re seeing people who go on recreational rides but also ride that bike to work. Those seem to be the most difficult to deter with street domination by car.

            A good reason why you don’t see city bikes over here is that bike shops don’t sell them. 5 years ago literally not a single one. Today you can find them but you still have to look for that little corner in the bike shop.

          3. What people choose to wear when riding a bicycle is their choice, but there are some distance issues that may contribute to their choice. When I ride the 18km into the city I choose shorts and a shirt, when I ride to the local ice cream shop with my daughter we ride in whatever we happen to be wearing at the time. Friends in the Hague are the same, one rides 500m ( !) to work and rides in smart business attire, the other rides 28km and chooses lycra.

    3. a lot of cyclists commute on drop-bar bikes in “lycra” (which is mostly just polyester) – I certainly do – because you can get hot and sweaty if the ride is half an hour or longer, and the padded shorts are comfier.

      Many offices have changing rooms or showers now so that people can put “proper” clothes on when they arrive at work.

    4. Yes, claiming people in sports cycling garb can’t be commuters is a bit like claiming people wearing leathers on a motorcycle can’t be commuters.

      Sure they could be out for a ride in a bunch, but I doubt they would be downtown at 8am on a weekday.

      1. Claiming they are commuters is pure fantasy, like me you can only guess what they are up to, but I’m going with out for a morning ride. I ride for exercise, not to commute, IMO it’s pretty easy to see who is and who isn’t commuting. Most commuters also wear a backpack, which only the lady has.

        1. When my husband worked in town, he used to keep a week’s worth of shirts, socks and shower gear in the office so he didn’t have to have a backpack or panier most days. Why does it matter so much to you whether they are commuters or recreational cyclists? Are we only providing infrastructure for commuters, not for other purposes?

          1. By most measures only 20-30% of travel is for work. Another 20-30% for education, while the lions share is actually for recreation, friends, family, sport etc.

            I had a little chuckle the other day catching a lift home from the gym with someone complaining about a cyclist taking up the road for ‘sport’ while other people needed it for ‘transport’. Facepalm moment.

        2. Yet another point is more likely lycra if they have cycled from say the far end of the NW Cycleway. What a great way to start the day with brain fully activated with all that physical exercise. Then a shower. Work places that provide these know what they are doing. Not only that you have used someone else’s power and water, did your part to save the planet & extend other peoples lives & probably only taken as long or less time & certainly less $ cost than driving.

      1. There seems to be a small, but hard core, group within cycling who basically just hate drop handlebar bikes, helmets and lycra. They continually peddle (no pun intended) their European cycling fantasies without taking into consideration that NZ is not Europe and until the culture and driving attitude changes, it never will be. No matter how much new infrastructure you build.

  9. The article omits the pedestrian numbers for the Lightpath. The Lightpath often has families taking their children out for a walk. It is seen as a safe and convenient place for them to take their children on scooter and small bikes. The top of Nelson and Hobson Street have a large number of families with nowhere else to safely take there children that is close by.

    Turning the old off ramp into a cycleway was a way of turning an embarrassing eyesore into something useful.

      1. Did he? It is an idea that could be used elsewhere on spaghetti junction. To humanise Nelson St, for example, each of the two three lane carpark off ramps that feed onto it could have one of the lanes made into a buslane (for a New New Network) and one into a bus park. Except close to Union St, you’d also convert that lane to walking infrastructure so the buses could stop at the lights and let people off.

  10. Our bent media seems to be dominated by Myopic old white men… rather like the rest of society. I generally avoid the Herald as anything they write (that I know anything about) is completely skewed and self-serving.

  11. I read that and missed that ending detail entirely. I’m sure most people did too and went away thinking the cycleways are a failure. I’m quite pissed off now. Stupid Herald. Can’t be trusted to report the truth.

    As for cost over runs, these things will be in there forever, so spread over a few decades, the benefits are enormous.

  12. Would be interesting to see Cycleway (separated Cycle lane) usage since the introduction of Lime. I see quite a few up and down Nelson Street and I often use the lanes on Franklin Road.

    1. Also feel like I’ve just given the Herald an article idea for tomorrows edition. They can bath Cycle lanes and Lime in 1 article instead of 2!!!!

      1. And you can add in electric mopeds to that list of offensive items now, as noted in the Herald! BTW, we purchased one of these electric mopeds a year ago and it is great!

  13. The quality of journalism at NZ Herald and Stuff is heading rapidly downhill, half their articles are just clickbait. Hoskin and Orsman are the worst of a bad bunch.

