Some good news yesterday with Auckland Transport confirming that their plans for a greater Gt North Rd will start construction later this year. The project has been a long time coming, first being consulted on in 2016 and then again last year, but better late than never.

Auckland Transport (AT) is delivering 1.6km of bus, safety, walking and cycling improvements along Great North Road, between Ponsonby Road and Crummer Road which will help move more Aucklanders along one of Auckland’s most iconic roads.

The changes will include safer crossings and intersections, a protected cycleway, extended bus lanes, longer loading zones for large vehicles (including car transporters), and more trees and landscaping.

Construction will take place from late 2022 till late 2023. Before major construction begins preparatory work is planned from August which will involve some minor work getting underway on the street.

AT’s Integrated Corridors Programme Director, Matthew Rednall says this project is the first step in a larger programme which is reimagining many of Auckland’s main roads to ensure they can keep more Aucklanders moving and meet the needs of people travelling by bus, bike, on foot, or in cars.

“Previously, AT often made changes, such as better bus services, as isolated projects. With this project and into the future we will be looking to make improvements to all aspects of the street at one time.”

Great North Road is one of Auckland’s iconic roads, carrying large numbers of people in and out of the City Centre. The area is changing, with more residential apartments being constructed. Around the project’s section of Great North Road, the population is expected to grow by approximately 24% by 2031.

Matthew Rednall says the improvements support Great North Road’s mix of commercial, industrial, and increasingly residential use.

“These changes will make accessing Great North Road safer and easier, whether by foot, bike, bus, or car,” he says.

AT’s Manager of Active Modes Planning, Courtney Groundwater says the 1.6km of new protected cycleways will connect the area to the rest of Auckland’s cycleway network.

“For people thinking about jumping on a bike in the area, this stretch of road is going to be a big draw card. It links with the city centre cycle loop on Karangahape Road, meaning a safe, protected ride in from Grey Lynn to all corners of the city centre.”

The changes on Great North Road are part of a range of upgrades in the inner west, creating protected cycleways that will link Point Chevalier, Westmere, Grey Lynn to the city centre and beyond” she says

Great North Road will be a greener street, with around 60 native trees and landscaping replacing 23 trees being removed to accommodate the new street design.

You can see more detailed designs for the upgrade here.

There’s also a video about the changes which highlights some of the other key features the upgrade will deliver, such as raised tables at intersections and across side streets, which we included in Friday’s Weekly Roundup, but it’s good enough to include again:

This is a good project and it’s great to finally see it moving forward. We hope Auckland Transport can act quickly to resolve the two glaring anomalies.

Mind the Gap

In both the press release and video, Auckland Transport talk up how the project along with others underway link up Point Chevalier, Westmere, Grey Lynn with the city centre. But there’s one major issue with this, can you spot it?

There is a 200m, Grey Lynn Centre sized hole in the network. I wonder how they manage to keep a straight face every time they say it’s all connected up when they’re standing in front of that map, especially given all of their claims about trying to create a safe system and knowing just how dangerous it is for cyclists to be riding past parked cars.

The Grey Lynn Gauntlet

The Bond St Intersection

Sometimes the latest changes to drawings don’t make it onto the website, so hopefully there’s been an improvement here that simply hasn’t been reflected yet online. The issue is in this location, right next to a four-story apartment block:

The drawings show that AT intend to carve into the footpath to create a section of cycle lane on Bond St. Adding a section of cycle lane into this end of Bond St is the right thing to do, allowing another project to continue it across to New North Rd. That is a critical connection in the bike network. However, this could be done much better. This is a part of town where apartments are popping up, and people will be using the streets as social meeting spaces.

Ockham’s Feynman is under construction just 130m away from Bond St, adding more apartments and residents, in a process of transformation of the entire precinct that we expect will continue steadily for many years.

AT needs to be treating this part of Bond St as a high pedestrian area, not narrowing the footpath and removing a tree, as shown in the drawings:

The solution here is to reduce the number of turning lanes for vehicles, and to provide a short stub of cycle lane on both sides of the road, so that it’s truly useful to connect up to in the next project. This is such an obvious flaw – easily remedied once the Vision Zero priority for “safety over traffic flow” is applied to the decision – in an otherwise good design. As I said, perhaps it has already been resolved and the drawings have simply not been updated yet.

