Seville, in Spain, have built an impressive network of bike lanes remarkably quickly in recent years. Streetfilms made a great video that explains how this was done:

Some thing that really stand out are:

  • The speed of progress. The first 80 kilometres of lanes were put in place in a mere 18 months.
  • That Seville went with an ‘infrastructure first’ approach, realising that you had to build a strong network for anyone to bother using it. This approach has delivered great results with a wide variety of people using bikes to get around.
  • Most of the lanes were created by removing car lanes or on-street parking.

Seville’s lanes aren’t perfect, and there’s an ongoing programme to improve them. But they’re building off a strong network that put Auckland Transport to shame in terms of the speed of delivery.

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37 comments

  1. Is there a master plan for the integrated cycle network in Auckland? I.e. where are all the lanes going to be and how long is it expected to take? I tried to find on AT website but couldn’t.

  2. Poignant timing to this post. A reminder of what could be achieved in Auckland just as AT’s dedicated Walkimg and Cycling Team disbands and is scattered to the whims of other departments. Kathryn King who created a credible cycling program from almost nothing, role disestablished so is heading off to NZTA to lead their program. Irony being AT used NZTA’s disestablishment as one of their justifications, right at the time NZTA realised it didn’t work.
    Interesting that Seville took out Bus lanes as well as parking and car lanes. The Integrated Corridors Project will be the test to see if AT is truly committed to putting people first in their network.

    1. It’s hard to feel optimistic when all I seem to see is that the restructure ravaged what progress was made in AT, seemed to allow silos to be enforced rather than flattened, and the clever people who *could* be using their analytical skills to optimise something like carbon reductions or vkt reductions or modeshift aren’t doing so because there is no imperative.

    2. I noticed the bus lane comment right away too. If you look closely at the following scene though, it appears as though the bus lane might have been shifted over up to the stop, but it’s tough to tell for sure. It certainly doesn’t appear to continue past the stop, but maybe it’s not necessary in that segment.

  3. https://cyclingindustry.news/seville-spain-cuts-car-use-27-in-ten-years-as-bike-modal-share-hits-9/

    Here’s what can be achieved if a city really puts its mind to it. I know nothing of Seville, but this figure is obviously impressive. Compare Auckland which appears to have dropped car mode share across Auckland by about 1%. (RPTP) I would guess that for the city alone Auckland car mode share drop might be about 10%. There is nothing particularly impressive about that given that most PT leads to and from the city.

    Many overseas cities, but particularly European cities, have learnt that the removal of cars leads to a much more vibrant city rather than the reverse as often appears to be the perception.

    1. Thanks for that, John. I followed the link through to where they discuss 33 cities that are raising their cycling mode share. For Helsinki there’s this comment: “some creaks in the system that are to be addressed. For example, the main train station has just 187 parking spaces for bicycles, a fraction of what’s needed.”

      Any thoughts, anyone, about how many bicycle parking spaces we need for Britomart and for Aotea Stations? I’ve read comments here about how they aren’t the stations where bicycle storage needs will be high. But if so, why would they be in Helsinki? Why wouldn’t people want to arrive in town and have access to their bike to do lots of different things before heading home on the train in the evening? There’s lots of bike-accessible stuff to do in the centre of Helsinki. Are we thinking there won’t be in Auckland?

      1. Heidi
        A bus stop close to us has 4 bike parks and that seems to be 3 too many. I am not being critical that there is an over supply, but a number of factors are in play. First there is just too much traffic on the main arterials to make cycling feel safe. Bus stops are closely spaced and so walking is not arduous.

        Akoranga Station, in the middle of nowhere has little ride up bike traffic even though the surrounding area is relatively flat. Maybe as Aucklanders we currently just don’t bike that much?

        Maybe Britomart is well served by feeder buses, or walk up is easy? Whatever the case is perhaps further research would be useful?

        1. Aotea needs 0 bicycle parks IMHO. Where are you going to/from that you would leave a bicycle there? Britomart and K’ Road need some, especially as Britomart will be the intercity station, likely to be several hundred at Britomart and maybe a couple of hundred at K’ Road?

          John, if you think that “Akoranga Station, in the middle of nowhere has little ride up bike traffic even though the surrounding area is relatively flat.”

          You need to go and look at the bike racks once uni is back in. Often full to overflowing.

          1. “Where are you going to/from that you would leave a bicycle there?” But why is Helsinki different? Presumably people take the train in in the morning, and then use their bike for lots of activities during the day before heading home at night. It was great cycling from Vantaa to my job in the city centre, because then I’d have my bike with me for getting to my language classes, for errands, to go to social engagements, to explore the city in my evenings. The days I took the train instead I didn’t do those things. Public transport was good, but the bike was both free and freedom… Is Auckland so different?

