The Northwestern cycleway has been one of Auckland’s best cycle success stories. Over the last decade as it has been progressively extended and better connections to it built it has seen a significant uptake in usage.
In the year following completion of the section between Bond and Myrtle streets in 2010, just over 100,000 people were recorded riding at Kingsland. Since then, improvements such as Grafton Gully, Lightpath/Nelson St and more recently Ian McKinnon Dr have improved access to the city while other changes such as those associated with Western Ring Route works like the Te Atatu Rd and Patiki Rd on-ramp underpasses, extension to Lincoln Rd and the connection of the Waterview path have all helped too. As a result of these, usage has surged and as of the end of August, annual usage has soared to 360,000 trips. A great case of build it and connect it and people will come.
Usage is strongest on weekdays with people commuting with usage averaging around 1,300 per day but at the height of summer has peaked at over 1,900 per day.
But that fantastic growth has caused problems of it’s own, especially on one of the oldest sections, between Bond and Haslett St, where the increasing number of cyclists and pedestrians share a narrow path. That flared up earlier this year after reports of multiple close calls, the worst of which involved aggressive cyclists racing past and even verbally abusing children walking to school. This sparked calls from Bike Auckland for Auckland Transport to do something about this pinch point.
The proposal would see the shared path be separated to a cycle path and footpath for the 850m stretch between Central Road and Haslett Street. The upgrade will enable the different users to have their own dedicated spaces which will better cater for current and future users.
This proposal is because the current path is narrow and unsuitable for the number of people using it each day says Randhir Karma, Group Manager for Network Management.
“It’s great to see so many people choosing to bike as new cycle paths are built across Auckland.”
“With nearly 1,000 bike trips per day through the Kingsland section, the upgrade is a testament to the path’s popularity and a success story of people wanting to walk and cycle where the infrastructure is available” says Karma.
Barb Cuthbert, chair of Bike Auckland says “At the beginning of 2018, we stood with Newton Central School in calling for a solution to a bottleneck on the Northwestern path. We’re delighted to see Auckland Transport answer the call by officially adding a proper footpath to what’s becoming the city’s busiest bike route”.
“In particular, we applaud the design’s separation of wheels and feet, reflecting the volume and variety of people of all ages who use this path every day. This will be a boon for all, especially at peak times when school children and parents share this space with bike commuters on their way into the city. We look forward to swift completion of this important safety project.”
Here’s their proposed improvements
- Construct a new 850m long cycle path and footpath between Central Road and Haslett Street.
- Separate the footpath and new cycle path with low-lying planting, berm, and/or kerbs.
- Reconfigure the access points onto the new cycleway and footpath to improve visibility.
- Remove five on street car parks to allow improved vehicle turning movements at the end of Bright Street and Alexander Street.
- Reclassify the driveway at the end of Alexander Street as shared space to allow pedestrian movement through here while maintaining vehicular property access.
- Reclassify the thoroughfare road between Bright Street and Alexander Street to a pedestrian mall to stop vehicle movements through here.
The plans show the new cycleway will be bidirectional and 3.5m wide while the footpath will be at least 2.5m wide but wider in some locations.
This looks like a big improvement and I wonder how long it will be before the same thing is needed on the section immediately west of here as far as St Lukes Rd, which is also quite busy and narrow in places.
One thing I think will be important is how well AT differentiate the two paths. We don’t want another Beach Rd situation where pedestrians usually use the cycleway as a footpath.
Consultation is open till the end of October and AT expect to release the feedback in early 2020 with works starting in the middle of next year. There are a few sessions planned to find out more with details on AT’s project page.