Keep up the good work Auckland Transport. It will be great to see this project finished.

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  1. Prefect timing for disruptions to busses coming from New Lynn. I am sure this will double down with New North Road changes soon enough. Couldn’t wait for the CRL to be up eh?

    The hole in the in bike path and Bond Street not having a real bike infrastructure, is completely ridiculous.

  2. On the Future Connect Network, Bond St is shown as needing to be a “Major Connector” on the strategic network for cycling, and has a Deficiency ranked as “1”, ie it is the top rank of deficiency, so it needs urgent attention.

    Bond St is also shown as being a Frequent Transport Network 2 route, with a Deficiency rank as “5” or “Other”.

    Bond St is not shown on the Strategic Network for freight or for general traffic.

    Hopefully this is a case of simply not updating the plans, because to choose to prioritise traffic over cycling in this location would be an example of “Business as Usual” trumping safety. Indeed, it would be an example of “Business as Usual” trumping all the planning work that’s gone into Future Connect, making a mockery of it.

    1. Bond street almost need bike infrastructure more than GNR, given low up hill grinding speeds. Its currently free on street car parking for low density housing, zero business activity, there is no reason to not do this.

    2. The 1st right turning lane goes straight into a bus lane so it doesn’t have much capacity. My guess is they have kept two lanes so the bus doesn’t get stuck behind all of the cars turning right.

      AT likes double right turns that add little capacity- they stuck one in at the Mt Wellington interchange that reduced capacity and has caused a massive queue on the approach from the other direction.

      1. If that’s their reasoning, it’s a set of priorities not recorded in their policies and strategies like Future Connect, and all the work that came before it… so we might as well not have paid for all that work.

      2. The first right turn exists for buses, it’s so that the bus tracking allows buses to turn in both directions at the same time.
        This intersection is already close to the minimum possible for a bus route to turn on, as anyone who uses the 20 will tell you.

    3. There’s space on Bond st for cars and bikes. Painted bike lanes would really be appreciated.
      There are pinch points where parked cars, car doors (after the deaths I don’t cycle in door zones), bikes and moving cars don’t fit. The car parks really need to be removed.

  3. Good news on the whole. That gap at Grey Lynn looks lethal. Does AT have a timeline for fixing it?

    (And after six years of thinking about it, the local businesses surely understand that this has to happen, no question about it… right?)

  4. One thing that sticks out to me in the renders is how ugly the partial lane painting make things look. Can we not afford paint? Why not use the red asphalt that they use in the Netherlands?

  5. This has been talked, consulted and designed to death over the last, what, 6 years???
    Oh my … not even 2km of road length.

    Please please please do work a bit faster AT.

    Really looking forward to a network of Bond Street, New North Road, and GNR to be cycle friendly. The inner west area will *maybe be spoilt for cycling options.

    1. Great North Road out west, is in both the New Lynn and Henderson bike plans as regional bike lane. Zero plans to build anything tho. And unlike Waterview (or this project) there is zero parallel bike infrastructure.

      1. Unfortunately our ward councillor has absolutely no interest in advocating for better cycling or public transport infrastructure through there. Cr Mulholland is well aware of the issues with safety and bus performance through that stretch but has done her best to undo any efforts.

  6. I regard myself as a confident on road cyclist who frequently rides by the Grey Lynn shops and on to Surrey Crescent . This section of Great North Road always makes me feel very nervous and vulnerable . To carry on to Surrey Crescent bike riders need to remain in the outer lane through the two closely spaced intersections mixing with fast moving often impatient car drivers who are mostly proceeding left down Great North Rd .
    This part of the route will be a huge obstacle for less confident bike riders and Children.

  7. Although not everyday. The Bond St footpath becomes very congested when Eden Park has a big event. If they want to encourage people to walk to these events, narrowing the footpath at the intersection in madness!

    1. Yes, the width of the footpath needs to be able to cope with events. In fact it should cope with events not yet planned, let alone events already planned.

  8. Auckland is not a city for bikes , it’s topography and weather precludes this. Nice in theory but practically it is driven by ideologies that are not reality based. Again small buiisess will suffer.

