Typical cycle laneAfter you have provided your feedback on the Upper Harbour Drive cycle facilities, we’d like you to also ask a separate question.

On its own, we very much support this project to upgrade UHD, and it would be great to see cycle networks in this part of Auckland finally linked up (especially as the route would tie into the Greenhithe / SH18 cycleway west of it and good future cycle facilities at the eastern end). Some good backbone network is being created here.

In fact, we have been asking for work to be done here for years (as a “put some paint down quickly, it doesn’t cost much” project). This didn’t occur, and AT is now scoping this as a more ambitious project, including footpath construction and various upgrades to the carriageway, berm etc. Again, we support that in principle – pedestrian improvements are good. So all our best wishes to the project team!

But really – why is this a priority walking & cycling project when money is tight and other routes are crying out for much more urgent works? Upper Harbour Drive isn’t exactly the busiest cycle route at the moment (though on weekends, sports cyclists and the slightly more confident recreational cyclists like to use it). Currently, it has only 77 cyclists a day. Residential density is also comparatively low, and not proposed to increase massively – have a look at the aerial photographs. Much of the southern side of that road is bush. There’s no real close-by destinations. This is a route for long-distance cyclists only.

Also, while we support that Auckland Transport acknowledges and is willing to remove parking on Upper Harbour Drive, we wonder how contentious this is actually going to be. Does ANYONE actually park on-street on Upper Harbour Drive? It doesn’t seem so, based from what we can see when we ride there, or look on the aerials. The project also acknowledges that parking is already banned over pretty much the whole route, and that no property purchases or reduction in motorist convenience will be required. A project easy to construct without brassing off locals is good. But it is also a bit too easy – we want AT to do more cycle facilities where they are most needed, even if they are more controversial.

City Cycling AlsoAnd of course, its already tough finding money to upgrade important cycle routes all over the city which already have lots of everyday cyclists. Where are the upgrades to finally provide cycle facilities on the last stretch from Lake Road to Devonport? When do we finally finish the gaps in the Twin Streams network, through the Henderson Town Centre? Wouldn’t it be good if the Great North Road section through Avondale / Waterview got some cycle facilities for the most horrible sections? What about South Auckland, or Howick?

When money is tight, expenses need to be prioritised. If we want more people cycling for everyday uses – visiting friends, going to work, school etc… – then we need to work first and foremost on those routes where the most people are concentrated. Upper Harbour Drive will be a lovely weekend route with the new facilities, and some few lucky commuter cyclists will also benefit. But CAA would like the money to go first to routes where the need is much greater!

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Auckland Transport General News Key Projects Regional Auckland Cycle Network
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21 responses to “Are we going about this cycle network thing the wrong way?

  1. You’ll be surprised but I’m also of the opinion that the ‘Auckland Cycle Network’ may be a network for experienced riders but fails to deliver for everyday people who may not like riding in 50 km/h traffic. What I would like to see is CAA get involved with AT and the various Local Boards to develop a regional policy for, shall we say, Complete Streets, where we have large areas of Auckland that are traffic calmed and the streets are rebuilt (temporary style methods as per NY are ok). Once we work out where these areas can happen (and I would start around schools and town centre districts) then we can work out how to connect the areas whether it be by way of off-road, greenways style paths, protected lanes (with physical barriers) and also cycle friendly intersection design (not advance boxes but real intersections as per the Netherlands). My wife won’t ride on a relatively quiet residential road because of the speed difference to cars and the lack of clear direction (do you ride in the empty car parks or take the lane – which she wont do). Sticking with 50 km/h road environments is not going to get the potential for a much greater uptake of town riding that I think exists. How’s that for a start? Need help? I’m there.

    1. Hi Bryce – we are very much behind your ideas as you have expressed for Te Atatu and other places. Maybe not as active on them as we’d want to, because buried in other stuff already?

