The Bikeable Back Yard – How the Inner West Will Be Won!

UPDATE: Consultation closes soon on the Pt Chev to City safe cycle routes! Here’s the link for online feedback – or you can use the leaflet sent out by mail/ picked up from your local library. Please send your feedback in by the extended deadline-  end of Tuesday 5 April.

  • What routes you and your family and friends want to ride
  • What danger ‘hot spots’ need fixing
  • Any other thoughts about safer streets across this area

Your feedback is hugely important in prioritizing what Auckland Transport does in these neighborhoods over the next ten decades. Grab the chance to have your say! 

Creating a bikeable city is a massive project… and a whole lot of small ones. The large-scale projects currently being built by NZTA and Auckland Transport (thanks to the Urban Cycleways Fund) are making big strides towards a citywide cycling network.

But we’re often asked: what about short trips on local streets? Many of us want to bike to school, the dairy, the shops, to visit friends – because it’s more enjoyable than taking the car and faster than walking. We all know, too, that putting kids back on bikes will be a massive boon for school traffic (not to mention being a fundamental part of growing up kiwi!).

That’s why we’re thrilled to see Auckland Transport consulting on a wide vision for the inner west suburbs that goes beyond just (!) the urban cycleways planned in the area. From now until the end of March, AT wants your feedback, and they want lots of it. (NB other areas around Auckland are likely to follow with similar consultations).

Here’s where we’re talking about: north of the Northwestern Motorway, from Pt Chev to the edge of the CBD – what you might call the city’s back yard. The red lines show bike paths that are already constructed (or nearly; we’re still holding our breath for SkyPath…). And the pale blue lines are the network planned for completion within the next ten years. On busier roads, these will be ‘continuous high quality cycle lanes, ideally physically separated from traffic’, while on other roads, the focus will be on slowing speeds and reducing car traffic.

The base map for AT’s consultation on bike-friendly improvements for the Inner West Suburbs.

AT says this network, once completed, will put 17,000 households within a 5 minute ride (or less) of the key blue routes – which include major projects along the arterial roads, notably:

    • Great North Road, which we’ve had a long relationship with from Cycle Action days (sometimes it is so great to see a tree grow from an acorn you planted a while ago!).
    •  K Rd, ditto – where Generation Zero has also been doing great work, and which will help open up a bike-friendly route to the Domain.
    • We can also look forward to fixes for old bugbears like Meola Rd and the Bullock Track/Great North intersection.
    • Quite exciting to see a blue line all the way to Pt Chev Beach, which is a trip more and more people are making on bikes anyway.
    • And some solid routes linking Westmere, Grey Lynn, Arch Hill and Herne Bay to Ponsonby and into the city.

(We’re also getting flashbacks to the ahead-of-its-time Ride the Ridges campaign run by Pippa Coom and others.)

Even better, this consultation is not just about the network – and not just for those of us who already bike.

AT will be doing a mail-drop of a paper version of the map to every house in the area, and they want people to get busy and draw and write all over it, to ‘help identify and improve the key cycle routes that connect people with their places of work, local shops, schools, parks and other community facilities.’

As well as hearing your thoughts about the cycling network and what routes matter most, they want to hear about other issues you’d like sorted out, such as ‘high traffic speeds, difficult intersections, or drivers taking shortcuts through residential streets.

What benefits could the improvements bring? Where do we start! So many possibilities.

This is one of those times when the whole can be so much greater than the sum of its parts. A network that starts outside your front door is just easier to use, especially if you’re new to cycling. And streets that are better for bikes are also generally nicer to walk on, live on, shop on, and spend time on. Win-win!

An example of a possible future bikeway on one of the busier streets.

As a recent article from the UK emphasised, when looking to add cycling to your city in this way, the goal isn’t to make everyone ride bikes – rather, it’s about adding meaningful choice, so that:

everyone has the option to cycle, for any given trip, in much the same way that walking, driving and public transport are already available. It is about having transport choice; a better range of transport options to pick from.

