Here at Bike Auckland, we love a good bike path. Nothing puts a smile on someone’s face like cruising down a sea of pink on Te Ara i Whiti, smelling the sea breeze while rolling along Tamaki Drive or admiring the views over Manukau Harbour as you glide across the Southern Pathway.
We’re excited to be adding to Auckland’s growing treasure chest of iconic rides, with Glenn Innes to Tamaki Drive making fantastic progress, and New Lynn to Avondale looking to be polished up in April of this year.
But for all the iconic rides we can enjoy in Tāmaki Makaurau, we might still look on in envy at cities around the world who have, since 2019, rolled out substantial networks of safe, connected bike lanes that make it easy for anyone to move around the city by bike.
Paris delivered 85 kilometres of pop-up cycleway which resulted in exponential growth in cycling.
— Mozilette ?? (@mozilette) September 7, 2020
London has announced 101 kilometres of planned cycle routes, and wherever they sprout, Londoners are flocking to them – even in late winter!
Re-distribute road space and you get – pic.twitter.com/y67LNHPVv2
— London Cycles (@London_Cycles) February 9, 2022
While Milan has announced an impressive plan to roll out 750 kilometres of segregated bike lanes before 2035!
We love a good long leisurely bike path. But all we really need, day to day – to do the shopping, get the kids to school or head in to work – is a safe and practical bike path, right where we are.
Emergent bike lanes: The smart way to a connected cycle network
Iconic bike paths come with a bit of a price tag, too – Auckland’s existing cycleways are some of the most expensive in the world, even if the fantastic views are priceless.
What if there was a way we could create safe cycle routes more quickly and affordably, just as other cities around the world have done?
Thankfully, the World Resources Institute has produced a handy guide “to assist with the design of high-quality, safe, temporary cycling measures that also create the foundation for systemic and lasting changes that nurture a culture of cycling, facilitate the development of quality cycling networks, and move cities and urban mobility toward a sustainable future.”
It’s full of fantastic ideas for quick and cost-effective delivery of protected bike paths, working to the entrepreneurial concept of “Minimum Viable Product”, where the idea is to get a usable product out to your audience quickly, and then iterate and refine the design based on use and feedback. When it comes to cycleways, we call these “emergent bike lanes”.
We like the sound of all of that, and believe it’s time for Auckland to become a fast follower and give it a go. Because whatever the future holds for Auckland, it’s going to look better on a bike!
In 2021, New Zealanders dipped our toes in with Waka Kotahi’s Innovating Streets programme, which delivered the Viaduct Cycleway in Auckland city centre, as well as a host of other community focussed streetscape changes across the country. It was a learning process with some speed bumps along the way, but the Viaduct Cycleway is set to become permanent and receive some improvements in the near future.
Now it’s time to get serious: With ambitious commitments to reduce carbon emissions from transport and increase the number of people walking, wheeling, cycling and scooting their way around our region, we need to get building those bike paths: Safer, smarter and sooner!
How can you help?
We need to let Auckland Council and Auckland Transport know that people want a place to ride, and we know it can be done. So let’s share stories of what it would mean for us!
Ask yourself, your kids, your parents, your friends, your flatmate, your work colleagues, your dog: if you could pop a protected bike lane anywhere, where would you put it? How would it make you feel when you’re cycling or scooting on that street? How would a whole bunch of them transform the way you get around this city?
Share your answers – record a video, snap a photo or write a few lines in a message, post on social media with the hashtag #safersmartersooner or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and get it through to us. We’ll collect them into a unified voice and share them with Auckland’s decision makers, asking them to make safe cycling an immediate priority!
And if you want to meet bike-minded people in your ‘hood, join your local bike burb and use your collective voice to pop a bike lane in your area!