The hot sun beat down on the Nelson St off-ramp on Friday, making for steamy conditions for the Minister of Transport’s event on the off-ramp to announce the first allocation of $$ from the Government’s Urban Cycle Fund.

I felt sorry for all the blokes in suits, especially as they were shown up by Simon Bridges, who arrived looking relaxed and dressed for cycling. Once the formalities were over, he approached me, keen to chat. Luckily Max, our cycling design guru, was nearby, so I could introduce him as the source of Cycle Action’s inspiration to get the Nelson St project underway last year.

NelsonStOfframp SimonBridges,Max,BarbSimon began by expressing admiration for the thousands of submissions we’d generated with Gen Zero and Transport Blog for SkyPath. He didn’t need to be told about SkyPath’s strategic value to Auckland for transport, leisure and tourism – he was fully up to speed and supportive.

Cycle Action’s plans for the Nelson St off-ramp and protected cycleway were launched in May to coincide with Janette Sadik Khan’s 3 day visit to Auckland. We saw it as a perfect illustration of her New York pilot projects.

We’ve been collaborating with AT and NZTA for the past 6 months to turn the project into reality. Both bodies have been wonderfully supportive …Special thanks to the NZTA’s Regional Director, Ernst Zollner for his early leadership in calling the first meeting and giving us confidence the project would be delivered as fast as possible.

We’re delighted that NZTA and AT regard the project to be so worthwhile it will be built as a permanent addition to the city’s cycling and walking networks. Instead of our suggested ‘bailey bridge’ connecting to the K Rd over bridge, (which would have compromised structural components of the bridge), the NZTA is well underway with a tender for the design and construction of a 160m bridge to the off-ramp from South Street, behind K Rd. This opens the route (via Canada St) to and from the Grafton Rd- Upper Queen St link, and allows us to promote faster action to improve Ian McKinnon Rd, the ‘glaring’ weak link in the NW Cycleway- Grafton – Beach Rd cycling route.

This evolution of the Nelson St project to a permanent cycleway brings us back to the Urban Cycle Fund, as permanent structures need serious money. Here’s the list of projects that Simon Bridges announced will benefit from the first allocation from the fund. (We’re beaming, as key projects that Cycle Action helped to get underway last year for joint AT/NZTA delivery, are on the list.)

Urban-Cycleway-Funding-Jan-15The Minister also announced the members of a new Panel to approve the Fund’s future allocations. We warmly applaud the appointment of Pippa Coom as a local government representative, Glen Koorey, (Canterbury University academic with superb credentials for bringing about safer cycling communities from his pro bono work) and Cynthia Bowers, Deputy Mayor of Hastings. Cynthia is a modest, effective champion for cycling, who has been influential in the success of Hastings as a model community for cycling.

After our chat with the Transport Minister and the overwhelming public support for SkyPath’s resource consent application, it’s clear that SkyPath will be a prime candidate for future allocations from the Urban Cycle Fund. Fingers crossed on this!

As an aside, I was bemused to hear Mayor Brown announce in his Off-ramp speech that 2015 will be ‘The Year of the Cycleway’. How can he say this only days after he launched the Council’s draft 10 year budget, which kills the prospect of new stand- alone cycling projects in Auckland for the next decade!

I’ve been telling media recently that 2015 has to be one for major cycleway delivery. My faith rests on NZTA’s excellent and growing record in funding cycling in Auckland. The Minister of Transport’s visit has added to this confidence. Contrast this with the Mayor’s current plans to bring cycleway building to a screaming halt!

On that note, I give another cheer for the Urban Cycle Fund and our new Transport Minister who is comfortable on a bike and engaged with our plans to change Auckland for cycling.

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32 responses to “Nelson St cycleway – $$ for sod turning next month!

  1. Establishing the Urban Cycleways fund along with existing Land Transport fundings means that there has never been a better time build cycleways. Councils can get an effective 2:1 leverage for every dollar invested on qualifying projects.
    Unfortunately a 50% cut in Councils draft base LTP W&C budget will lock Auckland out of this potential bonanza

    1. CAA will be working hard over the next weeks to reverse that budget course the mayor has taken. We hope all of our readers will help!

