Off you go, 2016 – and here we come, 2017!

Dec 19, 2016
Off you go, 2016 – and here we come, 2017!

Bike Auckland

… as soon as we recharge our batteries. Because 2016, eh? What a year! We’ll remember it for soooo many ups and downs, both here and abroad – and also, because it really was a corker year for New Zealand bike advocacy, with so much to be glad of, even as we pledge to keep working hard on your behalf.

Like most of you, we’re ready for a good solid break, which means the blog takes a bit of a holiday, too. We’ll see you back in mid-to-late January.

First, though, let’s gaze back over the year. With our minds on the beach and Xmas prezzies, we’ll try to keep it short and sweet (though there’s a lot to go over). So here’s a very rough chronology of some of the key bike happenings in Auckland this year. We’re bound to have left a few things off the list, so do add your highlights, lowlights and celebrations in the comments below.

January – March

April – June

July – September

  • Bicycle Account Auckland 2015The first Auckland “Bicycle Account” was published, a summary of facts and figures about the State of Cycling in Auckland mid 2016.
  • BikeAKL joined the Coalition for More Homes, because we reckon passing the Unitary Plan will be a good thing for transport as well.
  • In swings and roundabouts news: we got our grump on with AT on a few disappointments where great windows of opportunity were missed – but later on, we also highlighted some of their good calls.
  • Bike Auckland joined the call for Vision Zero in NZ – because it’s just not acceptable to treat life and limb as just another trade-off!
  • E-bike regulations are coming up for review, leading to vigorous debate on the pro and cons of more regulation.
  • Following last year’s opening of the spectacular Te Atatu cycleway underpass, the Te Atatu interchange and State Highway 16 widening works marched steadily on to completion – with an upgraded & extended off-road cycleway also now extending all the way to Lincoln Road (some sightline issues at a pylon didn’t hold us back for long, with smart tweaks by the contractors)
  • SkyPath won unanimous backing from Council to proceed as a PPP – even before the Environment Court appeal decision was confirmed! What a day for cycling in Auckland, when even the die-hard sceptics vote for a bike project!
  • In the run-up to the local election, we launched the Bikeable Auckland campaign – a chance for Aucklanders to add their names to the call for smarter spending, a connected network, and safer streets for local biking. It also helped us highlight the bike-friendly candidates pitching for your vote!

October – December

  • bikeableakllocallinksThe Bikeable Auckland campaign was a huge success, with the election delivering a bike-friendly new mayor, some very supportive new (and old) councillors, and great representation across Local Boards. NB the campaign is still very much live: we’re coming up on a round number, and it’s a great way to make your voice heard, and to hear from us more regularly if you’d like to!
  • Bike Auckland has been working behind the scenes on the Bike Blueprint 2020, our proposal document for what AT and NZTA should concentrate on in the next years in terms of Auckland infra investment. [Editor’s note: some of you will have glimpsed this project at our monthly meetings – we’ll bring you a proper blog on this, early in 2017]
  • NZTA has begun work on the SH16 widening extension to Westgate – complete with a further extension of the NW Cycleway to the “Yellow Bridge” near Westgate. NZTA is also working on the plans for a new State Highway 16 to State Highway 1 Interchange on the Shore, as well as the East-West Link along the Mangere Inlet. While some of the proposed cycleways that go along with these huge projects look very good, we’re concerned that the biggest cycleway additions still tend to come as part of even bigger motorways…
  • … and on that note, the Lincoln Road widening project (Notice of Requirement) went out to public consultation. The protected cycle lanes in the plans make us a bit happier, but the road will be mega-super-sized. Can you sense a theme here?
  • The St Lukes Interchange works are mostly completed – we are relieved to have this section up and running, after endless, extensive construction detours, one of which even reappeared for a few weeks late in the year! [Editor’s note: We’re aware of various issues and incomplete minor works affecting the cycleway, and have asked NZTA to sort them out]
  • Waterview Path and the Avondale to New Lynn rail path have hit a few snags, but continue to soldier on… [Editor’s note: the design and route review of the New Lynn path southwest of Avondale Train Station is still ongoing as of the end of the year, due to some issues that need to be resolved with KiwiRail]
  • BarbFutureStreetswithkidsThe first new shared paths and protected bike lanes of Mangere’s Te Ara Mua/ Future Streets project officially opened around the town centre.
  • AT and Council finally published a fabulous new guideline for designing Local Paths (formerly “Greenways”), which promises to really lift the game for safe local routes.
  • Speaking of which, it was a red-letter day when the Mt Roskill Safe Routes opened, creating an exemplary model for other bikeable burbs. Kudos to the stalwart Local Board, and especially to Richard Barter, who nurtured the initial spark through to completion.
  • The Bullock Track / Great North Road intersection, a notorious black spot for crashes, was confirmed for signalization. It’s not perfect – there’s no new cycleways worth the name being added – but it’s definitely going to be safer than now.
  • And all sorts of cycleway seeds blossomed into consultations as the end of the year approached: from a whole four routes in one go in the Inner West, to K Road, the future jewel in our bike crown, to traffic calming a whole area in Herne Bay, some minor proposed route improvements in Westhaven, to the Parnell Cycleway. Can we hack the pace? You bet we can (but we definitely broke into a sweat at times)!

