This is a guest post by sustainable transport and accessibility advocate Tim Adriaansen.
Today, Auckland Council’s Planning Committee is set to endorse the Cycling and Micromobility Programme Business Case (or CAM-PBC), which establishes 3 possible investment pathways for cycling in Auckland:
- The first is a $306 million programme which is currently funded under the Regional Land Transport Plan and is expected to deliver 45km of protected cycleways, including 4 focus areas.
- The medium-size portion aims for an additional 105km of cycleways on top of what is currently planned, and brings the program cost up to a cool $1 billion. This program includes a total of 7 key focus areas across the region.
- Finally, the “family size” serving is for 110km on top of all this (for a grand total of 260km), including 14 focus areas, coming to $2 billion all up.
While $2 billion may sound like a large chunk of change, it still only amounts to just 5.5% of the total transport budget for Auckland over the next ten years. And remember, to reach our climate goals, we’re aiming to see biking and scooting cover 7% of the distance Aucklanders travel in 2030. So that feels like a fair proportion of the budget.
Today’s vote in council is to endorse the plan, and not to approve funding—which will come later, as things are progressed and refined. Approving this plan does not commit any additional budget at this stage, but gives Auckland Transport a mandate to progress this work.
Spend $2 billion on bike paths? Are you crazy?
In transport terms, the $2 billion spend offers an excellent return on investment. The programme has an estimated Benefit Cost Ratio of 2.0 – 3.4 for the first $2 billion spent, and will lift Auckland’s cycling mode share to 3% of all trips. That 3% mode share represents around 100,000 sustainable trips per day.
Compare that to the Waterview Connection, which delivers a similar number of car trips for the same price; or Transmission Gully, which for $1.25 billion is expected to carry just 22,000 vehicles per day by 2026.
Of course, neither of those two mega roading projects deliver the enormous health, climate and equity benefits of getting thousands of people out of their cars and onto bikes.
What’s happening now?
After a bit of a hiatus in cycle network delivery, it’s starting to feel like we’re back on track. In the next few months, we’re set to see the final touches on Tamaki Drive (from Quay Street to Ngapipi Road), New Lynn to Avondale, and the section of Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive through the Pourewa Valley – all fantastic paths which will be a joy to ride.
Meanwhile, Auckland Transport is rapidly installing concrete separators onto 60km of existing painted cycle lanes — a welcome improvement, after years of advocates chanting “paint isn’t protection”.
What comes next?
The currently planned $306 million program is set to deliver projects in four priority areas over the next 3 years: Mangere, Manukau, New Lynn and Henderson.
This is in addition to the projects that were previously funded under the Urban Cycleways Programme and should begin construction within the next 12 months, giving us new protected paths in Glen Innes, and from Point Chevalier through to Grey Lynn.
Sounds good, but we’re just getting started. What’s in the $1 billion package?
While Auckland Transport haven’t yet publicly released the details of the CAM-PBC, we can infer some of what might be delivered, thanks to early engagement and some notes in the presentation to Council.
On top of the basic package, we’ll see 3 more focus areas: most probably Papakura, Otara and Takapuna, all of which are “low hanging fruit” for significantly improved connections that will be of enormous benefit to those communities.
We’ll also likely see some key strategic corridors – like Botany Road or East Coast Road – get improved cycling facilities, although unfortunately many of the most important corridors won’t be included in this programme, because they are due to be delivered with other work (more on that below.)
In order to get more bang for our buck, the CAM-PBC includes a “programme-level departure from standards”.
In response to very high costs of cycleway delivery (as much as $12 million per kilometre in some instances), Auckland Transport have considered how things can be delivered a little more affordably.
The programme-level departure focuses on faster delivery of emergent cycleways, often by reallocating street space where it is possible to do so without interfering with public transport routes. Provided we still see a safe, useable cycle lane, this adaptation of the standards promises faster delivery of a more price-tag friendly network. (And we can always go back and improve and widen in future, of course – as cities elsewhere are doing.)
And the $2 billion programme?
While promising 14 focus areas, the super-sized option looks to deliver a whole lot more of the good-value local connections and a few more arterial routes thrown in around local centres. There isn’t a lot of detail as to where these might end up, but Auckland Transport have looked to get good value for money linking up for a better “network effect”.
