Project Watch is back, to check in on how our transport agencies are getting on with building a bikeable city. And boy do we need it more than ever! Against the drumbeat of climate and Covid, Aucklanders are singing out for freedom, fresh air and stress-free low-carbon ways to get around.
So read on for our round-up of progress in 2021, and promising signs for 2022 and beyond…
WHAT’S READY TO RIDE?
Let’s start with the recently completed projects, because they show what’s possible and whet our appetite for even more! This year, the central city saw a lot of action…
Completed in June 2021, this colourful full-scale makeover brought dedicated bike lanes to this beloved shopping street, plus a bonus pink link on East St.
Yes, there are design compromises at the Symonds St end, and the narrow lanes can be a challenge for date night side-by-side riding (and cargo bikes too). But as we flock back to the strip, let’s not lose sight of this huge precedent: a destination shopping street that warmly welcomes people on wheels.
So, where to next? Well, Symonds Street and Park Road lead to the University, the hospital, and Newmarket. And at the other end, Ponsonby Road beckons, while Great North Road is the next cab off the rank: it was consulted on in May this year, and features separated cycleways, plus raised tables across most side streets. Let’s go!
Opened in July 2021, Quay St looks gorgeous – less traffic and more greenery sure helps! We’re delighted it’s become business-as-usual to build bike lanes into major makeovers. The key is dedicated room for all travel choices. However, we still have some concerns that the delineation between pedestrian and cycle space is not always clear. How are you finding it working for you and your whanau? And how’s the on-street bike parking?
From May to August 2021, Auckland Transport’s tactical gap-filler “Project WAVE” (initiated by Bike Auckland, and supported by Waka Kotahi’s Innovating Streets fund) bridged a glaring gap between the Nelson St and Quay St cycleways. A conspicuous success, it’s set to get further refinements for visibility and smooth travels early in the coming year – see details here.
Mind that gap…
With safe bike routes now encircling the central city, Queen St remains a gap on the map, even though it’s a Major Cycle Route in Auckland Transport’s Future Connect plan…
After enjoying some temporary ‘swing space’ in the nimble days of 2020, the latest design proposes a bi-directional shared path on the eastern footpath. We have concerns about how busy Queen Street can get, so we’ve been busy advocating for a space that will be useful to all kinds of wheeled devices, from e-scooters to cargo bikes. Watch this space…
Tamaki Drive to Ngapipi Road
This is another Bike AKL win, and we’re popping it in the ‘good to go’ category because major construction work is complete (including improved surfacing), with just some minor tidying up to do before it formally opens in the New Year. We’re looking forward to the soon-to-be widened Ngapipi Bridge, and are hopeful that Auckland Transport will one day continue this quality separated cycleway all the way around the bays.
If you haven’t had a chance to ride it yourself yet, check out this great video – safe, separated space for bikes along the waterfront from Quay St to Ngapipi Road:
— Alec Tang ??? (@AlecTang_) December 6, 2021
This is such a welcome improvement for Auckland’s oldest living bikeway, as it rolls into its mid-forties…
Note: If you’re planning a summer ride around the bays, get ready to share the road with traffic (or the path with pedestrians) east of Ngapipi Road, as the coned-off Tamaki Drive lockdown lane has unfortunately now been removed.
Another heads-up for summer adventurers: If you’re hoping to bring your bikes on the train to explore, alas the trains won’t be running between 26 December and 16 January, as KiwiRail will be doing track work. Buses will replace trains, but unfortunately you can’t take your bike on the bus. (Trust us, we’ve raised this many times with Auckland Transport, but no solution has been found yet for those who need to bike-and-bus.)
And beyond the central city…
Let’s start with AMETI, aka the Eastern Busway and bikeway! Stage 1 from Panmure to Ti Rakau Drive is substantially complete, and includes a wide shared path from Panmure town centre to the new bridge, then fully separated cycleways to Pakuranga Town Centre. It’s great to have an alternative to the scary, skinny old bridge, and a stake in the ground for quality bike infrastructure along the future expansion to Botany.
Looking north, the Hurstmere Road makeover in Takapuna comes with a new contraflow bike lane:
Thanks to the workers for our beautiful Hurstmere Rd upgrade.
