When Janette Sadik-Khan gave her inspirational presentation at the Aotea Centre 3 weeks ago, I spoke for Cycle Action during question time. I referred to JSK’s visit as prompting our launch of a pilot cycling project using Nelson St and the disused motorway off-ramp. There was spontaneous applause from the floor for our initiative!

Nelson St offramp with Ernst, June 2014

It’s very clear there is strong public interest and goodwill to make the pilot project happen quickly. We’re therefore happy to report that the NZTA and AT are similarly engaged.

We’re also fortunate that our new NZTA Regional Director for Auckland/Northland, Ernst Zollner, has chosen to continue the role of his predecessor, Steven Town, in providing leadership for cycling in Auckland. Within days of JSK’s event, Ernst had arranged a walkover with senior advisers from the Auckland Motorway Alliance, and is taking an active interest in the project.

These blog photos taken during our walkover capture the stunning panoramas from the off-ramp.  (Sorry about the poor resolution.) You only have step a short distance onto the off-ramp from Union St to see what a superb resource the off-ramp is – it is ideal to allow those who travel at the slower pace of walking and cycling to enjoy the fascinating detail and spectacular range of views across our city. My experience as a heritage planner drew me to the facades and roof details of the small heritage cluster of buildings remaining in Beresford Square. I’m sure the off-ramp will be soon hosting urban form and heritage events to help Aucklanders recall the dramatic changes made to our city, (particularly Freeman’s Bay) to accomodate public and private higher density housing, the motorway system and Harbour Bridge approaches.

Nelson St offramp Beresford St ( 2)

Max and I got around the table last week with key senior people from both NZTA and AT.  I explained that Cycle Action’s goal is to see the new temporary infrastructure in place by February 2015, and Max described the detail of how we think it can be done.

It was great to hear positive comments and suggestions from both organisations. They also noted two key issues which they consider need investigation –  ie the best method of access to the Nelson St off-ramp from near K’ Rd (several options remain on the table to be looked at), and a means to ensure safe intersection crossings over Union St and Cook Street on Nelson St for cyclists and walkers, without unduly impinging on traffic flow. We all agreed on how these will be investigated without delay, and to  meet again in a fortnight to report findings.

It’s too early to say if the project is firstly, achievable, and secondly, deliverable within the agreed time frame. However, the goodwill and support from our partners, NZTA and AT, is very encouraging.

We all want JSK’s visit to be marked by a pilot project of lasting value to Auckland. Fingers crossed this will be it! We’ll report back as investigations continue.

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