Many of the Connected Communities corridors and the (yet to be finalised) light rail corridor. This means the central isthmus, famously the ‘Bike Bermuda Triangle’ and yet richly criss-crossed with wide historic tram routes ripe for bike paths, will be the last part of Auckland to get a cycle network – when population-wise, it should be first.
To address this vacuum, Auckland Transport and Auckland Council should ask the Transport Minister to at the very least require early delivery of the isthmus cycleways promised as part of the light rail project.
Other critical cycling links will come via Airport to Botany and the Eastern Busway, both of which are much-needed projects but also somewhat mired in difficult decisions and funding requirements.
Furthermore, some of what Auckland currently counts as “cycling infrastructure” really isn’t. But this programme is unlikely to solve that: Tamaki Drive east of Ngapipi Road, for example, has some of the worst shared paths in the region, but because there is already a bike path here, it isn’t considered as important as locations without any bike paths whatsoever. Unfortunately, we’re unlikely to see the people-friendly waterfront boulevard we all dream of under this CAM-PBC.
While Auckland Transport are doing much of the good work to progress this business case, some of the most critical links are left to Waka Kotahi, who have recently gone deathly silent on the Northern Pathway, which was due to link central Auckland to the North Shore, all the way up to Constellation Station.
In the short-medium term – i.e. the ten years this plan covers, which are also the critical years for climate action – liberating a lane on Auckland Harbour Bridge is the only way to solve this missing link and truly connect the whole of Auckland for people who want to leave the car at home.
If we’re spending $2 billion on cycleways across the rest of the region, why not stump up a mere $15 million to fix the biggest gap in the network?
There are opportunities for Council, too. Currently, shared micro-mobility (in the form of e-bikes and e-scooters) is treated as something of a burden, falling under the Street Trading legislation and remaining heavily restricted. At little or no additional cost to ratepayers, Council could release more shared micro-mobility devices on our streets, and set targets requiring operators to service more public transport hubs and town centres.
Most importantly, Council should push Auckland Transport to align all other expenditure with the aspirations for the cycling and micro-mobility network. Time and again, Auckland Transport has planned and rebuilt entire intersections and town centres on the planned cycle network without any provision for safe cycling.
As well as a missed opportunity to meet Vision Zero and carbon-reduction targets, that’s a waste of everyone’s money and time.
So, before agreeing to increase funding for the CAM-PBC, Auckland Council should require Auckland Transport to commit to ensuring that all work on the network – including road renewals – delivers a safe system design for all road users, especially those outside of a vehicle, who frequently include young, elderly or disabled road users for whom driving a car might be difficult or impossible.
Council has already committed to Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan, and this is what putting that plan into action requires. The best way for Council to honour that commitment is by focussing their efforts on delivering this plan quickly, and making the most out of their investment by ensuring we:
- Liberate a lane on the harbour bridge, and complete the northern pathway
- Expand micromobility, connect it to public transport and make it geographically equitable
- Make sure every upgrade and investment makes streets accessible for all users
There are bound to be the usual tired critiques from those who can’t imagine life unless it’s seen through a windshield, but that shouldn’t distract any of us from what is a fantastic step towards a sustainable, equitable, safe and joyous transport system in Tāmaki Makaurau.
This is the plan that will re-humanise our streets for everyone – and give our tamariki not just the freedom of the bike today, but a real chance at a liveable future for them and for generations to come.
Thanks Tim. There’s one appropriate choice for the councillors today, given they chose to commit to the C40 leadership standards. Those standards require actually getting the targets of the Climate Plan track by 2024, and mainstreaming those targets into the most impactful decision-making.
The councillors need to endorse the $2 billion option.
The UN’s guideline is 20% of the budget should be spent on walking and cycling. That equates to $7.4 billion for the next 10 years. This is only $2 billion. As AT gets better at the process, they’ll be able to deliver more for this $2 billion, too.
Authors note: I should have mentioned that today’s vote in council is to endorse the plan, and not to approve funding—which will come later, as things are progressed and refined. Approving this plan does not commit any budget at this stage, but gives Auckland Transport a mandate to progress this work.
Thanks. I’ve made an edit to the post for clarification.
“but gives Auckland Transport a mandate to progress this work”
The Auckland transport that’s already spent million consulting on all of Auckland to build a bike network, but then chooses to no implement it?
