The Waitematā Local Board is currently consulting on the cutely named Local Active Modes Plan (aka LAMP), which aims to illuminate a programme of quick wins for walking and cycling. There’s a nifty drop-a-pin map here. Get in quick – consultation closes tomorrow, Friday 31 May, presumably at midnight.

In the words of Auckland Transport’s head of active modes, Adrian Lord:

“We’re trialling this community-led approach to develop a pipeline of low cost, super local walking and cycling improvements in the suburbs that already have highest latent demand and will benefit from completion of strategic routes in the next year. Faster, better, cheaper small improvements that will really matter to local people.”

This seems a clever way to gather a basket of low-hanging fruit for easy fixes. Anyone who’s trundled around the area knows there are plenty of gaps and opportunities just waiting for some love, some light, and some joined-up thinking. According to the FAQ page for the LAMP:

The types of opportunities we will be considering include:

  • quiet routes / greenways
  • cycle parking
  • traffic calming and traffic volume reduction devices in local residential roads
  • protected cycle lanes and painted cycle lanes
  • new pedestrian crossings and upgrades to existing ones
  • footpath widening including kerb buildouts at intersections
  • place-making improvements such as street furniture, landscaping and establishing new pedestrian plazas / shared zones
  • new bus shelters
  • accessibility improvements such as kerb ramps and tactile paving
  • signage and way-finding

See, heaps of opportunities! Go have a play with the map – it’s fun.

To zoom in on just one aspect of the LAMP, sometimes all that’s needed is a simple ramp, a wider bit of path, or better signage, and suddenly you have an accessible local greenway network that gives you a different view of your burb.

For example, I spotted the link in the header image quite by accident last month, biking from West Lynn back to Point Chevalier. I must have gone past that tiny walking-person sign a hundred times without registering it.

A photo of street signs on a lamppost in Westmere. The top sign says Maxwell Ave. The second one says No Exit. The third, wordless but with a small green icon of a walking person, indicates there is in fact access to those travelling at human scale.
It says No Exit. And yet…

This time, my curiosity was sparked. So I followed it into the cul-de-sac, and saw another sign…

To boldly go where the Google Streetview car cannot!

…which pointed me towards a switchback path through some greenery…

The path at the end of Maxwell Ave (not, as it turns out, “no exit”!)

…which led to a narrow bridge (juuuust wider than my bike handlebars, which was just enough!), across a creek and through a tiny forest full of loudly singing birds…

A bridge to somewhere? Fantails and tui encouraged me to follow my nose.

…emerging, Narnia-like, into a green park full of grand old trees, with the Dickensian name of Wellpark Reserve.

Well, well, well. Wellpark Reserve, who knew!

Who knew! I mean, the locals must have, and I bet it’s a handy shortcut for kids headed to Westmere School. But I’d been sailing past for years without ever knowing this magical portal was there.

Looking back through Wellpark Reserve, a handsome hidden gem in the middle of a residential block.

One of the delights of getting around on foot or wheels is stumbling across such surprises. After inspecting the LAMP map and seeing other people’s insights on clever connections, I headed out on another choose-your-own adventure.

I’m familiar with many of the paths through and around Cox’s Bay Reserve, as a handy alternative to the (currently very hostile for bikes) main routes between the Chev and the city. There’s a nice newish access from the eastern corner of the park to Wharf Road, which lets you avoid battling buses and parked cars on the narrow West End Road hill…

Peeking into Cox’s Bay Reserve from the cul-de-sac of Wharf Road.

…and also lets you encounter characters like this guy.

“You shall not pass. Actually, you know what, go on.” The implacable feline path guardian sees all.

Last week, I took a different route. Firstly, to check out a small stretch of bike-friendly path that’s been added to the area of  the reserve just off Richmond Road next to the big Countdown. (This bit of park is marvellous at the moment, in full autumnal glory; season of mists and mellow fruitfulness etc.)

Autumn leaves doing their best Bremworth carpet impression. In the distance, grass as green as billiard table baize.

Used to be, if you wanted to cut through to Parawai Crescent, you had to haul your bike (or pram) up the set of stairs on the right in the image below. Now, thanks to the Waitematā Local Board, there’s a smooth concrete path where a muddy desire line used to be. This is exactly the sort of quick win the LAMP is presumably after.

