In the Greater Auckland that we’re campaigning to achieve, getting around the city safely by walking or cycling will be a preferred transport mode for many people. We’ll have safe streets suitable for all ages and all levels of confidence. Creating this safe infrastructure is a critical step to creating a healthy and sustainable city.

While many cities have been improving their cycling infrastructure gradually over many years, 2020 has shown what’s possible when fast action is taken – the ability to reallocate space to safe walking and cycling, and people will walk and cycle.

Research shows Aucklanders want these changes too with this from research conducted for Auckland Transport a few years ago.

Although we’ve been sheltered from the ravages of COVID that the rest of the world has suffered, particularly our first lockdown reminded us again just what a difference it makes to cycling when the traffic no longer dominates.

At Greater Auckland, we believe the city deserves high-quality cycling infrastructure. We also believe that our various transport agencies are simply not doing anywhere near enough to make this happen. Even small, seemingly common sense projects require extraordinary efforts by advocates and communities just to get on the agenda let alone built. As I pointed out two months ago, even after they’ve developed solid policies/plans/strategies at central and local government levels, planning and implementation teams tend to just ignore them.

Yet even with the meagre progress that has been made, there are loud cries from some that it’s all gone too far and agencies like Auckland Transport are just trying to make everything about cycling and walking.

As mentioned, I covered this a few months ago but over the last week two new/updated pieces of information have been published which helps to highlight just how wrong that view is.

AT’s Annual Report

The first piece is the release of Auckland Transport’s annual report for 2019/20. It includes information on what AT have been doing in the walking and cycling space and importantly, how they’ve performed against the targets they set themselves in their Statement of Intent.

In their annual report they say:

AT continues to place high priority and emphasis on encouraging the use of active modes, including walking and cycling, and on significant investment in new and improved footpaths and cycleways.

The roll-out of the Urban Cycleways Programme initiated in 2015 has continued, with a record number of new cycleways under construction during the 2020 financial year. The Franklin Road cycleway was officially opened in July and work has continued to construct new, and link up existing cycleways across the region.

Talk of giving walking and cycling projects a high-priority and of having record number of projects under construction sounds like we’re on our way to some kind of cycling nirvana but the numbers certainly don’t back that up. Since the 2015/16 financial year Auckland Transport have had a formal target for the delivery of new cycleways across the region.

This year they had a target of to deliver just 10km of new cycleways. To put that in perspective. we currently have just over 5,100km of urban roads in the Auckland region and only about 10km of dedicated on-road protected cycleways. Many of our cycleways are just shared paths which are not ideal for either cyclists or walkers. Adding just 10km a year to the network it is going to take a long time for there to be ubiquitous safe routes.

Despite the low target, in 2019/20 AT delivered just 6.09km of new cycleways. To be fair, the delivery of some projects was delayed by the first COVID lockdown though I don’t think that would have been enough to achieve the target. If this year was a one off that would be understandable however other than the first year they had the target, Auckland Transport have consistently failed to achieve it and the projects they are working on were originally meant to have completed in 2018.

For the current financial year we’re in they’ve lowered the target to just 4km. They’ll probably exceed that because of all the delayed projects that are due to finish. But once they’re done with those, things look grim with the annual report saying:

The impact of Covid-19 means no new cycleway projects will be started during the coming year but AT will continue investigating projects included in the 10-year Cycling Programme Business Case.

Cycleway Spending

Last week Waka Kotahi NZTA also updated their funding data for how much was spent by them and local authorities on transport projects. This includes both local projects as well as state highways. There are a few exceptions, for example local projects that don’t receive funding assistance from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) are not included. This is mainly the City Rail Link but also can cover some other areas like placemaking projects. Likewise the payments for the Puhoi to Warkworth PPP haven’t started yet so aren’t in the numbers.

The data shows that in the most recent financial year, just over $45 million was spent on walking and cycling projects. However in total we spent nearly $1.98 billion on transport (not including the CRL). That means just 2.3% of expenditure was for cycling projects. That is an improvement over the last few years after AT removed their dedicated cycling team and then stopped progress on cycling projects to appease a handful of vocal anti-cycleway complainers. But it is still down on what was achieved in 2015/16 thanks to the Urban Cycleway Fund of the previous government.