How many opportunities to say no do they need?
A B/C ratio of only 2.0? Did they forget to claim Wider Economic Benefits and say it was 6.0?
In other news AT doesn’t like school teachers and wants to get rid of their parking spaces.
Agreed, instead of Grinching a benefit away, they could have offered alternative goodies, from ATHop credits to an e-bike bung.
Carrots will not get us to our climate goals. We need sticks. People don’t like sticks, but they also don’t like year long droughts and catastrophic flooding.
Given that AT don’t provide teachers with their parking you really have to ask WTF does AT think it is trying to do? Presumably someone in AT thought writing a press release that could achieve nothing but to piss off teachers was a good idea.
I am with you Sailor Boy, the time for meaningful action on climate change is well past.
Surely now is the time to look at the cost of providing parking for the likes of teachers and medical staff. (yes I know AT does not provide it) Subsidising parking at Waitemata DHB costs over $1million per year. That a million dollars less to be spent on health care. Often when you go into the A and E at the Milford hospital there is one doctor. An extra million bucks would enable the doubling of that service.
Why shouldn’t one of the facilities best served by public transport charge for parking?
Just try recruiting teachers or nurses when there isn’t anywhere to park. Why would you work for some tight-fisted scumbags who would chisel you like that?
“tight-fisted scumbags who would chisel you like that?” Hmmm.
So I know three teachers who’ve been hit in the last year or so on their bikes, next to the school. By school traffic, that’s induced by poor AT street design and by poor MoE priorities in school design. Remind me who the tight-fisted scumbags are? Those who have cynically complained about the idea, or the cost, of making our streets safe, I would’ve thought…
“Try recruiting teachers…” OK, let’s think about it.
Urban school principals and boards might not be as 1960’s as you’re implying. Their concerns include needing to encourage good travel behaviour for staff in the context of poor street design and poor school design. And needing to assist students to develop healthy lifelong travel habits when their teachers aren’t modelling it and their parents insist it’s not safe for them to walk or cycle.
We could also consider how hard it is for the students to keep out of depression when they see their teachers teaching climate science but choosing to travel in a way that adds to the emissions problem, and places the students themselves in danger as they walk or cycle.
Healthy lifelong travel habits? Or do you mean using a mode that you think they should have chosen? Take a look at the PT options in many areas of Auckland, then think about how far a teacher can realistically travel if the commissars get their way. It will restrict the potential workforce of many schools to a local area. Some schools will struggle to get anyone.
The whole idea was another own goal by AT.
“Just try recruiting teachers or nurses when there isn’t anywhere to park. ”
I know about a dozen teachers, I don’t know any of them through transport advocacy. Only three of them regularly drive to work. Free car parking isn’t as popular as you think.
Good logic there dude. “I know some teachers” so you can take away parking and it won’t matter. If it didn’t matter then the “Clowns” at AT would be trying to take it away. (See AM hosts Melissa Chan-Green, Bernadine Oliver-Kirby and Ryan Bridge who called they clowns, vindictive and out of control).
You can see Chris Darby trying to roll it back here. https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2022/05/councilor-chris-derby-defends-auckland-transport-s-controversial-2-billion-cycle-plan-in-fiery-interview-with-am-host-ryan-bridge.html
Sorry, your right, things can never be better. /sarc
If you work at AT you should try and promote the idea further. The interviewer above says it is the stupidest thing he has heard come out of the Council and Chris Darby says yes. So knock yourself out if you like the idea.
The teachers’ parking statement would have been better not said. It’s OK to suggest incentives to support alternatives, but the options are very few for most teachers. Silly, undersized MoE pick-up zones at the front door of schools is no help either. Remote parking for pick-up is best – a supermarket car park a nice walking distance from the school can be the best support for school neighbourhood safety.
Yes, remote parking for pick up is best.
In response to the other points you raise, it’s important to remember that the options for teachers are greater than for most jobs, because there are teaching jobs all over the city, indeed all over the country, and with similar salaries, too.
Parking induces driving, and free parking at schools for teachers has the same negative effect on safety and traffic levels as free parking anywhere else. We know that when excess parking at a school is reduced, fewer teachers drive – just like with any occupation. And excess teacher parking increases danger to the students – just like any excess parking does.
