Missing links, missing limbs

Mar 30, 2021
Missing links, missing limbs

Bike Auckland

Hendry Avenue

Puketāpapa local board member, Jon Turner, shares his experience on Hendry Avenue.

“F***!” was my first thought.

“Thank god I’m wearing a helmet”, my second, as my head hit the ground.

“Why haven’t NZTA done anything about this,” was the third, as I skidded along the chipseal road, nicely tearing up my right thigh.

“Everything hurts” was the fourth.

“Look cool” was number five, as I stand up, wheel the bike to the side of the road, lie under a tree and hurt.

What happened? How did I end up with a broken radial bone, sprained wrist, and a moonboot?

Jon Turner
Source: Jon Turner

I had been told not to go running anymore and rest my Achilles. The best way to rest it but still work it was riding a bike.

So on a nice Sunday morning I decided to head out to check out the low traffic network in Onehunga then ride up to Cornwall park.

The interesting thing about this journey is most of it is on a separate cycle path, the path that runs alongside State Highway 20. This path was built while the motorway was extended in the early 2000s and it connects up to the Waikaraka cycleway in Onehunga.

SW Cycleway
From https://www.aucklandbikemap.co.nz/swcycleway

However, there’s a massive gap in the middle and this gap comes in the form of Hendry Ave. This is a very steep street, it has 8 speed bumps, it narrows to a single lane in the middle and has a whole lot of driveways as well as rat runners trying to avoid the motorway. It can be fun to ride down but coming back up again isn’t for the faint of heart.

The other issue is that Hendry Avenue has been chipsealed, despite it being a key link in this cycle route. Auckland Transport say “Chip seal is used in areas where foot traffic and active modes are not typical and is not meant to be used for such activities.’’

Hendry Avenue
Always fun meeting cars here.

I was coming down the hill on my mountain bike, slowing for speed bumps but going relatively quickly as I neared the bottom of the hill (which has a speed bump on it), a car reversed out of a driveway five or six ahead of me. I hit the brakes, hit the speed bump and went flying.

You have to wonder who signed off on leaving this the way it is. At one end you have a nice separated cyclepath running all the way from the Northwestern motorway, at the other end it’s nice and flat with a little bit of Orpheus Drive to navigate. In the middle is this bumpy, steep, narrow road that puts cars and cyclists together.

The worst thing is, the path doesn’t have to go here! There’s a very wide shoulder on State Highway 20 , when the motorway was built there could have easily been a path along the motorway coming down from Queenstown Rd. It seems like a classic case of “oh we might have to spend some money – forget it, no-one cycles anyway.”

There’s also the potential for sending cyclists over the motorway and up Pleasant Street towards Trafalgar St which would then connect up to Monte Cecilia park and the wider central isthmus.

State Highway 20
See – room for cars and bikes!

My sixth thought was “how many emails have I sent about this now? Hendry Ave receives lots of complaints. Check out this from Twitter user @DaveHarton

I raised it with AT last year, about three or four times, including possibly putting it on our Local Board Transport and was told it is on the list for minor improvements – which sadly seems to mean it has been put on a list and forgotten.

So I did a bit more digging, and found (thanks to Julie Fairey) that in the RLTP from 2018 this area is identified as a focus:

Sounds great, right, 3 million to fix a clearly missing piece of infrastructure? One that will link up Southern Auckland with the excellent infrastructure? Definitely something AT and NZTA would want to focus on, right?

In fact, it has now completely disappeared from the draft RLTP – which is being consulted on. As well as funding being cut from the RFT that was going to Walking and Cycling, which now disappears into the ambigous “Connected Communities program.” One of the few projects named in the last RLTP in our area has been deleted, without a word.

Auckland Council has set a goal of having 7% of trips taken by bicycle by 2030, as part of the drive to fight the climate crisis. It’s hard to believe this will happen when funding is being cut, projects get downgraded constantly and the strongest themes in a consultation get ignored as they are ‘out of scope.’

It’s no wonder we have such a low level of engagement in consultation – when people write submissions on things like Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri, the RLTP, the Long Term Plan, stuff might get written down but it is hard to believe anything good will actually happen. Instead, projects like Mill Road get pushed to the top of the list, crowding out projects that could make a difference across the city and cost a whole lot less.

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