That almost $1.98 billion includes operational costs like for public transport services. As another comparison I’ve split out just the dedicated capital spending for new infrastructure. This also doesn’t include maintenance or renewals which can be significant at almost $450 million alone. In total Auckland Transport and the NZTA spent just over $1 billion on capital projects in the last financial year but again, only just over $45 million of that (4.2%) was on walking and cycling projects. What you do notice is the big spike for public transport infrastructure which is likely to primarily be construction on the Northern Busway extension, the Eastern Busway and possibly the new batch of trains.


Whatever way you look at it, we’re simply not doing all that much on walking and cycling.

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37 comments

    1. Pious Jude probably prayed and asked for guidance on cycleways. She got no reply from the invisible man so perhaps that is proof against them.

    2. I can just picture her being the type of person who would cut you off then pull the finger. I thought she was doing better than I first imagined but turns out she’s just another old has been that we really don’t need.

  1. What really annoys me is the need for seperate funding. I would much prefer each project having (enforced) mode share requirements. Both new and renewals.
    I got so annoyed when they resurfaced the road near my home but ignored the broken kerbs, didn’t fix the footpath, no tactile added, no dead trees replaced. But a lovely fresh layer of asphalt for the vehicles. When I tried to ask AT if this met their own principles I got a response that was just incoherent.

  2. The reality is that Auckland already has lots and lots of roads, the new road budget should be close to $0.
    The leadership needs to come from the top and it needs to come in the form of money / budget. The CEOs keep talking warm and fuzzy but pumping the money elsewhere. Judith is right about one thing: AT do need a shake up, they do need to be answerable to someone. This is the second CEO that just continuously lies to everyone’s faces and gets away with it!

    1. Wasn/t there recent changes to AT that should be starting to bear fruit now, from memory one of GA’s leaders was appointed to the board.
      Could he be interviewed?

  3. There are some great signature projects but in general nowhere near the level needed. The energy needs to come from the community and at present the efforts needed are simply huge. Even projects with significant work completed are often ignored so the multi-layered groups – ultimately it is not attractive enough yet for local and central Government politicians to champion – which seems extraordinary in 2020 but it is the reality. Very few take the long view and learn the lessons from overseas.

  4. There are huge fires and floods the world over. (Italy and France, California, etc today).
    Fires and floods in NZ are resulting in more land becoming barren.
    Sea level rise has seen 30meters of coast line lost in Napier.
    NZ is importing increasingly huge amounts of oil each year and our emissions are causing more than our share of global warming.
    Our emissions from agriculture and the rapid rise in the number of large SUVs is doing great harm and fanning the fires. We are spending more on sea walls that are doomed to fail. We are dredging our harbours and rivers and undermining the river banks and shore lines.
    Otahuhu has new $20million footpaths but the area is still very full of car parks and a rare planed bikeway to Sylvia Park was cancelled.
    Recently there has been a strong shift to apartment living in Auckland that are near to stations and Labour will encourage more of this with buildings over 6 levels approved. This I feel is a very effective way of reducing congestion and emissions and keeping Auckland competitive with Sydney, Melbourne or Singapore.

  5. That AT research that you mention in this article just typifies the problem though – if you ask Aucklanders that type of “no consequences” question, of course you’re going to get a positive response. “Of course I want more of that, why wouldn’t I?”. The problem is when this then gets real and a cycle scheme starts to strip all that on-street parking that the Aucklanders to which this is being done value enormously. Suddenly, “more cycling” has consequences and folk don’t like it.
    So, would it not be better to ask the right question up front – “do you want more investment in cycling infrastructure, even if this removes a lot on on-street parking?” Or do you just be more blunt and state – “we’re tasked with delivering high quality cycle routes because it’s good for our city” and then just get on with it, without any further delay associated with more “consultation” on the scheme design?

    1. AT asked that question recently and the majority of people are in favour of converting parking to temporary cycleways; more than twice the number of people not supportive. And that’s without any demonstration / engagement / education / strategy! (Details are in https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2020/07/01/the-power-of-disruption-2/)

      AT has no justification for retaining infrastructure that means people die and are harmed. So I think your suggestion at the end is the right one.