Two desire lines, one for those who like stairs, and the other for those on wheels. Excellent planning.

From here, I followed another skinny bridge over a creek…

A narrow path and bridge from the Richmond Road entrance to Cox’s Bay Reserve to Parawai Crescent.

… and emerged onto Parawai Crescent. I then followed my nose along Tawariki Street, where I found an enticing pathway towards Kelmarna Ave. Well, I say enticing, but… the sun was going down, and the darker side of alleyways presented itself. Let’s be honest: they can be scary for many of us, especially after dark, and especially if not well lit and short of neighbourly “eyes on the street”.

But this feels fixable. Surely we have the technology for smart solar-powered lights that would turn on at dusk. And couldn’t neighbourhoods adopt alleyways and brighten them up with art?

A previously unknown alleyway, disappearing into darkness. Gloomy and forbidding. To enter or not?

I felt brave and gave it a go, although with my bike and with four chunky steps at the Tawariki end, it was hard to get into…

The Tawariki St end of the alleyway.

…and the other end, with a steep flight of stairs, proved impossible to get out of, on wheels. Alas. Had I reached the end of my exploring?

A stairway to, if not heaven exactly, probably Kelmarna Ave. Is that a rain gutter, or a bike channel for strong climbers?

Of course not! As good old T. S. Eliot said,

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

I turned around and kept going, certain there must be one more discovery before hometime. And there was.

Have you met Moira? You should! Moira Reserve, that is. She’s tucked in behind Richmond Road, next to St Paul’s College. I’d never heard of her before spotting the sign at the tail end of Tawariki St.

Moira’s a bit shy at the moment, on account of some Watercare work happening behind the blue fence.

The smart wayfinding sign gave me confidence I could follow this path up to Richmond Road, and luckily this time (while steep enough that I had to get off and push), it didn’t include steps.

Steeper than it looks in this photo, but doable. Again, rain gutter or bike channel? You choose.

And there she was, at the top of the steep path in the setting sun – with a little library, a playground, and a view right across to the Jervois Road ridge: Moira.

Meet you at the little library, Moira Reserve.
Hello, Herne Bay! Not so far away.
The Richmond Road entrance to Moira Reserve. You shall know it by the wayfinding pole, but also the sign of the red panda (by Paul Walsh) reading My Family & Other Animals (by Gerald Durrell, Penguin edition).

But wait, there’s more! Yet another alleyway on the other side of Moira, also linking Richmond to Tawariki. I had a quick peek, but it turned out to have steps at the bottom. So I banked my wins for the day and headed for home before it got dark.

I can trace the origin of my alleyway obsession to my Naenae childhood. A state house paradise, criss-crossed by parks and pathways and little reserves that I navigated as a very small child – one of which, behind my Nana’s house (where my mum and her siblings played as children) is now home to a very cool little bike park.

Later, likewise, as a primary schooler and then at high school, I learned pretty much every path in Papatoetoe. The one below was a link from home to the roller rink, then eventually to the train station that took me into the big big city.

“CYCLING PROHIBITED, BY ORDER PCC” but we did it anyway. And anyhow, Papatoetoe City Council no longer exists. (Also, those heritage bike-blocking bars should be in a museum, perhaps even a museum of transport and technology.)

I continue to collect new alleyways along the way, adding them to my mental map of the city. And I love to hear about other people’s favourite secret passageways and why they love them.

I love the alleys of the isthmus, in Mt Albert and Mt Roskill, the ones that link St Lukes to Dominion Road. I love how you can sometimes cross whole swathes of a neighbourhood without having to cycle (or walk!) on a busy road. But boy oh boy do I wish there were proper raised crossings for when you need to cycle (or walk!) across a busy road to get to the next alleyway.

I love, but don’t have a photo of, the little lane from Rawalpindi St to Tasman Ave. I can tell you it’s 100% the flattest route from Baldwin Ave Station through to Carrington Road with a kid on wheels who’s almost out of puff. It’s also full of memories, for exactly that reason.

And don’t even get me started on how much I love the utterly mysterious paper (grass) road that is Duncumb St! What on earth happened here, and how can we make it happen in more places?

It’s a street… but not for cars. Duncumb St is a woonerf in the making.
Look at it! Access to Duncumb St is residents-only… and also, anyone who fancies a car-free stroll.