          2. DR, I know that you live in Victoria Quarter. All of Victoria quarter is within 800m of Aotea station. That’s a ten minute walk. (yes I know signal phasing can make the walk longer, terrible light phasing shouldn’t be fixed by building bike racks) That means that even if you do a return journey from the furthest part of Victoria Quarter, you are saving a maximum of 10 minutes. Add the time to securely lock your bike and your down a further couple. This is the main reason that Aotea shouldn’t have dedicated station parking for bikes. Coming from anywhere, walking is comparable or other stations are closer. Therefore, I think the alternative land uses are more productive in that location.

            Heidi, Helsinki’s central train station is different because Aotea is the most central, but Britomart is the regional train station. There will also be three city centre stations in Auckland with the other two far better placed to accommodate cycle parking. I’d be happy to provide bicycle parking for people to leave their bikes overnight and catch the train home, but they should be charged a market rate (just like people parking cars should).

          3. So, I’m a stay-at-home-Dad with two preschoolers and an electric cargo bike. We live at the top of Hobson Street. We ride everywhere. We ride to Aotea Square, we ride to the the Library. We ride to Myers Park. Walking with two kids in a stroller is slow, and in the summer, really hot. And of course, we travel with preschooler supplies – food and drink and nappies and miscellaneous – and with other things like library books. My wife is now very pregnant, and would have to have stopped coming out with us if we were walking, but instead she is riding everywhere on her own electric bike.

            When Aotea Station goes in, we will ride there to catch the train, to get out to Newmarket or Sylvia Park, or many other places.

            Am I an outlier? Sure. There aren’t a lot of us rolling around town with our kids in cargo bikes.

            But also, when you say, “all of Victoria Quarter is a 10 minute walk”, you are placing yourself at quite a precise point on the bell curve, and it’s at least one standard deviation above the mean.

            On my own, I can walk from our apartment to Aotea Square in 11 or 12 minutes. But with kids it’s well over 20 minutes. And from the apartments on the far side of Nelson, it’s another 5 or more.

          4. Thanks for your reply Anthony, cargo bikes with small children are something I hadn’t thought of. Although, if you are going to Newmarket or Sylvia Park, surely you would want the buggy/stroller (or bike) at your destination? At that stage it surely becomes easier to walk with the stroller?

            I still don’t see a specific trip for which someone would ride to Aotea, lock their bike, and catch a train.

            The top of Hobson street is even closer to the stations, nowhere on Hobson Street is more than 600m from a station, by the sounds of it, you will be closer to K Road. Btw, 800m in ten minutes put someone at the centre of the bell curve (it’s a lot slower than my pace).

  4. Seville has a few things going for it which make cycling more attractive than Auckland, it’s almost dead flat with only one tiny hill and it doesn’t rain anywhere near as much.

    Why don’t you find a city with similar topography and climate to Auckland where cycling is a popular transport mode then write an article about it.

    1. There is nothing intrinsically unique about Auckland. [Or NZ for that matter] that holds back cycling uptake – other than the helmet law and the priority NZTA and AT give to motor vehicles.

      Plenty of other places have [steeper] hills and [more] rain too, but also have a larger bike mode share even without as much of a network as Auckland has. Why do you think that might be?

      In any case there is no need to delay doing a thing while we go looking for a better comparative location to “prove” it will work for Auckland. We already have more than enough evidence right here that if you build decent off road cycling infra. in Auckland, then cyclists will use it.

    2. What is a hill? Now i have an electric bike all the hills have gone. I watched the video and interested to know how they pushed this through so quickly.

    3. We are Kiwi’s, first to conquer Mt Everest, lovers of the great outdoors, home to the world conquering All Blacks. We aren’t made of sugar. Hills and getting caught in the occasional spot of rain is a sad excuse.

    4. Master Chief
      I hate how we find reasons that things won’t work in NZ. Often this seems to be that we don’t want it to work. I hear it when some say, we can’t compare Auckland PT to compact European cities; and then someone finds an American city renowned for its sprawl and low and behold their PT ridership is twice ours.
      There are many parts of Auckland that are relatively flat and if people don’t want to make long journeys then a relativity short ride to the nearest bus station should be within the capability of many.

      1. If you look at the cities where cycling has a huge mode share they all have one thing in common, they are all very flat. Christchurch and Hamilton great for cycling Auckland not so much.

        1. The target is not to have the greatest cycling mode share in the world. It is to increase our city’s amenity by removing some of the cars and their considerable resultant hazards, and pollution from our streets and give our residents more viable transport and excercise choices. Hills are just part of the landscape for cyclists as well.