Yes, talking about improving the alternatives is the way forward, but we also need to tackle excessive parking, everywhere. Schools have a lot of it. We can and should show our admiration and support for teachers – but we don’t have to support regressive transport concepts.
Teachers jobs are located all over the city but that makes their travel choices worse. We have a PT system focused on the Central Area and Metro centres, it is practically hopeless in many smaller centres or less dense areas where schools are located. Teachers have a tough enough time as it is. I am truly shocked by the cold coldheartedness of AT and their supporters wanting to make their lives harder.
So you seem to be willing to speak up for the teachers who drive and shouldn’t have their “lives made harder” by waking up to their contribution to traffic and emissions. But you’re not willing to speak up for the teachers who don’t drive who are are sick of MoE lavishing money on free carparks, which take up the kids’ playground space, while having no equivalent transport subsidy for the teachers who don’t drive.
Perhaps you don’t know any? I know lots.
They are sick of the danger they, as well as the kids, have to face in getting to school because of the induced chaos around the school gate due to AT’s lack of attention to safe school streets.
AT should be leading this discussion and advocating strongly to government for MoE policy changes, while fixing any and all cycling, walking and public transport issues. Boldly, confidently and comprehensively, by reallocating money from their stupid road projects that don’t further the goals of the GPS.
Most teachers going to schools on the other side of town are doing so out of choice. If every school adopted a healthy travel plan and teachers needed to reassess their choice about school, it would simply lead to a merry go round of employment. One that would get more teachers teaching in their local community. That’s a good thing. And the sort of systems change the IPCC is talking about.
Problems are best solved by solving problems, not by giving exemptions.
I just beggars belief anyone would single out teachers who have to drive in order to serve in a school that isn’t walking distance from where they live. I used to know a lot of teachers when I served on a school board. They came from all over and I was very grateful that they did.
Maybe AT could teach their own staff that is isn’t their role to be judgey. We don’t employ them to do that. Some kindness, understanding and humility might lift their own image.
“The currently planned $306 million program is set to deliver projects in four priority areas over the next 3 years: Mangere, Manukau, New Lynn and Henderson.”
Please tell me they can’t just give this the money to shared paths like Te Whau? Because the only connection of New Lynn and Henderson I have ever seen AT talk about is via Te Whau, but that really indirect and far from the population centres?
How many km of bike path can we get if we just bolt Tim tams to the road?
This is the Henderson network. They are talking about. Even if we ‘just’ bolt Tim Tams to the road, we have to pay for them to be installed, we have to do consultation on the by laws, we have to redesign intersections to work with the new cross section, etc.
Yea I know, that plan has a link, but it involves te Whau which has not been funded. AT could do what it’s is proposing here by just sinking money into Te Whau, this would be a poor use of resources.
They are also talking about the New Lynn, this plan has a bike path along Great North. Road, which would be far more direct and useful for people living along the corridor.
What is the purpose of the Henderson and New Lynn plans if they just don’t implement them?
I know that we have to pay, but I think it would be substantially less than 7 million per km, meaning we get more bike infrastructure.
“In response to very high costs of cycleway delivery (as much as $12 million per kilometre in some instances), Auckland Transport have considered how things can be delivered a little more affordably.
The programme-level departure focuses on faster delivery of emergent cycleways, often by reallocating street space where it is possible to do so without interfering with public transport routes.”
Did you read this bit of the article where the business case specifically addressed your concerns around cost and proposed a similar method of construction?
The point of the bike plan is to think about how best to serve that local board area with cycleways. This allows you to then ask for funding for it. Councils have to do this dance for funding because, like you said, the costs can be astronomical when you have to keep drivers placated. So funders will only commit if they know the approximate scale of work.
“The programme-level departure focuses on faster delivery of emergent cycleways, often by reallocating street space where it is possible to do so without interfering with public transport routes.”
That has been ATs stated policy on their website for years. They have just not implemented it.
“The point of the bike plan is to think about how best to serve that local board area with cycleways. This allows you to then ask for funding for it. Councils have to do this dance for funding because, like you said, the costs can be astronomical when you have to keep drivers placated. So funders will only commit if they know the approximate scale of work.“
My local board has actually built more bike infrastructure in the last few years than AT. Thinking that AT is just going change overnight and actually build bike infrastructure is something I’ll believe it when I see anything actually happening.