I could go on – that’s kind of how alleyways work, you just roll from one to the next! – but I’ll finish with a local lane I love, and I look forward to hearing about your favourites in the comments.

This prosaic pass-through from Pt Chev Rd to the beach is forever “George’s Alleyway”, even though George moved out of town a couple of years ago, and George’s house has now made way for five, count ’em, five three-storey townhouses.

Look how proud he is of his bollard, beautifully yarn-bombed by a local artist during the long lockdown of late 2021, guarding the pathway for people and pussycats. Alley-oop!

Gorgeous George guarding the entrance to his alleyway, next to his prettily yarnbombed bollard, late 2021.
Gorgeous George guarding the entrance to his alleyway, next to his yarnbombed bollard, in late 2021.
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  1. Excellent! I shall have to go and discover some of those myself.

    And the pin drop map is great. Thanks, AT.

  2. Glorious Jolisa.

    LAMP is a good project, something it highlights is that the study area already has a number of full or partial Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.

    Some, like that alley to Moira Park is part of the access to the tram network. The Edwardians knew full well about efficient pedestrian links to stops being a critical part of the public transport system. Others like the chicanes and a few severed rat runs, for example the huge pot plants closing vehicle through route behind the clubrooms at Coxs Bay Park, are more recent.

    The opportunity here for AT is to more consciously lean into the LTN design aspect this process offers and needs, complete and extend the LTN system here where it is relatively easy because of existing conditions. Then use it as a model for all residential neighbourhoods over the whole city. A long run stand up project for a local neighbourhood team, in liaison with local boards etc.

    Could be a very efficient, low cost, but high impact, and done well, popular, way to improve lives, safety and access. Hopefully this already is that?

    1. Really good to have you back in the fold on this site Patrick.
      Your contributions and your wonderful photos are really appreciated here.

    1. In my experience, wayfinding is used pretty much exclusively in the context of walkability. It can manifest in terms of sign posts but maps and directories are also wayfinding.

      So, for instance, if you’re ever on the Southern Path there are directories and signpost wayfinding forms. Or, at least, there was: I’ve noticed some of the signpost signs have disappeared, presumably due to vandalism.

      There’s no map they probably should put one in on the Waiata Shores end because there’s a couple of walks there so there’s a bit of a network a user might be interested in. Similarly, at the bridge there’s also walks on both sides of the motorway (in Hingaia and Pahurehure) so I think a map would have value over and above just having signposts. Additionally, if there were bike lanes other than the “try not to die” painted to die variety elsewhere in the area, then a physical on the ground map would also be in order at the entrances where such lanes could be accessed.

    2. Wayfinding has information about destinations, walk distances or amenities that can be accessed. And it’s at a scale for pedestrians and cyclists. Sometimes the pole itself is part of the wayfinding, like this distinctive bright green pole marking the start of the pathway.

      Lots of wayfinding goes on signposts, but not all signposts are wayfinding.

    3. Wayfinding pole sounds way cooler when applying for funding and you can charge a lot more for a wayfinding pole compared to a signpost.

    1. I have to say that I’ve found a lot of these in the past just by using the bike directions function of Google Maps. But yes, they could be better signposted (wayfound?) so more people know about them. Great idea.

  3. TRM is also a big fan of this type of construction. It adds to what we have as opposed to re-allocating space and dis-advantaging other users. From my experience also represents better bang for buck.

    Hoping to see more of this type of development.

      1. Guess he is referring to himself, given that nothing can stand in the way of his sitting in Auckland traffic

  4. Nice post Jolisa. Have yet to look at the map properly. I have a handful of suggestions that could be done in my local area which I must let the local board know about (I suggested some to AT way back and this is what they suggested).

  5. It strikes me that you have missed the bit that these are pedestrian accessways NOT cycleways. This is the reason they are narrow and have steps (and signs). By pushing through on wheels you are disincentivising their use by walkers. When walking people don’t want to be confronted by someone approaching them on a metal contraption with bits that can damage easily. How about showing respect for those that these are clearly intended.

    1. You sound a bit grumpy. What about a 6 year old on her small bike just trying to go visit the park?

      Or should they be riding on the road where they might be …

      ” confronted by someone approaching them on a metal contraption with bits that can damage easily.”