There were a few lumps of coal in the old stocking as the year drew to a close, however…

  • grumpycatFrustratingly, AT seems to be flirting with a great leap backward on the Mt Albert Town Centre project, via a last-minute consultation that proposes removing the cycle lanes that were just confirmed earlier the year. Despite being under pressure with multiple projects, we teamed up with our mates at Gen Zero and Transportblog to convince AT they were right the first time. Fingers crossed!
  • Meanwhile, over in Northcote Point, we remain concerned that the proposed traffic calming for Queen Street won’t be adequate for the diverse and distinctive SkyPath bike traffic, let alone the rise in people biking to and from the ferry terminal. We hear Option 1 has been chosen for Queen St – not the worst of the three on offer, but also a long way from the protected cycle lanes originally offered and then withdrawn under Nimby pressure. [Editor’s note: We’re also still waiting for responses from the local MP to the very sensible questions posed by Bike Kaipatiki about his support – or puzzling lack thereof – for more all-ages active transport in his electorate]

Luckily, there were also some moments of year-end sweetness to savour:

  • Here comes the cake...!Thankfully, just as we were becoming worried about a rise in watering projects down in favour of cars, the new mayor issued a very firm set of expectations for Auckland Transport: notably, “aggressively pursue strong growth in public transport” and “make cycling and walking a priority in projects.” We’re very glad to have this made clear!
  • Kurt Taogaga wrote a great piece rebutting a curious claim that bike lanes are a symbol of white middle-class privilege – we reckon he knocked it out of the park!
  • Lightpath / Te Ara i Whiti turned one and our pop-up party took the cake. (If you missed the party, check out the great video in that blog post)
  • A new cycleway is rising in the east – with the opening of stage 1 of Te Ara Ki Uta Ki Tai (formerly more prosaically known as Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive) the eastern burbs get a taste of how the NW Cycleway has transformed travel options. We predict this new 7km connection to town will rival the other cycleways not just numbers-wise, but in its unfolding scenic delights. It will also be our first major urban “rail trail”.
  • Remember our video earlier this year of the notorious Ngapipi gauntlet? A fix was proposed, and after a bit of an initial outcry by transport advocates, the now updated design for the Ngapipi / Tamaki Drive intersection gets our tick.
  • At last, part 2 of the Nelson St cycleway now has a design and a build date, so we’ll finally have the full “city ride loop”! (Less excitingly, the link up Pitt St to K Road will be a shared path for now, which is apparently to do with the CRL works expected in that area).
  • And of course: SkyPath got the full legal go-ahead! After a long drawn-out process, including a failed mediation with the last appellant, the appeals were comprehensively and resoundingly put to bed (1, 2) – in what was probably the biggest decision of 2016.

Phew. What a year! So what’s on our wish/expect/encourage list for 2017? We’re looking forward to:

  • colourbikebridgeKRdDetailed design on key projects like SkyPath and and some of the Urban Cycleway routes like Ian McKinnon Drive, Victoria Street and K Road
  • AT seeing the light and delivering the proposed Mt Albert cycle lanes (we certainly continue to fight!)
  • More Open Streets events – with larger areas open for longer!
  • More Bike Burbs – maybe you want to start one in your area?
  • A start to construction on various projects – hopefully including some like Stage 2 or 3 of Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive (Te Ara Ki Uta Ki Tai) and Nelson Street Stage 2 to Quay Street
  • More progress on AT’s first ‘area-wide projects’ – i.e. around New Lynn and Glen Innes – so the future backbone routes are paired with improvements on the very local level.
  • More discussion on where cycling sits at the big table: 2017 is an election year after all – and making New Zealand towns and cities more bike-friendly remains a very warm topic, with heaps of public support.

All in all, it’s been a wonderful year, and even with a few moments where it felt like Auckland was spinning its wheels, we’re still absolutely moving forward. Let’s keep up the momentum in 2017 – have a great break, get lots of fresh air, and we’ll see you again in the New Year!

Here come the kids! Photo by John McKillop.
Into the New Year we go! (Photo by John McKillop)


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