Work is progressing well on the new train and bus station at Panmure. It’s looking really smart and will be a strategic element in the wider transport choice coming from the AMETI project. We can’t wait to see the safer dedicated cycling routes, which will help address the paucity of non-car transport options that have plagued the eastern sector of Auckland for years.
Given this scenario, imagine our disbelief when we heard that all these good moves are progressing without providing for bike parking at the Panmure station. We asked AT back in April what bike parking was planned; this caused a scurry of internal emails amongst the project team, but no response to Cycle Action. We stayed on the topic, and learnt 2 months ago the project budget had blown out, leaving no money for bike parking. We’ve been assured it will come eventually – “Can’t tell you when – the station will open without it” . Great! – Top marks for integrated transport delivery, AT!
Bike parking is a seriously neglected item in the menu of PT and active transport improvements happening across Auckland. We’re very excited by the electric trains starting early next year. We’ve spent time up on the Northern Busway, which is one of Auckland’s great transport successes, and we love the train station upgrades that are transforming the suburban centres. It’s a great shame with all this investment that Auckland Transport simply doesn’t ‘get’ the fact that cycling has a role in making it easier for people to access and use PT.
2 years ago we presented the map below to Auckland Council’s Transport committee. We also showed it to supposedly ‘strategic’ managers in AT. The green circles are 3km catchments around ferry terminals and train stations, and show how easy it would be for cyclists to use these facilities if the connecting routes were made safer and if secure undercover bike parking were provided.
Despite our very best efforts, the reality is that bike parking at train stations and ferry terminals is desperately sad. Where it exists (and it usually doesn’t at most train stations) it’s totally inadequate. Think – a few lollypop stands, which AT knows are hated by cyclists because they don’t support bikes properly, causing them to fall, twist and damage.
Devonport has the best bike parking of all the ferry terminals, (120 spaces), but most of the undercover secure bike parking is currently out of commission due to structural repairs on the Victoria Wharf. The Northern Busway has blue bike units (which some cyclists love and others don’t), plus a range of lollypop and other parking facilities which are open to the rain and have no security. Not the best for tying your bike to all day. Stage 1 of the the new Silverdale- Whangaparaoa bus station has compounded the misery by ignoring our request for secure undercover bike parking.
In June we asked Community Transport to convene a steering group to allow us to sit down with all the people in AT responsible for bike parking at PT nodes. It took months to convene the meeting, but when we sat down together it was clear there is genuine interest in serving the needs of cyclists – but it’s just not as a priority in the organisation.
We’ve been asking since June for bike parking at transport nodes to be prioritised over town centre parking, but are not making any headway with AT. We regard transport nodes to be more important, as they’re a better strategic fit for integrated transport. We’ve told our AT colleagues that bikes at transport nodes lack the passive supervision and shelter that exists in most town centres. Also most bike parking at train and ferries is used all day, so the bikes are more vulnerable to weather and pilfering.
Since June, 2 expensive new bike cages have been built as trials at Papakura and Papatoetoe train stations, but they are attracting only 2 or 3 bikes each day. Birkenhead wharf also has a smart new bike parking unit, but locals want it moved because the Local Board forgot to consult them about its siting. A new shelter was recently built over the existing bike parks at Onehunga. We’re pleased to report this is proving to be a success, and we hear a similar shelter will be retrofitted over Silverdale bus station’s bike parking.
One small success for 2013 is hardly compelling evidence of action or commitment . As we said, we conclude that AT simply doesn’t ‘get’ the fact that cycling is a cheap option to help people access and use PT. We put it down to a lack of cycling leadership in AT. Until this is corrected, we don’t expect to see much change in 2014.