  14. The print article doesnt even include the last few paragraphs where it is *finally* made clear that the figures are based on 2026. Farce

  15. Orsman and Hoskin are secret bike supporters. They are just getting everyone enraged so they think harder about better solutions, and come up with clearer and more refined arguments for more bike infrastructure. Good on them for doing such an excellent job, and long live bikes!

    1. Ha, you jest, Pete, but: we do notice a significant uptick in members, supportive comments and social media followers whenever one of these stories comes out. And it’s very much ordinary people who are flummoxed that anyone would be so negative about something so harmless, and who are grateful to discover some gentle commonsense.

      For all that we jokingly refer to ourselves as the ‘all-powerful bike lobby’, there is something very powerful about the mild-mannered silent majority finding their voices in response to one snarky bikelash column at a time. 🙂

  16. I wonder why Orsman doesn’t just read quality research like: https://www.victoria.ac.nz/news/2018/05/cost-benefit-study-confirms-benefits-of-walking-and-cycling-investment

    “The study shows the benefits of walking and cycling—primarily health gains and carbon emissions reduction—outweighed the costs of better facilities and associated educational campaigns by ten to one.”

    Is he really trying to claim these particular cycle lanes are somehow less than a tenth as beneficial as typical cycling infrastructure?

    He’d be better putting his efforts to exposing how roading capacity expansion projects, when analysed using correct vkt data, known physical inactivity outcomes and costs associated with public health and carbon emissions, are always net losers, and the biggest and most destructive waste of our transport money.

    1. “To be fair, we already have an excellent network of walking lanes Heidi”

      You should at least make your trolling believable Phil.

  17. I don’t exactly want to piss on the bonfire here, it’d be great if the Herald posted the actual file so we can see it. But I think you’re taking Orsman out of context there…

    This is the 2026 quote from the NZTA with surrounding paragraphs:

    “The New Zealand Transport Agency, which approves taxpayer funding toward council cycleways, said it had not seen the AT report and cannot comment on it.

    It provided the Herald with a review of the Urban Cycleways Programme completed in September this year.

    “In undertaking this review, the audit and assurance team was informed that Auckland Transport forecast cyclist user numbers were based on cyclist user estimates forecast in 2026,” a spokesman said.”

    It seems to me that the NZTA is referring to a completely different report from the “exclusive” one that Orsman is citing in his lede.

    1. Auckland transport have confirmed to us the forecasts kisses are the 2026 ones used.

      The nzta are referring to a post implementation review they’ve done. Orsman was leaked an internal report that never left the draft stage because it was so inaccurate.

      1. So the question is, what effort is AT putting in to find the person who leaked it to such an irresponsible journalist? That staff member, plus the media people involved of course, is responsible for swaying public opinion away from cycling investment on the basis of information that is inaccurate. Given what we know from the Healthy Streets information, delaying cycling and walking investment directly causes illness and early death in our population, as well as DSI from lack of safe infrastructure. You could say, that whoever leaked it, has blood on their hands.

        1. I would welcome this leaker being fired unless they can establish a genuine public interest in their leaking. AT has some tarmac-loving dead wood to prune.

          1. If someone leaked some inaccurate information that somehow put the boot into a roading project, there should be some disciplinary action, because inaccurate information shouldn’t be be leaked to try to sway public opinion.

            If that roading project was a safety project that would save lives, yes, that person’s behaviour could have lead to unnecessary death and suffering. And they should be fired.

            If that roading project was a road capacity project justified by a skewed business case based on inaccurate modelling, as all our road capacity projects are, then the leak would have worked to sway public opinion away from a project that will cause early death and illness. They should still have disciplinary action, but couldn’t be held responsible for harm.

      2. “Auckland transport have confirmed to us the forecasts kisses are the 2026 ones used.”

        Can you clarify that? If AT uses 2026 forecasts in it’s business cases as the forecast usage? From day one? They’re setting themselves up to fail if that’s the case

        1. The answer is buried in the press release just out from AT.

          “Staff identified that early business cases were predicting trip levels that weren’t expected until 2026, and this has been rectified in the process.”

          Basically Orsman is correct? Inflated patronage figures used to justify business cases.

          1. It’s not so clear in the wording. Is this initial drafts of the same business cases or were these included in various final business cases?

          2. Now I’m more confused than, ever. I think it’s just pretty much some 2016 estimates vrs counts that didn’t match from cases done around or just prior to 2013?
            In any case was about to post part of an email from Bike Auckland:
            1. The business forecasts mentioned in the article are for 2026 (a detail that didn’t even make it into the Herald’s print edition). Last we checked, it isn’t 2026 yet!
            2. The forecasts also assume a fully built minimum connected bike network. But, as we all know only too well, two-thirds of city cycleway projects are still delayed.
            3. Even so, the good, well-connected routes like Quay St (predicted to have 1060 users a day by 2026) are already running years ahead of target…

          3. I wonder if someone… GTP? miffy? can fill me on what I’m missing here.

            Roading business cases use travel estimates and decongestion benefits over the next 30 years. What could possibly be wrong in using 2026 cyclist numbers for the business case here, apart from that they should perhaps be looking at numbers right up to 2046 instead?