    2. Kia ora DonM,
      The bit you have missed is that most of these connections are to park paths (shared by default) or road reserve. In the case of the Coxs Bay to Wharf Road connection it is designed as a shared “Greenway” (see photo).

      I undertook the original mapping exercise as a local board member (to give AT a push) so know that very few No Exit street connections are unsuitable for wheels (Jaggers Bush would be one example ).

      The issue Andy was interested in resolving is the vehicle-centric signage that ignores the pathways for people. Making No exit street accessways visible for active transport in all its forms doesn’t take anything away from people walking.

      1. Useful observations, thank you. I agree, important to treat these paths as the share-with-care spaces they are, as we’re all seeking safer journeys that avoid the risks from heavy wheeled vehicles.

        I’m always happy to stand aside with my bike (or move onto the grass) when I meet others using alleyways and paths in parks. I enjoy the social encounters. Also it’s just great to see these access-ways are known about and being used.

        Part of what my explorations are always testing (with friends and family members in mind) was accessibility for the many ways people move around at human scale. Parents with pushchairs, families with kids on little bikes and scooters, people using wheelchairs, walkers and other kinds of wheeled assistance, anyone bringing home their shopping in a wheeled granny cart, and so on.

        If I can’t easily push my bike uphill (or safely lift it up or down a set of stairs), then a given path isn’t much use to anyone but the most fit, nimble and unencumbered. And if there’s an easy fix for better accessibility, that’s something any of us can and should highlight.

  6. Great post, my wife and I spent many evenings during Covid wandering alleyways and back passages discovering new little reserves.

    Funnily enough, one of my fave memories of my Grandma is going ‘Gitty walking’ growing up in the UK, gitty means alleyway I think but I remember it very well on Saturday mornings, served as one of the seeds for my great sense of adventure.

    1. Ah the subtle differences in Yorkshire between a ginnel and a snicket.
      I think a snicket was the more urbanised version. An alleyway bordered by high buildings and walls, and even sometimes partially or fully covered by a building such as in a main street
      And the ginnel was the more rural version, bounded by walls, hedges and fences. But I suspect the differences were very much local in differentiation.

      I am happy to be corrected by more local knowledge.

    2. Those that live around these suburbs are fortunate to have quite nice places to cycle. Some parts of Auckland a bit sadder in that regard & have to trek a few kms or catch a train to find anything to cycle safely on.

  7. Lovely write up about no exit street signage. Thanks Jolisa.

    It was Andy Smith (RIP), Walk Auckland who first proposed the signage for walking and cycling where a street is only a no exit for vehicles. The City Vision-led local board then took it up as a project.

    The design and installation by AT was a slow process but the local board got there eventually. Andy is acknowledged in this story.

    Fortunately Andy did know that his vision had been successfully realised before he died.

    1. This is really important and interesting history – thank you so much for sharing it here, Pippa!

      Kudos to Andy for spotting the opportunity, and the CV-led Local Board for running with it – and AT, for getting there in the end. Hopefully this current process accelerates an even more proactive approach to planning coherent networks for local access.

    2. It’s a different network from Kaipatiki, where many walkways and reserve paths also provide some great walks and a few safe cycle ways through (legally by wheeling, not riding, apart from small wheels).
      Collaboration between AT, AC Parks and the variety of Local Boards is needed to make the most of these opportunities. This is a really good post, bringing back the excitement and enjoyment of finding new ways – best done in company for personal safety, unfortunately.
      Working out how to match up AC and AT Wayfinding signs and mapping through GIS can help.
      TRM will have to get out of his car sometime and find out what all the fun is about, finding the snickets and ginnels.

  8. You might want to acquaint yourself with the difference between a pedestrian path and a mixed use path.

    Ask yourself how you’d feel seeing a car or motorcycle just deciding to drive down cycle lane because it physically could fit. Then you’ll understand how pedestrians see cyclists bearing down on them on walking only paths.

  9. The Waitemata Board has a good idea here. Let’s hope it works and spreads.
    There is a paper road near me which is accessible to knowledgeable pedestrians, but could very usefully become a shared path connecting residential and commercial areas to retail and parks.

  10. This was such a planner’s palate cleanser, a nice, positive urbanist blogpost. Reminds me of using all the laneways as cycling shortcuts back in Toronto, and the hidden pathways to parks in the town where I grew up.

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