Every weekend we dig into the archives. This post by Matt was originally published in August 2011.

The City Rail Link (CRL) is a vital project for the city however as we know the government commissioned review has rejected the business case for it. While many of us know that the review has many flaws, some of the recommendations made about how to improve the BC for it are sensible, in particular the need to get more people using the existing rail network. Some of the more commonly suggested ways to increase patronage are things like better feeder buses, more park and rides and also having higher residential density around stations. Of course there are downsides to each of these, feeder buses can be costly to run, park and rides take up a lot of space or are expensive if built as a parking building and we still get a lot of people that complain about the idea of having higher densities, especially the fear of increased traffic in the area.

One thing that isn’t often discussed is about making it easier to walk (and cycle) to train stations. Thinking about this I thought it might interesting to see just how accessible the area around my local station is.  Most people are only likely to walk for a maximum of 10 minutes to catch a train and this probably equates to about 1km so how far does this get us? For this I decided to use my local station, Sturges Rd, as it is not next to a town centre it has very few places that would naturally attract patronage so it is key that it is as easy as possible for people to get to.

The red line is the rail line, the red shaded area represents the area 1km from the station (yes there is a big bite out of the bottom but that is because that area is so close to Henderson station) and the blue lines represent how far someone could get by walking for 1km in any direction away from the station, this includes all roads and any pedestrian only areas like alleyways etc. Most of the area around the station is pretty flat so walking/cycling to or from it is not hard.

Of course we are never going to get every single house in the red area to be within a 1km walk of the station however due to the poor road layout there have been some serious gaps allowed to develop. Probably the worst of these is just to the northeast of the station with the houses around Te Kanawa Cres. Some of these houses are as close as 400m to the station yet someone would have to walk for over 1km just to reach it.

Cycling of course has the ability to extend the reach of the station and these residents could ride a bike but it is hardly the friendly place to cycle in Auckland. It would require riding along a busy four lane arterial or on skinny footpaths as the streetview image below shows and when they get to the station there isn’t really anywhere safe to leave bikes for the day (yes there are a couple of bike loops installed but they are all very exposed and it is no surprise that no one uses them).

One thing is the station does already have a park n ride and a decent one at that at about 170 spaces, perhaps two or three of them could be converted into a covered and secure bike storage area?

Issues of accessibility like this are all over the city and it’s hard to say what the best solutions are as they will be different in each case. In some cases the removal of a couple of houses could be all that’s needed to give a lot of people much better access to local stations while in others it might just be something more simple making the existing access safer and more pedestrian friendly.

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15 comments

  1. This situation with Te Kanawa crescent is typical of the poor suburban design throughout New Zealand from the late 1950’s. What’s crazy is that the developers/planners could’ve easily put a public alleyway to connect to a shared driveway to give access to Swanson Road. But it clearly just never crossed their minds.

    1. I can think of three reasons a developer wouldn’t include alleyways:
      1) Less land to build on
      2) people don’t like living next to them and will pay less for those properties
      3) people like living in cul-d-sacs and crescents due to there being little reason for outsiders to walk through. An alley can change that.

      Of course if it was developed now they probably would include one as the saleability of a house with a short walk to train station is much higher.

      1. You’re probably correct on all three points there Jimbo.
        But it is a tad ironic when you look at the actual street and the sort of what would’ve never been high-quality, high-cost housing that was built along it (no offence intended to anyone who lives there).

  2. This is a post from 2011. I’ve read various AT and Council documents that talk about increasing the pedestrian connections through purchase of property for links. I think I’ve even heard it happens in some places.

    Does anyone have any stories? Is there any programme for looking at each station and exploring ways to increase the pedestrian connections to it?

    1. Heidi
      when we were looking to buy in Lomond St, Takapuna about four years ago there was some sort of arrangement that Council offered developers if they provided a lane from Lomond to Anzac St. This area is zoned for apartments. Anzac St is where buses travel to the town centre, or to Akoranga or Smales Farm.
      As no apartments have been built I don’t know whether this provision has been utilised. Katrine apartments, in the pre-sale stage, would be an excellent location for such a lane given that bus stops on either side
      of Anzac are in very close proximity to these apartments.

    2. They did buy a property next to Sunnynook bus station (from googlemaps it looks like it was 23 Kapiti Place) and put a link through there.

    3. Some houses were quickly bought and demolished to make it easier/quicker for people to walk to Eden park. So you just need to tie it to rugby somehow and things get done really quickly.

      Unfortunately it just doesn’t stack up financially for most other locations. You spend millions to demolish valuable/needed housing to save 5 people a few minutes walking to the train station. The benefit/cost ratio would be horrific. The money would be better spent elsewhere. Like building a nice park/ride or extending a motorway a few cm.

      1. Yeah, demolishing housing seems a waste. But when a site’s being developed anyway, it should be considered.

        The benefit/cost ratio isn’t something AT or Council would be able to quantify easily. Incremental changes towards a people-friendly walkable city would have to be looked at probably by costing everything required, looking at the benefits from the whole, and then dividing those costs and benefits up into particular projects.

        It’d be an interesting project to do.

      2. You don’t need to demolish a house to build a path through, just a strip of the land.
        You’d probably want a bit more width to make these feel safer to walk through, but this does the trick on my daily bike commute: https://www.google.com/maps/@-36.880132,174.7540315,3a,75y,18.71h,90.38t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sEX2vrPnMqWpNV0nu2PO0_g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

        I’d really like to see an official scheme that allowed property owners to offer easements or strips of land to sell to Council to provide cut-throughs. They could even allow property owners to use the original boundary line when calculating set backs on future development.

      3. Heidi, I think our main problem is that our standard BCR doesn’t easily factor into account the health and social benefits of active modes and long term growth of active modes and the long term benefits. These are hard to quantify because we just don’t measure that information and it is hard to model. The health costs of fat people is a large burden on society. Which is why cycle lanes can have great BCRs when you look at health costs.

  3. Heidi
    I have just seen that Tim Mahon of Barfoot’s is selling the Katrine apartments. He is a very approachable and knowledgeable guy and can tell you whether the lane facility still exists.

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