      1. Also brings to mind the public ownership of roads: they are there for all (whether to be partially converted to separate cycle lanes or not) and parking one’s car on the road for however long is a privilege. You are depriving your fellow citizens of a public asset.

        1. Quite right. Both motorists and those who pander to them must be made to accept that a road is a public thoroughfare, not a private car park. No on-road parking anywhere, anytime. All parking must be off-road, and preferably privately funded.

  6. I was hunting for something else (found it, too, 🙂 ) and came across this: it was one item in a response given to advocates by Shane Ellison, 16 July 2019:

    Question 8 The Active Mode budget is about a tenth what it should be, following the UN recommendations. Have you advocated to NZTA for 20% of the transport budget to be spent on active modes? Have you advocated to NZTA that while they are looking for savings in the ATAP budget, the active mode funding needs to increase, not decrease, to reflect the stronger focus on safety and climate since ATAP was written?

    No. At this time we are focussed on securing the overall funding provided for in ATAP.

    A number of activity classes in the NLTF are under significant pressure – that has been well covered in the media. AT is working with Auckland Council to protect that investment and we are engaging constructively with NZTA and MoT in this regard.

    It should also be noted that any reallocation of the ATAP funding with an increase to active modes would likely mean stopping an in-flight project such as CRL or some other public transport project which would be counter productive in terms of modal shift and also result in further uncertainty, lack of business and supply chain confidence, delays and significant loss of sunk costs.

    1. “would likely mean stopping an in-flight project such as CRL or some other public transport project which would be counter productive in terms of modal shift and also result in further uncertainty, lack of business and supply chain confidence, delays and significant loss of sunk costs.”

      Heaven forbid that we stop a planned road project right?

      This is part of the culture in so much of the transport place in New Zealand; that road widening and ‘upgrades’ are normal and necessary and that PT or active modes improvements are optional extras and we should be happy for any funding for them at all.

      Given the climate, road safety, and inactivity crises we are currently facing, the default road capacity spend should be $0/year. We have lots of road capacity, we barely have routes for walking, cycling, and PT, let alone networks!

      1. Yes. And let’s take a moment to remember how they stuck their necks out for Matakana Link Rd, bringing that forward, when they couldn’t do the same for cycling projects.

      1. Yip. BAU BS. Here’s another one that indicates his naivety. I wonder if he still believes this:

        Question 11 With Safety as top priority, and Modeshift second priority, the Head of Healthy Streets and Active Modes must help lead AT’s policy and strategy, and the position needs to be on the Executive Team. Why isn’t it? Given the documented resistance to the active programmes within senior management, how can you guarantee that the same delays to the active mode programmes won’t continue?

        Since commencing at AT I have seen no evidence of resistance to the active modes programmes. In fact, all I’ve seen to date is support for the programmes.

        We have moved away from a modal structure and the role does not have responsibility for delivery – in the same way the previous role of Walking and Cycling and Road Safety Manager did not have responsibility for delivery of the programme.

        Having the role on the Executive Team would have made no difference to the delays experienced to the programme.

  7. The single most important 1 and a bit km of cycle/walkway that Auckland can and should be constructing right now is SkyPath.

    Yes it won’t be as cheap as some plastic markers or painted on-road cycleway.

    But no other cycling or walking project would be as transformational – for the distance covered.

    That fact its stuck in limbo at NZTA tells you everything you need to know about how important Walking and Cycling really actually are [not] to AT and NZTA.

  8. Those of us who follow climate change discussions keep hearing that we need to cut transport emissions by 10% every year. But then we see what is happening in NZ. The glacial progress on just about every front whether it be this cycling/walking issue, uptake of EVs, light rail in both Auckland and Wellington, plans for when international aviation becomes part of NZ carbon reduction targets (apparently earliest is 2025). In the last couple of years this group, as well as some journalists, have also discussed how the Auckland InterCity depot needs a significant upgrade. But nothing happens there either. But we are making good progress on extending many motorways with more promised. At least with the internet we can enjoy reading of the progress towards decarbonisation in many large cities overseas are making.

