Cycling in Auckland has definitely improved over the last five years, especially where we’ve started to build quality and safe infrastructure – although the roll-out of that appears to have stalled of late. But we’re coming off a low base and have a long way to go and so it was a surprise yesterday to see Auckland ranked as the 7th best city for cycling.

The 2019 Bicycle Cities Index has put Auckland seventh, but people who ride bikes in the city say it still has a long way to go.

Auckland cycling advocates said they were not expecting the result.

The 2019 Bicycle Cities Index was released this morning by Berlin insurance company, Coya.

The report ranks 90 cities on a range of cycling factors including weather, infrastructure, investment, usage, crime and safety.

Utrecht in the Netherlands took out first place with the highest bicycle usage rate overall, at over 50 percent.

Sitting in seventh place is Auckland – beating Melbourne, Berlin and Tokyo.

Here’s RNZ’s Checkpoint piece on it

It would be fantastic for Auckland to be the seventh best in the world but unfortunately when you look at the data it appears they one of the common issues with comparing data from around the world – every place reports data differently. As such, there’s a clear mistake in the rankings for Auckland at least. Below is just the top 10 but the result for all 90 cities are available. The index has a description of what each of those symbols stands for

The issue seems to stem from Auckland getting an unusually high result for bike modeshare, listed as 31%. Auckland also stands out in many of the other metrics for being well below those other top cities. If I had to guess, they’ve probably used a figure from Auckland Transport that looks at how many people cycle at some point rather than what the actual modeshare is – which usually comes in at just over 1%.

My guess is that in reality, we’d more likely be about 70th. Wellington is also on the list and comes in at 57th.

However, we do know that cycling is at least improving and that is once again reinforced in ATs monthly stats which also came out yesterday. Auckland was drier and sunnier than normal in April and that will have helped in seeing cycling numbers rise by 7.4% compared to April-18.

On a 12-month rolling basis, cycling has increased by 8.6%

The Northwest Cycleway continues to be one of the stars which will certainly have been helped by one of the few new cycleways to open in recent times (Ian McKinnon Dr). As we’ve highlighted before, Nelson St numbers are very high in part as both it and Quay St have been tweaked to also count scooters.

Despite the wrong ranking, perhaps AT could put it to good use to help set some goals and remove the molasses various cycling projects are currently stuck in.

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  1. Wow that is a sloppy piece of work. They’ve categorised Auckland as a large city (pop 1.7m) yet Amsterdam is a medium city (pop 2.4m). So they seem to be using some arbitrary administrative boundary rather than a meaningful measure of the population of each urban area.

    The figure of 31% for Auckland is “Percentage of people using bicycles in everyday life in each city.”. Well that’s a wobbly definition if ever I read one. Does it mean people who ride every day? Does it mean people who have used a bike at least once for an everyday activity sometime in their life? Is it someone who has done an everyday activity by bike in the last month, year?

    For Auckland, I’d say it represents 31% of Aucklanders having ridden a bike for any reason sometime in the last year. For Amsterdam, it’s going to be the proportion of residents who use bikes every day.

    1. The death and injury (headstone and ambulance symbols) columns are measures of death and injury per 100,000 cyclists, too. Possibly other columns are, too. So those ratings are artificially heightened, too.

  2. Come on now with all that negative talk.

    “An Auckland Transport spokesperson, Hamish Bunn, said many of them were cities Auckland looked up to as examples of success”.

    And…”It was good to see recognition for the organisation’s focus on becoming a cycling city, he said”.

    And ….”There are plenty of great recreational cycling routes and plenty of great commuter cycling routes into town.”

    AT are telling me people envy us despite undeserving protestations that our cycling infrastructure is inadequate when clearly according to AT its anything but.

    You generally quote AT’s information without question, their incredibly dodgy fare evasion stats, especially when there were only two stations with gates and much more recently their stats of turning water into wine by telling us that “Last month, 767 fewer vehicles drove into the city in the morning, despite 4,000 more people making the trip”. That bullshit took some imagination, but I’m gullible, everyone of those cars had 5 occupants. And if that’s the case AT just killed off the most successful ride sharing example in the western world.

    AT don’t have a PR department, its more based on Goebbels propaganda ministry and I imagine there is more than the odd despot around who is considering head hunting AT’s propaganda staff.

    Good to see Greater Auckland finally questioning AT’s self serving highly questionable information they selectively dole out!

