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.