Are we going about this cycle network thing the wrong way?

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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