As people in the Onehunga area are likely to know by now, their long-awaited project to restore a more natural coastline south of the motorway has received consent! Where currently, a rather unsightly road is squeezed between the SH20 motorway and a rock seawall, in a few years there will be several new headlands with outlook points, as well as a number of new small beaches and a boatramp nestled in between.
CAA is as happy to hear about this decision as the locals – like about one thousand of them (!), we submitted in favour of the project, as it will be not only a great positive change in a very transport-damaged area, but will also include a number of cycle facilities, including another important walking and cycling bridge over SH20 to Onehunga.
Because of these facilities, we strongly supported the proposal, and Julian Hulls, one of our committee members, spoke for us at the project hearing. We are happy to note that his presence, and a concurring note from NZTA, encouraged the hearing commissioners to agree with one of our key requests – being wider shared paths through the new reserve area. Previously these had been designed for 2.5m width, wich we would have considered a bit of a missed opportunity. A condition has now been included which specifies that any paths for such dual walking / cycling use have to be 3.5m wide. Seeing how in other popular recreational areas, narrow paths (i.e. the seawall path on Tamaki Drive) have led to congestion for all users, we think this is a great outcome for the future of cycling in the area. We look forward to seeing updated plans of the shared paths in due course.
We also note the request from Auckland Transport that Orpheus Drive, the local road in parallel to the motorway, should be protected for Regional Cycle Network / New Zealand Cycle Trail purposes (in this hearing AT was separate from the applicant for the restoration, Auckland Council). This was another important element in our submission. While this in the end was not fully resolved (as Orpheus Drive was outside the project boundaries), we understand that sufficient width is to be retained to provide an off-road cycleway in the future.
In sum, while we were only a bit player in this hearing, it is great to see that our key cycling request was agreed to, and that this great project can now proceed.