Blast from the past

First Cycle Lanes Auckland CityRecently I walked along Carrington Road just north of Mt Albert, and noticed something up in the trees that I hadn’t seen during the many times I had cycled through here.

A plaque, commemorating the first cycle lanes ever painted in Auckland City, and the Avondale cycle advocate Kurt Brehmer who was instrumental in getting them installed.

Well, that certainly created a bit of mixed emotions.

  • Sorrow – I never met Kurt (even though he only died in 2010, aged 95, after what sounds like a very productive life). And his cycle lanes are looking a bit ratty – they haven’t been kept up well*. There’s still essentially no greening on them. Just a white line. Some parts are too narrow (though overall, they don’t work too badly). And in a classic “cycle facilities stop where the going gets tough” case, there’s still nothing on the rail bridge going west.

* In fact, last year, it took CAA quite a ridiculous battle (at least ridiculous compared to the cost of what we were asking for) to at least get the paint symbols refreshed.

  • Consternation – They were painted in 1999, barely more than 12 years ago? The first cycle lanes in Auckland City are that recent? Copenhagen took 30 years to change from a car-dominated city like Auckland to a walking & cycling mekka. We may have more than half the journey ahead of us? Or should we think of it as nearing the halfway point?.
  • Pride – Kurt was a member of our group, Cycle Action Auckland. In the face of enormous adversity, he got something done for cycling. Carrington Road is an extremely busy arterial road. How easily could it have been four-laned, and the cycle lanes chucked out (or never put in). Yet there they remain.

Give him and the other early advocates a celebratory bell ring when you go past! If you think it’s tough to get better cycling conditions now, think of what they faced.

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