We know Aucklanders who travel using a mixture of bikes, ferries, trains and buses have been starving for good secure, undercover bike racks at public transport terminals and stations since AT was formed, nearly 10 years ago. We share your suffering and frustration! It’s annoying that all along, the barrier has been money – quality bike parking simply didn’t rate for the AT people allocating budgets.
This blind spot has become ever more glaring as we all celebrate Aucklanders flocking to the public transport network. Bikes are the key to a healthy, versatile, efficient and well-used public transport network – something the Dutch know well, given half of their train journeys begin with a bike ride.
Here’s why: you can bike 4-5km in the same time it would take you to walk 1km. This means cycling exponentially expands the catchment of every station by up to 25x. Which covers a whole lot of Auckland, as you can see in the visualisation below. (Blue represents a 10-minute walk; pink is a 10-minute bike ride.)
So, secure bike parking at public transport hubs is one of those small investments with massive payoffs. Combined with safe local bike routes, it offers people more reliable, healthy and flexible travel choices; encourages drop-in access to shops and destinations along the way – including the school run; and takes short car trips off the road, while cutting down on ‘hide-and-ride’ parking on quiet local streets.
Bikes + public transport = a sustainable future. Don’t just take our word for it: read this International Transport Forum report.
Fortunately, we’re now seeing some light at the end of the mean and narrow funding tunnel with the prospect of real $$ in the new AT budget starting 1 July. Until then, we have to look for the crumbs falling from the tables of the big new park-and-ride budgets that some Council and Local Board politicians think are an efficient use of public money. (We don’t.)
Read on for details of two recent showers of crumbs – not the permanent solution, but still worth celebrating – and some jolly delicious toast and jam from Wellington…
Crumbs at the Devonport Ferry Terminal
We loved seeing everyone who came to Devonport’s Bike Breakfast last month. Special thanks to AT’s Rachel Freebairn, who joined us to listen to your thoughts and answer many questions about bike parking at the ferry terminal. She’s got a big job – managing facilities at all public transport terminals and stations across Auckland. We’re really enjoying working with her as she’s genuinely interested, highly communicative, and gets things done.
As you know, bike parking at the Devonport terminal deteriorated when the super-handy bike racks were moved from the front of the terminal (by the ferry berth) to the back of the terminal. I won’t revisit the series of sad episodes that led to the poor installation of the replacement parking – we’ve been reporting it for ages.
When Rachel committed to fixing the situation, we launched a survey to canvas users’ feedback on improvements. We publicized the survey widely on our blog and Facebook, at the breakfast gathering, and we even attached a link to the survey to bikes parked at the terminal. This resulted in 28 responses which confirmed the major issues:
- poor bike rack design and ‘backwards’ installation
- a step in the deck level that causes the bikes to roll out of the racks
- inadequate weather protection
- and a badly directed light beam activating the opening of the double swing doors connecting to the terminal.
One or two respondents asked if AT could reverse the existing dysfunctional ‘up/down’ racks and move them against the building, so they would at least be under the sail providing shelter from rain. We see what you mean, but were reluctant to support this as it would soak up money without fixing the original design fault, which is that that every third or fourth slot would be unusable and blocked by the bike handle bars of the next door bike.
The good news is that AT has now given Rachel budget to get on with the job. A contractor has adjusted the beam that activates the swing doors into and from the terminal so it responds to people of average height, as well as the seven-foot giants previously targeted. Regular users report it’s working a lot better, but tell us if you’re still having problems.
Even better, AT is briefing contractors to:
- level the deck under the bike racks to avoid people tripping and bikes slipping
- remove the up/down racks to a new life well away from commuters’ bikes
- install new Sheffield racks ( which surveys tell us are the most reliable and easy to use)…
- …even better, against the back wall of the terminal so they’ll be fully sheltered from rain.
Bring it on! We’ll keep you posted on when this work is starting.
Crumbs at Newmarket Train Station
One big topic in our monthly bike parking meetings with AT is making the best of bike racks at priority public transport locations. Two of these locations are a particular worry, as they have bike racks that go virtually unused:
- Newmarket Train Station has bike parking beside the Remuera Rd entrance, that is ignored by the public.
- Otahuhu train and bus station has new, undercover Sheffield racks, that also tend to go unused.
The common factor seems to be that parking locations at both Newmarket and Otahuhu are poorly located for passive supervision and observation by station security staff, so bikes are more vulnerable to bike theft. (CCTV cameras don’t give peace of mind, as experience suggests they don’t stop thefts. Real people are needed for real security.)
To test the (uncontroversial, you’d think) idea that well-observed bike parking will be better used by the public, AT has installed a bright yellow temporary bike rack behind the HOP gate at Newmarket, with spaces for up to 8 bikes. It’s right under the eyes of the station security staff and has reasonable passive supervision from members of the public using the station.
Q. For everyone who bikes to Newmarket and Otahuhu stations – have you experienced (or worried about) bike theft at the unsupervised bike parking locations?
Q. Are the newly located racks at Newmarket an attractive bike parking option for you?
Meanwhile in Wellington… toast and jam!
Our eyes lit up at the sight of this new double-decker covered bike park, which is proving extremely popular in Central Wellington. It’s got good rain protection, and good levers so the top deck is easy to load with bikes.
It’s also a super-efficient use of street space – at about 12m long (i.e. the length of two car parks), it holds nearly 60 bikes! While we dream of well-oiled world-class bike garages, we can easily picture a few of these tasty items dotted around the city, making it ever more attractive to go by bike.
Q. What do you reckon about one of these for Britomart, for starters?