Let’s put that to the test.
If we say that a standard TimTam is 75mm long and if there are 20 to a standard pack, then the standard length of an (opened and end-to-end) pack of TimTam should be 1.5m. To TimTam an entire kilometer would therefore require 666 packs of TimTam (an obvious reference to the Devil there, as it would be a sin to waste TimTam that way. How much does a packet of these delicious morsels cost? It varies of course, but let’s say it is $4 so an entire kilometer of TimTam will cost only a sum total of $2664. Mind you that is only 20mm wide.
For a standard 3.5m wide lane, you would require 175 rows of TimTam, no doubt laid in an overlapping stretcher-bond pattern, which would bring the sum cost of one lane to be $466,200 per kilometer. To include a two way road paved with TimTam would therefore cost just $932,400 per km (for materials alone, including GST, but not including theft, hunger, installation or the resulting diabetes pandemic as people try to lick road clean with tongue…). But still cheaper than a million/km. And a whole heap cheaper than $12million per km.
But those Tim Tams might not last for very long before they need renewal. And don’t forget the cost of temporary traffic management while you are laying them down. 😉
Bravo! I enjoyed that, thanks.
So central isthmus gets nothing, again. Despite being the location of two cycling fatalities so far this year. No wonder everyone drives in this area.
Are there any plans for protected cycleways on any of the main north-south isthmus roads?
Manukau Road? No.
Mt Eden Road? No.
Dominion Road? No.
Sandringham Road? No.
How about east-west roads?
Balmoral Road? No.
Greenlane Road? No.
Mt Albert Road? No.
Until this changes, mode share will remain below 1% in the most densely populated suburbs…
There are plans on Mt Eden Road and Manukau Road through the connected communities programmes
Or put another way: No, not in any reasonable timeframe.
Yep, timeliness of those programmes is a real issue. Pretending that they don’t exist takes the heat off of the people letting them slip and slip and slip.
When will these cycle lanes be delivered? From what I can see, there is no time frame on the connected communities programme. A plan without a schedule is no plan, it’s a dream. How many years has it been since this programme was announced? How many metres of cycle lane delivered?
I bet we won’t see a cycle lane on Mt Eden and Manukau Roads in the next 5 years. Despite cyclists dying, despite the climate emergency, there will be no action. And that’s only two of the seven key roads in the area I listed.
If anyone thinks I’m wrong, we can make a bet, I’ll put up $1000.
CT no one is stupid enough to take that bet! Even if they wanted to build a cycle lane and had funding, it would take five years just to get it through consultations.
It is more promises of jam tomorrow. The current Government are masters at it so now AT figures they will try the empty promises thing too. Realistically they can’t even afford to keep running the current bus services. There is no chance they will find $2billion.
Too right. SFA for all the areas people live and need to get around. Too hard basket.
Agree CT. It seems obvious to me that the cycling infrastructure that will get the most use (by a long way) will be that closest to the city. Why spend $2 billion on random cycle infrastructure scattered around suburbia that connects to nowhere? Start in the city and work outwards – unless of course they are deliberately setting it up to fail?
They are building 10,000 state houses in Mt Roskill but not providing any safe way to ride the 10km into the city which is almost flat along Dominion Road. How is that not low hanging fruit?
AT are actually doing something there with their arterial plan. They consulted in building bike lanes on New North road earlier in the year. Why they started with New North road is beyond me.
The same (or greater) level of intensification happening in much of the city. Much the city also has far less access to bike infrastructure than MT Roskill does right now.
It would be easy to install cycle lanes on most of your list of roads. You just have to get rid of some bus lanes.
West Auckland has had zero new AT bike infrastructure in three years, how about central?
Isn’t New Lynn in West Auckland?
Yea. Nothing for three years and nothing is even even close to getting built.
The New Lynn to Avondale shared path, is entirely east of Portage road.
It might be as far west as some people can bring themselves to go, but a path that terminates at the arse end of Lynnmall (after narrowing to a shoddy concrete nightmare from St George’s Road west) doesn’t exactly do much for Kelston, Glendene, Glen Eden, Kaurilands, Parrs Cross, Te Atatū South, Henderson, Sunnyvale, Ōrātia, Rānui, Massey, Swanson, West Harbour, Kumeu, Huapai, shall I leave it there?
