Update March 2011

Cycle Action has been very busy in recent weeks on this project, as it is now being heard by the Board of Inquiry – we have participated, amongst other discussions, in both “expert witness” and “public” caucus groups that debated the appropriate ways of resolving issues about the project’s  transport & open space (parks, sports fields) effects. The recommendations from these groups then proceeded to the board to inform their future decision on what the project will have to provide in mitigation terms.

This experience – working at eye level with the planners  and engineers responsible for one of the country’s largest infrastructure project, and being welcomed as a respected voice – has been very heartening, if also very intensive & time consuming.  Also very rewarding was the level of support that the cycleway has by now achieved from literally all groups participating in the process, including local community groups around the project area, as well as Council and NZTA themselves.

However, the cycleway is still not confirmed. As you may have taken from the news, funding is still under hot debate – everyone agrees it would be great to have the cycleway, but money is tighter than ever, and neither side is stepping forward with funding promises. We continue being involved so this one doesn’t fall through the cracks, or get deferred for years until funding is found from elsewhere.

The Core Issue

A central project in the current government’s drive for more motorway spending, Cycle Action Auckland is working to make sure that the Waterview tunnel/motorway project in Auckland’s west does not ignore cycling.

When we became involved with NZTA and Council on this in late 2009, the proposed cycle facilities were promising – upgrades and extensions to the Northwestern Cycleway along SH16. A new cycleway connecting SH16 to the SH20 cycleway at Hillsborough. Several amazingly designed walking/cycling bridges over the railway line and the new motorway.

Especially the connecting cycleway got our attention: With one bold stroke, two high-quality but badly disconnected cycleways would be linked – the nucleus of a real off-road cycleway NETWORK. An emerging Auckland where people can just hop on their bikes to reach destinations in the west or south or central areas – cycling to work, or to sports or visiting friends – without traffic jams or safety fears. And of course the new link would create new access, boosting the already skyrocketing usage of the two cycleways.

So imagine our disappointment when, come lodgement time, the “bold stroke” had turned into a lukewarm “maybe”. NZTA argued that they would not construct a cycleway between State Highway 16 and State Highway 20, because their motorway will be in a tunnel in that section and thus, cycling on the surface wouldn’t be their business.

The core disagreement is really about what should be achieved: a better transport system – or better roads for cars? The Waterview project needs good walking and cycling facilities – not only to balance the fact that it will create major barriers for local travel, but also because it needs to be a real multi-modal corridor, not just another motorway.

NZTA argues that the provision of this cycleway is Council’s business, and that the new motorway will not preclude it. We argue that to make sure that it is built in time, and not in 20 years (still waiting for the link over the Harbour Bridge after 50 years…), the cycleway needs to be an INTEGRAL part of the design. Not something tacked on later, with another separate process, after many years of delays and funding issues, while Waterview gets pushed through the consenting and construction process under fast-track rules.

It is this basic need – for a cycleway as a core part of the Waterview project – which we are advocating for during the Board of Inquiry consenting process. Furthermore, we have undertaken extensive discussions with the parties involved, from the designers at NZTA, to Council (who are very supportive of our position) and including other volunteer groups like Friends of Oakley Creek and the North Western Community Association.

Confirmed Cycle Facilities

The following facilities are confirmed as being built by NZTA, as part of the project:

  • An upgraded Northwestern Cycleway from Pt Chevalier Interchange along the SH16 causeway as far as Te Atatu, with new, widened causeway bridges (replacing the current, often very narrow clip-ons) and a new cycle overbridge at Patiki Road
  • A new extension of the Northwestern Cycleway from Te Atatu westwards up to Huruhuru Road (currently, these sections are mostly on-road)
  • An extension of the SH20 cycleway (Waikaraka Cycleway) from Hillsborough to the southern Waterview tunnel portal in the south of Mt Albert

Unconfirmed Cycle Facilities

The following cycle facilities have been proposed – and are likely to be built in some form, but there is no certainty about when, and from what (sorely limited) cycling funding:

  • A connecting cycleway between the SH16 and SH20 cycleways, either to the west or (preferably) to the east of Oakley Creek
  • A walk/cycle bridge over Oakley Creek, preferably at Phyllis Street, to provide west-east connections – from Avondale/Waterview to Mt Albert and the Auckland CBD (currently, all bridges over Oakley Creek are all down in the creek gully, and thus do not provide such connections)
  • A walk/cycle bridge over the railway line south of Pak N Save Mount Albert, so that the two cycleways can be joined

Cycle Action has also suggested a number of smaller improvements and additions to the designs, some of which have already been picked up by NZTA or Council. Cycle Action will continue to be involved during the further consenting and construction process to get the best deal for cyclists in this new motorway project.

Please support us – especially by letting NZTA, Auckland Council and politicians in general know that you want cycleways! Only that way will we get them built.