      By the way, Upper Harbour Drive is 70 km/h! They MAY be able to lower it to 60 km/h as part of this project, but even that is a bit doubtful as to whether it will be acceptable, as the street is so “rural” and generally quite straight and wide…

      1. Hi Max. Not being critical as such just the question was are we doing it the wrong way and perhaps a slight change in the program is warranted? This doesn’t change the importance of projects such as the Crafton Cycleway.
        70 km/h and cycling doesn’t mix as far as I am concerned. No way you’d catch me along Upper harbour drive, even with a piece of paint alongside. I’d rather my chances in Woodhill forest. At least I know the trees mean me no harm.

        1. Fair enough – my question was probably (in my head) conceived a bit more narrowly, as we are currently working with AT on the ACN in general. Of course the question can also be read more broadly.

          1. I have sometimes thought that a better approach might just be to pick a metropolitan centre and the main routes into it which already have quite high cycling rates and then really try to get the infrastructure just in that small patch right up to scratch. It could work a bit like the Waitakere “EcoCity” brand I think – a particular metropolitan centre could become the cycling centre, and its success could then inspire other centres to get involved. In some ways you are already doing this with the CBD, but the CBD is just so huge and surrounded by motorway style roads that it’s a hard nut to crack. Maybe New Lynn or Henderson have potential for this approach? Or start somewhere really new, like Westgate, and try to get it in there at the start, before people have formed their travel habits?

  2. It’s a pity AT wont just pony up and get engineers on their staff who know cycle infrastructure inside out and whose goals are to make cycling a fun, safe way of getting around. Send them to the NL, Copenhagen, Portland etc.

    1. With walking & cycling at slightly over 1% of the total transport budget, if they did that, then the budget would probably be gone 😉

      I am not negative about what they are planning on UHD at all – especially if it includes either a shared path, or the buffer receiving some physical separation! Its just that I see so many other areas that need it much more urgently – because (your comments about 70km/h roads notwithstanding) UHD currently isn’t too bad for cycling at all, not compared to many 50 km/h streets, even!

      1. I cannot understand why the road has not been re designated as a 50 km/h road. After all there is a motorway connecting at both ends. Same with the old SH16 past Westgate and on.

        1. The road is very rural (very few houses directly along the road etc…) is relatively wide, and has very gentle curves (probably because it used to have a lot of traffic on it). On such a road, setting a 50 km/h speed limit – without also doing things like traffic calming – would simply be ignored. And for that reason, NZTA (who has to approve every speed limit AT sets) has a policy of not approving speed limits that they think will be ignored anyway. Our CAA committee member who went to the open day says that the project team feels 60 km/h might be feasible, but 50 km/h had no chance of getting permitted.

  3. I would really like to see AT focus on access to public transport by bicycle. If we had an aim to have every train/busway station with no less than 2 kms of grade separated cycleways leading to it from residential areas and bicycle parking facilities – I believe that would really increase people’s willingness to cycle for trabsport purposes rather than just fun.

    If you look at a map of Auckland and how many people live within 2kms of a train/busway station, it is a massive percentage. There are many off road paths that could be joined together for short rides or some Copenhagen lanes on residential streets.

    Asking non-cyclists to try a short 2km cycle is more likely to be successful in terms of transport cycling (especially on an electric bike) than providing 10km long rides that, at this stage in Auckland’s cycling evolution, most people wont do except for fun on sunny days.

    Once we have more of a cycling culture we can start to encourage longer commutes. It is still shocking to me even coming from Chch how few people have bicycles in Auckland.

  4. This is a good example of were a clear and simple strategy would allow CAA to get in behind a road improvement OR tell AT to stop wasting their time

  5. Upper Harbour Drive would be one of the safest roads in Auckland to cycle on since the motorway opened and i think the priority here is a little out of sinc. However the shared cycle path over the bridge in its present format is dangerous and I have covered its faults before.
    In the thirty years since the bridge opened until the road became a motorway I never had any incidents on the open highway but have had several nasty near misses on the separated bike lane.

    I think Bryce has his concerns a little back to front, riding in the forest would be far more dangerous than the Upper Harbour Drive. Does Bryce ride the road at all?