    1. Been said so many times and is less truye every time.

      Topography: There are plenty of flat places with no cycling (Hamilton) and hilly places with lost of cycling (Dublin).

      Weather: You mean we dont have warm, sunny rainless climates like the Netherlands and Denmark?

    2. If topography is such a barrier, why are our most cycling suburbs (inner west and Devonport Peninsula) so hilly?

  9. Chris, I expect you have not been on an eBike. Topography is no barrier. As for weather, have you seen how many people cycle in Europe/UK where the weather is wetter and colder?

    1. Chris,Auckland is entirely suitable, topography wise for non electric bikes,it is virtually flat.Massey to CBD flat,Onehunga to Manukau flat,Northshore beaches flat,only one hill worth it’s salt, the climb out of Onehunga to Hillsborough Rd.

      1. The area behind the east coast bays on the North Shore is not flat by any stretch of imagination.

        The area around Takapuna and Milford is flat, but to the north it is quite hilly. You may wonder why Beach Road isn’t straight. You may wonder why the street network around Browns Bay is so weird. This is because it follows the contours in the landscape.

  10. Another hugely expensive green dream to punish cars and favour fossil fuel burning buses and non existent cyclists and scooter riders. If Leo Malloy gets in as mayor, this expenditure on expensive fantasy projects will hopefully get the biff . . .

    1. Rosco, I bet you have a plan. Is it EVs? I note that the percentage of EVs in the fleet may soon touch 1%, and the govt has only spent $100 million to achieve that, remembering that some had EVs already. That’s only another $10b required. Should we pay for it by a congestion charge?

  11. It takes 100 tons of toxic materials to make 1 ton of Lithium battery elements, and diesel trucks running 24X7 to shift the mined materials. Lithium can self combust, so they add cobalt to reduce this tendency. China owns 70% of the worlds Lithium mines, and the cobalt is extracted by using child labour in an poor african nation. Once they wear out, (after about 200,000 Ks) there are many hazards involved in safely disposing of the toxic contents. Does this sound sustainable or sensible? The more electric vehicles produced the longer the queues become at charging stations. The least energy intensive vehicles over their production and lifetime are hybrid cars, like a Toyota Camry or Prius. I THINK the best alternative energy is clean burning green hydrogen vehicles and boats, that leave only water and hot air as emissions, fill in about the same timeframe as pumping gas into a car, do a similar mileage. Work needs to be done with catalysts to reduce the power necessary for the electrolysis process. Electric cars need to charge off the grid, they only store energy produced mainly by nuclear or coal fired power generators. Hydrogen is half of water content and the most abundant element in the universe, so no issues with source material . . .

    1. So you’re saying that hybrids are best because of lowest total energy requirements. Then go on to suggest using hydrogen, which has vastly worse end to end energy efficiency? a hail mary on undeveloped tech isn’t remotely good enough either.

      The more electric vehicles produced the longer the queues become at charging stations
      Famously companies are unwilling to provide services to customers even when there is money to be made. That’s why there is a real shortage of petrol stations around.

      In NZ the lions share of EV charging is by using off peak rates all night (because for most cars, the majority of Km are done locally, not on road trips). At time of writing (2am), the NZ grid is running at 93% renewable, with zero coal.
      Next year 170mw of continuous base load geothermal is being added, carbon prices will continue to rise, grid scale solar + significantly more wind is being developed. As more demand is added, the private generators have been proven more than willing to add renewable generation, with little interest in adding new fossil fuel generation capacity. Why on earth should EVs need to be charged off grid?

  12. Oh those poor residents and businesses. Years of cones, noise, and inconvenience and it will end up as ugly and congested as K Road is now after it was ‘improved’.

    1. I have to agree John. The K Road development was and is a disaster. Is it actually finished (5 years after starting)? Riding Gt Nth Rd every day I feel like there are other areas that need attention far more than here.

  13. Is it the pending local elections that’s turned these comments sections into a morass of whining about rates and AT victimising shopowners and car drivers?

    If it’s not that it’s talkback-grade muttering about homelessness and crime.

    I mean, you could always go join the younger right-wing paranoiacs at r/Auckland if you’re too proud for Facebook or Neighbourly, nobody else needs to know you’re a redditor and we don’t have to read your swill here, everyone wins.

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