It’s amazing to see something you fought so hard for, happen. Local board opposition, budget cuts, lockdowns etc but the road & water infrastructure was falling apart.
Now it’s a welcoming people friendly space! ? pic.twitter.com/MdOQFvC3bA
— Richard Hills (@RichardHills_) November 29, 2021
And this month marks a year since the opening of the new Alexandra Stream underpass linking Rosedale Park and Unsworth Heights under SH18. The old underpass was essentially a gussied-up stormwater pipe, which ironically has now been converted into a stormwater pipe. The new one is purpose-built, and it shows. Wider, safer, with flatter access and much better lighting, it’s a community asset that will prove its value in the years to come, especially once the new basketball court in Omega Reserve is completed.
Looking to the south, this year saw the opening of the new shared path along SH20B, from the bridge east of the airport to the Puhinui Road interchange.
And of course, the new stretch of Southern Pathway along SH1 from Takaanini to Papakura, which includes a new connection across the motorway. This fabulous asset for South Auckland is already regularly busy with people of all kinds, and we loved launching it with a Bike Rave back in June.
Walter Strevens link to the Southern Path
Another Bike Auckland win, this bonus link gives people from the east a much easier connection to the new Southern Cycleway between Takaanini and Papakura. We’re popping it here as it’s almost done – just some markings to be done and lighting to be installed. And in breaking news as we went to press – while permanent lighting will be installed in the New Year, Waka Kotahi tells us the ASM (Auckland System Management) team is planning to install some temporary lighting so the path can reopen and be rideable over Christmas. How wonderful is that!
Next challenge: connecting Papakura all the way up to Manukau City. Shout-out to Eke Panuku for linking Wiri to Manukau City via a new bridge with a beautiful built-in bikeway…
WHAT’S UNDER WAY/ GETTING THERE?
Gl2TD: Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive/ Te Ara ki Uta ki Tai
This massive AT/ Waka Kotahi project proceeds apace, with work well under way on Section 2 through Pourewa valley. Check out this spectacular flyover video showing the engineering it takes to build this path through the valley, and there’s a great overview of the whole project here.
Another Bike Auckland win to celebrate: the link to John Rymer Place, which is now under way. As we spelled out in this blog post five years ago, it’s incredible how one extra access point expands the number of people who’ll be able to access the path!
We’re looking forward to hearing the timeline for the final section of pathway, which will head from the Orakei Peninsula around the coastline of Hobson Bay, completing the full 7km connection from Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive.
New Lynn to Avondale
This project is chugging along well. While the AT project page is a bit out of date, the regular email updates from contractors Dempsey Wood are a fount of info – read the latest newsletter here, and subscribe here.
Working busily from both ends, the team has been making great progress all year. See our photos below of the underpass, which diverts bike traffic under the railway line through Chalmers Reserve and uphill to the train station; and locals on all kinds of wheels are already enjoying the short section of bidirectional bikeway on St George’s Road.
It’s anticipated the project will be complete and ready to ride in the second quarter of 2022, with a couple of larger areas of works still under way (near Blockhouse Bay Road, and at Portage Road and the Whau River bridge).
It’s exciting to have a safe connection like this between two burbs. But it raises questions about budget, and desire lines – for example, why can’t the path continue straight along St George’s Road? Such a simple and direct connection would be an everyday lifeline for locals like Charles (pictured above) just trying to get to the shops, and for kids biking to Avondale Primary.
The thing is, major paths like this were designed (recently!) at a time when agencies were still trying too hard (and often at great expense) to keep people on bikes off road corridors. So now these paths need to be understood as a first step towards neighbourhood networks, rather than the last word.
As Simon Wilson pointed out this week, in a climate emergency, we simply can’t afford to gold-plate every path – not least because it’s just too slow: “The bulk of the work should be to convert hundreds of kilometres of existing street lanes to make them safe for cycling. Cheaply, cheerfully and urgently.”
NW Cycleway Kingsland Separation
This safety initiative was first proposed by Bike Auckland in early 2018 as a joint request with Newton Central School – whose walking school bus had been suspended, because the bottleneck on this busy bike path just got too dangerous. Excellent to see it finally under way and set for completion by the end of summer 2022.
More from the catalogue of "Nice work, let's make this standard practice" we have the ongoing widening of the NW Cycleway.