    1. ““Last month, 767 fewer vehicles drove into the city in the morning, despite 4,000 more people making the trip”. That bullshit took some imagination, but I’m gullible, everyone of those cars had 5 occupants.”

      Erm Waspman, you do realise that the majority of people making the trip to the city don’t drive right? Those extra 4,000 commuters were on the bus or a train. The occupancy of cars remains the same as always, a touch under 1.2 people per vehicle.

      1. Err Nick, of course the stats do not withstand scrutiny and are purposely vague and can, in fact, be read anyway one wants.

        But read at first glance, without questioning it suggests those cars taken off the road have translated into people going to the city by other means. Its a miracle brought to us by the wonderful alternatives provided by AT.

        Please don’t try and be too literal in the world of propaganda because the way AT use it is perfect.

        1. Nah. You’re off on that one. Anyone wondering “how could that be?” is simply invited to think.

          You’re quotes from Hamish Bunn were a good giggle, though:

          ”It was good to see recognition for the organisation’s focus on becoming a cycling city, he said”.

          I’m not sure which way to play with that. How about:

          ”It was good to see recognition for the organisation’s foetus on becoming a cycling city,” he said, “but we aborted it.”


          ”It was good to see fake news for the organisation’s focus on becoming a cycling city,” he said, ”because it’ll keep people diverted so we can keep chugging along building roads nicely for a while longer.”

        2. I take it you don’t believe AT’s numbers that show more people using trains and buses than in previous years?

          That’s understandable, some people don’t believe the earth is flat or than Neil Armstrong landed on the moon.

        3. WTF? Neil Armstrong landed on the moon? When did that happen, I was just talking to him at Uni this morning. Sly bugger.

        4. Waspman, I really don’t see what is vague about “767 fewer vehicles”, and “4,000 more people”.

          If anything you’re confusing yourself making your own assumptions about the relationship between the two that the original statement never did.

        5. Waspman doesn’t understand the difference between a ‘vague’ fact and a precise one that doesn’t align with his world view.

    2. “Last month, 767 fewer vehicles drove into the city in the morning, despite 4,000 more people making the trip”. That bullshit took some imagination, but I’m gullible, everyone of those cars had 5 occupants.

      Can you explain how you get 5 occupants per car from what you have quoted? Because 4,000/767 isn’t a valid calculation.

      1. Errol, for your benefit it was an “about number” but for the purely literal black and whites of this world who don’t do the vagueries of propaganda it is, in fact, more than 5 persons, 5.28 to be more precise. Happy?

        Mate it wasn’t supposed a math test, okay, it was a vague example to compliment AT’s vague facts. FFS.

        1. Waspy, he’s saying that making the calculation isn’t valid. Time for a coffee and a chuckle.

        2. The point I was trying to make was lost in a most irrelevant math critique.

          It is funny, electronic comms like this frequently miss the way a comment is articulated albeit humour was not the intent of the maths professors questioning it.

        3. No, the precision of the result of the calculation you have come up with is irrelevant. I’ve pointed out that your calculation is illogical, in the polite hope you will re-think it and respond ‘oops, silly me.’ Feel free to stop digging.

  3. Well there you go. They can stop spending on cycling now that we are in the top ten. Where do we sit in the parking rankings?

    1. Wait until next year when we drop from #7 to #61…. all the polys will ask “What happened?… do something!” and AT/Council will be “um, ah, yeah, well about that…..”

      1. I guess the answer will be for AT to generate more over-stated claims. Maybe their next survey could say “Have you ever ridden a bike, looked at a bike or do you understand what a bike is?”

        1. MJiffy, I have some really good news for you about how to almost eliminate scooters. In Prague they have cobbled streets and tram tracks everywhere. My initial impression is that this has almost completely eliminated Limes – I have seen two today. And the final aspect- streets everywhere closed to cars- with the consequence that there are so many people that it cannot accomodate scooter riders as well.
          I am amazed that businesses can survive. In Takapuna our businesses need thousands of car parks to sustain them – well the ones that have managed to survive because apparently there aren’t enough.

  4. All I can read in this data is that Auckland is a super safe city with below average cycling infrastructure (70 place).
    With rock bottom sharing and events scores I’m not sure why it is 7th, but I may just be mathing wrong.
    And 31%???

    1. I think that’s a more important question, but more importantly how would you objectively measure it.

      I’m all for measuring the percentage of women and children cycling, both of the demographic and of the cycling population.

