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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Cycle lanes General News Infrastructure West Auckland
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6 responses to “Blast from the past

  1. In that 15 years I don’t think we have covered a fraction of what Copenhagen or the Netherlands covered in a similar time frame. The responsibility lies solely with councils and government. Until there is a clear direction from the top that we need to cater for active transport, things will only slowly improve.

    1. Hi Bryce – I don’t think our situation is nearly as bad as you say. Early growth is always slow – it’s not a linear improvement where you get to 30% of the change in 30% of the time. You might only get 10%, which then leads up to the point where forces conspire to suddenly move faster – i.e. Christopher’s tipping point. And even that one, we will only be able to see afterwards.

  2. There were cycle lanes in Auckland before 1999. I remember cycling along Great South Road near the DB Brewery in the late 1950 / 60’s and there was a separated cycle lane by the road. It was of the what is called Copenhagen type with an upstand between the lane and the traffic lanes. However, cyclists never used it because it was never swept and was regularly covered in broken glass etc. Whilst the area is now AUckland it was then Otahuhu Borough.

    John Lewis of Auckland City Traffic should also have credit for his efforts to get cycling facilities also back in the 1970’s. He was responsible for getting the shared path on the waterfront and was the first to admit it was not very satisfactory but it was a start. In line blades etc. had not been invented then to clutter it up and it gave somewhere for nervous starters to cycle.

    1. Hi Richard – well, 1950/60, that was (almost) “before the fall”, i.t. the time when Auckland traffic planning tossed sanity to the winds and everything else into one basket.

      Sounds interesting though – any photos of that “Copenhagen Lane” anywhere?

      1. Hi Max et al
        Yes I suppose you could say that was before the fall which i would estimate to have occurred about 1956 when the trams were retired because they were getting in the way of the increased traffic I think was the official reasoning!!

        As I said the Gt. Sth Road lane was unused because they failed to clean it and it was covered in the Saturday night bottle throwers debris. This is another disastrous disease some NZer’s still seem to have. It is a point we need to keep on to if there are increasing off road cycle lanes, they must be regularly swept or they are useless.

        Perhaps the old Otahuhu Borough records might have a photo of the road back in those days or DB might have some photos of the front of the brewery that shows it?

        There were still a lot of utility cyclists around in the 50’s and 60’s and a lesser proportion of racers. Since those days we have seen various cycling variants come along and thrive such as recreational rides, triathlon , mountain biking, BMX and so on. Now we have the reverse of the fifties with few utility cyclists and multitudes in the various cycling codes

        Top priority must be to lift the number of utility cyclists by any means possible

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