This section of the NW corridor will have separate sections for walking, cycling and motor traffic.
— George Weeks (@GeorgeWeeks2014) December 4, 2021
Status update for the NW path upgrade: looking good!
And everyone has been pretty awesome about slowing down through those narrow sections & giving way to pedestrians, which is brilliant. pic.twitter.com/5YAx48PSyv
— Megan (@_mharvey) December 8, 2021
Note: to ensure access and safety for the construction process, the section from Bright St to Haslett St will be closed from 28 December to the end of January 2022. Detour routes and signage will be in place during this time, so keep an eye out during your summer rides.
NCI / Northern Corridor Project
In the north, major new shared paths are being built along SH1 from Albany as far south as Constellation Drive, and from Constellation Drive to Albany Highway in the west, as part of the Northern Corridor Improvements. You can see a glimpse of recent progress at Constellation Drive here:
The new shared path infrastructure at Constellation is pretty good and it'll be even better when it is finished, with direct connections between Unsworth Heights, Rosedale and Albany.
Now for a direct connection to Greenhithe + Upper Harbour Crossing. pic.twitter.com/NtbLDeCrJb
— George Weeks (@GeorgeWeeks2014) December 5, 2021
And here’s a different angle, from a Bike Auckland walkover during the year, showing the bikeway alongside the busway:
New Old Māngere Bridge
And as a small but crucial bonus, NZTA a few months ago added a raised crossing over one of the hairiest parts of the nearby SH20 Cycleway, at Queenstown Road. The steep Hendry Hill section is still there – but at least you won’t have to take your life in your hands at the bottom just to keep on riding.
AND WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON?
When it comes to a bikeable city, family-friendly neighbourhood networks are the next frontier. Once again this year, the low-traffic conditions of lockdown brought people out on bikes, in droves. So will 2022 be the year of lovely local links?
Even on the stoniest ground, Auckland’s bike culture just keeps flowering.
(This burb’s waiting on some protected lanes and safer intersections first consulted on 4.5 years ago… but people ride anyhow.) pic.twitter.com/hkH357y4vv
— Jolisa Gracewood (@nzdodo) September 25, 2021
Glen Innes local links
These local bike connections have been in the pipeline since at least 2015, with designs consulted on back in 2017. And now AT is back with an updated design. Consultation is open till the end of January – check out the brochure here, and stay tuned for our feedback guide in the New Year.
Point Chevalier to Westmere
Another promised set of local bike routes, on the cards for some years now – first consulted in 2017 and again in 2019, and now pencilled in for late 2022. A trial roundabout was recently installed at the intersection of Point Chevalier Road and Meola Road.
Here’s hoping great safety for bikes and pedestrians is a strong feature of whatever is decided on here. And, one day, will the unfinished remainder of the Waitematā Safe Routes – past the shops and schools on Surrey Crescent, Old Mill Road, and Garnet Road – rise up to meet these connections?
Good news for this town centre: AT have confirmed that the new design will have a separated bike path, not just a wider shared path – and they’ve largely accepted the widening of the central section that Bike Auckland asked for here. Thanks to the many who submitted in support of our call for a better approach!
Eastern Busway/ Bikeway Stage 2
Stage 2 of this project (Ti Rakau Drive from Pakuranga Rd to Botany) was recently out for consultation. It includes good protection along the route, but some missing links (e.g. at Gossamer Drive), major intersections with numerous signals to go through (e.g. under the Reeves Road fly-over), and an unusual detour from the desire line that involves removing 30-40 houses. Bike Auckland has provided feedback to the project team, and made a formal submission, as did Bike East Auckland.
Te Whau Pathway
This major project, which connects the Waitematā harbour to the Manukau via the Whau river, has been given a great big boost by shovel-ready funding and resource consent. Consultation is currently open till 20 December and mainly covers design features like furniture, etc. Add your feedback here, and check out more details on this page.
And… pop-up protection, as promised!
Remember that time we crowd-sourced a list of painted bike lanes that could do with solid protection, inspired by a conversation with our friends at Generation Zero? Well, it’s finally happening!
This programme should rapidly create stretches of safer cycling around the city. Of course, quality treatments will be the key – with an eye on safety at intersections and bus stops.
