Two major new shared paths have opened in the last couple of weeks, excellent news for Aucklanders who like to walk, bike, scoot, roll, and otherwise get around in the fresh air:
- Section 2 of the Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive project, between Ōrakei Basin and St John’s Road
- The New Lynn to Avondale path, connecting the two suburbs and their train stations
The freshly completed GI2TD Section 2 is 2.65km long, and New Lynn to Avondale is 2.9km. Together, these paths contribute to a 23km route across the isthmus from New Lynn to Glen Innes that’s almost entirely free from traffic danger, as well as free from traffic jams. In other words, more of the city is now a little more accessible to more people in more ways – as well as somewhat safer, and potentially a lot greener.
The two paths, while distinct in look and feel, have a lot in common besides their length:
- Both were in the original 2015-2018 Urban Cycleways Programme kicked off by John Key’s government.
- Both have been a long time coming – but, better late than never!
- Both are funded by government (through the UCP), Auckland Transport, and the respective Local Boards (Whau & Ōrakei).
- Both create access to and between neighbourhoods along the route, and heal significant local severances (road, rail, ravine).
- Both follow and connect into the train network, making rail and riding more mutually visible, accessible, and interesting.
- Both include practical features that were championed by advocates and communities (with more to come).
- Both lend themselves to short everyday trips, regular long commutes, and leisurely adventures (“urban rail trails”).
- Both include a few key issues that need prompt fixes (in one case, significant safety risks).
- Both projects will benefit from other links that are on the horizon.
- And hopefully both have automated counters on them!
They’re also both examples of a certain approach to cycleway-building that may be about to go out of fashion as the predominant style. Long-range shared paths, which take advantage of existing rail and/or motorway corridors – but which also seem to go out of their way to not overly disturb existing roads; this has an impact on the budget (although the $/km and the BCR are still better than the average motorway).
To sum up: both paths represent very welcome progress towards our sustainable transport goals, and highlight the broader opportunities ahead. Like: more safe local connections to these handy new assets, for starters. And also, faster projects, greater value for money, and the all-ages access to everyday bike transport that can come from redeploying the rich resource right under our noses: our streets.
Because that’s how the mode-shift we’re after will really kick in, once the rubber of thousands of bicycle tyres hits the road.
As Ariana Grande might say: “Thank U, Next!”
Check out our quick overview of the paths below. Have you had a chance to ride or walk either of them yet? What do you think?
GI2TD Section 2/ Te Ara ki Uta ki Tai
What and where: 2.65km of completely off-road path between Ōrakei and St John’s Road. Section 2 of Te Ara ki Uta ki Tai (the path of land and sea) links into the Ōrakei boardwalk at the city end. At the eastern end, it joins the existing section towards Glen Innes station, completed back in 2016.
Best thing about it? It’s not just a brilliant use of greenspace, it’s also really green! There’s been heaps of tidying up and new planting, with “nearly 35,000 native plants being planted across the route, 13,000 of which were sourced by the local Ngāti Whatua Ōrākei iwi nursery.” The path itself is nice and wide (mostly 4m the whole way), with great views – including of trains, including Te Huia.
Th future of transport needs 2 b low carbon 2 avoid climate crisis… th opening of Te Ara ki Uta ki Tai this morning shows it’s here right now if we want it. Electric trains, e-scooters & people walking, talking along the beautiful Pourewa Valley… the serenity! @WakaKotahiAkNth pic.twitter.com/2LKMBxEZPB
— Peter McGlashan (@PeterMcGlashan) May 24, 2022
Who’s it for? This is a people’s path, an attraction in itself. On opening weekend, people of all ages were out scooting, jogging, biking, walking with dogs and pushchairs.
And, as one of our commenters pointed out on Friday, it’s not just for weekend leisure or long-distance commuters – it’s also a “transformational traffic-free link” across the Pourewa Valley for hundreds of schoolkids who can now bike, walk, or scoot directly across the valley to Selwyn College, rather than going the long way round in traffic. It also puts many residents within an easy 5-10 minute bike (or 10-20 minute walk) of the train, for a 10-minute train ride to the city.
It’s also quite well lit for night travel.
Engineering highlights: This was a challenging build through some tricky terrain. Highlights include a 700m-long raised boardwalk, and the big bridge over the railway line.
