For 150 years, Aucklanders on bikes have been bringing our city’s streets to life, and vice versa.
Our vision all along: safe routes and good roads, so we can travel freely under our own power. Here are some highlights of our journey so far – and the healthy, happy future we’re moving towards!
Bike Auckland Timeline
1940s: The “Mystery Bike Hike” craze
1935: Auckland’s First Separated Bike Lanes
In 1935, concrete bike lanes 8 ft wide were installed along 1km of Great South Rd from Penrose to Ōtāhuhu, to provide a safe route for workers and school children. Led by the Ōtāhuhu Borough Council, the project was supported by the Automobile Association. Two years later, similar lanes were proposed for Great North Rd in New Lynn. Little trace remains of either facility.
1903: Auckland’s First Cycle Track
In 1903, the Birkdale Cycle League built three miles of bicycle track from Highbury Corner to Birkdale. “The first road cycle track made in the colony” was funded by donations, including a barrel of tar and a quantity of sawdust. The path was opened with a grand celebration hosted by the Mayor of Birkenhead; after a picnic and speeches, 300 riders set off on a ride along the new route. The new track quickly lifted property values in the district. (Image: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collection)
Early 1900s: The bike shop boom
The “Biclorama” run by cycle importers Dexter & Crozier on Victoria St East, shown here in 1902, was just one of many bicycle shops that sprang up around the city to supply suitable wheels for Aucklanders. Hills were clearly no obstacle to our ancestors! (Image: National Library of New Zealand)
1900s: The Auckland Cycle Roads League
The Auckland Cycle Roads League gathered over 2000 signatures towards a 10,000-strong nationwide petition from cyclists, asking Parliament for a dedicated tax to fund better roads. “We want cycle tracks” says the banner at a picnic on One Tree Hill on 20 April 1901. (Image: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collection)
1900s: The Campaign for Good Roads Begins
Bicycle clubs like the Auckland Amateur Athletics and Cycle Club hosted group rides that drew hundreds of participants. They also campaigned vigorously for sealed roads and improved streets: ‘WE WANT GOOD ROADS’ says the banner at this November 1900 gathering. (Image: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections.)
1890s: Women on Wheels
Women especially embraced cycling as a means of liberty, independence and social enjoyment, and the bicycle was instrumental in the campaign for women’s suffrage. Shown: the Auckland Ladies’ Cycling Club proceeding up Symonds St in 1897 on one of their regular runs.
1880s Onward: A Social Revolution
Aucklanders were quick to cotton on to the fun and accessibility of two-wheelers, with many a social club dedicated to promoting and enjoying the new activity. Pictured: The Holy Sepulchre Bicycle Club heading down Khyber Pass, in 1896. (Image: Auckland Museum Collection)
1869: Auckland’s First Bicycle Ride
On a moonlit Monday night, 23 August 1869, the wagon-maker Mr Cousins rode a “velocipede” down Grey St (present-day Greys Ave) towards Queen St. His feat was reported in the papers the following day, setting in motion a contagious social revolution that’s still rolling a century and a half later.