            How can GTP conclude “Basically Orsman is correct? Inflated patronage figures used to justify business cases”? Is there some definition of “early business case” that I’m missing? What is inflated about 2026 figures when roading business cases use 30 years? It’s probably an obvious thing and I’m missing it because I’m really tired, but GTP’s conclusion makes no sense to me.

            Certainly with roads, basing their business cases on 30 years of travel time savings and decongestion benefits is a rort. These don’t even eventuate after a couple of years due to induced demand.

          4. Who knows? It sounds like they have used opening year numbers that are simply too high. They are now spinning that as 2026 numbers. But without seeing the business case how can we know? If the internal report is correct they must be opening year estimates and not 2026 otherwise how can anyone say they are wrong? As for claiming the rest of the network isn’t built so of course the counts are lower, that is misguided. The business case for later stages will account for what is built later. you can’t claim a benefit now for this project that is caused by some other uncosted project. But hey you all know my views of AT.

          5. Thanks, miffy.

            “As for claiming the rest of the network isn’t built so of course the counts are lower, that is misguided.” I think that’s simply if someone (the leaked, incorrect report, or Orsman), is simply comparing current numbers with predictions for 2026.

            “you can’t claim a benefit now for this project that is caused by some other uncosted project”

            he he… reminds me of using ART3 person-trip numbers assuming a whole lot of motorways get built to feed into the do-minimum scenario, and then finding the travel times are terrible…

      3. sorry princess, the post implementation report used data from actual business cases, from NZTA templates etc. And its not from NZTA, its an internal AT report. These are finalised business cases that AT has paid consultants to do for them, of which the AT W&C in their incompetence never bothered to check. Only when other departments checked them it became apparent how grossly they over estimated user numbers.

        As much as you would like to think the numbers are 2026, they are not. They are opening numbers. It pretty clearly states in every single document or spreadsheet. Time zero.

  18. Speaking of sharing the footpath, construction has today necessitated the constriction of Quay Street down to one lane of traffic each way.

    Good practice.

    1. Do you think they could remind the construction crew at Newmarket of this? They’ll have stolen an entire block of footpath for well over a year when they’re done, Commercial Bag too come to think of it.

  19. I think the really, really key thing here is that the business case that actually went to the Auckland Transport board in August last year explicitly uses the 2026 date for its projections. So the worst-case scenario is that the author of the internal paper was looking at a business case that projected an earlier date and the error was corrected months before the final business case went to the AT board. But even that doesn’t make sense: how could you declare the future demand modelling for the Nelson St cycleway to be defective on the basis of data from January 2017, six weeks after it opened?

    1. Orsman’s article clearly refers to 4 business cases so not referring to the one you have identified.

      If it’s as you suggest why would you do a Post Implentation Review on some sort of early draft that was corrected later? That would be nuts.

      1. Yeah, I think I’ve been confused by the terrible way the original news report was written. The internal report was referring to the individual business cases for the four different cycleways at the time they were approved?

        1. I think it’s all there if everyone takes off their Orsman hate goggles for a minute. I don’t think a complaint to the Media Council would have any legs, put it that way.

          Someone needs to take Ludo’s shovel off him and tell him to stop digging on this, it’s clear now from the Leaker’s post below that the business cases were over egged and this may actually turn out to be fraud but hopefully “just” incompetence

          Do you think the recent restructure at AT could be in any way related to this?

  20. the bad news for everyone is that the documents that NZherald have, clearly state the base years with those aggressive numbers as the start year of the projects (ie 2014, 2015 etc) not 2026. Its clear as day in the business cases / NZTA assessment templates.
    I should know, I leaked them!

    You can deny it all you want, at worst its gross incompetence (whoops we put the projected 2026 numbers in 10 years earlier!) or at its worst, fraud.

      1. hi

        2026 numbers are just the base line numbers inflated each year by a long term growth rate (typically 2.5% or something), so they will be higher, but not too much higher.

        The economic assessment requires a current usage estimate for how many people use the route, an estimate for the spike in users for when the cycleway is compete (these are both day 1), and then a long term growth rate.

        There is a major problem when AT puts in a business case that Nelson street phase 2 will do an average of ~900 per day when completed, when you have phase 1 which is complete just up the road with a cycle counter on it (for actuals) saying the 2017 average is 333 per day, with the busiest day around 500.

