Auckland’s bike boom has continued through March helped by a warmer and dryer than normal start to the year. Many of Auckland Transport’s network of 43 automated counters recorded their busiest ever month and combined with record public transport use, show that many Aucklanders are embracing any alternatives they can.
Overall the counters recorded an 11.4% increase in compared to March-2018 which follows a 23.4% increase in February. On a 12-month rolling basis the numbers are up 8.3%. As mentioned, it’s been a warm and dry start to the year with NIWA reporting March was about 1.4° warmer than normal and had just 66% of normal rainfall. Below is a comparison of each of the counters.
Looking closer at the data and we can see that most of the growth is occurring on weekdays which shows that this growth is being driven by people commuting to work, school or other activities and ins’t just a few more weekend warriors.
Perhaps the most impressive, given it’s not coming off as low of a base as others and the constant growth it’s seen over the last few years, remains the NW Cycleway at Kingsland which is almost certainly benefiting from recent addition of the Ian Mckinnon Cycleway. To give a sense of scale for the increase, back in March-2011 just 11k were recorded at this location for the whole month. This March 40k were and this meant that during the month the 30-day rolling average peak at just under 1,400 bikes a day.
You can see this has been caused by a significant spike in the daily numbers starting in mid-Feb. If this kind of growth continues, it might eventually start putting pressure on Tamaki Dr for our busiest bike route. With the path so narrow in some places it is putting pressure on other users though and we saw in February some issues from conflicts between some impatient cyclists and others, including children – AT say they are looking at what can be done to add more width here.
To me the solid growth, particularly on routes with good separation from traffic, is just more confirmation on why out transport agencies need to work with haste to roll out more routes. At the moment, with perhaps the exception of Franklin Rd which is more of a general street upgrade, I don’t think there’s a single dedicated cycleway project currently under construction. Our agencies continue to tell us these projects remain one of the highest priorities yet there remains no evidence this is actually the case.
This issue was highlighted well almost two weeks ago when the NZTA made a big announcement about the route that will become the NW Cycleway equivalent for the North Shore – known as Seapath.
Walking and cycling between the Auckland Harbour Bridge and Takapuna on the North Shore has moved a step closer with the SeaPath project moving to the detailed design and consenting stage.
SeaPath runs along the landward side of the northern motorway between Northcote Point and Esmonde Road, providing safe and direct connections to local communities, destinations and recreational areas on the lower North Shore. When complete, the path will form a critical link in Auckland’s strategic cycling network and connect with the planned shared path over the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
New Zealand Transport Agency Director for Regional Relationships for the Upper North Island, Steve Mutton says that it’s exciting times for people keen to get around the area without their car.
“SeaPath is a critical part of the walking and cycling network and a key project for the Transport Agency. We are meeting the Government’s goals around providing people with a choice in the way they travel; and a way to get from A to B that contributes to their health and good environmental outcomes.”
The one big problem with this announcement was left right to the end, that funding to actually build it won’t even be confirmed for another two years.
The next phase of work on the project is due for completion in late 2020 with construction funding expected to be confirmed in 2021.
AT aren’t doing much better, for example, the improvements to Karangahape Rd due to have started in the first quarter of the year and there’s still no word of when that will actually happen.
I can’t help but wonder just how many more people would be on their bikes by now if we didn’t have agencies dragging their heels on these projects.