Friday marked the opening at last of the Quay Street Cycleway – another highly desired, long awaited, and very prominent piece in Auckland’s cycleway puzzle coming together.
It was clear this route needed improvement even 8 years or so ago, when we raised the section particularly at the Ferry Terminal as a big problem. We were told by long-ago Auckland City Council staff that they’d rather leave on-road and on-footpath cycling arrangements ‘informal’ along this stretch. Obviously there were fears that pushing for a proper cycleway here could perhaps have led to a more aggressive ban on less confident people riding on the footpath.
That issue – people riding on the footpath in what is a very busy pedestrian zone – had us worried when we saw some early designs for the Quay Street Boulevard to come after the CRL is built. Those plans proposed a cycleway, but at the same level as, and in the middle of, the pedestrian area. Given that we had specifically highlighted the Ferry Terminal area as the kind of place where shared paths were inappropriate – and, in recent months, seeing the issues with Beach Road Stage II’s “cycle-only” paths being instinctively used by lots of pedestrians, despite lots of signage – we were strong on wanting a properly segregated cycleway.
Happily, in the end that’s exactly what AT proposed for the interim Quay St cycleway that now extends from Lower Fanshawe Street to Plumer Street – together with an ambitious plan-and-build program, to get in ahead of all the CRL works and new construction in the area.
The real test – which Auckland Transport passed with flying colours – came when a large number of submitters (including Bike Auckland, of course) pointed out that introducing a new short section of shared path east of the Ferry Terminal wasn’t a great idea. (This would have seen riders hopping off the road and onto the footpath right at the busiest part.)
We felt it was extremely important to keep the cycleway continuous – to ensure consistency and better pedestrian conditions, as well as acceptance of the cycleway among the faster and more confident riders. We made a strong and vocal case, but we were up against lots of physical and operational constraints in the area from buses, turn lanes and impending construction upheavals.
Thanks to extensive internal diplomacy behind the scenes by key AT staff, and greatly to their credit, the completed cycleway – sans a big compromise in the middle – was opened on Friday 8 July by numerous notables, including those from AT, Mayor Len Brown, Simon Bridges, Minister of Transport and John Key, Prime Minister.
Our gratitude goes to all involved – and we wish you much joy riding it, come rain or shine! Let’s make Auckland’s first visible bike counter really count!