Here’s the list of locations…
And our friends at Greater Auckland have plotted the lanes set to get protection on a map. It’s a start, right?
The Harbour Bridge
Will 2022 be the year we finally, y’know, get over it? The harbour, we mean – one of the most flummoxing of all gaps on the Auckland map.
This is in the lap of Waka Kotahi and the Minister of Transport. Waka Kotahi has prepared a long list of options and developed a shortlist, and those shortlisted options are being investigated and analysed, with a final report expected to be submitted to the Minister in March/April 2022. Plans for the Northern Pathway are being considered along with the crossing options.
(Meanwhile, our request for a summertime trial of a lane for active travel remains live – feel free to add your name to our petition!)
The Mayor’s Climate Action Package
Mayor Phil Goff is proposing a billion-dollar package for climate action raised by a targeted rate. Our eyes lit up at the mention of $228 million for “an additional 18km of safe cycle facilities and up to 35km of walking connectivity improvements”. Looking at the full proposal, there’s $144m proposed for cycling projects, comprising 18km of additional cycleways around the city, plus “seven local area cycling networks.”
Note that this doesn’t mean seven local areas will get cycling networks. Rather, it’s a proposal for seven new cycling network connections in one local area: transit-rich New Lynn. With the completion of the New Lynn to Avondale Path and the Whau Pathway, will this make New Lynn our first fully bikeable burb?
WHAT ELSE WE’RE WATCHING FOR IN 2022… AND BEYOND
Auckland Light Rail
Bike Auckland has participated in briefings and workshops to review the options that have been developed, and awaits announcements. We still reckon there’s room for bikes and surface light rail and that you could build a beautiful boulevard with both. Putting it all underground, as well as the costliest and least accessible approach, risks leaving the poor status quo on top unchanged.
city centre — mt roskill by cycleway. if only it was possible to build a more direct route. alas, pic.twitter.com/mdCtttlADq
— scoot! (@ScootFoundation) December 5, 2021
Waka Kotahi’s Streets for People
The Innovating Streets fund for tactical urbanism has been renewed – this time with a longer timeframe (through to June 2024) and stronger climate action framing, plus a new name: Streets for People.
We covered some of the innovative outcomes of the first round, which included Project WAVE and a low-traffic neighbourhood treatment in Onehunga that reduced rat-running and enabled more walking and biking. Which Auckland projects will make the cut this time round?
Regional Streets for People
Administered by Council and AT, this programme sets aside $3m over three years to support Local Boards smaller tactical projects and events across the city over the next three years. Another one to watch.
These are essential to bikeable neighbourhoods, vital to Vision Zero, and our kids deserve no less! So it’s good to see each tranche of AT’s work in this area becoming more ambitious, with streets around schools increasingly a focus.
Accessible Streets rules changes
Remember the major consultation in early 2020 on a whole range of topics from safe passing distances, to footpath cycling, to new micromobility devices, to drivers giving way to people when turning into side streets? New regulations were expected to come out in 2021; looks like we’re now looking at 2022.
Push factors galore
2022 is a local body election year, which reminds us of the origins of our Bikeable Auckland campaign in the heady days of 2016. That was when we launched our irresistible vision for a bikeable city, with gorgeous graphics by Carol Green showing Auckland as a city of villages connected by bike.
In 2016, we called on would-be political leaders to commit to delivering three key things:
- A vital network of safe cycleways
- Local links for bikeable neighbourhoods
- Safer streets for all of us
Those three elements are still at the heart of our vision, and increasingly an essential part of the general conversation. Half a decade on, what’ll it take to accelerate Auckland’s move towards this future?
- the Climate Commission’s call for widespread road reallocation to active modes?
- powerful and inspiring leadership from those at the top?
- rebuilding Auckland’s capacity to deliver cycling and micromobility?
- a healthy sense of competition with other cities around the world – and indeed, around Aotearoa? (hello, Paneke Pōneke! gidday, Cycle Christchurch! )
- a promise to our kids, who carry the future climate burden and thus deserve the freedom of healthy streets, right here and right now?
- the unstoppable rise of bikes and scooters and all the people who just want to ride?
- “cheaply, cheerfully and urgently” creating the space we all need to get moving?
How about… all of the above? Join us in 2022 and let’s find out!