    1. For one, I don’t ride along UHD but then there’s no way you’d catch me on my bike on a 70 km/h road anyway. I read the original question a bit more broadly than just UHD. If you’re happy riding along there then that’s ok for you. I do wonder though, how many parents would ride with their kids along there if the speed was reduced and some form of protected lane put in.
      As for riding in the forest, as this stage of my life with a family and all, I’m a fairly conservative rider so the risks of dying in the forest are very slim and the risk of a broken bone is justifiable. I use the same risk analysis when riding around town and do not consider myself a road warrior in the slightest. I just ride to get around.

  6. At the end of the day this road needs to be improved after the motorway went in and before traffic builds back up to the levels it was before, much as has happened on streets like Gt North Rd. So whilst it may be easy to do this now it won’t be long before it’s hard, and all that land will soon be developed on. Something similar needs to happen top Hobsonville Rd else it will soon simply as busy and as unpleasant as it was previously. AT will do this project whether CAA likes it or not, and I’m sure they’d be happy to just not bother with the cycle lanes. But anyone who thinks the paint saved will be spent somewhere else on cycle lanes is kidding themselves. If it was this project or cycle lanes along the length of K’Rd, of course I’d choose K’Rd but AC/AT have given up on meaningful cycle improvements in the city. So basically IMO this road will have cycle lanes or it won’t and we should be happy that they’re getting installed before it becomes slightly less easy and AT doesn’t bother anymore.

    1. I agree. There appears to be more development happening along UHD so now is probably the right time to do something. I wouldn’t imagine some protected lanes and some road crossing points is that expensive in the grand scheme. Perhaps the Local Board could chip in to help out. It could easily tie in to the Glenfield Road works so could be justified in that way maybe?

    2. Hi bbb – as explained earlier, we don’t oppose this project. We save our opposition for issues like Whangaparaoa Road. But UHD is an important example – do we only do cycle facilities where it is (still) easy? That way, we won’t get far. The better is the enemy of the good, and a cycle lane on K’Road is better target for advocacy than on UHD – even if we don’t cry “stop!” should AT want to paint one on UHD, as they obviously do.

      1. I agree that advocacy should be on projects such as K’Rd but seeing as At want to paint one on UHD why are we complaining?

  7. I am surprised this has happened at UHD as it is one of the more pleasant on road experiences IMO, as someone already said, far better riding with smooth road and wide verge and whilst its 70km traffic, it’s quieter than most 50km roads. I ride there with my 13yr old and feel perfectly safe. I’m surprised AT has put in lanes, I think it was just a quick easy low cost win. Better than nothing but could have gone somewhere else of higher need first

    1. Hi Jay – they aren’t built yet. Also, they are proposing a bit more than just painting lanes, as they also want to construct a footpath.

      1. Unlike the cycle path the footpath is URGENT. Because the road is relatively quiet and the bridge lane connects to Hobsonville and there seem to be many dog owners in the area the road seems to be a road of cyclists, joggers, walkers and dog walkers. Facilities for walkers are non existent in many places with the footpath swapping from side to side, and complete gaps on both sides necessitating peds (and their dogs) to walk on the road. The road also suffers from sun strike at times being east / west direction.

        Perhaps my criticism was unjustified and it would be sensible and more economic to construct the cycle lane at the same time as the urgent footpath?

  8. The roads with the highest cycle and traffic numbers should be the highest priority. Separation needs more than just paint on any road above 5okph. Just because its easy to do doesn’t move it up the to do list. Greatest gains in safety and numbers using the road. Why not target the villages in Auckland eg Mangere Bridge, Papakura, Pukekohe Clevedon and Maraetai and put in decent infrastructure that can be used on a daily basis. For the money of the proposed Bridge Link many villages could have decent infrastructure put in instead of half assed paint on cycle lanes that then gets neglected for ever after. And differentiate between the types of riders that there are and their confidence levels on roads and provide infrastructure that works for lesser confidence and greater confidence. Then we might see more people using bikes as a mainstream everyday activity

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