“Frustration” – Copyright: CC-BY-SA-2.0 by Cubmondo on Flickr

At the end of the previous financial year (2012/2013), we ran a blog showing how slow bikeway construction in Auckland was going – only ~10 km built in one year, when the target in the Auckland Plan to finish the cycle network in 2030 requires 50 km every year. AT promised to do better. Several high-profile projects were either announced, or promised to be finished soon – there would be better, faster, more delivery.

Now the 2013/2014 financial year has been over for a few months. A few high-profile projects were opened. And how many kms of cycleway were built last year (using AT’s own count, by the way)? Well, hold on to your handlebars… 5.3 km.

So let’s recap that – after years of saying that the pace will pick up soon, the delivery last year was half that of the year before. It’s now down to 10% of the target. Even if it is correct that Grafton Gully and Beach Road only just missed being included in the tally, this is seriously poor.

It’s also a major disappointment considering how many initiatives have been launched in the past two years. These are projects we’d love to praise ­ – Carlton Gore Road cycle lanes, Nelson Street Cycleway, Beach Road Stage II, Westhaven Promenade, the South Auckland train station cycle routes, Great South Road at Takanini, the Waterview Path …. and so on. We’re the first to cheer for new cycleways.

But we’ve learnt to be more cautious when we see the latest exciting set of plans (we love plans but we can’t cycle on them!) – the reality is that far too many of these plans are launched, only to be lost in months or even years of consultation, design or funding delays.

The final straw is when we’re seeing AT water down its own proposals in the face of public opposition to the removal of on-street parking.

Janette Sadik Kahn inspired a packed Aotea Centre earlier this year with New York’s cycling achievements. She and NYC Mayor Blomfield delivered on their plans and gave their staff the confidence they were acting in the best interests of the city, even when the proposals were controversial. Just about every Auckland Conversation speaker we have heard on transport has told the same story.

Auckland Council and Auckland Transport need to act on these speakers – and their own vision documents.

We have been told that in FY15/16, there are to be 21km (excluding Waterview), and in FY16/17 there are to be 21km of new bikeways. Yet in the current funding discussion documents we also hear that Auckland Council’s “Basic Transport Network” would actually have massive cuts to our already minuscule cycleway funding. Meanwhile, in their alternative “Auckland Plan Transport Network”, Council hint at a possible tripling of the current funding – but only if they can somehow find the extra money for the full roading and PT wishlist.

It’s way past time for Council to deliver on cycleways and on their liveable city promises.

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19 responses to “Halving our progress

  1. Very dissapoinging. What frustrates me the most is that there are so many potential quick (and cheap) wins all across the city that aren’t being considered. All of the new infrastructure plans, across all modes of transport, are very high spec, expensive projects. Until we get to a point where every new road upgrade is, as a matter of course, also upgraded with new cycle and walking facilities at the same time the pace will continue to be very slow.

    1. Sadly, AT is a very conservative organisation – in the sense that everything has to go by the book, be approved at numerous layers, be consulted on multiple times… the idea of a pilot project that needs no such extensive consultation (or at least that won’t be watered down because of fears by locals) has not entered their toolchest yet, despite various attempts by us to encourage them accordingly. They lack a JSK type person and/or someone at Council or Board level to back such a person when the political heat comes on.

    2. Totally agree, will be faster, cheaper and smarter to employ options with paint, portable barriers that can be erected temporarily and removed quickly to test their effectiveness.

    3. Yes – i would love to know the ratio of $s spent on consultation to KMs to actual infrastructure cost. Often seems like they are spending half there budget thinking about things and then changing there minds. As per the various Auckland conversation speakers – just do it.

  2. Sounds like it’s time for CAA to change its strategy… Is their a link to CAA’s strategy?

    1. We feel more like Council and AT should change their strategy. It’s them making the funding decisions, building the cycleways.

      CAA regularly re-assesses how we operate, and whether we are going in too critically or too accommodating. When matters go badly, we get more critical. When things head in the right direction, we praise and support.

      In the end, I think we can say for CAA that we don’t believe in a fixed strategy – that is too rigid for a shoestring, nimble volunteer org – and that our stance is strongly influenced by the attitudes of the individuals who work on any particular project – as long as they share our vision and our aims:

        1. Julian, I doubt we will agree on this – in fact, that you left us before / in the middle (not after) we discussed a strategy last year shows that the differences are rather substantial.

          If you think your way (however you would define it) is better, then why not create or join a group that espouses your attitudes? You take responsibility. You may not believe it, but we would welcome more groups working on cycling, even if they disagree with us.