  9. The Franklin Road cycleway is terrific. I have a problem with celebrating this as an achievement of AT’s Cycling program which it is not. At one bleak point, none of AT’s 3 preferred options included any provision for cycling. It was only after fierce lobbying that cycling was included.
    I’ll be impressed when AT has delivers significant new cycleways from an ambitious, coherent program. Sure, delivery may come from different programs but while provision for cycling has to be advocated for, it’s not the result of a long term commitment to mode shift

  10. I think the consultation is a big problem and it really make the project drag on and on and it will never get it done. We need to streamline the process and get on with it. How do the other city like London, Barcelona, Paris and the others can do it really quickly? It is starting to become a bit of embarassment if we can’t do it quickly. The people at the top need to change their mindset that there are other way of doing it rather than doing the same old thing over and over again which we are now in this situation (or mess).

  11. Shane Ellison has been a big disappointment. He has not really changed the culture in his organization at all, and he’s been in the job for some 2 years now.

    In fact, he’s either powerless – or responsible for some very specific changes making things worse.

    1. Funny thing is, there is a new stretch of cycleway (technically a shared path) alongside the motorway from Takanini to Papakura, set to open before Christmas. It’s being built by Waka Kotahi as part of the motorway widening, and will eventually extend southwards to the Bombays. https://www.bikeauckland.org.nz/project-watch-the-southern-cycleway/

      What’s lacking is the safe local links – and that’s Auckland Transport’s remit. Plenty of people in that electorate and the wider area will be looking to connect to the new paths and train stations, but will be thrown in amongst traffic. Gotta speed up the network planning for local streets, to make the most of the paths that are being built!

  12. Yeah, the only “cycleway” in Papakura is on Great South Road and you’re really taking your life into your hands if you choose to ride there

  13. AT may not be doing much for cycling, but it appears it’s doing far less on walking – so little that barely mentions and doesn’t measure what it’s doing.

    For example, its Annual Report proudly refers to “significant investment in new and improved footpaths”, and gives not a single example; and it has two Key Performance Measures for walking and cycling: km of cycleway added, and number of cycle movements past selected sites.

    For the only universal mode of transport, that is truly, truly pathetic (and hypocritical).

  14. As a commuting cyclist ,l get frustrated, sitting at lights,waiting for a change that never happens,until a motor vehicle appears,asked AT,months ago,no reply.Made a case with Human Rights Commission, as l felt l was being treated unfairly,they disagreed, if l could afford a good lawyer,l would pursue it further.Anyway it just highlights ,if you give one mode preferential treatment,you will never get any change

      1. I echo your frustration Bryan. Some years ago Len Brown committed on television to fixing this but my experience is that it didn’t happen. Another reason why cyclists go through red lights.

    1. Further to James’ reply, AT can sometimes adjust the loop sensitivity at traffic lights to more easily detect bikes, although you’ll need to drop them a line and let them know which intersection is giving you grief. I feel your pain at it not being a universal provision though.

  15. I find it annoying that walking & cycling is grouped together.

    Cycling requires plenty of new infrastructure and often costs (esp in Auckland a fair bit of money). Walking is a different case. it requires some paint and some common sense when it comes to priorities. Some enforcement of council regulation so that cars, scrubs and light-poles are removed from the paths.
    If we stepped into the 21st century and painted zebra at all places where they really belong we would get very far, very fast.

    We build new roundabouts in the suburbs, we create islands but we don’t paint the zebras? Instead this car must be interrupted at all cost mentality prevails. Its madness.

    Lets separate these issues.
    Walking is not something most do further than 500 metres from their houses and it requires a AT that understand what a pedestrian friendly neighbourhood looks like. We don’t build them, we build neighbourhoods that are anti pedestrians. In that we are unique in the western world. Australia is 10 times better than us. I mean were even behind the US here which in itself is mind-boggling.

  16. As expected, AT under delivered. Things like getting the train to speed takes forever.

    I wouldn’t expect much from them.

    There is a serious accountability issue. If the senior management failed to deliver, they need to be replaced.

    Too often they get away with things with no consequences.

  17. How do the NZTA and AT actually split the cost budgeted cost of project into its cycling walking road etc components wonder? Eg the Northern Corridor Project (motorway, busway, cycling, walking) upgrade. I wouldn’t be surprised if they bloat out the non general traffic costs so that this measly % dollar spent on active modes actually looks better than it actually is???

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