One of the many joys of leading Cycle Action Auckland is spending a day out of the city on my bike, knowing I’ll always return inspired to achieve more for our organisation. I try to do this at least once a week. Work and pleasure, on my bike – I’ve got the best job in town!
On Friday I went out West with my wonderful cycle companion who has ridden over a thousand km of back- country cycle routes of the NZ Cycle Trail with me in the past year.
We started with the 8.15 ferry from Devonport heading for the 8.40 ferry from Downtown. It was great to see the ferry arrive from Hobsonville and Beachhaven loaded with happy, relaxed, smartly dressed city-bound commuters who choose to ferry to avoid the dreary congested drive into town on the NW M’way and Onewa Rd.
(I made a mental note to suggest to AT’s Comms people to publicise these people as champions for our new expanding harbour public transport services. I would regard this to be better than spending money advertising how easy and cheap it is to park in in AT’s Downtown parking buildings.)
After a glorious discovery trip under the Harbour Bridge, past the pink -sweetly- coloured Chelsea Sugar complex and the bush- clad slopes of the Navy’s Birkenhead defence establishment, we arrived at Beachhaven Wharf, then nipped across narrow neck of the Upper Harbour to Hobsonville.
First impressions were of a smart facility; covered, beautifully presented information panels, elegant wooden seats and even a large public artwork at the end of the wharf. Compare that with the miserable, uncovered bike parks with no evidence of even CCTV. No wonder they’re barely used; ferry and bus passengers get shelter, but it seems AT is happy for cyclists to stand in the rain while they lock, unlock, load and unload panniers etc…
I find this hugely frustrating, as last year I had many meetings led by Community Transport to improve cycle parking delivery at public transport interchanges. It involved lots of AT staff involved in PT but it only produced churn. Even sadder was the knowledge that while the meetings were underway, the new elegant and highly functional Panmure train and bus station was being completed, without providing fit for purpose bike parking. Grrr!
The good news is that this omission is about to be corrected. We are collaborating with AT on a Monkey Survey due to be launched later this week to get your comments on a new fit- for- purpose bike parking shelter for Panmure Station. We’re hoping it will be a useful template to avoid duplication and speed up delivery of new bike parking shelters around Auckland train stations and ferry terminals. Hooray!
We cycled through the rapidly expanding and exciting new development at Hobsonville, noting the big new Farmers Market by the ferry terminal, and land clearance for more new houses, and stopped for good coffee and delicious breakfast at the terrific Catalina Cafe.
Next stop was NZTA’s gorgeous walking and cycling ‘Banana Bridge’ over the SH 16 motorway. To my shame, I’ve driven under this superb piece of eye-candy cycling infrastructure. This was the first time I’ve stopped to admire its superb pottery tiles recalling the clay tiles, pipe and ceramic household products industry begun here by Rice Owen Clark in 1854.
Matt McLean, Grey Lynn’s highly talented potter artist, has just finished installing more utterly delightful, clever and inspiring cycling- themed pieces on the western approach to the bridge. Blog photos can’t capture their magic – I strongly recommend you pay them a visit.
We rejoined Hobsonville Rd, and rode on to Westgate to drool over the West’s other superb yellow cycling and walking bridge out West, which straddles the SH 16 motorway by the Westgate Mall. This is super good to ride as it snakes its way up from the northern suburbs beside the motorway to bring locals from there to the Westgate Mall and entertainment complex.
We said a quiet prayer for the little guy who was killed crossing the motorway during the lengthy negotiations that occurred between Waitakere City and NZTA to jointly fund this structure.
Our ride took us back onto Westgate Rd, where we were promptly brought down to earth by the lack of forward delivery for cycling which is so often a feature of the AT network. New houses are being built on Westgate Rd, just up the road from the Mall. The road is wide, the footpath is narrow, and there is a wide grass verge. It would so easy to provide a protected cycle lane on the road now, before the housing area is complete, and encourage more short local cycle rides to the Mall and its entertainment facilities. It sure is preferable to the nearby Don Buck Rd which tends to carry all the local traffic. We eventually met a tiny section of cycle lane at the Royal Rd lights, and had to wonder why the transport planners had been so miserable and timid in dispensing their favours?
This typifies my concern with the new housing areas provided by the Auckland Council/Government’s housing accord. We’re hearing lots about numbers of houses underway and new motorway investment, but new sustainable transport options seem to be left for later …or the never – never. We look to our liveable city Mayor to make sure this is corrected urgently.
It’s worth noting that we had bypassed the mean Don Buck Rd roundabout, which is feared by local commuter cyclists. It’s hard to believe this is part of the Kauri section of the NZ Cycle Trail which brings touring cyclists from Ahipara down past the Kaipara Harbour into Auckland. Despite both Triangle Road and Don Buck Road being parts of the cycle network “completed” in recent years, the roundabout between them is another place where the transport planners have dropped the ball in looking after the needs of cyclists. (That’s another mental note to remind them about it again. )
Before long we were cruising down the Triangle Rd cycle lane towards the – short length of extremely valuable protected section leading into Lincoln Rd, heading for the beginning of the NW Cycleway.In an ideal world the protection would be retrofitted all the way back to the Don Buck Rd, to accomodate the relatively large number of commuter cyclists who ride this route into town.
It was great to see the new wide shared path built by the NZTA beside the SH 16 Motorway to replace the Central Park Drive section of the NW Cycleway. It is at least 3m wide, with good visibility. But please tell me why AT has been unable to keep the faith on the One Network system to deliver its section of the wide shared path along Lincoln Rd, to link with Triangle Rd. We flagged this issue over a year ago, yet it hasn’t created any movement on the AT side of the NZTA/AT boundary.
We usually love working with you, AT – but dearly wish you could resource cycling with the same priority for delivery that you seem to give to other transport modes.