It’s been a phenomenal summer for cycling. The weather has been balmy, the traffic has been barmy, and more and more people are discovering the joy of getting around on bikes. February in particular felt busy out there – and not just because it was the Auckland Bike Challenge all month long.
Holy crap the SH16 cycleway was busy this morning. Still flowing well but basically bumper to bumper.
It was kinda … hosky even. Totally #hosking out there today on the cycleways.
— Ben Gracewood (@aotearoa_ben) February 27, 2019
So do the offical numbers agree with the anecdata? Without further ado, why yes, they do!
February 2019 automatic cycle counts
At 26 city count sites:
- 3.65 million cycle movements were recorded for the year of March 2018 to February 2019, an increase of 6.2% on the previous 12 months.
- 368,000 cycle movements were recorded in February 2019, an increase of 20% when compared to February 2018.
And, as always – and as if we needed any more evidence that the trick is to build it and join it and they will come – growth was especially spectacular on the protected and connected routes. It’s. The. Network. Effect!
Let’s take a look at some specific examples. With the new Ian McKinnon link in action, you’d expect some decent growth along the western front. Well boy howdy, would you look at this! The Northwestern Cycleway was humming all February, with ~32K trips at Kingsland. An average of 1142 trips/day, with the busiest days of the month knocking on 2000 trips.
And ~28K trips at Te Atatu in February (an average of ~1000/day). Look at the graph below and tell us if improvements to the causeway + e-bikes = BOOM.
Also, a new counter on Te Atatu Road is tracking the number who ride from the peninsula – looks like more and more people are choosing the ‘fast lane’ alongside SH16 every day!
Likewise, the paths that feed into the Northwestern from the south are showing significant growth as more and more people discover the connections along SH20, the Waterview Shared Path, and even good old St Luke’s Rd.
Grafton Gully continues to grow…
And everyday traffic on Lightpath is now casually reaching the heights of the novelty-effect numbers it saw in its early days.
And then there’s Nelson St. Ah, Nelson St: the cycleway that a certain radio host was so desperately worried about people not using. It’s more than doubled since it opened; February 2019 is up 66% on February 2018, and indeed up 15% on January 2019! We’re really looking forward to hearing that early scepticism walked back, and this spectacular return on investment enthusiastically celebrated on the radio.
Down on the waterfront, the construction on Quay St clearly isn’t putting people off at all.
(Note: the famous Quay St totem was disconnected in late November as part of the road works. It’s been replaced with a temporary counter, which like the Nelson St one has recently been calibrated to also pick up scooters and skateboards as well as bikes, although it does not distinguish between them. This makes strict comparisons tricky, but helps underline the similar role bikes and e-scooters play in the urban ecosystem.)
And the granddaddy of them all and our busiest bike path, Tamaki Drive leaps higher every summer. It saw ~47,000 trips in January (~1500 trips a day) and ~46,000 in February (~1600+ trips per day), roundly beating its previous high of ~44K.
Meanwhile on the North Shore, Upper Harbour Drive and on Lake Road provide steady evidence that more and more people want to ride along routes that take them where they want to go, even when the local connections aren’t brilliant.
Is it all good news out there? Well, as always, the unimproved and disconnected cycleways – especially to the south – are holding steady, rather than growing dramatically. Ditto the more recreational routes.
But wherever infrastructure is delivered, people find a way to use it. And they use it more if it takes them more places.
And where the paths do join up, it’s starting to feel a bit Copenhagen-ish. To spread that vibe to more of the city will require faster delivery by AT and NZTA of more and better parts of the vital network. Plus crucial local links, greenways, and school routes at the Local Board level. And safer speeds across the city, for more people-friendly streets that welcome walking and biking.
Want to get there faster? Join us and add your voice to the call for a truly bikeable Auckland!