        2. Sigh… Zurich, Vancouver, Bristol, Portland, Vienna, Wellington… all cities with plenty of hills and yet higher cycling rates than Auckland (in many cases, considerably higher) – maybe there’s more to it than just topography?

        3. Yet the hilly Isthmus is ful of cyclists while flat Manukau has almost none.

          It’s almost as if creating infrastructure for cycling encourages people to cycle.

          Hamlton despite its flatness has almost no cycling. Hilly Nelson has heaps. Yes, Christchurch is pretty good in parts, but nowhere near the levels until the 1990s. When car ownership grew and the helmets came in – killing cycling.

          And yes, Netherlands, Denmark are flat but you know what else they and other Scandinavian cities have? Snow. Lots of snow.
          https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/feb/12/ice-cycles-northerly-world-cities-winter-bicycle-revolution
          http://www.cycling-embassy.dk/2012/12/04/danes-bike-come-snow-or-shine/

          I guess we have to ask, when did Kiwis become so soft?

          1. I wonder how the very central city areas of these cities compare regarding terrain. Auckland has a few flat spots in the central bits, but some very steep bits also. Yes I think infrastructure etc is the most important, just wonder if this could have affected our initial uptake, yet I think we are past that point now. Electric bikes, lower speed limits & helmet law changes will definitely help too.

    5. Seville has hotter summer days and colder winter days. Seveille proves that climate is no barrier. https://www.climatestotravel.com/climate/spain/seville
      Vancounver is colder and has as much precipitation with much more snow. https://www.climatestotravel.com/climate/new-Zealand
      Bristol and Zurich are much hillier.

      The only thing holding cycling back in Auckland is a particularly murderous mindest from motorists and lack of protection from that mindset.

  5. Great video. Really clear to see the maps and how the network evolved over time, and so quickly. I know there’s always been a tug between the quality and quantity approach. So it’s interesting to see Seville’s approach. Berlin is another one to look at – they lowered speed limits to 30 on the residential roads, and it was this that – unexpectedly – raised cycling mode share, and had the public beating on the authorities’ doors to provide the separated infrastructure on the arterials.

    Seems to me we should lower the speed limit to 30 everywhere we can, provide the quick and cheap alternatives like Seville has everywhere else first, then everywhere that needs it in the 30 areas, and finally put in the quality expensive routes where it becomes apparent they are needed.

    What we must not do is provide cyclelanes that stop before intersections, like at the spot where the poor 13 year old boy died in Hastings. That’s just negligent.

  6. The interesting features of Seville’s system (other than its speed of implementation) are:

    – They didn’t build gold-plated cycleways from the start, they just built whatever they could squeeze in. It does mean that they have to come back now and improve various sections where demand is causing problems, but they have stronger public support to do so. Auckland may want to consider more use of this “interim” type of treatment (e.g. the Federal St “pop-up” contra-flow cycleway).

    – They also instituted an extensive public bikeshare scheme at the same time. This certainly improves the availability of bikes for those who don’t have one (which in a city of low cycling tradition can initially be a problem). I guess we saw a similar effect with Onzo in Akld (at least until Lime showed up…)

    – They also introduced a number of car-free zones in the central city. Interestingly I don’t think they have any notable 30km/h areas in Seville, but many of their smaller streets are such that you probably wouldn’t go faster than that anyway. These elements will help combine with the built cycling facilities (most useful on busier/faster roads) to create a more complete network. That’s where Akld’s work on creating more shared or traffic-free spaces and 30km/h streets will be just as important as building the shiny new protected cycleways.

    1. The cost in Seville according to another web site converts to about 50 million NZD, so that is about 0.6 million per km. Imagine our 10-year plan would build 1000km of cycleways instead of 150.

    1. yeah, I was wondering about that and whether that were true. Based on what they asked, it was a case of “Do you think more free cycle paths are a good idea?” rather than “Do you support raising rates and removing car parking and vehicle lanes to make room for cycle paths?” So of course they got 90% affirming the first question. I’m sure wed get similar in Auckland.

      Seville had a socialist mayor taking a major gamble and went ahead and got it done within a single election cycle.

      Auckland politicians have no guts to take those sorts of gambles. It’s always slow & steady, we’ll get there eventually.

      I’m just surprised our bike lanes seem to cost so much to build in comparison.

    2. Well the majority, do so surely that is enough?

      Can we apply that to roading projects? We need to survey all Aucklanders and have a 80-90% approval rating before the roading project goes ahead? Sounds fair.

      1. Very little political risk building MOAR Roads! Especially when 80% of Aucklanders mostly rely on cars for work purposes or whatever.

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