Handy links: The standout is the connection to John Rymer Place – a desire line to Selwyn College, it was not in the original scope and was fought for and won by the community. There are also connections at Harapaki Road, Tahapa Crescent, Mamaku Street and through Tahapa Reserve West.
What needs fixing? Some have noticed a shortage of rubbish bins along the path, which will be important given the popularity of the path for dogs. Better bike parking at the stations will also be helpful.
The latest project update says wayfinding signage will be installed by Auckland Transport before the end of the year, and that a short section between Purewa Road and Ōrakei Basin will be completed, also before the end of the year.
What’s next? Work will be getting underway shortly on Section 4 along Ngapipi Road to Tamaki Drive, which will complete the full 7km route from GI into the city.
There are also reportedly plans for a link to Gowing Drive – which would be transformational for the south side of the path, both for school trips across the valley and for local access to Meadowbank station.
And of course there are AT’s long-planned safe routes in Glen Innes, most recently reconsulted in January this year.
New Lynn to Avondale
Lots of pics and videos of the Queens Birthday Weekend opening out there – people do love a new bike path!
Bumped into a few friends on the newly opened Avondale to New Lynn bike path today… if you build it, they will show the heck up! pic.twitter.com/hgdngG568y
— Jolisa Gracewood (@nzdodo) June 4, 2022
What and where? 2.9km of largely off-road path from Avondale station to New Lynn station. It starts at the Blockhouse Bay Road overbridge, follows the railway past the station, then ducks through Chalmers Reserve and under the railway line. On the other side it borrows a bit of Kāinga Ora carpark and a stretch of St George’s Road, then resumes running along the railway to New Lynn station.
Best thing about it? While not as glamorous as its easterly cousin, this path does exactly what it says on the tin: it goes from New Lynn to Avondale. Along the way, it demonstrates a number of different ways to deliver bike infrastructure. The underpass provides welcome access across the railway line, in an area with lots of level crossings. And there’s plenty to see along the way, including new housing development, mint views across the racecourse to the Waitakere ranges, and cool moments of industrial chic.
Who’s it for? Based on opening weekend, everybody! People walking and biking to and from shopping, free-range kids exploring their neighbourhoods, locals out for fresh air, weekend bike adventurers. It’ll be interesting to see the uptake for regular trips to work and school, too.
Engineering highlights: 1) The bridges at each end. 2) The underpass below the railway line, which is positively Dutch. 3) And the modest but inspiring section along St George’s Road, a great glimpse of what’s possible on ordinary streets.
Handy links: Because the path crosses several roads, there are plenty of access points – although not all of them are via bike-friendly streets. There’s also a nice new purpose-built entry to the path at Arran Street with built-in seating. A good spot for a water fountain and/or bike repair station?
At the Avondale end, the path links directly to the Waterview Path, and thus into the wider bike network including the Northwestern Cycleway, and the Southwestern Cycleway as well as Te Auaunga along Oakley Creek.
At the New Lynn end, there’s a short section of shared path (footpath) up the far side of Rankin St and on Margan Ave, which leads to a short section of separated cycleway on Seabrook Ave past the primary school.
What needs fixing? This route has some frankly awful safety issues where it crosses roads along the way (just ask Twitter!). This thread of video clips shows the range of hazards. You really have to hope the safety audit is all over this glaring risk and there’s a plan to fix it, fast.
Was excited to go check out the new Avondale to New Lynn shared path on the weekend…but 4 unprioritised road crossings in 2.9km is ridiculous. Really disappointing considering how long the whole project took and how much it cost. 😔 pic.twitter.com/E8zvK8OWnE
— Hayden (@hhb442) June 7, 2022
There are also some tight pinch points at Avondale station, where riders are asked to walk their bikes, and on the approach to New Lynn. And, as with any off-road path, the underpass and the section through the park – while reasonably well lit – may feel a bit isolated at night.
Wayfinding is still a bit unclear at both ends of the path. If you’re coming from the Waterview Path, hang a left on the Blockhouse Bay Road overbridge to find the entrance. And at the New Lynn end, the desire line points you towards a footpath, but look for the designated path along the alley on the south side of the railway line (alongside Tyrepower).
What’s next? Logically, the St George’s Road section should continue directly to the Avondale town centre – as indicated on AT’s plan for more local links. We can also look forward to Te Whau Pathway along the Whau River (the wiggly purple line on the map below). And there’s promise of more links around New Lynn, as part of the Mayor’s climate action package.