      1. Can we get another submission page sorted for the LTP cycling budget so we really show Auckland City Council (and AT) what we all think about this stupid decision to cut cycling projects?

        Especially when Skypath submitters last week show their true passion for “getting it” even when Len and the other councillors don’t.

    2. AT were to have completed 50% of Auckland cycling network by 2016.

      33% is currently built, AT and the Mayor have cut cycling budget!!!!

      The revised target to complete 40% of the cycling network is 2025?

      Extremely disappointing for anybody that cycles or wants to cycle for transport that Auckland is failing to make substantial progress on a continuous safe cycling network!

      What other transport choice offers..

      – Door to door for any trip 25km or less
      – Zero emissions
      – Reduces congestion
      – Health benefits
      – Accessible to anyone aged 8 to 80

  2. Fantastic. Actually have to pinch myself that this is happening, and speed at which things seem to be moving.

  3. This is fantastic but i still notice a lack of any real investment or improvement in south Auckland!
    Roscommon road which is a busy 80km 4 lane piece of road has a large chunk without a footpath of any kind and no space for cycling at all is ignored by all.
    Despite having plenty of room off road to place a separated cycle-way and footpath on both sides of the road.

    1. Good comment, Roy, thanks! We’ll take your comments on board. The other thing I notice when I ride Roscommon and those big industrial arterials in South Auckland is how much glass and detritus is swept by tyres to the edge of the road which adds to the risks of riding there.
      Have you noticed this – if so- which would be your most problematic roads?

      1. yes Barb its really an unfortunate issue but one that could be controlled quite easily.
        Last year it was so bad on the corner of Wiri Station road and ash road I couldn’t see the footpath at all. and on top of that there were several tree branches.
        Just to top that off I saw pedestrians ducking under low braches just to walk along the hidden footpath and of course this affected us cyclists as well as we had to ride further out on a busy road.
        I complained to Auckland transport but they ignored me for several months until I threw a wobbly and threatened them with Campbell live and fair go. It was fixed the very next week. πŸ™‚

      1. Thanks Max that is interesting although not the best option at least it is something. They totally missed the most dangerous road (Roscommon Road) though and it is the one with the most room to put a separated dedicated cycle-way without taking anything at all from current roading or parking. Plenty to gain for all road users and pedestrians!

        1. I’m very interested in your comments, Roy. Part of the reason why decisions for this part of Auckland fail to hit the trouble spots is because Cycle Action does not have anyone in this part of the town who can be our ‘local champion’ reporting and advising us on the priorities. We have people doing this over large parts of Auckland – we’d love you help us with your area. Will you think about it and email me separately please, barbcuth@gmail.com or text 0274 125 824

  4. Browns “2015: Year of the Cycleway” is nothing more than a misquote.

    What he really said was “2015 is the year that Auckland Cycleways, cycled away for at least the next decade” – thanks to his councils LTP plan budget cuts.

    I voted for him last time – but won’t next time – if he carries on with “nickle and diming” of all the little projects to pay for one of the massive stinker projects that should be chopped.

  5. Now you seem have the Ministers attention, is there anyway you can ask him to review the Bike Helmet laws for the first time since they came in?

    I think the evidence from NZ, Australia and around the world is that bike helmet laws for adults don’t save many lives and probably cost a lot more than they save in making cycling “too hard” for people to be bothered with anymore?

    If there was thing this country could do to promote cycling more than separated cycleways, this would be that.

    I’d like to see helmets made optional for adults (e.g. over 16 or 18 years old) on Urban road and urban cycleways as a start.

    1. Based on my observations in Vancouver (provincial mandatory law), I’d suggest that a more politically palatable approach might be to roll out more separated bikeways. Then you start getting the public in general starting to ask “why are we wearing a helmet on these bikeways anyway?” and lower wearing rates occur. Then you can start to have a less hysterical conversation about the whole issue.

      1. Possibly Glen, but that seems a very slow way to deal with the issue (of course more cycle ways is great but at the rate we’re going up here in Auckland it may be 30 years before thats a feasible option).