      1. From my personal perspective itd be the easiest place to exist without a car. I believe Nelson has the highest cycle mode share but Christchurch seems to have a lot of cycleways etc in the pipeline. I daresay Napier Hastings has potential too. I wonder if residents in the Waikato towns located on the expanding hauraki rail trail might be able to use it more for day to day needs too.

    2. Based purely on numbers, it would have to be Christchurch. Some suburbs are at 13%. Of course, it did used to be the 2nd in the world. And that was a real stat.

      nelson also seems to get good numbers and kudos, which does kind of suggest hills are not as big an issue as some people think.

      1. Some suburbs (Beckenham) are even up to 16% (and that was 2013 Census, numbers have increased since then)… yep, it’s a no-brainer in my experience that Chch is the best in NZ (and indeed Australasia) – and yet wasn’t on the radar to even be considered in this little exercise…

  5. What is not in the table is aggressive drivers. I think we would be pretty close to the top on this measure.
    BTW – appreciate Waspman’s humour 😉

      1. You really think? (yes that’s me). Last November, I chose the route to avoid traffic, and I did nothing to incite the drivers.
        I have lived and cycled in SE Asia, UK, Middle East, Russia* and most recently Australia. Yes we are up there with the worst of them.
        * safer in Russia, they drive on the right but import used Japanese vehicles, meaning the driver sees and avoids you 🙂

        1. That’s a pretty bad set, Dave. I have a friend with a helmet-mounted camera she can start and stop with voice control, and also record details of the license plates when it happens, and make a “bookmark” type comment.

          Trouble is, it seems there’s no-one set up to receive the footage. You can’t attach a file on the online traffic incident report form. We need the nearmiss database promised a few years ago.

        2. But you can upload to Youtube and copy in the URL. Which I have done. But two things:
          – the police do not have resources to look at the forms, so it is highly unlikely that anything will be done, and
          – you can make a complaint at the police station, but when I tried the police said they would have to prosecute me as well.
          A driver passed me without space going into a roundabout, and then intimidated me by passing closely 3 times, plus a brake check on the roundabout. The police said I was delaying traffic – I was just taking the lane going in to the roundabout…
          So no point reporting.

        3. If the Police ever offered to prosecute a driver and prosecute me (for taking a lane at a roundabout on a bike) as well, I’d welcome it. The case against me would fall over after a cursory glance at the road code and the motorist would get done.

          “We’ll prosecute you too” shows either a complete misunderstanding of the law or an attempt to bully you out of protection by the law.

      2. The issue is not that drivers are especially aggressive, but that a lot of them (relatively speaking) make very little attempt at avoiding killing other people. That is maybe due more to ignorance rather than agression.

        For instance people systematically not stopping for pedestrians stranded on the centre line. I don’t think I had ever seen that before coming to NZ.

  6. Lance A is the best troll name for commenting on this blog and I’m mad I didn’t think of it myself.

  7. E-bike =/= electric scooter. Unless you just hold down the throttle and not pedal if you’re feeling lazy.

    Also, if you’re spending over $10,000 on an e-bike you’re probably an outlier compared to the general population of e-bike riders.

  8. From a count of the bike rack at work approximately 0.5% of my colleagues cycle to my suburban office (including myself). And I don’t see it increasing much as I’m still met with a spectrum from amazement and horror when I tell people I cycle to work instead of buying a car simply to drive 5km each way!

  9. I was stunned and slightly hysterical at the announcement that Auckland ranked 7th.
    As a regular cyclist in Auckland but also someone who travels a lot and cycles in a number of overseas cities, I can categorically state that Auckland should be much closer to the bottom of the ranking. I think London is the only place that I have felt less safe, due to aggressive anti-cyclist motorists. In most cities I cycle in my concerns are mainly weather related, or concern over a flat tyre, but not safety. However in Auckland my main and overriding fear is sudden death or serious injury, most likely from behind, and most likely by a road-rage motorist teaching me a lesson. I am about to file my second police complaint for this year for deliberate dangerous near misses.

  10. I think they’ve updated their ranking now cause when you click on that link Auckland is 49th, not 7th. All the other cities positions did not change, except moving one up from 7th place obviously. There must have been some kind of mistake earlier. I got this leaflet from Auckland council today boasting about 7th place so i went to check it cause I couldn’t believe it and of course it was just wishful thinking but they still claim they are 7th. Ridiculous

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