Tamaki Drive needs a boardwalk to expand public space and free-up the corridor as we know it. If we are smart about it, we can extend it in the right places, highlight some of the natural features like the lava flows, or get seriously ambitious and use it as a chance to consider potential future ferry links.
Currently, we have trees, people cars and buses all competing for massively oversubscribed space, and that’s before you include the madness of waterfront car-parking. But the bits between Kohi and Mission Bay and then again from Romfords to to Kelly Tarltons are all excellent candidates for a decent boardwalk.
The media leap onto the $2 billion headline and refuse to give it any context,in the next breath,they,the media,are bemoaning lack of progress on climate change.This makes the councillors job,that much more difficult,with the masses being exposed to a misleading headline,journalism used to be about balance,but that has gone out the window.
If you had just arrived in Auckland,and read the headlines,you would see/hear,that AC are taking away carparks and wasting billions on a transport mode,that nobody wants, and wonder why, the city needs a champion for change,unfortunately none are on the immediate horizon.
Don’t expect any level of informed debate from most NZ mainstream media. Yesterday one of them ran a poll about whether people wanted tax cuts. Unsurprisingly 70% voted yes for what seems like free money. Of course, dishing out $1 billion might mean that our health service is $1 billion worse off. Money doesn’t come from nowhere.
I acknowledge that for the affluent health cuts won’t matter as they have health insurance.
I wonder if the whole fuss over this could have being avoided if they had just put out a one line press statement that they are going to spend up to $150 million per year on cycle lanes.
Most people would have thought well that’s not bad if it shuts
Those damm noisy smellie cyclists up. Then they could go away and just start building them. For example take the cycling and walking bridge over the Manukau it’s costing $60 million apparently and nobody blinked when that was announced. Its actually way to complicated I imagine Kiwirail could have built its standard concrete bridge for a fraction of that. You know the one made from mass produced concrete lego blocks without the ballast and rails. Did we really need a fancy arch. And as for benefit cost ratio that’s just an employment scheme for failed engineers and a waste of everybodies time. Just get on with it stop making everything hard, expensive and political.
On the benefit cost ratios, I think they are over relied on and sometimes a waste of time sure.
But they are still a useful indicator of value. If a project is getting a 0.2 BCR for example (Otaki to North of Levin), that is a very bad look and really calls into question the point of the whole thing. But if a program is getting a 2-3 then you know it will have some decent value and should shift decision making and air time to other parts of the project.
Business cases do still have some value and we should talk about them. Especially because it’s one of the places where the bias against cycling is most provable. Eg national calling this program “low value” but supporting 0.2-0.3 BCR highways.
Good there seems to be a plan to roll out some decent amount of cycleways.
For some impressive cycling figures check out:
Ongoing Opex needs to be sorted to make sure cycle lanes are regularly swept of debris etc. Those barriers are great but in many cases they prevent that sweeping which makes the cycle land unusable.
The good thing with connected cycle lanes is that it makes it easy for smaller cleaning machines (like you see in malls etc) to travel along the cycle lane cleaning them.
Lots of other projects that include cycle infrastructure. The problems are the ones that can’t get WK funding to include it and the projects that won’t happen in first decade. Some of the programme money may have to be spent on interim stuff for a few years’ gap – not so useful as spending it on roads where there are no planned projects to do the cycling work. Should some of the major gaps be filled by quick (but still expensive) interim work? Need to pick the trouble spots carefully so the programme could cope without missing the target.
Also, Connected Communities is a delay. We could have lots of safe cycling already if that, or any of its predecessors, had delivered.
“So, before agreeing to increase funding for the CAM-PBC, Auckland Council should require Auckland Transport to commit to ensuring that all work on the network – including road renewals – delivers a safe system design for all road users, especially those outside of a vehicle, who frequently include young, elderly or disabled road users for whom driving a car might be difficult or impossible.” +1
But also this is something NZTA must require nationwide, i.e. make it mandatory.
A pedestrian/cyclist/micromobility users life or injury is just that, no matter where it occurs in NZ.
Franklin appears to be left to fight off the doublecab utes without any cycling infrastructure. Guess i need to go and by me an Amarok/Ranger monsta truk