        1. Hmm, I’m not so sure it will be 30 years based on observations in the city over the weekend. Lots more relaxed cycling happening around the city. In fact, I noticed more ‘normal’ clothed riders than those decked out in lycra. We may have to have a multi step approach as Israel have done.

          1. At the eco fest yesterday, where CAA had a stall, it was really noticeable how many cyclists there were in everyday clothes. Only a handful of road cyclists. And a great demographic mix as well with as many men as women.

            All the AT supplied bike parking was full.

            We posed the question “Why don’t you cycle in Auckland?” As expected the no.1 reason was that the roading environment felt unsafe and separated lanes would help. Not one person said they needed to know how to “take the lane” better or cycle like a motorist.

            Funny that.

          2. Entirely subjectively.. and maybe because there’s more people cycling.. in the last year or two I’m seeing more people (in everyday clothes) cycling without helmets. Generally riding casually on shared paths or footpaths, occasionally on roads.

            My guess is that in time the NZ helmet law (which I regard as a tragic mistake in every sense) will become irrelevant.

      2. I agree as I don’t think it is very safe on road with some drivers getting nuttier day by day but off road cycle-ways tend to make helmets almost irrelevant except for maybe young children learning to ride!

  6. seems to me anywhere there is more room to put a separated cycle-way the less likely they are to look there!

  7. Also interesting talking to the new lady who is in charge of cycling at AT. She has come from London and was really pleased at how wide Auckland roads are and how easy it will be to put in cycle lanes compared to London’s narrow medieval roads.

    However, she did say “all we have to do is remove some parking”. Oh dear.

    I really hope she is successful but I am afraid she is yet to encounter the close minded NIMBYism that dominates Auckland’s political landscape. Plus the amazing ability of AT top brass to rollover at the slightest sign of resistance to change.

    1. Complete agree. Anyone moving to NZ from UK would conclude the same. Across vast swathes of suburban Auckland even into the isthmus much of the on-street parking that we give away at no charge for car storage is empty.

      But I think public opinion is changing.

      Firstly, as the stats tell us, young people are driving less.. not too long now and even the boomers will start to drive less. In the long run of course, FF powered cars are simply unsustainable as a form of personal transport.

      Secondly, the fantastic high profile cycling projects in the pipeline.. SkyPath, Nelson Street, K-Rd, Tamaki etc will act as catalysts for more people to get out on their bikes.

      If public opinion changes, I believe our Local Board elected reps will come to realise that there are more votes in cycle lanes than there are in excessive on-street car parks.

      But don’t wait: tell them now!

    2. In her defense, she said she’s encountered very vicious opposition to removing car parking for cycling in the UK. So she’s not unseasoned. I’ll be interested whether she’ll find opposition here worse or less bad.

      1. Yes, I’m pretty sure anyone working for cycling infrastructure development in England will have encountered ferocious opposition. All those Daily Mail readers and Jeremy Clarkson fans.. πŸ˜‰

        My worry about Auckland is that some of the well connected opponents we encounter seem to be able to bypass what ought to be broadly-speaking democratic processes at times and gain undue leverage over plans and outcomes. This affliction of course is not unique to cycling.

      2. Sometimes I wonder if there is more success to be had in proposing removal of traffic lanes rather than parking… but I guess the opposition might come from a different quarter, then.

        1. That is an approach I see that they’ve done in Vancouver to create space for separated bikeways on some streets: keep the parking but make it one-way. E.g. parts of Point Grey Bikeway, Adanac Bikeway

  8. Here’s hopping Kathryn gets the full support of colleagues and bosses at Auckland Transport to get the cycling network build back on track.

    If AT staff put their heads together i’m sure they could come up with a strategy to reduce opposition to projects that improve safety and movement of people on arterial roads in Auckland.

  9. If the council goes with the minimal option in its 10 year plan (ie $0 for cycling) then there will be no more cash from the Urban Cycle Fund. The government is insisting local authorities pay 30% of projects it funds. If AC plans to spend nothing then the fund will not be available to them.

  10. Great. Cycling is rising, the bigots can’t stop cycling. Bob Dylan “The Times They are a changin”.

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