          1. Hello Admin
            I had hoped my comment would be received as constructive feedback. I fear it was interpreted as laying blame at CAAs feet, for which I am saddened. Giving my feedback as a short comment in a blog was a mistake, and I apologize. In the absence of a real name to talk too I fear I may make the same mistake again.

            Too quote from your earlier comment:
            “We feel more like Council and AT should change their strategy. It’s them making the funding decisions, building the cycleways.”
            I had read this as laying blame. You observe that the AT and Council targets for new cyclepaths are 90% higher than actually achieved in the last 2 years. Also, if I remember correctly, the previous 3 year, Auckland, Regional Land Transport Plan failed to spend $10mill of its relatively small budget on cycling infrastructure. Said another way – AT and Council made funding decisions and plans for paths that were considerably more ambitious than those actually achieved.

            My question (In the spirit of constructive feedback) is how could Aucklands foremost cycle advocacy group have acted / lobbied differently during those years to ensure AT and Council delivered and spent enough to meet its own modest plans? The answers should help form new ways of advocating that would hopefully ensure all future allocated money was spent and as much cyclepath was built as planned. I don’t profess to have an answer but I’m sure their are some people at CAA and on the committee who can shoulder some of the responsibility, reflect and generate insights.

            On a different note, and since you asked, I am no longer directly involved in cycle advocacy. But I do run company called Nextbike NZ Ltd. We have a number of services that allow more people to travel around the city by bike with confidence:
            1. Public rental bikes – 6000 people are registered to use the few bikes that we are able to put out. This is made possible by forward thinking organizations like Waterfront Auckland and the Hobsonville Land Company as well a couple of Christchurch based organizations
            2. Adult cycle skills – We coached and guided 800 Aucklanders on bikes last year, as well as assessing and qualifying 4 cycle skills instructors who work for other organisations that also train many 100s of riders. Made possible by Auckland Transport.
            3. Driver education on bicycle behaviors – We worked with 300 bus and commercial vehicle drivers and their managers, from Dunedin through to Auckland. Made possible by NZTA.

            Maybe this makes me a professional advocate. The label is not as important as the fact that I am taking responsibility to improve the lot of the transport cyclist in the best way I can. I thought that Nextbike NZ’s services and CAA’s vision were complementary, such that the success of one would be mutually beneficial to the other.

            Kind regards

            Julian Hulls
            Nextbike New Zealand Ltd

            P +64 9 373 4590
            M +64 21 154 8371
            F +64 9 579 1782
            S julianhulls

  3. The problems is as pointed out by the TransportBlog folks is that the current strategy for cycling is to widen the road first, then put the cycling and Bus lanes in.

    That makes a slow and expensive process to get anywhere as you’ll only go as fast as you can afford to widen all the roads.

    What we need is a council declaration that cycling and walking are number 1 with PT #3, then when there is a conflict on the road space, the cars lose out to the buses and cycle lanes.

  4. Actually it might be even worse approx. 500m
    I noticed Lower Domain Dr is double counted. It’s in last years list as well as AT’s briefing document.
    I’ll ask them to please explain.

  5. Add some awful anti cycling speed bumps on my commuting routes and you’d think it was all merely lip service . .

    1. I agree – speed bumps appear pretty useless. They don’t calm traffic – they just make drivers stand on the brake/accelerator either side of them. Result is much less controlled, much more expensive and much less effective than just lowering speed limits.

      1. The problem is that speed limits, like the one in the Auckland Domain, are never enforced. I agree that speed bumps are annoying on a bicycle and I spend my ride through the domain passing cars who are slowing for speed bumps.

        1. I don’t disagree however I would point out that the problem with speed limits is not that they are never enforced but rather that they are so consistently flouted.

  6. A comment for Julian. Do you have any idea why Auckland bus drivers some of the most inconsiderate and dangerous drivers I see on my commute, given that they’ve receiving so much training? None of them know what an advanced cycle box is, nor a red light.

    1. Hello Pete – Those are common problems amongst all drivers, not just bus drivers:

      Advanced stop boxes: I’d like to see some advertising explaining these.Interestingly I was working with a postman this morning, who had 20 years experience cycling for work and even he didn’t know what they were for.
      Running reds: Note the rego# and bus company and report if to Auckland Transport 09 355 3553 or you can report it here

      The bus management are very safety conscious and will work with drivers, when they get safety concerns.

    2. I find sharing bus lanes on Great North road central city. bus drivers are generally safety conscious, checking mirrors often, leaving space when overtaking, passing at slower speeds.

      In fact i feel safer sharing bus lanes on Great north road to many cycle lanes!!

      I can’t say the same for bus drivers on the Northshore tend to be less courteous drive aggressively and pass too closely.

      Not sure the if the difference is more congested roads on Northshore. I suspect the central city bus driver management are safety conscious and drivers have had the training.

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