And the potential effects here are huge. This part of Auckland already has 4% bike-to-work mode share, and in some areas almost 5%. Given the density of local activity and the potential for local trips, it’s not fanciful to imagine that number reaching 10% in the not too far-off future, with a whole part of Auckland seeing cycling normalized… once again.

Point Chevalier Road at Walker Road, early one morning in late 1953. (Photo courtesy Graham Stewart.)
Point Chevalier Road at Walker Road, early one morning in late 1953. Spot the bikes. (Photo courtesy of Graham Stewart.)
Same spot, 2016. Buses have replaced trams, and a few other things have changed...
Same spot, 2016. Buses have replaced trams, and a few other things have changed too… We still see people on bikes, but many (especially kids) prefer to bike on the footpaths.

We’re keen to hear your ideas about how to unlock the potential of the coming network for more local bike trips, and safer travel in general. And we hope you’ll share your ideas below, as well as contributing to the formal consultation… because this part of town is only the start, and open-ended consultations like this (and like the Glen Innes Safe Routes one) is the new approach.

Making local streets safer for bikes might mean a bit less of this sort of thing, too.
Making local streets safer for bikes might mean a bit less of this sort of thing, too.
Lots of bikes at Pt Chevalier School. How many more could there be?
So many bikes at Pt Chevalier School. How many more could there be?

For starters, we think slower speeds on local streets would be awesome. In Edinburgh, Scotland, a trial program that cut the local speed limit from 30 mph [50kph] to 20mph [33kph] raised the level of older kids cycling to school from an average of 3% to 22%, and they are now planning to extend the 20 mph project to 80% of their streets!

Adults are generally the first adopters of new bike lanes – but Western Springs College is a highly bikeable high school, and the little folk learning to ride in Grey Lynn this month will be ready to ride to high school inside of a decade. Let’s give the kids bikeable streets – make sure that “slow down for our kids” is part of your feedback!

In fact, using the base map at the top of this post, we had a go at putting all the inner west schools on the map, just to help visualize some of the potential here…

The locations of pretty much all the schools in the inner west zone. Have we missed any? (We know we haven’t even gotten to the kindergartens and daycares, or Unitec, just out of sight on the bottom left)
How many customers can fit in one parking space? (Image courtesy Bike Te Atatu. )
How many customers can fit in one parking space? Two-wheeled shoppers can come straight to the door, able to drop in on a whim without having to search for parking. (Image courtesy Bike Te Atatu. )

Feel free to get creative yourselves with the base map. Show us where else you could bike to, given a dedicated network and friendlier streets.

Bike to the shops, bike to the beach, bike to tennis, bike to parks (movies, festivals), bike to sports (like they do in Devonport), bike to church, bike to bars, bike to cafes… we want to see your bikeable back yard maps!

Above all, please spread the word. This is not just a one-off chance to reshape the inner west – it’s a model for future projects and other neighbourhoods. If we want Auckland to be a more bikeable city, we need to say so at every opportunity.

Let’s make this consultation count, and make our voices heard!

The leaflets should be in mailboxes soon; you can also make a submission online.

Info will be available here, too:

  • Bubs on Bikes sessions at Grey Lynn Park (next to the playground and paddling pool), Sunday 13 and 20 March 2016 from 10am – 1pm.
  • Pasifika Festival at Western Springs Reserve – Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 March. AT will be providing valet bike parking, so why not cycle to the Pasifika Festival and enjoy a premium parking experience?
Bubs on Bikes and Bike Grey Lynn in Grey Lynn Park on a Sunday. (The park is soon to be home to a neighbourhood pump track, too!)
Bubs on Bikes and Bike Grey Lynn in Grey Lynn Park on a Sunday. (The park is soon to be home to a neighbourhood pump track, too. Here come the bikes!)


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Bike Auckland is the non-profit organisation working to improve things for people on bikes. We’re a people-powered movement for a better region. We speak up for you – and the more of us there are, the stronger our voice!

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