        However, thats what got presented to get funding.

        Catherine Kings whole spiel about them being 2026 numbers just demonstrates the incompetence of a typical AT manager. Shes the (was) head of AT W&C, she signs the business cases, gets paid $$, she should read on what shes signing off on.

        1. I still don’t know enough about this case to comment, but I would like to question why you are not saying this of the managers of the roading projects?

          The modelling, and thus business cases, for every single road capacity project in this country is inaccurate. They do not model that there is an increase in person-trips induced by the extra roading capacity. Therefore the business cases – which are based on travel time savings that won’t eventuate once the induced traffic occurs – are entirely fictional. Grossly so.

          The managers at AT and NZTA and in other RCA’s are either incompetent or content to go along with the rort. Yet the media don’t expose this one, do they?

          The costs of separated cycling infrastructure are only required because of the danger posed by motorvehicles. The cost of having an inactive population because of a dangerous transport network is imposed on all of us. We need the cycleways. Business cases for cycleways should only be used to prioritise which ones get done first, so if there was an error in their method, they will all be affected, I imagine?

        2. Like NZTA’s modelling for SH20 being linear and doesn’t allow for opening of Waterview tunnels? Or the currently closed and unused lane of St Lukes overbridge? Get back to me when the road building business cases are rock solid.

          And feel free to use your real name instead of taking pot shots under a pseudonym.

          1. I’m sure the dead lane on the St Luke’s overbridge dwarfs, say, the overspend on the Nelson St cycleway. It’s a *massive* traffic engineering screw-up and we can only be thankful that the pohutukawa weren’t cut down to help feed traffic to it. Oddly, it hasn’t been the subject of regular attacks in the media. Or any attacks at all, really.

            (Confession: I am quite fond of the dead lane as a cyclist. It makes for a lovely big target to head for from a fairly ugly intersection.)

          2. That one’s a good visible reminder, Russell. But we’re surrounded by them: what about the Victoria Tunnel to Newmarket ‘Improvements’ Project. No benefit in travel times – and that’s what the business case is based on – just increased traffic volumes, meaning increased traffic in our local roads, increasing danger to all. And it’s one example of many. Billions are wasted on these road projects that don’t deliver what they promise, help us track to lower carbon emissions, nor keep us safe and healthy.

      1. Why should he or she use their real name? What purpose would that serve? Or do you prefer ATs professionalism or lack thereof be kept secret

          1. Interesting because I think that a true professional with integrity would indeed let the public know that suspect specious or even fallacious data is employed in official documents which are then used to justify major expenditure.
            Isn’t use of false data a fraud and is this what we expect from AT?

  21. This site has become a very nasty slagging machine used by some small interest groups.

    Bring back TransportBlog please. This is nothing like it used to be. Such a shame.

      1. The 300 people that use the cycle lane each day! Lol

        George seems a bit sad that the world is changing and people are no longer accepting the ‘norm’.

        Nobody is asking for much George, just a fairness and balance in both the media and in Auckland’s travel options.

      2. Interest groups that want to bring options, that build on each other to cover each other’s weaknesses, to Auckland that everyone can partake in without being barred.

        And George, your comment was removed because you were being provocative. I see plenty of arguments here, but your’s wasn’t removed because of a different view point.

  22. RNZ Mediawatch covers the story (link below). Just checked the NZH on-line story, at the bottom it is still saying
    “Beach Rd:
    Business Case forecast: 443
    Count January 2017: 265
    Count September 2018: 318″” etc, so still no year given for the Business Case forecast, apart from the 2026 mentioned 3 paragraphs from the end of the story, so the reader still has to assume it is 2026 (not an earlier date as suggested above by teemo etc). Perhaps the NZH reporter knew he was writing a trolling story, which is why the obsfucation in the data at the end of the story?

    https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/mediawatch/audio/2018671529/street-fighting-the-media-s-big-bike-battle

    1. Dear oh dear. The media really is in a hate frenzy. Someone driving to go for a walk complaining about people using the roads for recreation! Patience, patience.

      “”To be fair they weren’t going slow, but still it was 30km/h in a 50km/h area, and there was a long line of cars behind them. They were definitely holding up traffic.”

      So the speed limit is the target now, is it, not the limit? Actually, the road code says you can go at any speed below the limit as long as it is safe. There are tips for being considerate. But being considerate includes things like understanding that if you’re on a recreational drive that it’s ok to wait for a large group of people also using the road for recreation. And the “long line of cars” was probably long because they take up an awful lot of space, not because they were many people. It would’ve been longer if all these cyclists drove to Mission Bay before they started their cycle.

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